Posts Tagged ‘Bilal’


I got my hands on Statik Selektah and Termanology’s 1982 album a few days ago. The project is quality and well-worth the pickup. The duo have caught the animated video bug and have created a clip for their surrealistic concept song “People Are Running.” The video has the appropriate Halloween theme, and is directed by Nastee of 4wordproductions.



This song should sound familiar. “Tainted Love” has been remade numerous times since its first incarnation as a Gloria Jones single in 1964. It fell under the radar then and even when Jones remade it herself in 1976. But in 1981, the UK Synthpop duo Soft Cell cashed on their remake, reaching #1 on the UK charts. Since then, “Tainted Love” has been remade or sampled nearly 30 times by artists ranging from Rihanna to Marilyn Manson. The song’s original version was even featured as a radio station offering in the highly successful video game Grant Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Bilal, with backing from composer/arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, gives an improvisational take on the now well-known northern soul b-side. This collaboration is their second, preceded by “Is This Love.”

Bilal’s latest album, Airtight’s Revenge, is available now.




Gotham Green and Quickie Mart feat. Planet Asia “Game Change”











I’m a big fan of the late, former Temptations singer Eddie Kendricks. So anytime a Hip-Hopper samples him, I’m almost certain to like it. Gotham Green and Quickie Mart deliver that satisfaction on their latest single off the Haze Diaries Vol. 3. Planet Asia also comes through for a guest verse. Extra kudos to Quickie Mart for the sample flip and adding some different arrangements from what others (including Alicia Keys) have done with it.



I haven’t finalized my opinion yet on Waka Flocka Flame’s debut album Flockaveli, which dropped this past Tuesday (October 5). But there are a few points I’m sure of. One, it’s not the classic he assured me it was when I met him at the BET Hip Hop Awards (what a surprise…). And two, it’s damn good workout music. Form your own opinion on its worth based in this video for the song that kicks off the album, “Bustin’ At ‘Em.”



If you haven’t picked up Bilal’s new album Airtight’s Revenge, please hit up iTunes now and add another good LP to your collection. Bilal is back and this album is rightfully making some positive noise with critics and fans. Need more info on his direction? Check out the Beats, Boxing & Mayhem interview.

Erykah Badu Praises Bilal; New Album Stream Link

Posted: September 14, 2010 by Ismael AbduSalaam in Music News
Tags: , ,

Erykah Badu knows talent when she hears it. A formidable artist in her own right, Ms. Badu had nothing but loving words for fellow singer Bilal, who droped his long-awaited sophomore album Airtight’s Revenge today (September 14) on Plug Research. Badu reveals how Common introduced her to Bilal’s music, and how she thought he was a female due to his falsetto. According to the Fat Belly Mama, Bilal has one of the greatest voices in music today.

“I’ve never heard another voice in that way,” she remarked. “And soon the whole world will know about it…The voice is just so moving to me.”

The whole album is available for streaming preview at AOL Spinner at this link. Also, check out Bilal’s interview with Beats, Boxing and Mayhem.

Like the rest of the Hip-Hop world, Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles has been reflecting on the legacy of Tupac Shakur, who was murdered 14 years ago this week in Las Vegas.

Foxxx had a close relationship with Tupac in the early 90s, and now views his departed friend as the versatile artist ever to emerge from the genre.

“Tupac was probably the most diverse emcee I know as far as his talent and ability,” he explained. “He was driven by passion for Hip-Hop and expressing his views through the music. A lot of cats don’t know how to do that…They get stuck at the ‘murder, kill’ part but don’t tell you the reason they’re saying it that way.”

Even years later, Foxxx still travels with the letters he and Tupac exchanged while he was serving time for sexual abuse. For him, they serve as inspiration and remembrance of a talented friend who was taken away too soon.

Check out the full clip below, which includes a 1993 freestyle session between Foxxx and Tupac.

Had he lived, Tupac would have celebrated his 39th birthday this year.

If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, please make sure you check out my extensive interview with Bilal. Right on time, the singer drops his first single today from his new album Airtight’s Revenge. It’s due out September 14th and from the advance I have it’s very promising. “Restart” is produced by Bilal and Steve McKie (Jill Scott, Estelle).

