Strange Neighbor presents Oscillations - The Making of...
The Oscillations project is an album born out of LA’s restless cross pollination of future soul, jazz, hip hop and electronica, Oscillations features a host of productions and first time collaborations combining the cosmic light of Los Angeles based artists including Georgia Anne Muldrow, Blu, Med, Jimetta Rose, Mndsgn, Swarvy, Teebs and Nia Andrews.
Photo of Jimetta by Theo Jemison
The first Oscillations production came together after a Dizz1 beat caught the ear of MED. Ideas thrown about between Dizz1, MED and Jimetta
Rose evolved into the angular funk and measured
blend of hip hop and future soul that was soon to be titled 'Hard to Breathe'.
As one introduction led to another the spark of the idea for a deliberately West Coast centric release titled Oscillations started coming together.
From it's origin Los Angeles was born accompanied by it's own loud marketing campaign. With a century of popular culture forever backdropped behind this vast unplanned interconnecting microcosm of pieces of just about everything... trying to encapsulate every aspect LA is legitimately impossible.
Oscillations found it's starting point by centering on abstract hip hop, jazz and future soul. Just three particular areas of which LA currently lays a huge claim.
Jimetta's involvements include not only her Georgia Anne Muldrow produced albums for Busdriver's Temporary Forever label but also her essential weekly Garden of Sound radio show. MED's Madlib produced albums for the invincible Stones Throw label is one thing but on top of that his singular vision for his own Bang Ya Head label boasts some of the most crucial undercover hip hop you'll find anywhere.
Hard to Breathe became the catalyst for the musical world that Oscillations immediately steps into with Dizz1's refined sound referring neatly to his past involvements with the likes of Steve Spacek and Om Mas Keith. In addition both MED and Jimetta's reputations within the LA hip hop and future soul community had everything to do with the early interest and the repertoire that followed.
Photo of Lojii by Theo Jemison
Swarvy's early involvement expanded the Oscillations concept to include the more abstract jazz end of the LA Beat community and with him came his wayward band of travelers many of whom worked their way to the West Coast from either the Tri State area or other musical vortex's such as Chicago. Swarvy's output had already spread down a flawless list of some of the most forward thinking labels including the House Shoes run, Street Corner Music, Mathewdavid's - no genre label - Leaving Records as well as Manny Fresh's 'Fresh Selects'. Just by taking a look into any of the above labels you've basically just signed up for a free fall into the LA Beat rabbit hole.
So what is this current fixation on LA all about anyway? Managing and executive producing Strange Neighbor is Adrian White who bore the label from his intersecting interests in music, design, AV and cinematic storytelling. Originally from a film background Adrian has been involved in both music and film projects for over 20 years through various parts of the world including London, San Francisco, Oakland, Melbourne, Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
The core inspiration for Strange Neighbor is an ongoing interest in the cultural roots that directly develop these significant musical centers. Music lives after all where ever it can grow. Cultural diversity, affordability, community and the proliferation of spaces in which artists can get up and perform are just a few factors that have made each of the above musical centers significant at one stage or another. In this era where unaffordability, gentrification and insensitive redevelopment seem to forever threaten to crush those factors into non existence, the vastness of Los Angeles has been a recent refuge for both the LA native artists as well as the many new comers who finally had to just opt out of the financial pressures of some of these other formally supportive creative havens - New York most often being the primary example.
With Dizz1's collaboration with MED and Jimetta alongside Swarvy's with Lojii and Clark and the Community the bar already seemed to be raised way too high. A dream wish list of other artists that would properly complement the existing tracks was put together which originally looked all a bit too ambitious as well. The top of the list included names such as Georgia Anne Muldrow, Nia Andrews, BLU and Mndsgn all of whom contributed to the album before long.
Photo of Nia by Theo Jemison.
The Nia Andrews' involvement on the Oscillations album became another pinnacle moment. For a project that from the outset aspired to be a collection of songs that spanned hip hop, soul and jazz, the hip hop joints were certainly coming together quickly enough but to pull up the jazz and soul end the right kind of future soul singer/ songwriter required far more thought.
Nia Andrews is about as emblematic of all that is great about the Los Angeles jazz and future soul movement as anyone is ever likely to find. Born and raised in Inglewood and playing regular solo shows throughout LA, Nia's few EP's 'From Here' and 'Colors' define a voice, a performer and a songwriter that simultaneously channels the great traditions whilst embracing all forefronts in jazz innovation and future soul music. Part of Kamasi Washingtons' choir (alongside Jimetta Rose), a resident at the recurring Church nights, session vocalist on Solange's 'A seat at the Table' and often co-performing with Moses Sumney, Nia Andrews has been living music her entire life. For anyone who has wondered how other LA jazz heroes such as Thundercat or Ronald Bruner, Jr seemed to land as such fully formed players it's worth reading up on Nia's father too - Reggie Andrews - and his 40 year long influence as a mentor at the Locke High music school in Watts.
