Shigeto Announces Cherry Blossom Baby & Shares The Punch! Feat KESSWA

Credit: Cody Stills

Detroit-based artist Shigeto announces his Cherry Blossom Baby album with “The Punch!” featuring KESSWA. The single moves something like a Mtume song and is the first from the full-length project. Shigeto recorded “The Punch!” back in 2018 with KESSWA on vocals, Dez Andrés on percussion, Sasha Kashperko on guitar, and Ian Fink on bass and synthesizer. Shigeto tapped into his Japanese roots for the album title because the culture has long celebrated cherry blossom trees as symbols of hope, renewal, and strength. He elaborated on the title in a press release.

“Cherry blossoms remind me of my mother and grandmother’s steadfast nature to look towards the light and the strength in “acting as one”. The cherry blossom trees that bloom every spring in Hiroshima are an enduring image of hope, resilience, and renewal. Even through the most turbulent of times. Cherry Blossom Baby was literally ‘impossible’ to make without every single person involved. It started in 2018 and was finished in 2024. A manifestation of our shared experiences of pain, struggle, hope and growth over the past 6 years and a true testament to the power of ‘togetherness’”


It is Shigeto’s first album since 2017 when he released The New Monday. Cherry Blossom Baby comes out on October 25th. 


Shabazz Palaces: Take Me To Your Leader Feat. Lavarr The Starr Official Video

Shabazz Palaces shared the video for “Take Me To Your Leader,” featuring Lavarr the Starr. Palaceer Lazaro sits in his spaceship, waiting for aliens to reveal their ruler. The leader never arrives, but Lazaro is clear about the existence of other life forms and galaxies. “Take Me To Your Leader” is from Exotic Birds of Prey, out now. 

Common & Pete Rock Release The Auditorium Vol. 1

Common and Pete Rock have released their collaboration album, The Auditorium Vol. 1. The Chicago legend and producer king share their admiration for hip-hop and each other’s work on a journey that defies ageist critiques of rap. They open the album with the jazzy “Dreamin,'” and it is quickly apparent that Common’s warm word alchemy still moves spirits and the crowd. Rock’s brilliant sample of Aretha Franklin’s “Daydreaming” glides in its support of Common’s sunlit musings that acknowledge but are not limited to Dr. Maya Angelou, MLK, J.Dilla, Prince, and Gladys Knight. Rock’s hands help tell Common’s stories with chemistry that compliments and never tries to override the MC’s ideas.

The Auditorium Vol. 1 keeps things engaging with rhythmic calm, straight rap, and poetry. “So Many People,” featuring Bilal, describes hope and faith as a woman Common has been entwined with throughout his life. The pro-woman imagery is presented again in “A God (There Is),” with a guest appearance from Jennifer Hudson, who brings her gospel chops to the fold. Rock produces and gets behind the microphone on “All Kinds of Ideas” to brag about his limitless creativity with Common and Rakim’s sampled voice from “Eric B. Is President.” It’s been three years since Common and Pete Rock released their individual albums, and it was long enough for them to have been missed. The Auditorium Vol. 1 is a solid welcome back and further proof that Gen X is far from being done with hip-hop. 



The Auditorium Vol. 1 by Common




Throwback: Fantasia: Free Yourself

Fantasia’s “Free Yourself” was the fourth single from her first 2004 debut album of the same name. Missy Elliott, Craig Brockman, and Nissan Stewart co-wrote the song that embodied the essence of R&B in its soulful simplicity. Elliott and Brockman also produced “Free Yourself,” and Jazmine Sullivan sang background. Barrino’s rasp expressed heartbreak with volumes of feelings that owned the song and sounded like her personal romantic journal. The rawness of “Free Yourself” solidified Barrino’s status as a new torchbearer of the genre’s greatest strides. Industry-wise, “Free Yourself” went to number one on the US Adult R&B Adult Airplay chart, number three on the Hot R&B /Hip-Hop Songs chart, received two Grammy nominations, and won an ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Award for Most Performed Song in 2006.  The album achieved platinum status by 2005 and is now a classic because of the way the songs are still respected and loved in 2024.

Barrino released her seventh studio album, Sketchbook, in 2017. In 2023, she won an NAACP Image Award for her performance in The Color Purple. The singer performed a tribute to Bob Seger with Jellyroll and Melissa Etheridge at the Michigan Central Station Concert in Detroit, Michigan, in June 2024. Her performance had overtones of Tina Turner and was a good case for her to explore her potential as a rock and roll singer.