Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") is an American, Brooklyn-based afrobeat band that is modeled after Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band and Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive Orchestra. Although their music generally follows the musical architecture and language of afrobeat, it incorporates elements of jazz, funk, dub, improvised music, and traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa.
Founded in 1998 by Martín Perna as "Conjunto Antibalas", the group first performed on May 26, 1998, at St. Nicks Pub in Harlem at a poetry night organized by renowned visual artist Xaviera Simmons. Over the course of the next few months, the group solidified with a core of eleven band members and expanded their repertoire of original songs. For the first year of the group's existence, they performed exclusively at non-commercial venues such as block parties, lofts, and public parks, before securing a Friday night residency at the now-defunct NoMoore in August 1999. Called Africalia!, the residency lasted from August 1999 till April 2001, when the club was shut down by fire officials during the Giuliani administration's crackdown on nightclubs and cabarets. Guitarist and producer/engineer Gabriel Roth wrote several of the earlier tunes and oversaw recording and production of the first three records.
Over the next few years, the band's presence grew; by summer 2000 Antibalas had released their first album Liberation Afrobeat Vol. 1 and had toured twice in England, while continuing to play at venues throughout New York City. Recording with the group in the early days was Cameroonian drummer Jojo Kuo, who can be heard on the studio recordings of "Uprising" and "Machete".
By early 2002, the horn-driven outfit had released their second album, Talkatif, and continued to tour throughout the United States and Europe. In summer 2004, their third studio album, Who is This America?, was released on Ropeadope Records. Antibalas's album, Security, was produced by John McEntire and released on the ANTI- label in 2007.
Antibalas has performed in 35 countries, from Japan to Turkey to Portugal to Australia, and throughout New York City, from Carnegie Hall to Central Park Summerstage to the Rikers Island prison facility.
The group has received guest visits from several musicians from Fela Kuti's Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 bands, including Tony Allen (drums), Femi Kuti (alto sax), Seun Kuti (tenor sax), Tunde Williams (trumpet), Oghene Kologbo (guitar), Nicolas Addey (congas), Dele Sosimi (keyboards), Ola Jagun (drums/percussion), and Jojo Kuo (drums) among others.
In the summer of 2008, Antibalas was featured off-Broadway in Fela!, a musical celebrating the life of Fela Kuti. The group arranged and performed the show's score of music originally performed by Kuti. In the fall of 2009, Fela! opened on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, once again with Antibalas.
In 2010, the band released their Rat Race EP, with an arrangement of Bob Marley's "Rat Race" featuring Amayo on vocals, as well as "Se Chifló" featuring Chico Mann as vocalist.
In 2011, the band reunited with producer and former Antibalas guitarist Gabriel Roth at Daptone Studios in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to record their fifth full-length album, entitled Antibalas. The album was released on August 7, 2012, on the Daptone label.
The band resumed a heavy touring schedule beginning in April 2012 with their debut tour in Brazil, performing in São Paulo and Recife, and kicked off a US tour at the Outsidelands Festival in San Francisco, followed by a tour of California. On August 24, 2012, Antibalas made their national television debut, performing their single "Dirty Money" on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On September 11, they resumed their US/Canada tour with 30 dates in the Midwest, East Coast, Southeast and Gulf Coast, including the Austin City Limits Festival. On October 4, they appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts. The band toured in Europe in October and November 2012, followed by an Australian tour in March 2013 . In May of the same year Antibalas visited Mexico for first time, performing in Puebla "Festival 5 de Mayo" with originals members like Victor Axelrod.
In 2015, The Antibalas horn section collaborated with The Dap-Kings horn section, Mark Ronson, and Bruno Mars to record Uptown Funk and other tracks off of Mark Ronson's 2015 album Uptown Special. They also performed Uptown Funk together on Saturday Night Live in November 2014.
BadBadNotGood (stylized as BADBADNOTGOOD) is an instrumental music group from Toronto, Ontario. The group includes keyboardist Matthew Tavares, bassist Chester Hansen, saxophonist Leland Whitty, and drummer Alexander Sowinski. They are known for their interpretations of hip hop tracks and their collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, and Ghostface Killah.
Matthew Tavares, Alexander Sowinski, and Chester Hansen met in 2010 through the Humber College jazz program in Toronto. The trio united over a shared love for hip hop music, including that of MF Doom and Odd Future. Hansen plays acoustic and electric bass in the group, while Sowinski, who often dons a pig mask during performances, is on drums and sampler. Tavares handles keys, playing rhythms on a Prophet '08 and electric piano. The name of the band came from the tentative title of a comedy television project that Tavares was working on, which was eventually abandoned.
One of BadBadNotGood's first collaborations was a cover of "Lemonade" by Gucci Mane. They played a piece based on Odd Future's music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who did not find that it had musical value. After they released the track on YouTube as The Odd Future Sessions Part 1, it got the attention of rapper Tyler, The Creator, who felt differently and helped the trio's video go viral.