Bilal “Restart”

Moe Green Bonus Track
Bay Area rapper Moe Green is still promoting his free debut album Rocky Maivia: Non-Title Match, which hit the net earlier this year. I almost didn’t catch this bonus track on the limited, physical edition CD that arrived in the mail yesterday. Produced by Rob-E, Green describes the track as an anthem for anyone about to take on an important endeavor.
“It’s what I call Wrestlemania music. It gets you ready to do something big,” Green explained. “I just need to win a couple belts first. I have to prove that I have the skill to do that and this album is like my wrestling debut.”
Any song that can throw Goldust into a verse definitely deserves a listen. Rocky Maivia is available for free download HERE. After the drop, check out his latest feature in XXL magazine.
Moe Green “Lights, Camera, Action”

Bilal: One Man’s Revenge

Posted: August 16, 2010 by Ismael AbduSalaam in Music Interviews
Tags: , ,


Not many artists can go into album exile for eight years and emerge with much of their fan base still intact. But Bilal Oliver is a fighter and survivor. Instead of bowing under the mainstream demands of his former home Interscope, Bilal opted not to record ready-made radio tunes and completely severed ties with the major label.

On September 14th, he returns with Airtight’s Revenge (Plug Research), his official sophomore project and “unofficial” third offering following Interscope’s shelved Love For Sale. And for the first time in nearly a decade, Bilal is giving fans his art in an uncut and raw form.

Ismael AbduSalaam: You’ve been an artist that’s experienced the good and the bad with the Internet. Talk about what made you comfortable with Plug Research going forward and creating your own label situation.

Bilal Oliver: Well, I think Plug Research is doing their thing. Digitally, they’re one of the biggest companies. With the Internet it’s a gift and a curse, and you have to deal with it in the best way. I think it’s a cool deal I have for an independent venture.

Ismael: A couple years ago Dave Chappelle had a comment about how art suffers when it meets corporate interests. Based on what you experienced with Interscope and the type of music you make, do you believe it would ever be beneficial for you to return to a major label?

Bilal: It just has to be set up in different way. In order for you to get respect and be able to do what you want to do you have to make noise indie first. Once you do that you can get better leverage like a Master P or some shit. My music is no weirder than any white indie band. But we’re in a system where they think white indie bands or rock bands can experiment all they want but black people have to follow the corporate guidelines. It used to be totally the opposite years ago. All I want to do is push the envelope in music and I’m going to do that regardless. And I’m in a good place to do that.

Ismael: On the unreleased Love For Sale album you’ve mentioned people like Charles Mingus and Howlin’ Wolf were influences on the sound. What influences did you pull from for Airtight’s Revenge?

Bilal: I really used a lot of concepts from Frank Zappa on this record; just because it’s a mix of a lot of different sounds with a nucleus of rock and soul. And even with that nucleus there’s a mix of jazz, blues and electronic influences. Frank Zappa was dope at that; mixing a lot different artists in a band to create one distinct sound. And that’s where I was with this type and just musically in general with my writing now.

Ismael: One of your collaborators for this album is Shafiq Husayn (“Levels”). How was the chemistry working on a song from scratch with him?

Bilal: It was real cool, man. I always get a lot out of working with Shafiq. We were just experimenting and having fun doing it. I always like to experiment with cats that are just as experimental as I am. Shafiq is like a scientist and just to watch him is really cool.

Ismael: I know Airtight’s a nickname. How did you get it?

Bilal: You know Common started calling me that. I used to read a lot of Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim books. Com got me into that and that’s a nickname that stuck from years ago. Not that I’m old or anything [laughs].

Ismael: The album cover replicates the famous Malcolm X photo now known as “By Any Means Necessary.” How does that tie in to the work on the album?

Bilal: The concept is getting my art out by any means necessary. Even through all the pitfalls, the dark side of industry and the bullshit you go through. I’m going to get it out in the manner it should be; not watered down or anything against how I want it. That photo is a reminder of that. It’s uncut, raw music that I’m putting out. And I’m willing to do whatever to get it out.

Ismael: I wanted to commend you on the “Who Are You” track. I can really relate to it being that I also grew up a religiously mixed household with a Christian mother and Muslim father. Explain how your spiritual process and evolvement has affected your music.

Bilal: It’s helped me a lot. Spirituality is an ongoing deal every day. I’m the type of person that whatever I’m dealing with or thinking about, it kind of shows up in my music. I just felt like really speaking on religion and how it’s separating everyone when a lot of the religions are very similar. But no one really knows that because everyone likes to focus on the negative. If everyone would really study the other religions they would really see. So I wanted to bring the light that we’re all spiritual beings and should not separate each other. It’s not a gang; we’re all trying to be connected to God.

