For anyone in Alabama who loved their music music soulful, there was no alternative to the steady diet of mainstream R&B local radio stations fed them. It was a case of Hobson’s choice. That’s until Roderick Moody decided to shake things up. Roderick, whose better known as DJ Rahdu is known as a musical tastemaker. He’s a man with his finger on America’s musical pulse.  Not only that, but Roderick is also the host of the Diamond Soul Xxxperience Show. Alabama was the next state to hear the Diamond Soul Xxxperience Show. 

Once a week, for two hours, citizens of Alabama could listen to the Diamond Soul Xxxperience Show. This meant all things soulful. It didn’t matter whether it was Caribbean, funk, hip hop, house or jazz as long as it was soulful DJ Rahdu would give it a spin. There was only one musical no-go area….R&B. DJ Rahdu figured that other stations were catering for the needs of fans of R&B. This has proved a successful formula. What started in a  small way, is a worldwide phenomenon.

Having established a reputation as a purveyor of all things soulful, DJ Rahdu decided to hit the streets. He began holding open mic events. Then in 2012, DJ Rahdu launched his website. It’s been discovered by over one-million music fans worldwide. Then in 2012, DJ Rahdu released  BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck. Released to critical acclaim, the compilation proved a commercial success. So much so, that on  BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 will be released by BBE Music on 10th February 2014.

For BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 DJ Rahdu asked artists to submit a new track. The response was overwhelming. So, he spent time working his way through this mountain of soulful music. Eventually, he managed to settle on a dozen “future soul classic for the new b-boy generation.” This includes contributions from Rippy Austin featuring Stephanie Nicole, James Tillman, Jevon Reynolds, Fayth Hope, J Finesse and Aisha Mars. There’s more than a few hidden gems on BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2, which I’ll tell you about.

Opening BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 is Fallen. This is a track from Rippy Austin featuring Nathan Pittmon and Robert Casey. Rippy may be a new name for many people, but  looks like a singer with a big future. He he released his debut E.P. Patiently Waiting in 2013. It was well received, especially in electro soul circles. No wonder. Fallen is perfect start to the compilation. It’s best described as mellow, ethereal and dreamy, to soulful and jazz-tinged.

Joomanji featuring Joseph Mark’s Intoxicated is very different from the previous track. Everything from Nu-Soul, funk, jazz and hip hop is combined by the San Diego collective. They were founded by producer and San Diego native Jonah Christian. He describes their music as  a fusion of “crisp horns, smooth vocals, and groovy vinyl samples with drums and bass you’ll never forget.” This is a heady brew that results is a track that’s smooth, sassy, sensual and soulful.

From the opening bars of Diligence, it’s apparent Stephanie Nicole is a diva in waiting. The only way to describe her vocal is feisty and emotive. She delivers lyrics that are full of social comment. This she does against an arrangement that’s a fusion of cosmic funk, soul, jazz and drama. It’s ying to Stephanie’s yang.

James Tillman’s Shangri La is a captivating track. It’s a glorious combination of Nu-Soul, jazz and drama. The arrangement is jazz-tinged, growing in power and drama. By now you’re captivated. Crisp drums, washes of synths and Fender Rhodes combine with James vocal. It’s been described as “ethereal.” To that I’d heartfelt and soul-baring. 

Hot on the heels of Hames Tillman’s vocal, comes Jevon Reynolds’ vocal on Silence. James is a real find. He draws inspiration from the past, and specifically, jazz and soul. That describes his style. His delivery is tender, sincere and impassioned. The arrangement is understated. That’s perfect. It allows James’ vocal to take centre-stage, where it belongs.

GDNA’s Calm is best described as an ethereal soundscape. It meanders into being, before hissing hi-hats and the rhythm section take charge. Soon, jagged synths, glistening guitars  and handclaps join in. Everything is dropped in at just the right time. What follows is a fusion of musical influences and genres. Everything from ambient, experimental, house and jazz are combined. This results in a mesmeric and innovative slice of soulful house.

