Cornfed’s Corner: We Heart Erik Rico, Roi Anthony and The Revelations feat. Tré Williams!

mikes pic Welcome to the ear of the people, the ear of soul, the Cornfed’s Corner. Cornfed missed ya’ll, but Daddy had to steal some much need rest. We’re happy to jump right back in the swing of things with the new progressive soul phenom, Erik Rico. The singer has been blowing up spots all over the soul blogsphere; so you know I had to invite him over to sit with us for a spell. The hip hop producer of Tupac Shakur, Jurassic 5, and Digable Planet’s LadyBug Mecca had some choice words about folks abusing auto-tunes and the damaging nature of some hip hop on the Black community. Check it out on our scintillating IM on IM with Erik Rico.

During our hiatus, we also got to see an electrifying show with Angela Johnson and noel gourdin picNoel Gourdin at the Birchmere in VA. If you haven’t seen Angela lately, you gotta see mama. Maybe it’s all those SoulTracks Awards nominations, we don’t know, but whatevah it is the sistah is on fiyah! Noel also impressed the Cornfed on several cuts from his debut album, After My Time, with some mid-range vocals reminiscent of Maxwell. After killing it with an extended set of originals and soul covers, the exhausted brutha struggled a bit at closing on his signature hit, “The River.” Tapping into whatever reserves he had left, Noel more than made up for it by silencing the band to nail that classic chorus accapella, just to let us know he could. We ain’t mad, at cha’ Noel!

In Cornfed Notes we decided to continue to give you got more names and projects, new and old, that might have slipped through the cracks for you to check out. So, piece together your coins, hit your independent record store, and get yo' self corn-fed!

Intimate Moment on IM: Erik Rico

erik ricoThis Stevie flavored, electro-soul artist has released not one but two new EPs, Journey Back to Me and Higher Frequency, in the last 10 months. With five more EP projects, both his and artists he'll produce, to come over the next year. We had to ask just...

C.C: Who is Erik Rico?

Erik Rico: Erik Rico is me the artist/ producer/ musician and DJ. I just needed to establish my own outlet to do all the things creatively that I wanted and needed to express.

C.C.: Folks can check out your bio on our site to find out the particulars about your background, but you know I gotta clown for a sec. You know you look like Sleep Brown in that grayscale promo pic, right? Please tell the people you ain't Sleepy!

Erik Rico: Ha ha!! I get that ALL the time, along with "yo, that's a throwback Black Power pick ala Isaac Hayes..." Things like that, I'm VERY proud of. My boy Doug Lee took that shot.

C.C.: I keep reading your name and "electro-soul" in the same sentence. Ok, now, what's this here electro-soul thang?

Erik Rico: I wanted to come across as grounded in deep soul roots but in a futuristic way, that's all. It's a title that I think best reflects the style and direction of the music and movement, ' Soul as it's rooted in traditional soul music, the feeling, the lyrics, the fiber, but twisted to move into the future and to reflect the present.

C.C.: Do you consider yourself part of this 80s new wave renaissance movement of progressive meets electronica soul artists like Heavy, J*Davey, and Ra Re Valverde?

Erik Rico: Kind of, but more I think on the Soul tip, not so much on the 80s vibe. But, yeah, I do love ALL those artists. We share the common bond of attempting to push black music forward for certain, combine genres, step away from having any boundaries and just make the most sincere art we can from an African American perspective.

C.C.: While your music is electronic we noticed you didn't go crazy with the Roger Troutman vocoder like so many that will remain nameless, why'd you choose to sing it "natural" and how do you feel about those who don't?

Erik Rico: Well...that's one of those things where I think "certain" parts of the industry just automatically run to whatever's popular and seemingly "commercial in that given time and space, not to mention it's not at all Roger influenced but more like Auto Tune, a plug-in used in ProTools and Logic to put the vocalist in correct pitch. Somewhere in some session, they ran the effects sent wet w/o the dry signal and thought it was dope; so it became a trend. I really think that's ALL it is and ever will be. Roger actually PLAYED the vocoder with a keyboard and voice device ala Stevie. Real skills are required for that! There's a HUGE difference believe me.

CC: We hope you're right about it just being a trend. So, what is soul to you?

