Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Soul Mixtapes Review of 2014 PART ONE



It's that time of year again when we look back at some of the quality music released in the past year. Last year we had the legend that is Omar, Electro Soul Pioneers The System the year before, plus on the radar talent like Moonchild, Diggs Duke, SoulPersona, The Rebirth plus so many more talented artists contribute.


#TheSoulMixtape isn't gonna let you down this year.

So, press play on the mix below, our throwback to the best LP's of 2010, and lets get this review started

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Answering our questions are:

 Marc Mac:

One half of the UK's Legendary 4 Hero (with partner in crime Dego), Marc is in my opinion one of the best producers the UK has produced. Musician, Remixer, producer and DJ (The man can select a tune let me tell you...) Marc famously had a pivotal role in the development of DnB and broken beat as part of 4hero and with the creation of Reinforced Records, he's also explored techno territory as Nu Era and hip-hop with his funky Visioneers act.

Then there's the Soul. As well as creating some great Soul tunes for 4Hero, Marc has produced and remixed some absolute gems too, many featured on this blog (We even did a "Great Producers" mix of some of his produced work back in our early days). And if you check out some of his podcasts, posts on Facebook, DJ sets etc you know the man can select a tune too! Straight from Dollis Hill, the man himself!

Princess Freesia:

The UK is representing this year! Along with partner in crime, Soulpersona, Princess Freesia has made some great music in the last few years. In fact, she released an EP and collborated with SoulP on the SoulperFreesia LP just in the last year and featured on 2 Street Sound mixes covers! 2012's "The Rainbow Ride" was one of our fave LP's of the year and as well as recording her own work she is a much in demand backing vocalist. A big character, were proud to have her share thoughts on this years music.

Conya Doss:

Ever since she released "A Poem about Ms. Doss", we've been fans at the blog. A great vocalist, Conya has released consistently great LP's on a regular basis. With a new LP coming out in 2015, we'd recommend catching up with previous work such as "Love Rain Down", "Still", "Blu Transition", "Pocketful of purpose" and "Just Because". She says: “If they want to label me in the Neo-Soul movement they can, but soul music is nothing new. The D’Angelos and Lauryn Hill's derive from what we grew up on — like Donnie Hathaway and Angela Winbush, it’s just modernized. I grew up on every form of music from Bonnie Raitt and Steely Dan to Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan. It’s hard to categorize me into one genre of music because it narrows your audience and I learned from them all. It’s just good music — and that’s the way I see it.”

Steve Arrington:

Member of one of the greatest funk bands of all time, Slave, plus solo artist on his own right. When the blog picked its top LP's of the 80's, Steve Arringtons Hall of Fame I and Slave's "Stone Jam" were both picked by Grizz and I. With a jazzy vocal style of his own, he is one of a kind. Still touring, producing music, and working with the likes of Karriem Riggins and Dam Funk, hes a very busy man! The Soul Mixtape welcomes The Invade!


So thats Intro's done, lets get down to the nitty gritty!

1. Back in the day, compiling mix tapes for friends, family, or loved ones was commonplace. Here at the Soul Mixtape, we still do just that via our mixes for our followers. If you compiled a Mixtape of tunes from 2014, what songs would have to be on there?

Marc Mac: Doing mixtapes was a big deal when I was growing up and its great to see the art-form revived in recent years. In my days (early 80’s) we actually played records onto a cassette tape so if you made a mistake the rewind and record process took some time and care. I was a sound system selector rather than a scratch/mix DJ so it was all about the ‘right tunes’. In 2014 would probably do a similar tape as the one I did for my then girl friend (now wife) a 2-Step Soul selection. Arnorld Blair, Edna Wright, Benny King, Milton Wright, Passion Midnight Lover... that kinda thing was dope and the new generation need a little love in their lives. true?

Conya Doss: I would put the following tracks on a mixtape: JOHN LEGEND'S " ALL OF ME," MAGIC'S "RUDE," CALVIN HARRIS' "SUMMER, ALGEBRA'S "NOBODY BUT YOU", CONYA DOSS' "YOU GOT ME," ARETHA FRANKLIN'S RENDITION OF "AT LAST," AVERY SUNSHINE'S "CALL MY NAME," AND LEELAH JAMES' "FALL FOR YOU"

Steve Arrington: My mixtape would include:

Drake - 'Trophies"
Christian Rich - "Better To" ft. DWNTWN and also "Real Love"
Childish Gambino - Telegraph Ave ("Oakland" By Lloyd)
Ras G - Big Booty Ahtay mpc 2000 xl
Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake - Love Never Felt So Good

