Brasstracks – Golden Ticket (feat. Masego & Common)

These are the kinds of tracks that birthed In My Ear — as a concept and a blog. Songs so good — songs that just absolutely bury themselves into my brain — that I want to talk about them. Share them in a way I do: by writing about them. Share the wonder they bring me.

Brasstracks are trumpeter Ivan Jackson and drummer Conor Rayne, friends and collaborators from their short-lived days at Manhattan School of Music. Together as a duo since 2014, Golden Ticket is the lead single off their same-titled debut full-length LP, which came out two weeks ago.

It’s jazzy, soulful, funky, and, above all, joyful. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

Yes, the melody and vibe of the verses track back to Native Tongues-vintage hip-hop (and those they influenced, like a 2006 record I specifically flashed back to, put out by an underground hip-hop collaboration Surreal and the Sound Providers) mixed with Roy Hargrove-like horns that link hip-hop, R&B, and jazz traditions and sounds.

And, yes, In My Ear favorites Masego (on lyrics and vocals) and Common (spitting a guest verse), lend their names and talents to the record by delivering awesome feature spots.

And, yes, there’s a risk that you’ll burn out on the chorus by listening to and singing it on repeat because it’s hard to dislodge from your head after hearing it.

But, who cares about those details when you get to *feel* like this track feels?

Check out the rest of Brasstrack’s great new record on the sites below.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud | Spotify | Apple Music

The Midnight Hour – Questions (feat. CeeLo Green)

Although In My Ear’s concept and design is centered around songs (a new one posted each week-ish to inspire, not overwhelm; share and celebrate, not rush to debut or announce), I personally applaud “the album.” That species of music-making endangered by click-rates and selective streaming and competition for the public’s precious little attention. Am I guilty of cherry-picking songs instead of demanding — as a consumer and music appreciator — cohesive albums? Yes.

But, not today. Today, I honor a true album. A comprehensive, sweeping musical expression that is made up of great, individual songs, but that truly moves the audience and delivers when listened to as a whole. A sum that is greater than its parts.

Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of Tribe Called Quest) & Adrian Younge The Midnight Hour

Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest) and Adrian Younge (musician, composer, arranger, and producer) are two of the most respected composers in hip hop. After years of time-limited, one-off collaborations, they formed The Midnight Hour this year and released their self-titled debut album The Midnight Hour in June.

The Midnight Hour is Black excellence: an ode to the cultural sophistication that the Harlem Renaissance established for its people.

~The Midnight Hour artist page, Bandcamp

Questions was the lead single off the record and it remains my favorite track. Mostly because I had already heard it and loved it two years ago when Kendrick Lamar sampled an unfinished demo version of the song on his 2016 album untitled unmastered. as the track untitled 06 | 06.30.2014.

Vibe on this song, sure, but do yourself a favor and take the time/create the space to sit with the entire Midnight Hour record. Younge has a deft touch on the keys; Shaheed Muhammed is (unbeknownst to me) a killer bassist; and their composer/arranger chops, as well as their chemistry, just make the album a remarkable listen. Orchestral and cinematic, while still feeling intimate, it combines jazz and jazz fusion, soul, and hip hop into a sumptuous 20-track set — recalling smokey clubs and your parents’/grandparents’/favorite uncle’s jazz and soul records spinning on a beloved turntable.