With the June release of his latest album Home, Illa J offered a contemporized melding of old school beats and retro soul. His mastery of this musical fusion came as no surprise, especially considering his past contributions to groups like Slum Village, plus the fact that he shares literal and musical DNA with the late J Dilla. What made this collection stand out, however, was the intentional showcase of his singing voice. We’d caught glimpses on previous projects, but never like this.
For this particular album, “Sam Cook” was the song that whet our appetites for what was to come. Leaked almost two months before the album release, the track got us hooked with J’s silky falsetto over a classic, Motown-like arrangement. So it made sense that he chose to perform the song for his recent COLORS BERLIN segment. Set against a brick-red background with nothing but a pair of headphones and a mic, Mr. Yancey proceeds to flex his singing and rapping skills over a pre-recorded instrumental. His vocals are so pristine, if we closed our eyes, we’d swear we were listening to the studio version. Color us impressed (sorry, we couldn’t resist).
Peep the monochromatic “Sam Cook” clip below and download the entire Home project – including the title track, “Maureen” and “7 Mile” – via Bandcamp, iTunes or other major digital retailers. Afterwards, connect with Illa J online for performance updates and more.