Princess Freesia: Oooh... that's a tough cookie cutter question for me as I've got so many Freesian favorites with so many varying flavours, haha! I tend to do "virtual" mixtapes via Mixcloud, so for my latest HOXXX selection of stellarsonics, I'd have to extend my index finger to my "Wanton & Wistful" podcats Part I & II. I don't have any songs from this year in particular to be honest that I would say particularly excite and entice me because without meaning to sound like a total retro snob, I'm turned on by the 70s and 80s with a touch of the 90s for my float boat, haha. People held more artistic integrity and honored the process rather than just popping it out like a plastic baby, haha. Of course, I'm speaking more of the mainstream pop acts here, but there are plenty of artists that adhere to highly formulaic music for the sake of climbing the ladder, especially in the soul world I've noticed. It's unappealing, unappetizing, inauthentic, and I just can't stand "artists" who don't put the hard yakka in. Sorry for my bluntness, I don't like to be rude about it but we need to speak about this so that real talent makes the breakthrough they deserve.

Anyway, I digressed rather passionately there, apologies, haha! You can check out the track listing on my mixcloud page for the aforementioned "podcats" at MIXCLOUD LINK ;)



2. Some say the LP is dead as people tend to purchase single tracks. We love to champion great albums and encourage people to purchase them. So what LP's of quality would you recommend from 2014?
Conya Doss: Definitely "THE SUNROOM" by AVERY SUNSHINE.

Princess Freesia: Ooohhhhh... hahaha. Again, I'm not the best purrrrrrson to ask about current trends, but there's an album that does stand out to me that a friend recommended. And it's Jarrod Lawson's debut. Wow, what a TALENT! There's something beautiful about his productions, his silky soulful Hathaway-esque vocals, his subject matter... it's poignant for this blurry blustery bullsh*t we have to deal with in our systemised societal structure. He's a diamond in the rough, a real gem of an artist and with true talent to boot.

Steve Arrington: I would recommend the following albums:

Flying Lotus - Your Dead
The Roots - And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
Ras-G - Raw Fruit
Karriem Riggins - Alone Together

Marc Mac: Wow, well quality in 2014? not an easy one for me to be honest, there has been some great tracks but not LP’s I can put my finger on in my opinion, I think a lot of artists have given in to the fact people download singles and tracks so they don’t make full conceptional albums of quality but just some good tracks. Eska’s EP was a highlight and def Fatima - Yellow Memories was dope.


3. Championing new artists is another thing we like to do via our Street Sounds mixes, and getting them heard is a real priority for us. What new or independent artists/bands should we be keeping an ear out for?

Steve Arrington: Keep an ear out for Christian Rich, Karriem Riggins and Razihel.

Marc Mac: Ok on the home front a group called “Hawk House” should be dropping an album next year, I’m sure you guys know of them and all the way in Australia “Emma Donovan” has a debut soul/funk album sounding cool. Really looking forward to a full album from soul trio “KING” next year.

Conya Doss: Definitely look out for an artist named Kourtney Heart.

Princess Freesia: Haha, well I feel pretty connected to the music my stellarsonic shipmates are making (Joey Negro, Carl Hudson, Nick Van Gelder, Katie Leone, Wonderlush, Aisling Iris, Deborah Bond... to name but a few!) because they hold integrity as well as talent. No sell outs here, cause we'd never forgive ourselves for comprising in an already compromised industry! Having said that, I'm sure there's a TRUCKLOAD of talented cats out there I've never even heard of or know how to find (that's usually the way isn't it, poor struggling artists with truckloads of talent deserving SO much and getting SO little in return, it breaks my bloody heart!) and so I hope to be able to better navigate towards finding them in the online jungle :) (SoulNRnB: Try our Street Sounds Sessions mixes!)


4. Influences. Our mixes spotlight those who have developed our soulful musical taste from the 60's to the present day. Who has influenced your music over the years, and what songs are especially inspirational?

Princess Freesia: Oh man - Leon Ware's the headliner for me - his production, songwriting, vocal style... flawless for me, and the greatest inspiration of all. Also the work he's done for Marvin as well as Melissa Manchester, Lara Saint Paul, Maxwell... he's gorgeous, just bloody VUNDERBAR! I have a lot of influences near and far on the soul spectrum plectrum, and am a big advocate of that Westcoast Soul sound with acts like Erik Tagg, Byrne & Barnes, Lava, Steve Pocaro, Quincy Jones... it's a mixed bag of delights all round, SO hard to pick 'em out! I think one of my Freesian favourites from Leon Ware of all time is "Got To Be Loved". That track alone has everything I could ever want in a song.