Ismael: The consistency of putting out albums before was out of your hands due to the label issues. Now that you have that control back, do you see yourself putting out albums often or more extended breaks?

Bilal: I don’t know it depends on how the music comes to me. I just try to empty myself but I won’t rush anything out. I don’t think it’ll take me long. It really took me a long time in the last couple years because of stuff going on behind the scenes. But when I’m in a good space mentally and good recording space I can do music all the time.

One of the main things I’d like to do before my next record is build my own studio and have my own space to do things.

Ismael: What would you say was your weakest point as an artist and what made you decide to keep going?

Bilal: My lowest point was battling with Interscope to put Love For Sale out without changing songs and finding a single. That was the worst; writing a song with the intent of it being a single. And then after doing that it getting bootlegged and the label telling me I had to start from scratch. That really upset me because I had gone through such a fight for the music. To have them tell me they were giving up on it and to start over just left a sour taste.

[What kept me going] was when I started to get responses from people online saying they enjoyed the music. When I got that it really opened me up to saying “man, maybe I can keep going.” Even then I was very reluctant to start music. I would just write music for myself and record with my garage band. I just started doing my own shit privately. But it was really when I started getting responses online that I opened up.

Ismael: What are the touring plans? Are you going to focus on the States or take it international?

Bilal: I’m going to focus everywhere. I just came back from overseas. I plan to do a tour in the States and then Japan. I’m really interested in making music that’ll reach the whole world and not have boundaries. I really try to scale my music down to melody. I’d love to touch the whole world with this.

Ismael: If you could meet the Bilal from 2002, what advice would you give him?

Bilal: I would tell him…shit I don’t know [laughs]. Artistically I’m not mad at anything [I did]. I would have kept my music more under wraps. I wouldn’t have recorded at so many different studios and tried to protect my music a little bit more. But everything happens for a reason, so a lot of times I try not to look back. I make sure I put my best foot forward.

Next month Bilal Oliver returns with Airtight’s Revenge, his first studio album in nine years.

In this exclusive interview with Beats, Boxing and Mayhem, Bilal delves into the concept behind the album and his struggles marketing a multi-faceted identity as a black musician in today’s music industry.

Airtight’s Revenge features Bilal on the cover mimicking Malcolm X’s famous 1964 Ebony Magazine photo. Instead of holding a M1 Carbine rifle like the revered activist, Bilal peers out the window gripping a microphone stand. The purpose, he says, was to convey his unwavering stance to release his music without artistic compromise.

“The concept is getting my art out by any means necessary. Even through all the pitfalls, the dark side of industry and the bullshit you go through,” he explained to Beats, Boxing and Mayhem. “I’m going to get it out in the manner it should be; not watered down or anything against how I want it. That photo is a reminder of that. It’s uncut, raw music that I’m putting out. And I’m willing to do whatever to get it out.”

That uncompromising position resulted in the dissolution of his first major label deal with Interscope Records. His 2001 debut 1st Born Second was critically acclaimed but failed to reach a large audience in spite of appearances from Dr. Dre, Mos Def, Common and J Dilla.

Instead of altering his sound for mainstream viability, he further experimented with blues and jazz arrangements inspired by Charles Mingus and Howlin’ Wolf for his sophomore set Love For Sale. Interscope flatly deemed the project “unmarketable” and promptly shelved it, informing Bilal to start making a new album from scratch. Following a period of self-doubt, he decided to leave the label after being re-energized by positive feedback from fans who heard the leaked album.

There is a distinct tone of bemusement in Bilal’s voice when he reflects on that situation. With a new album that addresses topics ranging from the current economic crisis (“The Dollar”) to the absurdity of religious fundamentalism (“Who Are You”), the singer notes that black artists today are being pushed by major labels to conformity and not allowed creative leeway bestowed on their white counterparts

“My music is no weirder than any white indie band,” he argued. “But we’re in a system right now where they think white indie and rock bands can experiment all they want but black artists have to follow the corporate guidelines. It used to be the total opposite years ago. All I want to do is push the envelope in music. I want that regardless of the label situation. But now I’m in a good place to do that.”

Airtight’s Revenge will be available on September 14th on Plug Research. It features production contributions from Shafiq Husayn, 88 Keys adn Nottz.

Bilal’s full interview with Beats, Boxing and Mayhem will be published on Monday August 16th.