Featured Artist | (U)nity

(U)nity began as the musical project of five musicians from different corners of the world, but it stopped being a band a long time ago. It has morphed into an ideal, a collective, a movement, of like-minded artists that bring their heritage, expertise, and wisdom to create a sonic euphoria. The core: Michael ValeanuAxel Tosca LaugartChris SmithMax Cudworth and Amaury Acosta have created an unlikely collaboration, ranging from a multitude of cultural backgrounds: Paris, Havana, Minneapolis, Providence and NYC. In their mission of fusing Afro Cuban culture with modern jazz, soul, hip-hop and gospel they’ve sacrificed neither virtuosity nor groove.

And now, (U)nity Is Power is set for release this Friday, July 28. The 14 track manifesto features bass hero Pino Palladino, Cuban percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, multi-instrumentalist Devonne Harris (AKA DJ Harrison), vocalists Jonathan HoardLauren Denberg, flutist Elena Pinderhughes, and bassists Luques CurtisDj GinyardJoshua Crumbly, and more.

Featured Artist | Trevor Lawrence Jr.

His mother performed with the Supremes. His father is a well known Saxophonist and writer. Both were original members of Stevie Wonder’s Wonderland band. Yes, that Stevie Wonder band. His grandfather, Ira Tucker Sr. is credited as a forefather of Gospel music as a member of the Dixie Hummingbirds. His Aunt Sundray Tucker sang with Stevie Wonder and Patti LaBelle.

In his first year of High School Trevor was called for a recording session to play drums on the original theme song on the Pilot episode of a show called Martin and right then he decided that his life would be in recording. Fast forward to 2017 and you’ll find some 73 recording credits in his discography including Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Snoop, Quincy, Alicia Keys, LeAnn Rimes,  Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Eminem, and Dr. Dre. Trevor Lawrence Jr. is on call for some of the biggest names, and still hits the road as a player with Herbie Hancock, LeAnn Rimes, and more. Trevor is the hard hitting drummer with Terrace Martin’s new group, The Pollyseeds, whose recent debut single topped 900K plays on soundcloud in its first few days.

These are prolific times for music creation and production, both in and out of the mainstream music world. Trevor Lawrence Jr, like so many of the artists that find their way to Ropeadope, has gone deep into his experience and his family of talented friends to create Relationships, his first solo record. Clearly bringing together the variety of people he has worked with, Relationships is a wide ranging record, seamlessly connected by a seasoned producer. Featured players include Terrace Martin, Kenneth Crouch, Nicholas Payton, Maurice Brown, LeAnn Rimes, Kamasi Washington, and Nico Segal (Donnie Trumpet). This is the world according to Trevor Lawrence Jr, and it shines with diversity and depth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you Relationships from Trevor Lawrence Jr. -  Drum Roll Please…

Terrace Martin Presents The Pollyseeds

At the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson there is a massive hole in the ground. The expression on the street is ‘You can look down until you can’t look no more’. The power of the earth is revealed, as is the history of this anchor neighborhood in the cultural history of LA.  Unlike the famous Lafayette Square, also designed by George Crenshaw, this part of LA does not claim the title of the wealthiest area in the city. Crenshaw Blvd is best known as the commercial spine of Black and Latino Los Angeles, as well as a transitional home for displaced middle class Japanese Americans after WW2. While it begins and ends in wealth, the other parts of Crenshaw Blvd are where the action was, with spots like the classic Maverick’s Flat – the Apollo Of The West -  where featured acts like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Ike and Tina Turner, and Parliament played. This is the place where low riders would cruise, immortalized in songs and videos by west coast rappers. You can draw a parallel with Harlem River Drive here, but Crenshaw is solid Los Angeles.

One can argue that THIS is the lifeblood of America – that it carries the pulse of a multi-cultural nation in a more authentic way than the official promenades of Washington DC. But there can be no argument that THIS is where the soul resides. The creativity, the street culture, the real stories of struggle and defiant joy – all are found here in a land of eternal sun and concrete.

And now, in 2017, there is a giant hole in Crenshaw Boulevard. Powerful energy makes itself present, as everyone knows the neighborhood will never look the same. A profound sense of history demands to be respected, and now presented to the world for preservation in our collective understanding. Now is the time to dig through the memories, the music, and carry them forward like diamonds from the mine.

