Help Houston Heal: Hurricane Harvey Relief Benefit

Help Houston Heal: Hurricane Harvey Relief Benefit

Robert Glasper

Letoya Luckett

Bryan-Michael Cox

Estelle

Lupe Fiasco

BJ The Chicago Kid

Mon, September 18, 2017

8:00 pm

Tix $25-$150.00

This event is all ages

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Help Houston Heal: Hurricane Harvey Relief Benefit
Help Houston Heal: Hurricane Harvey Relief Benefit
Featuring Performances By
Robert Glasper & Special Guests
Lupe Fiasco
BJ The Chicago Kid
Estelle & MORE TO COME!
Hosted By
Letoya Luckett
Bryan-Michael Cox
Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
Breakthrough success can often be a tough act to follow. But with a little help from some notable friends, Robert Glasper Experiment is set to up the ante with the follow-up to his successful GRAMMY-winning album Black Radio. Flaunting a diverse array of featured guests including Common, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brandy, Jill Scott, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, Luke James, Emeli Sandé, Lalah Hathaway, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Black Radio 2 is certain to surprise and delight critics and fans alike. With a unique fusion of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop that brazenly traverses the boundaries of all three genres, Black Radio 2 finds Glasper and his musical cohorts creating in a vibrant new chasm, brilliantly contrasting its predecessor in the process.

“This record was a little different,” explains the Houston, Texas native. “I didn’t want to make the same record twice. I wanted to make a conscious effort to keep the vibe and the spirit of the first one without it sounding the same.” Considering his own rich musical journey, this sonic shifting approach to Black Radio 2 seems to be a long time coming. Reared in a household where Motown, R&B, and gospel were constant companions, his mother sang and played piano in church while indulging in her love for jazz and blues by performing at local clubs. By the age of twelve, he’d begun to fully follow his mother’s lead by playing piano in church and accompanying her on club dates on the Houston circuit.

Glasper went on to sharpen his prodigal chops at the Houston High School for the Performing Arts and New School University, allowing his developing affinity for pop, hip-hop, and rock to inform his musical sensibilities. By 2003, Glasper had already racked up spots in the bands of prominent jazz artists such as Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, and Roy Hargrove. In addition, his deep appreciation of hip-hop and R&B allowed him to form lateral bonds in those respective worlds. Guided by his mother’s example, Glasper simultaneously performed jazz while taking gigs as a touring musician and musical director for artists such as Maxwell, yasiin bey, Q-Tip, and Bilal.

With an impressive wealth of experience and talent, it was only a matter of time before he’d become an artist in his own right. That same year, he released his debut album Mood on Fresh Sound Records. Blue Note signed Glasper soon after and released his label debut Canvas (2005), followed by In My Element (2007) and Double-Booked (2009) – his first GRAMMY-nominated effort which juxtaposed his acoustic Trio with the electric Experiment band. While those albums were primarily rooted in jazz, he made certain to sprinkle his other musical influences into the stew. But in 2012, he decided it was time to serve the full main course. Glasper’s Black Radio was released that year to a maelstrom of critical acclaim. Featuring the likes of Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Meshell Ndegeocello, and yasiin bey, the album was cultivated via a series of jam sessions with artists from varying genres whom Glasper formed alliances with during his time in the music industry. “Everybody just came to the studio and we did stuff on the spot,” he says. “That was the vibe. I wasn’t thinking R&B.”
Black Radio was heralded by media outlets such as Rolling Stone, who wrote “Glasper heads down the fraught path of hip-hop jazz and gets it right,” adding “with music this smart and inviting, the implied diss of mainstream doesn’t feel like sour grapes; it feels like a blueprint forward.” The lead single “Ah Yeah” with Chrisette Michele and Musiq Soulchild landed on radio playlists nationwide, and TV appearances on Late Show With David Letterman, Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon followed. But when Black Radio took home the award for Best R&B Album at the 2013 GRAMMY Awards, there was no doubt that all eyes were on Glasper and his band of musical brothers.