Erik Rico: It's a feeling and you can only know it if you truly feel it! It's growin' up watching TV with your aunties and hearing JB, Donny Hathaway, Stevie, Marvin and the like, and getting all spiritually turned out, that's souls to me. Anything that doesn't give you that feeling or transport your soul is NOT soul music.

C.C.: How do you see yourself and your music situated in the soul tradition?

Erik Rico: Well. I'm a songwriter first. So, I tend to write from my perspective as an African American steeped in the traditions of gospel, blues, jazz and soul. You cannot escape that fact, if you've been influenced by it. So, it all starts there for me as a writer, expressing things I think go largely unnoticed by the masses but that really matter to our community. We're a very diverse people, but if you watch and or listen to the media, you'd think all we wanna do is bling out, party and God knows what else! Soul and jazz, at least for me, always provided balance and an escape from what was being force fed to us. So, I gravitated to those styles; they spoke MY truth. When I see their birth-child, hip hop, becoming so overran with madness it's HORRIBLE! I love hip hop, I just wanna see it continue to grow beyond these narrow boundaries.

C.C.: You've been an in-demand producer in the hip-hop game for a minute, is it harder for you to gain respect as a soul artist from soul music lovers as someone rooted in hip hop?

Erik Rico: Not at all, the demand [for me] strangely enough in the soul scene grew fast, as most hip hop producers don't play instruments. So, I was able to kinda' carve a space for myself and develop a style that gave me my own identity. It's been a crazy ride.

C.C.: With hip hop sales and quality on the decline, do you think we're witnessing the death of hip-hop the way cultural critic Nelson George felt we were witnessing The Death of R&B in the late 80s and early 90s?

Erik Rico: COMPLETELY! For every Mos Def, there are a million wannabe thugs, gangsters and whatever else is cool. I don't fault any brotha' for survivin' but if it means killing your own community in the process then something's wrong.

C.C.: So, you see hip hop as killing the Black community?

Erik Rico: In various ways, because the things that are marketed as hip hop really aren't and they have a devastating effect on the community. No ownership, no positivity, [while] new laws are being written everyday to keep those same negative revolving doors open. It's no joke. Not to mention the coming generations have NO idea what they're buying into.

CC: So as a producer, do you not produce artists whose hip hop message isn't in line with your principles?

Erik Rico: No, I don't. For me, this isn't lip service. I've lost great managers and TONS of money for making this decision. But, I have eight nieces and I can't go telling them to not be involved or attracted to certain things if I'm profiting from them. I'm not a hypocrite. And really, they're not my principles. It's cultural order, so to speak. Just being a decent human being and wanting to see your people do better. I don't know WHERE we lost our way in such a HUGE fashion. There is always hope, but hope isn't enough, you gotta ACT! Show people examples of another way.

C.C.: Well, alright then! Preach papa! LOL. Alright, a kat has got 1.98 cents, which two tunes off Journey Back To Me does he buy and where can he buy it?

Erik Rico: Ha ha...."Wonderful" and "Let's lay together" or "Never let you go." Those joints have a lot of range.

C.C.: He just scrubbed another 99 cents for something of the new EP Higher Frequency, what's the jam?

Erik Rico: "So Much Greater" or "Today"

CC: When and where can Cornfed Campers hear you play? We wanna see ya!

Erik Rico: Yooo! All the info is listed at lifenotesmusic.com and at MySpace on my music page.

CC: Thank you for pushin' through! Uh uh uh, no hugs. We peeped you rubbin' you socks on the carpet, you ain't shockin' us, Mr. Electro-Soul!

Erik Rico: ha ha, man, you make me laugh.

C.C.: You know that you was in The Wiz, stop playin! Lata, playa!

Erik Rico: HA HA!!!! Peace.

Cornfed Notes

roi anthonyI'm always on the hunt for that old school flavor; not that remixed Motown sound that Soul Bounce gave the side-eye last week, but true soul. Well, baby, let me tell you! Just wait until you hear the following artists! My mouth's gettin' juicy just thinking about it.