BadBadNotGood uploaded their debut album BBNG to Bandcamp in June 2011, which included covers of songs from A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and several tracks from Odd Future. The trio had their first show at The Red Light in Toronto. In September 2011, they released their first album, BBNG, recorded in a three-hour session. Dante Alighieri on Sputnikmusic called the album "a welcome reinterpretation of modern jazz without the pretense of snotty wine parties and thick rimmed hipster dinosaurs."
BadBadNotGood recorded a live jam session with Tyler, The Creator in Sowinski's basement in October 2011. Videos from the session received more than a million views between them on YouTube.
The trio opened for Roy Ayers at the Nujazz Festival in January 2012 and played for Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards in London. At a February tribute to J Dilla in Toronto, their covers of "Lemonade" and "Hard in da Paint" had hundreds moshing.
William Harrison Withers Jr. (born July 4, 1938) is an American singer-songwriter and musician who performed and recorded from 1970 until 1985. He recorded several major hits, including "Lean on Me", "Ain't No Sunshine", "Use Me", "Just the Two of Us", "Lovely Day", and "Grandma's Hands". Withers won three Grammy Awards and was nominated for four more. His life was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Still Bill. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Bill Withers was born in the small coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. He was born with a stutter and has said he had a hard time fitting in. Raised in nearby Beckley, he was 13 years old when his father died. Withers enlisted with the United States Navy at the age of 18 and served for nine years, during which time he overcame his stutter and became interested in singing and writing songs.
He left the Navy in 1965. Using the $250 he received from selling his furniture to IBM co-worker Ron Sierra, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1967 to start a musical career. Withers worked as an assembler for several different companies, including Douglas Aircraft Corporation, while recording demo tapes with his own money, shopping them around and performing in clubs at night. When he debuted with the song "Ain't No Sunshine", he refused to resign from his job because he believed the music business was a fickle industry.
Black Pumas is a funk and soul duo based in Austin, Texas, United States, consisting of singer Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada. Their work also has strong Latin music influences. The duo is a nominee for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards—its first-ever Grammy nomination.
The duo formed in 2017 and released their debut album, Black Pumas, on June 21, 2019. They performed at South by Southwest in 2019 and won a best new band trophy at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. On November 20, 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Quesada was a member of Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma when it won the Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for the 2010 album El Existential, and when it was previously nominated for the same award in 2008 for Sonidos Gold.
Charles Edward Bradley (November 5, 1948 – September 23, 2017) was an American singer. His performances and recording style were consistent with the revivalist approach of his main label Daptone Records, celebrating the feel of funk and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s. One review said he "echoes the evocative delivery of Otis Redding".
Calling himself "the screaming eagle of soul", Bradley was the subject of the documentary Soul of America which premiered at South by Southwest in 2012.
Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, and one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically conscious African-American music. He first achieved success and recognition with The Impressions during the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, and later worked as a solo artist.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mayfield started his musical career in a gospel choir. Moving to the North Side, he met Jerry Butler in 1956 at the age of 14, and joined the vocal group The Impressions. As a songwriter, Mayfield became noted as one of the first musicians to bring more prevalent themes of social awareness into soul music. In 1965, he wrote "People Get Ready" for the Impressions, which displayed his more politically charged songwriting. Ranked at no. 24 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the song received numerous other awards, and was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, as well as being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
After leaving the Impressions in 1970 in the pursuit of a solo career, Mayfield released several albums, including the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Super Fly in 1972. The soundtrack was noted for its socially conscious themes, mostly addressing problems surrounding inner city minorities such as crime, poverty and drug abuse. The album was ranked at no. 72 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after lighting equipment fell on him during a live performance at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, on August 13, 1990. Despite this, he continued his career as a recording artist, releasing his final album New World Order in 1996. Mayfield won a Grammy Legend Award in 1994 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, and was a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of the Impressions in 1991, and again in 1999 as a solo artist. He was also a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee. He died from complications of type 2 diabetes in 1999 at the age of 57.
Michael Eugene Archer (born February 11, 1974), better known by his stage name D'Angelo (pronounced di-Angelo), is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. Along with artists like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, and collaborator Angie Stone, D'Angelo is associated with the Neo soul movement.
Born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of a Pentecostal minister, he taught himself piano as a child. At eighteen he won the amateur talent competition at Harlem's Apollo Theater three weeks in a row. After a brief affiliation with hip-hop group I.D.U., his first major success came in 1994 as the co-writer and co-producer of the song "U Will Know".
His debut solo album, Brown Sugar (1995), received positive reviews and sold over two million copies. His next album, Voodoo (2000), debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200. Its lead single "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," entered the R&B charts and won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal; likewise, Voodoo won for Best R&B Album. D'Angelo was hailed as the next Marvin Gaye by GQ in 2014.
William Daron Pulliam (October 5, 1946 – June 9, 2013), who performed in the 1970s under the name Darondo, was a funk and soul singer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Although he is not widely recognized today, serious enthusiasts of the soul genre consistently rate him in high regard. The mythology surrounding Darondo describes him as a pimp, although he has denied this claim. His performing name is said to have originated as a compliment from a waitress who was fond of his generous tipping habits. Darondo has received more attention in recent years thanks to London DJ Gilles Peterson playing his 1973 single, "Didn't I" on his BBC Radio 1 program.