In the wake of the GRAMMY win, offers to collaborate were abundant and bountiful. This withstanding, Glasper chose to curate his next aural exhibit more keenly to achieve a specifically desired effect. “Black Radio got so much love from the R&B world, so I made a conscious decision to concentrate a bit more on songs for this record,” he says of the anomalous coup. With that, Glasper set out to focus on R&B song structure that complimented his jazz pianist chops as well as that of the rest of Robert Glasper Experiment – Casey Benjamin (saxophone/vocoder), Derrick Hodge (bass), and Mark Colenburg (drums).

With this concept firmly in hand, Glasper reached out to noted R&B songwriters to collaborate with. Soon afterwards, he ensconced himself in the legendary Los Angeles recording studio Westlake Studios with the members of the Experiment and a handful of guest vocalists to craft material for the new album. The glowing results from this session and subsequent sessions in Los Angeles and New York City are evidenced throughout the 12 dynamic tracks on Black Radio 2.

Featuring the scintillating vocals of multi-platinum superstar Brandy, GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars, R Kelly, Michael Jackson) paints a melodic portrait of a languishing love affair on the head nodding cut “What Are We Doing.” GRAMMY-winning Roc Nation songwriter Andrea Martin (Melanie Fiona, Angie Stone, Monica) contributes a tale of longing on the intensely passionate “Yet To Find” as lauded recording artist Anthony Hamilton infuses the track with his patented brand of grit n’ soul. Conversely, Detroit recording artist Dwele brims with the confidence and assurance of a love supreme on the Rhodes embroidered “Worries,” penned by Young Money recording artist and GRAMMY-winning songwriter PJ Morton (India.Arie, Maroon 5, Stevie Wonder).

Yet even with the proven songwriting talent of his aforementioned company, Glasper exhibits the wisdom to allow some of his featured guests the freedom to flex their skill behind the mic as well as with the pen. The results are brilliantly exemplified in the album’s soaring opening track “I Stand Alone” that was crafted with collaborators Common and Patrick Stump, and the lead single, “Calls” featuring Jill Scott, where Scott weaves a story of a metaphysical romantic connection partly quantified in answered phone calls over a lush bed of Glasper’s dreamy piano chords. The mesmerizing mid tempo track “Trust” follows suite featuring the crystalline vocals of singer/ songwriter Marsha Ambrosius, who is a noted songwriter in her own right having penned the Michael Jackson hit “Butterflies.” Black Radio 2 also features pensive spoken word interludes interspersed amongst the musical mélange by esteemed African American academic/ author Michael Eric Dyson and gospel singer/ preacher John P. Kee.

Poet/actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner made a spontaneous and meaningful contribution to the album when he dropped by the studio and ended up penning and recording a thought-provoking slice of spoken word poetry on the profoundly poignant and symbolic rendition of the Stevie Wonder gem “Jesus Children Of America,” featuring the vocals of Black Radio alumnus Lalah Hathaway. The song is fashioned as a tribute to the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy and has a deeply personal meaning for Glasper. “The very first time I performed that song live was during a Stevie Wonder tribute on the day the Sandy Hook tragedy took place,” he recalls. “I’d also found out that a close friend lost his daughter in the tragedy. So when we did the Stevie song, I almost lost it. It hit close to home, because I have a four-year-old son.”

Amidst the immense star power, Black Radio 2 also manages to shine a light on buzz worthy newcomers like BRIT Award winning U.K. artist Emeli Sandé (“Somebody Else”) and Island Def Jam recording artist Luke James (“Persevere” featuring Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco). In addition to the original 12 tracks, the deluxe edition of Black Radio 2 includes four bonus tracks: “I Don’t Even Care” featuring Jean Grae and Macy Gray, “Big Girl Body” featuring Eric Roberson, “My Everything” featuring Bilal and Jazmine Sullivan, and an instrumental cover of the classic Bill Withers tune “Lovely Day” featuring a spoken intro from Mr. Withers himself who made a surprise visit to the studio in Los Angeles.