Chachi | Rose Gold | Terrace Martin | Wyann Vaughn (Photo Samantha J)

Chachi | Rose Gold | Terrace Martin | Wyann Vaughn (Photo Samantha J)

The Pollyseeds are a collaborative group of A-List producers, musicians, and creators who have found great success in the world, yet understand the source from which their creativity and success flows. After many years of celebrity driven music, The Pollyseeds come together inside the SONGS. The songs that speak of history, of life, of love, of soul. The songs that carry our common interest; songs of Saturday nights looking for love, songs that carry the heat of the street right into Sunday evening. The Pollyseeds pay heed to TSOP, The Funk Brothers, and The Wrecking Crew, as well as early Steely Dan. The Pollyseeds are making the records that those artists never did, because they live in a time where it is possible.

Sounds Of Crenshaw Volume 1 is produced by Terrace Martin. As a producer and musician, Terrace Martin understands the pieces of history that MATTER. And he knows the true value of Crenshaw and Slauson in his own evolution and its importance to the world. On Volume 1, he brings together some of The Pollyseeds and distills the seemingly disparate pieces of that history into an instantly recognizable sound. ‘That West Coast Vibe’ is eminent. A great luthier once said ‘It’s simple, I just take a piece of wood and cut away everything that isn’t a guitar’. The Pollyseeds have done just that. Sounds Of Crenshaw Volume 1 is that record that trims the celebrity and the excess, and makes a very clear and simple statement with the sound.

Let us hope that whatever gets built on Crenshaw carries the history forward with as much integrity and beauty as The Pollyseeds.

Photo Samantha J

Photo Samantha J

'The Pollyseeds is a creative platform curated by my long time friend Terrace Martin. it allows each of us to come together musically with the sole goal of reflecting our experience in life through the gift of music and allowing us a voice to express the real truth of the world through our eyes in an unfiltered process that ultimately culminates in each Record. As a Pollyseed we must be selfless and a slave to the voice of the art, which many times may not even be our own.' (Pollyseed Brandon Eugene Owens)
'To honestly express yourself at a high level while paying homage, yet being current and innovating the times..is the Pollyseeds. So honored to be a part of the journey!' (Pollyseed Robert Glasper)
The band is about progression. Never becoming comfortable. Always growing. And always pushing the envelope. Intentions is my favorite: Intentions is legend. Intention is every sense of time to me. It's so much flavor. And that's my whole m.o. Just amazing.' (Pollyseed Rose Gold)
The Pollyseeds is the brainchild of Terrace Martin.  It comprises a unique assortment of T's talented homiez, including songwriters/vocalists (Chachi aka Problem, Rose Gold, Wyann Vaughn, Preston Harris, et al.) and musicians (Trevor Lawrence, Brandon Owens, Marlon Williams).  We each have very different styles and, as a unit, we paint audible pictures in technicolor.  The Pollyseeds is sexy and sultry, dynamic and gangsta, funky and musical.  Due to our widespread sound, I feel, as a group, we're unmatched. (Pollyseed Wyann Vaughn)

Death Rides A Horse

Arthur Vint is back, with spurs on once again, and this time he's taking on the baddest of them all. His next release - Death Rides A Horse -  explores the music of composer Ennio Morricone. Morricone's music is embedded in the American consciousness from the soundtracks to spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The folklore spreads through generations as we continue to immortalize characters from Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. But the music, it speaks of a mysterious place and time in the western desert - a time when America had courage and hope. Death Rides A Horse is the antithesis of the latest hit single - it is a thoughtful meditation that must be played through. The band is stellar - Arthur Vint (drums), Ian Stapp (bass), Jon Cowherd (piano, organ) Tony Scherr (electric guitar), Roy Williams (acoustic guitar), Andrew Halchak (bass clarinet, clarinet, flute), Rich Perry (tenor sax), Blanca Cecilia González (violin), Yvonnick Prene (harmonica)

Drop in here for the goods. 