Steve Arrington: My influences include;

P-Funk in general!
John Coltrane Live NewPort Live 63
Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness First Finale
Yes, - Close To The Edge album
Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
Thelonious Monk
Jimi Hendrix - Band Of Gypsy Live @The Fillmore East

Marc Mac: Kinda obvious cos I go on about them so much but Charles Stepney and Richard Evans are great soul arrangers, the Mizell Brothers great producers, Motown, Jazz labels I love are Black Jazz and Strata East. Loads of electronic music from Detroit Techno - Jungle, Scientist and King Tubby.... as you can see my influences are far and wide!

Conya Doss:
To name just a few, NATALIE COLE, BONNIE RAITT, STEVIE WONDER, ANGELA WINBUSH, MELISSA MORGAN, IRENE CARA, PRINCE, NINA SIMONE, GLADYS KNIGHT, CHAKA KHAN and DONNY HATHAWAY.


5. Is there an artist, producer etc that you would love to work with?

Steve Arrington: Id like to work with Flying Lotus (SoulNRnB: Just the idea of that had blown my mind) and Timberland production wise.

Marc Mac: I used to answer this question with names like Marvin, Nas, Raphael Saadiq, Minnie and Stevie but now I really think about finding a rough diamond, an unknown talented singer/songwriter musician that trust the producer to do as they will with them.

Conya Doss: DWELE, RAPHAEL SAADIQ, RAHEEM DAVAUGHN, AVERY SUNSHINE, MARY J. BLIGE, AND LAURYN HILL, just to name a few!

Princess Freesia: I'd love to do something with Mister Ware, though I have sung with him as a backing vocalist, highlight of my career to date I think! I think I'm already working with my favourites - Joey Negro was another highlight and he's producing re-edits of songs that Soulpersona and I have done together as well as releasing a re-edit of a track off my solo album, entitled "Freesia", and of course, working with Soulpersona has been an absolute honour and a privilege and continues to be so :)


6. 2015. What's in store for you musically? Any new LP's or tours that we should know about? And where can readers find out more about you!


Princess Freesia: WELLA BALSALM! I have a new Freesian "Han Solo" album I've been whittling away on quietly that's due out next year at some point I hope, and myself and Soulpersona are currently doing a Pledge Campaign to raise the funds to release our next album due out in February 2016 entitled "Fast Forward" which is princessly packed full of sexy synthaholic soulful electro jazz funk HOXXX with an eighties edge that we hope our fans will enjoy. You can support us via our Pledge page if you would like to, bless your darling HOXXXY hearts!

SoulPersona & Princess Freesia Pledge Link

Otherwise, feel free to keep up with me/us on our facebook pages under "Princess Freesia" and "Soulpersona Recordings" as well as "Soulperfreesia" in addition to our Twitter accounts and Soundcloud pages under the same names. Bless you for your stellarsonic support dear ones, we besot you!

Marc Mac: Recently I been re-visiting my past and resurrecting a few old alias like Manix and Nu Era (SoulNRnB: We loved the Nu Era and Visioneers "Mystic Brew" releases from this year!)

Next year is a special one for Reinforced Records as it’s our 25th year releasing music; that’s my Jungle/hardcore/D&B label I started all those years ago. The next Visioneers album will drop in 2015, good chance of some new 4hero music although it’s a bit of a logistical mountain to climb at the moment and I know 4hero fans are loosing there patience with us but I’m sure all will be forgiven when it finally surfaces. (SoulNRnB: Seriously. Play with the Changes was released in 2006! We cannot wait!)

I’m still remixing including something fresh with myself and Leroy Burgess and this year I also produced a small piece of music for a Debbie Tucker Green’s new movie “ Second Coming” starring Idris Elba, I tend to hear my music all over TV but producing something specific is what I want to do more of in future. t: @marc4hero Instagram @marc4hero hipology.org

Conya Doss: I will be touring in the US, DMV area and Cleveland this month plus working on additional dates. Contact me on Facebook or Twitter and check out my website Conya Doss Website

Steve Arrington: New music, interesting collabs. A lot of touring in 2015. You can find me on both Facebook and Twitter, but make sure you check out my Bandcamp page Steve Arrington Bandcamp for info and music! (SoulNRnB: The blog can't recommend the "Way Out 80-84" album enough.)


So that's it Until Part Two next week. A massive thanks to our four guest reviewers this year. Were big fans at the blog, so thanks for sharing with us and the readers! As I said last year, make sure you check them out and support them, cause in the end we only get the music we deserve.

I'm gonna pick some of my best songs of the year next week, but until then its Grizz!

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