Black Radio 2 further exemplifies Glasper’s remarkable skill as a producer and musician adept at extracting a truly extraordinary side of his guests’ acclaimed talents, irrespective of differences in genre. It is also a magnificent display of an undaunted jazz composer intent on allowing the full range of his musical influences ebb and flow through his output in an astonishing fashion. Black Radio 2 serves as a conceptually illustrious reminder of the multitude of possibilities for musical collaboration and blurring the lines. But for Glasper, this is merely second nature.

“Jazz musicians are becoming more comfortable with music that speaks to them personally,” he muses. “I think it’s very important that musicians feed off the fruit of the music that actually is the soundtrack of their lives. The only way to keep something relevant is to renew it from history and let it grow and change. When that happens, you start getting stuff like Black Radio 2. Black music is the house that has many rooms. Black people have invented so many dope genres that everyone loves: Jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and the list goes on. I’m just visiting all those rooms. It’s my mansion; it’s our mansion. I don’t have to exclude anything. With that said, who knows where I’ll go next.”
Letoya Luckett
Letoya Luckett
R&B singer, songwriter and actress.
Bryan-Michael Cox
Bryan-Michael Cox
It’s easy to miss the unassuming presence of a new love song especially amidst the post-crunk newly synthesized era that’s been sonically florescent for the past five years. Love is a sound typically taken for granted yet melodies such as Usher’s “Burn”, “Confessions” and “You Got It Bad” or Mary J Blige’s record breaking smash “Be Without You” somehow managed to remain securely unbothered in the number one spot. Unmistakably rooted in R&B, and soul music often with Jazz extensions, eight-time Grammy winning Producer and Songwriter Bryan-Michael Cox is appropriately named one of Billboard’s “Top 10 Producers of the Decade” and sits on Billboard’s “Hot R&B Song of the Decade List”, “Hot 100 Songs of the Decade List”, “Top 200 Albums of the Decade List” and is a 2009 Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee.

Cox is a consistent team player who began his career as an intern at Noontime Records in Atlanta, Georgia. He then went on to co-produce as Jermaine Dupri’s wingman and finally garnered numbers on his own that quickly established Bryan as a league MVP. Yet, when there is discussion of great music producers, in spite of having landed 25 number one hits, 12 Grammy Award Nominations including eight wins, 20 top ten hits and eclipsing the record previously held by the Beatles for Billboard’s most consecutive number one hits.

Bryan’s genetic fervor for music dates back to his mother’s love for all styles of music. And her own passion as an instrumentalist. Bryan's mother played the flute. Unbeknownst to Pamela Cox, with the birth of Bryan, her dreams would only be temporarily deferred. “My mom would buy music instead of food when I was little. We would spend her entire paycheck at the record store.” Bryan-Michael (his given first name) would express his musical ambitions to his mother by the time he was 7 years old thereby allowing enough time to prepare him for his eventual enrollment in Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts.

While at the High School for the Performing Arts, Bryan would literally have a date with Destiny, when he met a Freshman during his Senior year named Beyonce’ Knowles. “The first demo tape that I ever did was with Beyonce,” reminisces Bryan. Although the two wouldn’t reconnect until nearly 7 years later when Bryan produced a track on Destiny’s Child’s Survivor Album it was the early confirmation from Matthew Knowles that prompted Bryan to blaze his tuneful path.

“Back then there was three choices if you wanted to be in the music industry, live in New York, LA, or Atlanta. I enrolled in Clark Atlanta University because although my Mom supported my dreams one hundred percent I had to go to college, so I chose Clark because I was just trying to get to Atlanta.” Aptly branded “Black Hollywood” in the late nineties Atlanta was home to LaFace records whose roster read like a music industry walk of fame.