Nia's feature on Oscillations, 'A Song About Timing' pairs her fully realized singer/ song writing ability with Swarvy in yet another inspired mood alongside Mndsgn in the drum seat.
While the Swarvy led productions were piling up, another Dizz1 instrumental had been on the table and with it followed a hook up with Blu. While a lot of the releases that led to most of the other collaborators on Oscillations continue to keep things either recent or neatly underground , Blu's 10 year old, Exile produced album, 'Beyond the Heavens' has since its release been a well worn piece of vinyl in many collections and a celebrated classic. Blu also opened up the opportunity to have the multi dimensional genius of Georgia Anne Muldrow present on the record. The resulting track 'We Make it Look Easy' marked the point of production of 'Oscillations' where the album as a whole really started finding its order and began to move a little quicker to completion. 'We Make it Look Easy' immediately became the opening track.
If anything Oscillations is just a snapshot of what the Strange Neighbor label regards as some of the most vibrant talent operating in the Los Angeles hip and future soul community. An emphasis was placed early on to put together collaborations between artists who had not yet intersected despite being intrinsically linked. With two solid careers which both now span more than 15 years the involvement of Georgia Anne Muldrow and Blu was possibly the biggest jump in the effort to perfect the musical family tree as presented on Oscillations. Over the course of her creative output, Georgia Anne Muldrows shape shifting genius has been displayed variously as she takes the form of rapper on Ms One, producer on numerous releases for her own funkadelic 'Some Otha Ship' label, and as a cosmic future soul goddess on timeless releases such as the Madlib produced 'Seeds' for Stones Throw. Georgia 's trajectory over the course of her career crowns her among the most important figures in the West Coast beat and future soul movement as she continues to glide through involvements on various classics including Shafiq's 'En-a-Free-Ka', PPP's 'Triple P', Robert Glasper's 'Milestones', Mos def's 'The Ectatic', Eryka Badu's 'New Amerykah Part 2', 'The Lighthouse' with Declaime and her forthcoming Brainfeeder debut produced by Flying Lotus.
Blu meanwhile remains repeatedly lauded as 'your favourite rappers' favorite rapper' and undeniably one of the most significant independent hip hop mc's. His essential albums with Exile and the Dirty Science crew lay the foundation of a sky scraping career that also includes regular involvement with Ta'Raach's LoveTurl collective, the Bad Neighbor project with MED, Madlib, MF Doom and Anderson Paak, and a steady stream of mixtapes weaving a who's who list of producer credits that just keeps adding names such as Knxwledge, Samiyam, Hezekiah, Sa-Ra, Evidence, Nottz and Alchemist.
Finally it wouldn't be fair to present a snapshot of the Los Angeles soundscape without somehow referring to Flying Lotus's trippy spiritual empire better known as the Brainfeeder label. Forever fringing the outer limits of hip hop electronica and psychedelic audio and visual exploration, Brainfeeder's consistent originality at every turn helped to inspire each stage of Oscillations development. Interestingly Teebs revealed at one point that he and Mndsgn have been discussing a band project for several years but have yet to get down to it. It's impossible to guess what would eventuate if Mindsgn and Teebs did lock heads together but it's not a difficult stretch to draw lines between Mndsgn's No Maps album and the ambient, textural magic of the Teebs albums Ardour and Estera.
The cinematic soundscapes of Teebs also span the Sons of Morning project with Prefuse 73 and Duality the debut of Captain Murphy - the rap alter-ego of Flying Lotus. Teebs is also a founding member of the My Hollow Drum collective and regularly lends his musical authority to his 'Veiwpoints' Radio show on Dublab. On top of his enviable musical career, Teebs is also an accomplished painter and visual artist. If the Oscillations project continues past this initial release it will almost certainly be in the direction of Teeb's 'Mapito', the album closer.
Released July 20, 2018. Strange Neighbor Cat: SN03. Distributed by Fat Beats.
SN03 - OSCILLATIONS.
FT: NIA ANDREWS / GEORGIA ANN MULDROW / MED / BLU / JIMETTA ROSE / LOJII / CLARK AND THE COMMUNITY // PROD BY DIZZ1 / SWARVY / MNDSGN + TEEBS.
1 . WE MAKE IT LOOK EASY - FT. BLU + GEORGIA ANN MULDROW /PROD BY DIZZ1
2 . KING OF THE BRIGHT - PROD BY DIZZ1
3 . HARD TO BREATHE - FT. MED + JIMETTA ROSE /PROD BY DIZZ1
4 . SO BAD - FT. CLARK AND THE COMMUNITY /PROD BY SWARVY / MNDSGN
5 . A SONG ABOUT TIMING - FT. NIA ANDREWS /PROD BY SWARVY / MNDSGN
6 . ZHEN - FT. LOJII /PROD BY SWARVY
7 . MAPITO - PROD BY TEEBS