Back in the early days of Ropeadope there was Bullfrog, with Blurum13 and Kid Koala mixing it up. To say the album was ahead of its time, well ya know. As we dig into the archives to celebrate our 20th we find those tracks fit perfectly right alongside releases from 2019. And now we are stoked to say that Blurum13 is back, and he’s brought his friend - the great and always mysterious Luke Vibert - with him. Together they are the defenders of righteous old school Hip-Hop, and the new album from BLUKE is set for May 24th!
Early last year Middle Blue hit The Ropeadope Room for an intimate performance featuring Brad Farberman, Jeremy Danneman, Danny Tamberelli, Mike Clark, and Jared Pauley. The band was in great form, and the man behind the keys stood out (by not standing out); as Clark and Farberman charged forward Jared laid down the feel that felt like fuel to their fire. We are now thrilled to announce the arrival of Jared’s solo project, On Capitol Street, with a wide range of moods from samba and bossa nova to boogaloo and Latin jazz. Musicians featured on the project include Mike Clark, drummer Cengiz Baysal, percussionist Elizabeth Pupo-Walker, Duane Eubanks, saxophonist Adam Hutcheson, and vocalist Tamuz Nissim. On Capitol Street is a breezy stroll through classic styles with a seasoned guide. The great Bruce Hampton once said ‘If you’re not soloing and I can hear you, then you’re not doing it right’. Jared Pauley understands this, and that’s what makes On Capitol Street so compelling.
Mysterious. Joyful. Nomadic. Empowered. These are just a few of the words that come to mind as we introduce the new member of the Ropeadope family known as C R O W N . Musical artist and songwriter C R O W N examines the crisis of womxn in todays world: how they are pulled between the potential ahead and the echoes of an under-liberated past (and present). Her songs tell the story of her own discoveries and strive to illuminate the nuanced challenges womxn face in every day experience. The music has a subaquatic feel yet undeniable connection to R&B and Soul.
‘It's a sultry neo-soul affair, mottled with red-lit trip-hop synths and distant beats – there's also a vibrant '90s streak in her voice, recalling the slick tones of R&B icons... While there are similarities to Stateside acts like Frank Ocean, she carves a niche all her own by implementing the very British stylings of Lamb, Portishead and Massive Attack.’ - The 405
C R O W N has two projects ready for release at Ropeadope - Epicene begins in preorder this Friday with release date of May 31 - Unlearning hits on July 28 with early listen and preorder on June 28. Tune in to 21Soul on May 27th for an in depth discussion of the artist and her mission.
We’ve been enthralled with Vivian Sessoms two part project LIFE as it reveals its depth and transition from dark to light. More than just a collection of songs, LIFE is a conceptual reflection on the world in both a cultural and musical sense. The production is unique, a soulful and almost subterranean groove that sets the perfect vibe for Vivian’s wide ranging vocal talent. When she steps up to the mic with power everyone can feel it, as evidenced in her stunning performance on her tribute to Erica Garner, I Can’t Breathe. Her (and husband and producer Chris Parks) choices of select cover songs reveal a specific understanding of music history, from See LIne Woman to The Best Is Yet To Come, to One Thing Leads To Another.
LIFE II is set for release on Friday May 17: drop in here to catch up and preorder.
Last year we had the great pleasure of hosting Logan Richardson for a live session here at the Ropeadope Room. If you’ve heard Logan’s album Blues People, it is impossible to avoid the haunting guitar style of Igor Osypov. And now, we present ROSEMARINE, a trio formed by Danish singer Mia Knop Jacobsen, Igor, and drummer Philip Dornbusch. The sound is unique and hard to define, it’s big and powerful one moment and sublime and delicate the next. You can feel the interplay between the musicians as they reach for a space that they call their own. Expressions of love, loss, anger and determination come through on their self titled debut album, due out on May 10th. Pre-orders (and a taste) hit on April 5.
Our hero Bubby Lewis is at it again, this time a new single featuring Jhene Aiko. Setting the tone for the lead in to his second album, Hero Dynasty, due out on July 19, 2019, Bubby hits us with a strikingly beautiful track featuring the longing vocals of Jhene Aiko. The song reveals the comfort and connection between two great artists…
‘Miss & Love was written for the purpose of healing people. Everyone has lost somebody, but we can all make it. It is relatable not just to those who have passed on, but also to those to have lost relationships.’ (Bubby Lewis)
Miss & Love is refreshingly soft and dreamy in a time when there is noise all around, urging us to find that place of love within, and to share it.
Ropeadope presents the American Immigrant Capsule Collection
Independent label and collaborative community Ropeadope is reviving the American Immigrant Collection; powerful designs respecting the immigrants that built a nation. Screen printed on unisex cotton tees and hoodies, the American Immigrant Collection includes a message on the back of each garment supporting immigrant culture in the USA.
The American Immigrant line was originally released in 2008 as a statement of pride in the diversity of our nation. Today the message is more needed than ever as nationalism is co-opting the real American message, and immigrants worldwide are facing horrendous obstacles to everyday life. Nationalist sentiment has turned to full on racist rhetoric and policies are gaining ground in so called ‘populist’ movements and governments.
The intent of the American Immigrant project is that people everywhere can show unity and provide a sense of pride and hope.
‘In a time of great upheaval on planet earth, we stand strong in our conviction that we are one people, with a common destiny and the natural mandate to care for one another. They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn; now is the time to stand up and connect across borders, across race, across gender, and across nations. There is no wall that that can divide us, there is no law that can keep us apart. We are seeking unity, we are seeking compassion, we are seeking LOVE. Join us in making this simple statement; that we are all immigrants, and we are all proud to tell the world.’ (Louis Marks, Ropeadope)
The American Immigrant Collection will be available for pre-order on May 2 at store.ropeadope.com, and in select stores in the summer of 2019. The line will also be available to activist and immigration support groups for fundraising purposes at half price.
For more information email email@example.com
We pause today to remember the late great Col Bruce Hampton, ret. on the two year anniversary of his passing. His wisdom, his humor, and his permission are a driving force for us to continue our work here at Ropeadope, and we cannot possibly overstate his influence. His intent and ours moved together for a few short years, and we strive every day to honor him by pressing on in the service of art and outrageous creative experimentation. Thank You Bruce, it’s chaos down here, same as it ever was.
For those readers who are not familiar, please set aside some time to dig into the man, the art, the music, and the inspiration. You can find the movie right here, the trailer here, and the music right here.
We’ve been digging through the archives as we move through our 20th year in the game, and we’re finding gem after gem in the form of posters, tee shirts, demos and live recordings. But first, the music - each month we program a 2 hour radio show for our friend Danos Kramos and The Cooks crew in Brooklyn, setting a theme that ties Ropeadope tracks together and discussing the history to put everything in context. In every case the music sounds as fresh today as it it did at the time; with some surprising connections and comparisons. Take some time to rediscover the world of Ropeadope.
Rapper, songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist, Khemist is a Philadelphia-bred artist and musical savant beloved as a bonafide lyrical force. Hailing from the city’s Logan Valley, Khemist is an extraterrestrial talent endowed with the hawkish ability to see the streets and set the Dickensian conditions of his formative years to music. Plied with eloquence and empathy, his catalog is punctuated by the monotone delivery and rough hewn exterior he developed surviving a charmed but bittersweet life amidst the blighted haunts, brutalist architecture and cold shoulders of a hardscrabble, post-industrial city.
Incited by the decision to stop speaking as a child, Khemist’s career as journeyman lyricist began at a local playground, when he darted to retrieve a loose ball. That led to a fortuitous encounter with a man facing certain death.
“I didn’t even start talking in school until I went to high school. My whole middle school experience, I didn’t talk at all. I went to the park at Barrett playground. The ball bounced behind the rec and I went to retrieve it and saw this man just bleeding out –– lying there. Me and my man looked for a second, then some oldhead came and told us to move. He told us not to say anything so we never said nothing. We went back to playing ball. I still don’t know what happened to that guy. After that I didn’t talk in school from fifth to eighth grade.” - Khemist
‘This is by far the most honest music I’ve ever made. Being introspective, and trying new things that I may have been hesitant to do earlier in my career –– like experimenting with and ultimately growing to love my voice. Being around the musicians I’m around has encouraged me to take more ownership over each component of the music I’m making.’
We’ve been on the Bandcamp tip since the day they opened, back when the founders were working at the local library. We’ve seen them grow steadily as they provide the best service for independent artists to connect directly with fans and keep more of their revenue. Now they are coming out swinging with a new vinyl pressing service that works. It’s a challenge for artists to get to the threshold to do a vinyl pressing, and just as challenging for us to put every title out on wax. Now fans can support an artist by preordering vinyl and once they reach the magic number the pressing begins. Check out the announcement here, and dig right in and get your copy of Ancestral Recall from Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah cued up.
‘The African diaspora throughout the Americas feels to me like a big river, flowing and changing its formation across various lands, but remaining one immense watercourse. Carib is my continuation of that river, a personal and musical stream I began when I became bandleader for my first album, The Departure (1994) where you can clearly hear Puerto Rican rhythms running throughout. Another fork, my album Melaza (2000), has the most substantial connection with Carib because of its flow and the strong influence of the bomba music tradition from Puerto Rico. I believe some of the greatest contributions to contemporary music and culture have come from the African diaspora throughout the Americas. Unfortunately, there seems to be too little awareness of their influence, especially the vital stories told by the music. So, I wanted to approach this album as a means to pay tribute to all Afro descendent communities who have helped define my music and the culture’s broad ranging beauty and idiosyncrasies.’ (Dávid Sanchez)
David Sánchez begins his description of Carib with this narrative describing his intent and story behind the recording, setting the tone both figuratively and literally. It would be easy to get lost in his commanding performance on the saxophone; he handles the instrument so naturally it feels like his native language. And yet there is so much more, and we welcome the continuation of the story of the African Diaspora, this time with specific attention on Puerto Rico and Haiti. We have much to learn about how African music has traveled over centuries, and documenting the journey falls short when we use only words. This is an ongoing and fluid narrative presented for us all to learn and grow.
Carib is set for release on June 7, 2019 via Stretch Music and Ropeadope, with early listen and preorders beginning on May 3rd. David just finished a run with The SF Jazz Collective, and will return to New York on June 6 - 9 at The Jazz Standard. Look out for David’s music in the indie film Windows On The World, now screening at film festivals throughout the US.
Guitarist and songwriter Emanuel Casablanca stands out from the crowd; In a world of followers he takes his own path, guided by his specific passion and unfettered by cultural definition. As a young man he witnessed the old Brooklyn, when venues where all around and you earned your chops in a Williamsburg venue. He grew up listening to Biggie, Lil Kim, and The Lost Boys at a time and place where you could see them hanging out in the neighborhood. His mother was a music teacher and she kept him playing and on a classical and gospel path. He left the music path for the basketball court, but returned to music during college and picked up the forbidden instruments (drums and guitar) and began his personal music journey. He credits Angus Young as his motivation to pick up the guitar, and titans Albert King, Rory Gallagher, Buddy Guy, and Freddie King as important influences that led him to his sound.
Emanuel Casablanca writes songs; he aspires to write and record them as they were made in the classic times in history, yet keep them relevant to today. His new record, It’s Getting Strange, is a tight collection that hearkens back to a time when artists sought to directly convey their feelings in an effort to connect with the listener. The themes are therefore familiar; love and loss, peace and hope. The style can best described as old school rhythm and blues, with a heavy emphasis on blues. His voice is transcendent, and his guitar licks are deliberate and never overwrought. The record is a refreshing change of pace from the frantic sounds of today. It’s Getting Strange hits on May 17, preorder and a taste coming this Friday.
Accomplished singer and Harlem native Vivian Sessoms, in the company of some of the world’s finest musicians, stakes a claim to a sound all her own on her new album LIFE. Having earned her stripes as a performer with Ryuichi Sakamoto, P. Diddy, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer and many others, Sessoms and co-producer/creative partner Chris Parks bring their vast array of experiences to bear on an inspired, jazz-influenced set that proves Sessoms a fiery, forward-thinking artist in her own right.
As much as Life I surprised and delighted us, Vivian stepped up the game with her powerful video for the lead single I Can’t Breathe as we lead up to the second album release. A tribute to Eric and Erica Garner, the song is not only one of the most powerful vocal performances we’ve heard but is also a moving statement on the state of America today. Life II continues Vivian’s story, and clearly expresses her expansive musical vision. Life II is set for release on May 17th, with preorder open now.
From the ever curious mind of Todd Clouser and his curated house of Ropeadope SUR comes a new project from Adam Meckler Orchestra. Trumpeter Adam Meckler leads an 18 piece ensemble that moves through Jazz, Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul and Pop with ease. Following up their critically acclaimed 2014 release When The Clouds Look Like This, which was listed by Itunes as a best of 2014, AMO brings their new album Magnificent Madness to the halls of Ropeadope. Magnificent Madness explores collaborations with Hip Hop artists Toki Wright (Rhymesayers) and Harjinder (Fatbook), as well as vocalist Cameron Kinghorn (Nooky Jones), multi-Grammy award winning vocalist J.D. Steele (Prince, Donald Fagen), and International trumpet soloist Rex Richardson. Sit back, relax, and let the show begin. Magnificent Madness hits on May 3rd, with preorder available now.
You can’t have a worldwide celebration of music without including Brooklyn, and we are ready. On April 23 we kick off our monthly residency at The Brooklyn Bowl. Dubbed The 21Soul Sessions | Soul At The Bowl, the inaugural show will be a banger. Paul Beaubrun, Vivian Sessoms, and Emanuel Casablanca will mix it up in a night of soulful reflection and celebration of diversity.
The 21Soul Sessions are unique musical experiences; established, world class players and young guns mix it up with a broad range of styles intended to break down the social construct of genre as a divisive term. Musicians today have become world travelers and ambassadors who not only bring new music to new places, but bring their worldly experiences back home to their community.
The Place To Be. Get Loose. Get Free.