Ubiquity Feb ’10 Release: Georgia Anne Muldrow – King’s Ballad (CD x LP)


01. Indeed
02. Doobie Down
03. Simple Advice
04. Kings Ballad
05. R.I.P
06. Thrones
07. Summer Love
08. Shang-A-Lang
09. The Ooh Wee Show
10. Can’t Stand Yo Love
11. To The Stage
12. March For Africa
13. Chocolate Reign
14. Baby Dee
15. Live
16. Room Punk!
17. Thatch
18. Industrial Bap
19. Morena Del Ray

“She’s incredible. She’s like Flack, Nina Simone, Ella, she’s something else. She’s like religion. It’s heavy, vibrational music. I’ve never heard a human being sing like this. Her voice is wildly, finely expressive. It’s so singular. It’s hip-hop, the way that she approaches it rhythmically, she’s got so many jazz influences. It’s something else and you can just feel it. With “Georgia Anne Muldrow Presents Ms. One (Someothaship) she’s like J. Dilla, the legendary producer. She makes her own beats, she rhymes, she sings, and she plays. If people love Amy Winehouse, they’re going to get their minds blown when they hear Georgia Anne Muldrow.”
– Mos Def (in a New York Times interview.)

Slicing pop n’lock-friendly funk with gospel and gracious soul Georgia Anne Muldrow is shining as a true West Coast original. The seeds of early experimental releases are now blossoming as her trademark scattershot beats and adventurous deep jazz melodies have grown to become the backbone for fully crafted songs. Left to her own devices on Kings Ballad, she has come up with what her partner (MC and producer Dudley Perkins) describes as her most “pop” record to date. If only all pop was this free-spirited and barefaced.

With aspirations to be a modern-day Quincy Jones, Muldrow is truly a renaissance musician. She is always looking to take her craft to a higher ground. She channels her unstoppable creativity into music that is commercially viable but does not lose sight of her essence as an artist who challenges the norm. She bears the enviable ability to play all her own instruments, and write and perform her own songs. Everything you hear on Kings Ballad is handcrafted and non-sample-based. She has been called a modern day Nina Simone, and fans of Chaka Khan and Betty Davies would feel at home with Kings Ballad, too.

In the midst of amazingly fruitful studio time, she cranked out several albums and compilations in 2009, on the back of recent collaborations with the mighty Mos Def (on his Ecstatic album), and Erykah Badu (on her New Amerykah album). Kings Ballad is the latest work and is all original and exclusive. It opens with a nod to the inspiration of children, and moves through themes earthly and cosmic, about her partner, the longing for a more universal consciousness, veganism, and the title track which is an ode to musical-hero Michael Jackson. The music shifts gears from the slinky sound of “Thrones”, and the percussion-driven “Simple Advice” to the heavyweight summer jam-sounds of “Can’t Stand Yo Love” and “Summer Love.” On most Muldrow sings, on other she raps, sometimes both, always effortlessly. Perkins joins in on a couple of tracks, Medaphor lays down a quick rhyme, her son Nokware throws down the occasional rattle, but otherwise it’s pretty much Muldrow all the way.

Her father is the late jazz guitarist Ronald Muldrow and her mother Rickie Byars-Beckwith, musical director of Agape Spiritual Center in Culver City, CA (alongside her Stepfather the Rev. Michael Beckwith.) Her strong musical pedigree is a source of inspiration, but Muldrow has laid her own unique musical path. She is far from a retro-artist and does not simply emulate the 1960s throwback sounds or the 1980s Prince-like stylings that define many of her contemporaries. Instead her brave blending of equal parts free jazz, electric soul, and dusty gospel leads to something more exotic, but also timeless and classic. This freeform collection of brand new joints is oozing with confidence and vision, it’s obvious that Muldrow is more comfortable than ever and is pushing forwards as an artist. Jumping across boundaries from songs to raps, the album follows no rules with instrumental beat-driven sketches jumping-out between a barrage of vocals, and bouncing summer jams butting up next to lush ballads. Explaining her evolution from debut releases to present day she says, “My sound is more mature, more sure, more relevant and definitely much mo’ fonky!”

Written and produced during transitional times, Kings Ballad was crafted against the backdrop of the early days of the Obama administration, the last days of the life of Michael Jackson (a family friend and big inspiration) and while her son grows towards his first birthday. She even moved studio spaces at the outset of recording. But distractions are not disruptive to the Muldrow music-making machine. In fact, motivation comes easily. “The driving force within me is my need for freedom of cultural expression,” she explains. “And in my culture music always serves a divine purpose. Mine in particular is of a healing nature, so I get over my down days by being true to my warrior soul.”

Her early work involved collaborations with the Platinum Pied Pipers, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, and J*DaVeY. She worked with Dudley Perkins on the SomeOthaShip: Connect Game album, released her solo Olesi on Stones Throw, a mix-tape-styled compilation of contemporaries called Ms One, and a sophomore album titled Umsindo on E1/Koch. In addition, a collection of previously unofficially unreleased material was recently made available on Animated Cartunes.