In 2007, Darondo's song "Didn't I" was covered by Jack Peñate on his Spit At Stars EP and in 2008, featured on an episode (season 1, episode 4) of Breaking Bad. "Didn't I" was also featured in the 2010 film Saint John of Las Vegas in a scene featuring Steve Buscemi and In 2009, the song "Legs" was featured in an episode (season 1, episode 8) of the American version of Life on Mars. In 2010, "Didn't I" was featured in the films Night Catches Us and Jack Goes Boating. It also appeared in the New Element video, Future Nature. In 2013, "Didn't I" was featured on a LateNightTales compilation mixed by Bonobo (musician) (Late Night Tales: Bonobo). In the same year, "Didn't I" was featured in the third instalment of the Spanish Apartment trilogy, Chinese Puzzle starring Romain Duris. It was used as an ending theme in an episode (season 2, episode 1) of Lovesick . "Didn't I" was covered by the English electronic music duo HONNE on their 2015 EP "Coastal Love".
Recordings of Darondo are available from Luv N Haight, an imprint label of Ubiquity Records. Other works can be purchased from Omnivore Recordings. He also hosted a public broadcasting music video program where he did comedy skits and gave love advice in a segment called "Penthouse Letters" which can be found on YouTube. He died of heart failure in 2013.
Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II (December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013) was an American jazz and rhythm & blues trumpeter. A sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while remaining a jazz artist. As a bandleader, Byrd was an influence on the early career of Herbie Hancock.
Byrd attended Cass Technical High School. He performed with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school. After playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, Byrd obtained a bachelor's degree in music from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music. While still at the Manhattan School, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, as the successor to Clifford Brown. In 1955, he recorded with Gigi Gryce, Jackie McLean and Mal Waldron. After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956, he performed with many leading jazz musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, and later Herbie Hancock.
Byrd's first regular group was a quintet that he co-led from 1958 to 1961 with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, an ensemble whose hard-driving performances are captured "live" on At the Half Note Cafe.
Byrd's 1961 LP Royal Flush marked the Blue Note debut of Hancock, who came to further attention with Byrd's successful 1962 album Free Form, and these albums also featured the first recordings of Hancock's original compositions. Hancock has credited Byrd as a key influence in his early career, recounting that he took the young pianist "under his wings" when he was a struggling musician newly arrived in New York, even letting him sleep on a hide-a-bed in his Bronx apartment for several years
He was the first person to let me be a permanent member of an internationally known band. He has always nurtured and encouraged young musicians. He's a born educator, it seems to be in his blood, and he really tried to encourage the development of creativity.
Hancock also recalled that Byrd helped him in many other ways: he encouraged Hancock to make his debut album for Blue Note, connected him with Mongo Santamaria, who turned Hancock's tune "Watermelon Man" into a chart-topping hit, and that Byrd also later urged him to accept Miles Davis' offer to join his quintet.
Hancock also credits Byrd with giving him one of the most important pieces of advice of his career – not to give away his publishing rights. When Blue Note offered Hancock the chance to record his first solo LP, label executives tried to convince him to relinquish his publishing in exchange for being able to record the album, but he stuck to Byrd's advice and refused, so the meeting came to an impasse. At this point, he stood up to leave and when it became clear that he was about to walk out, the executives relented and allowed him to retain his publishing. Thanks to Santamaria's subsequent hit cover version of "Watermelon Man", Hancock was soon receiving substantial royalties, and he used his first royalty check of $3,000 to buy his first car, a 1963 Shelby Cobra (also recommended by Byrd) which Hancock still owns, and which is now the oldest production Cobra still in its original owner's hands.
Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. (November 20, 1941 – June 6, 2019), better known by his stage name Dr. John, was an American singer and songwriter. His music combined blues, pop, jazz, boogie-woogie, and rock and roll.
Active as a session musician from the late 1950s until his death, he gained a following in the late 1960s after the release of his album Gris-Gris and his appearance at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. He typically performed a lively, theatrical stage show inspired by medicine shows, Mardi Gras costumes, and voodoo ceremonies. Rebennack recorded 30 studio albums and 9 live albums, as well as contributing to thousands of other musicians' recordings. In 1973 he achieved a top-10 hit single with "Right Place, Wrong Time".
The winner of six Grammy Awards, Rebennack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by singer John Legend in March 2011. In May 2013, Rebennack received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Tulane University.
Erica Abi Wright (born February 26, 1971), known professionally as Erykah Badu (/ˈɛrɪkə bɑːˈduː/), is an American singer and songwriter. Badu's career began after opening a show for D'Angelo in 1994 in Fort Worth; record label executive Kedar Massenburg was highly impressed with her performance and signed her to Kedar Entertainment. Her first album, Baduizm, was released in February 1997. It spawned three singles: "On & On", "Next Lifetime" and "Otherside of the Game". The album was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her first live album, Live, was released in November 1997 and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA.