Bilal and the Soul Glow
Bilal and the Soul Glow
Bilal Sayeed Oliver has been busy. Some may even argue that Bilal is one of the hardest working men in soul business, particularly, between 2014 and 2015. Since his scat-tastic appearances on Otis Brown III’s, The Thought Of You and collaboration effort on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly to his featured “Resurrection Morning” with Raekwon on Adrian Younge & Ghostface Killah’s 12 Reasons To Die II as well as the Adrian Younge produced In Another Life, and the latest Slum Village vintage collectible Yes, Bilal has become somewhat ubiquitous.
Similar to an undetected chameleon, Bilal can change shapes, directions and temperature at any moment, leaving you bewildered and unguided. Much like how In Another Life sounds like the beautiful collapse of a bridge between Prince’s Sign of the Times and Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear, you’re left stranded in an oblique fantasy romance with no road to safety.
Bilal is one of those artists possessing a natural gift for releasing the soul from a record. Like a soul-sonic preacher performing an exorcism of some kind on the music-he unleashes to the congregation. Often blurring the lines of soul, funk, jazz and punk, you can purely feel Bilal’s intentions in the music. And although you can recognize the ‘freak-when-see’ in his themes, the basis of his normal output is love. Bilal has a soulful transparency that one can appreciate in a time of latent chaos and disorder cloaked in superfluous vanity and glimmer. He possesses a sexy, archaic-futurism that reflects back to energetic soul crooners such as Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Ronal Isley along with indirect and uncontrollable responses from James Brown, Sly Stone, Prince and Rick James.
It’s of no surprise that the Philadelphia born Oliver has such an illustrious track record of collaborating with music’s most innovative minds. The list includes Dr. Dre, Soulquarians, Common, Erykah Badu, Dilla, John Legend, Talib Kweli, Robert Glasper, The Roots, Zap Mama, 88-Keys, Terrance Blanchard, Solange, The Game, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Diddy, Sa-Ra, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Jay Z and Beyoncé. Like I said, the man has been busy.
Perhaps it was the timely triumph of Kendrick Lamar’s Butterfly that led the way to this soul glowing conclusion. Maybe it was simply the magical connection between Adrian Younge and those vintage microphones that made me see that the soul glow was real. It could be the way Bilal injected In Another Life with the spirit of Ziggy Stardust and a super-psychedelic Eddie Kendricks on acid. Maybe he just deserves it. The man has been working his ass off while taking folks to church for the past 16 years. He has earned his place among the incredibly distinctive voices of our time.
Bilal is a construction worker and he’s in charge of the drill. Not an ordinary asphalt core drill. It’s a soul core drill. No, he doesn’t bother whistling at the ladies walking by, instead, he’s steady drilling to see just how deep into your soul he can get.
Check out the Jooksi radio show dedicated to King Bilal Here