Twelve years later, with dozens of music productions to his credit including explosive hits like Mariah Carey’s ‘Shake It Off” and “Don’t Forget About Us” along with youthful ballads like Chris Brown’s “Say Goodbye” and simultaneous releases by Usher, Mary J Blige, Keyshia Cole, Trey Songz, Day 26, Justin Bieber and Monica, his image has remained that of a southern gentleman with urban sophistication, a subdued soulfulness and unparalleled talent. Many are often surprised that the 33 year-old has received such accolades and honors so early in life. Launching his professional career in 1998, Cox has watched the recording industry change over the years. As a relentless businessman, leading producer, artist, and renowned songwriter Bryan-Michael Cox continues to exceed his personal best.
Estelle
Estelle
Female MC from London.
Estelle waited a long time before signing up to a major label, eventually settling with V2 Records, Inc.
Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco
A decade after Lupe Fiasco exploded onto the hip-hop scene with his seminal 2006 debut Food & Liquor, the Chicago native is closing the chapter on his career with his most visualized projects yet. The independent rapper, who parted ways with his former label Atlantic Records following the release of 2015’s Tetsuo & Youth, hits his creative peak with a trilogy of albums—Drogas Light, Drogas and Skulls—the final curtain call on one of the most gifted lyricists and visionaries to grace the mic.

If anything, Drogas Light, the first delivery to fans arriving in early 2017 via 1st & 15th/Thirty Tigers, is a testament to Fiasco’s artistic growth throughout the years. The 14-track LP is free of restraint, and daring by his standards: the sonic and storytelling palettes are vast and diverse, more so than ever before, traipsing genre and style with ease and touting songs to soundtrack everything from a night at the club to a quiet listen on headphones. Where Tetsuo & Youth leaned into more experimental pastures, Drogas Light is the embodiment of a musician whose foray beyond the boundaries of hip-hop feels increasingly natural, a glimpse into the genius that will be Fiasco’s legacy as he inevitably walks away from the spotlight.

From the start of Drogas Light, Fiasco lays his rhyming skills bare, attacking a haunted beat accented by a screwed vocal sample on opener “Dopamine” that self-reflectively emphasizes the magnetism of the album (“Over-d off of this, but don’t fall asleep ‘til the dopamine hit!” he chants). The set is dotted with several trap-inflected songs—“NGL” featuring Ty Dolla $ign is a turn-up anthem that entertains the reasons why success comes slow to many, while the STREETRUNNER-produced lead single “Made in the USA” catalogues the various home-grown, illicit products manufactured in the country.

Fiasco has often been pegged as a socially conscious emcee, likened to peers including Common and Nas, and he lives up to the reputation on “City of the Year,” where he explores the economic disparity of Chi-town. He flexes his storytelling muscle on the hypnotic, spinning “Jump,” on which he unfolds the tale of going from a “trapper to a rapper” by supplying a female adversary with a career boost. But it’s when the album hits the relax button that Drogas Light coasts on cushy grooves: “Kill,” also featuring Ty Dolla $ign, is an after-hours ode to women who work at gentleman’s clubs, and the vamping closer “More Than My Heart” is an emotionally charged hat-tip to all the mothers who would sacrifice anything for their children.

While Drogas Light signifies the beginning of the end for Fiasco, it represents how far he’s come since he first entered the game and merely accents the intellectual breadth of the discography he’ll leave behind. At the onset of career, rappers including Jay Z and Kanye West regarded him as the future of hip-hop, with the latter tapping him for a standout guest verse on “Touch the Sky” after Fiasco remixed West’s hit “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” His debut album Food & Liquor earned him three Grammy nominations and a win for the Jill Scott-assisted “Daydreamin’,” which netted the trophy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in 2008.

In the years since, he evolved from the backpack rap of his debut with a string of classics including 2007’s Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool and 2011’s Lasers, a prelude to the following year’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1. While Drogas Light is just a taste of what he has to offer in the new year, it’s yet another earmark on a track record of an artist who continually comes into new bloom.
BJ The Chicago Kid
BJ The Chicago Kid
It’s been a long time coming for BJ the Chicago Kid, and not just because, after four mixtapes and one indie classic, he’s now dropping his major-label debut on Motown, the modern yet deeply soulful In My Mind. You’ve been hearing his voice everywhere though, on the songs by some of the greatest artists of our era (punctuating tracks by Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Kehlani and ScHoolboy Q’s Grammy Award-nominated smash “Studio.”). Notable Collaborations include Vic Mensa, Chance The Rapper, Dom Kennedy, Freddie Gibbs, Ty Dolla $ign, Xzibit and, most recently, OG Maco, Joey Bada$$ and Hannibal Burress. But go back even farther and you’ll find BJ was fated for this life.