For folks in New Orleans the name  Roi Anthony isn't anything new; they've loved their native son for years. But for SoulTrackers, this is the first we've mentioned the gut-bucket belter who at once reminds me of Eddie Levert and a more robust Lyfe Jennings; this brother has power for days. His debut album, True Soul Lifestyle, has reportedly already helped name Roi the #1 Independent Soul Artist of the Year on iTunes. I can believe it after listening to "Love," "Miss U," "Brand New," "Long Way (Bounce Back) Remix" or several others on this whopping set of 21 contemporary Southern Soul jams. Roi has you coming back for that red dirt soul again and again.

  • Remember Rell, the hookman for Rockafella Records and star of movies like State Property and The Streets Is Watching? What about Nas's discovery and former Ill Will Records soul man, Tré Williams? Well, after being shelved one year too many, both singer /songwriters have left those hip hop labels behind and joined forces with producer Bob Perry to create a classic soul band, The Revelations feat Tré Williams. The Revelations are a revelation. A live soul band that will give the Dap Tones and Muscle Shoals a run for their money with a big-voiced frontman ala David Ruffin. They're still in the studio recording their all live instrumentation LP, tentatively entitled Deep Soul, but the cuts I've heard so far just makes me hungry for more. Tré gives you a taste of his voice on My Space as a sample. We'll keep you updated on this exciting project as it unfolds!
  • The self-professed Yoruba Soul Prince, Siji, has shared with Cornfed two new tracks, "Fantasy" and "Irinajo" from his forthcoming project Adesiji. I wasn't a big fan of his debut, God Given, which left me "sleeep-yyy." But the new tracks I've heard from this funkier, jazzier Siji has me jumpin' for joy. This new and improved Siji is Fela Kuti and Roy Ayers all rolled into one. Be on watch for Adesiji this September. I promise you, Siji's infectious grooves and punctuating horns will have you bopping and dancing in your skivvies around the house!
  • If you need your house and soul fix, check out Phillip Alexander's Love You Good. With its balance of dance and R&B, it's the music of Sylvester for the new millennium. The production on Love You Good can be sparer than I prefer for these genres, but Alexander's eclectic blend of modern house and progressive soul compensate for these under-produced slips, making this one worth taking a listen.

Track Love: 12 “New” EPs, Singles and Album Cuts Worth Your Gas Money

Track/EP

Artist/Duo/Group

Project

Available To Buy?

Genre(s)

Love

Roi Anthony

True Love Experience

Yes

Soul

Wanting You

Erik Rico

Journey Back To Me

Yes

Electro-Soul

Fantasy

Siji

Adesiji

Yes

Soul/

Nu Jazz

So Blind

Dionne Farris

For Truth If Not Love

Yes

Progressive Soul

For The People

J Phoenix

Masterpiece

Yes

Soul

Stay Free

The Revelations feat Tré Williams

Deep Soul (tentative title)

Not Yet

Soul

T.O.N.Y.

Solange

Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams

Yes

(Aug 26th)

Soul

Hello Heartbreak (Lost Haze Deep Inside Mix)

Michelle Williams

My Thing

Yes

Dance/R&B

Composure

Darien

If These Walls Could Talk

Yes

Soul

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Jazmine Sullivan

Fearless

No, Hear

On-line

R&B/Soul

Nothing Will Ever Change

Touch of New York

Touch of New York

Yes

Soul

Sincerely, Jane

Janelle Monae

Metropolis: The Chase Suite

Yes

Progressive Soul

L. Michael Gipson is a cultural critic, music journalist and a lover of all underdogs; poverty becomes him.

See past "Cornfed Corners"

Heston Chops It Up, Chester Gregory Gets Us High!

Trina Broussard on Surviving So So Def (Pt. 1) and Motown (Pt.2)

Marko Nobles' Talks Indie Dayz for Indie Music

Dain Harris Is All Grown Up & Ready To Sang

Kev.O Talks Sun, Runs and H.U. Fun

Mo' Jazz and Rogiérs' Talks Sexual Eruptions

Jazmine's New Single, Marcell Russell on Spittin' Truth in Soul

Lemar, Tim Dillinger and more

Alice Russell and opening thoughts

 
Album of the Month - Chris Jasper - For The Love of You
Featured Album - Jonas and Scratch Professer - 4ward to the Future
Featured Album - Marlon McClain - Funky Fridays, Vol. 1
Video of The Month - KEA - "Being With You"

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