Just like so many of the tracks on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2, Hummus’ I Do (I Do) is a real pot pourri of influences. Influences include classic soul, Nu Soul, jazz and hip hop. Hummus’ vocal veers between Nu Soul to jazz tinged. Accompanied by harmonies, strings and horns, Hummus reminds me of Erkay Badu and India Arie. Her vocal oozes emotion, sincerity and quality.

Fayth Hope, a singer-songwriter, whose a native of Alabama, may be a new name to some people. Maybe not for much longer? Recently, she’s been establishing a reputation as an artist whose going places. Warrior is proof of this. It allows Fayth to showcase her vocal prowess. She combines two of her musical loves…soul and jazz.  Like a diva in waiting, Fayth literally struts her way through this fusion of Nu Soul, jazz and funk.

Another of the collaborations on BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 is Anu~Sun featuring Augi. Where Did We Go Wrong is a mixture of the music of the past and present. Vintage jazz , Nu Soul and hip hop might seem unlikely bedfellows. They’re not. Proof of this is Where Did We Go Wrong. Jazz-tinged and featuring a tender, mellow female vocal it’s all change. As the vocal drops out, a rapped vocal picks up the baton. This works. Then the vocal makes  a welcome return. With its fusion of Nu Soul, jazz and hip hop, the result is a slice of musical sunshine.

Slow and spacey describes J Finesse’s Drums, Claps and Snaps… Ya Dig. It has an old school hip hop influence. As drums, claps and snaps provide a hypnotic backdrop keyboards meander across the arrangement. It’s best described as jazz-tinged. Especially when the guitar is added. It plays an important part in a mesmeric, jazz-tinged and soulful track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a 21st Century Blaxploitation soundtrack.

Buscrates 16-Bit Ensemble’s In The Distance sees the tempo drop and a futuristic slice of space-age music unfold. Its roots are in hip hop, jazz, ambient and electronica. Straight away, the arrangement takes on a hypnotic sound. This comes courtesy of the beats and keyboards. Then there’s the bubbling synths. Together they play their part in this robotic, hypnotic and futuristic nu-electronic soundscape.

Aisha Mars’ Ultraviolet closes BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2. It’s a light, airy and spacey track. This jazzy track literally floats along. That’s down to the flute, reverberating guitars and galloping drums. They’re a potent and successful combination. The result is a track that’s lush, dreamy, ethereal, lysergic and futuristic. It seems the best has been kept until last. 

The twelve tracks on BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 are the result of six months hard work by the twelve artists. That’s how long they had to come up with a track that would feature on BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2. These twelve will restore many people’s faith in modern music. Why? Well I constantly hear people say that there aren’t any artists producing groundbreaking music. Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 proves them wrong. In fact, there’s twelve reasons why they’re wrong.

Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 allows a new generation of artists to have their music heard by a wider audience. They’ve drawn inspiration from the music of the past to create the music of the future. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear the twelve artists have been influenced by everything from ambient, Blaxploitation, electronica, funk, hip hop, jazz, Nu Soul, soul and soulful house. As a result, the music they’ve produced is funky, jazz tinged and soulful. I’d also describe the music on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 as lush, dreamy, ethereal, heartfelt, hypnotic, lysergic and futuristic. Importantly, the music on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 is also innovative and groundbreaking.

Many of the artists on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 are determined to innovate and become a success on their own terms. That’s no bad thing. After all, there’s far too much music that’s anodyne and derivative. There’s no way you could accuse any of the music on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 of that. No. This is music for the 21st Century, from twelve artists who have a big future ahead of them. BamaLoveSoul Presents On Deck 2, which will will be released by BBE Music on 10th February 2014, is a chance for these artists to showcase their inconsiderable skills. 

Who knows, maybe a couple of years from now and one of the artists on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 may have made a commercial breakthrough? They’re certainly not lacking in skill. Often what it comes down to is breaks. Time and time again, I’ve written about talented artists failing to get the breaks that would’ve transformed their careers. Let’s hope that the artists on Bama LoveSoul Presents On Deck 2 get the breaks their music deserves and that commercial success and critical acclaim comes their way.


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