Bryan James Sledge cooed his first note to an audience when he was 5-years-old. His mom was a choir director and his whole family was in the congregation: BJ the youngest of three boys who all sang on Sunday. Yet outside was the constant backbeat of his youth: trunk music, rap and old school soul, the same thump that he’d hear falling asleep at night, and at the whole-block cookouts that happened every Saturday. His dad, though also a choir director, exposed him to that secular inspiration firsthand. By night his father did concert security, and he took his boy to gigs. Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation Tour (the one with the panther) changed BJ forever, and the experience got swirled up with the stuff he heard at home: the Chi-Lites, Luther, Curtis, even Babyface.

The kid wrote his first song as a teen. He’d been focused on drums, and you can still hear that in the way his voice clings to the pocket, but, as happens, he caught feelings for a girl and wrote a poem about it. Producer Kevin Randolph, a family friend, saw promise in BJ’s pen and mentored him in the ways of song. And when it was time, he helped BJ secure his ticket to Los Angeles. That first job, singing backup with gospel duo Mary Mary, led to studio time (vocals, songwriting) with Lalah Hathaway, Musiq Soulchild, Joe, Mario, and Mary J. Blige, among others. In 2005 alone he went into the booth with Stevie Wonder and onto the Grammy stage with Usher and James Brown. A year later came the big one: Kanye West’s “Impossible” for Mission: Impossible III.

It’s understandable if you’ve heard BJ and not known it—the man’s melody is classic and his voice is elastic; he sounds like a sample. But he proved his knack for present-day soul on 2012’s self-released album, Pineapple Now-Laters, a diverse collection of songs that moved from a cappella excellence to swaggy rap ‘n’ blues to the heartfelt “His Pain,” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Call it a favor returned—BJ’s on Lamar’s 2009 EP, and works with the whole T.D.E. family. ScHoolboy Q’s single “Studio” followed, capping an impressive run of collaborations with West Coast legends like Warren G and Xzibit, and Chicago new-schoolers like Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. BJ’s M.A.F.E. Project tape in 2014 broadcast the message: “Music Ain’t for Everyone.”

Of course, BJ was destined for the winner’s circle, and just as he came up in a supportive Chicago ‘hood, he’s been building up his music community steadily. He even pitched in on Dr. Dre’s long-awaited Compton on the way to now, but it’s his time to shine, and for fans of all those guys to realize they’ve been fans of BJ all along. In My Mind is the first true open door to his world, to a place where the Bible comes first, but Belly might be second. Where blunts burn and oxtails simmer. It’s a window into the psyche of a soul man who watches Tom & Jerry regularly, but keeps up with the bangers from around the way. This man who sings “Church”—with a hook that so perfectly illustrates the line he walks: “She said she wanna drink, do drugs, and have sex tonight/But I got church in the morning”—is not so far removed from the so-called kid raised on the Windy City’s South Side. Most of all, In My Mind is a set of staggeringly great songs from a man who knows The Classics as well as he does The Now.

Take his James Brown flip, “Woman’s World,” where vintage sound meets modern perspective. Or “Heart Crush,” which connects a timeless sentiment (fast love’s slow fizzle) with an atmospheric, alt-R&B sound. There’s the steamy stuff like “Turnin Me Up,” which finds BJ channeling both D’Angelo and Marvin Gaye while leading his live band. And romantic fare like “Shine,” a piano ballad tailor-made to weaken knees on deployment. “New Cupid,” especially, crisscrosses generation and genre with ease, borrowing the iconic “Oh yeah!” from “Mr. Big Stuff,” sampling a Raphael Saadiq cut, and featuring a heartbroken Lamar.

In My Mind transcends basic classification—it’s as imaginative as its title implies, but as real BJ the Chicago Kid’s love for this music.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change