Apple Music X Ropeadope

Our hardworking and self professed fake CEO is now a curator in the Apple Music ecosystem, bending his non-musician brain to assemble creative and non-traditional playlists for your ears. Featuring some gems from the Ropeadope roster with tracks from the vast Apple Music service, the playlists will visit feel, style, social commentary and attempt to tie together seemingly disparate pieces of the music universe. In the future you can expect some more in depth and focused musical discussions, but for now it's all just a loose vibe. Drop in right here for a taste, and send Louis your comments via Apple connect. 

Sister Gertrude Morgan

In the fall of 2005, as the world focused on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Ropeadope released two historically important records that spoke to the soul of the city. The first - the original Preservation Hall recording of Sister Gertrude Morgan's Let's Make A Record. Sparse, melodic, and raw, the album captured the true vision of Sister Gertrude Morgan - the self described 'Bride Of Christ' who wandered the streets of New Orleans preaching in her unique way. The second - King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan - a powerful imagining of the original with instrumentation from King Britt and Tim Motzer. The results are legendary - this new recording captured world attention, with consistent placement in movies (Miami Vice), TV (True Blood), and commercials. It went on to a third incarnation as rapper David Dallas, enthralled by the music, added powerful and positive vocals to create the track Running, which was featured in countless ads from the NFL to FIFA. Yes, a preacher from New Orleans changed the life of a DJ from Philly, and then again a rapper from New Zealand. Such is the lasting influence of music. Today we announce the release of a deluxe Vinyl edition of both original recordings - the double LP in a triple gatefold jacket, beautifully representing the original art of Sister Gertrude Morgan herself. We offer great Thanks to Preservation Hall, Vinyl Me Please, and the Artists for making this happen. There are a limited number of copies here.

(U)nity

On a cold winter night in New York, we ran into these cats at a Butcher Brown show. The night was electric, and the calm yet animated demeanor of Amaury Acosta was overshadowed only by the powerful personality of Axel Tosca Laugart (don't shhhshh him, he's Cuban). Everybody knew these cats, so we knew something was up. Bring it to today and their album is here. Define it we can not - but we can say it's unique. Guests include Pino Palladino, Elena Pinderhughes, Devonne Harris and more. AND some very unique commentary from Mr. Robert Glasper.

Enough talk! Let (U)nity is Power speak for itself and hit that play button. 

Digable Planets LIVE

The late 1980’s. The first generation of kids to grow up on Hip-Hop was coming of age. An experimental vibe was in the air, like anything was possible. This is golden age Hip-Hop, where stylistic innovation was the rule – From Public Enemy to De La Soul, from Eric B & Rakim to A Tribe Called Quest – creating the breadth of style that this powerful music could hold.

This is the fertile ground upon which Digable Planets were raised. Craig ‘Doodlebug’ Irving and Mary Ann ‘Ladybug Mecca’ Vieira met at Howard University. Ishmael ‘Butterfly’ Butler, originally from Seattle, was in New York. A chance meeting in Philadelphia (of course) led to full on collaboration as they connected over a common love of poetry, jazz, and Hip-Hop culture. Assembling in New York, Digable Planets released their first album in 1993. Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) hit the airwaves and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The lead single, Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)was a crossover Top 20 Billboard hit. While ATCQ and De La Soul had their spin, Digable Planets integrated soul and jazz into Hip-Hop in a fresh new way that broadened the genre musically and stylistically. Their look and vibe evaded Hip-Hop stereotypes at any early stage; one had the sense at the time that Hip-Hop was a vast cultural concept.

The trio went even further with their second album, Blowout Comb, organically integrating soul, jazz, and live instrumentation with social consciousness and positive observations on life. Blowout Comb was more serious, with political reference and imagery, which of course set the path for less commercial possibilities. Digable Planets called it quits in 1995, as each member went on to accomplished solo careers.

Fast forward to 2017, almost the other end of the evolution of Hip-Hop. A genre that has survived the pressures of the market, but not without collateral damage. We could say the same for the nation, and for just about every other genre. We find ourselves looking for the roots, the authenticity of music and of life. And so, now is the perfect time for Digable Planets, creative leaders with a stake in history, to return to the world stage. On New Year’s Eve 2015/16, the band kicked off a seemingly endless world tour to a chorus of appreciation. Along the way they returned to their culturally native spot – Philadelphia – for two sold out shows at The Ardmore Music Hall. Independent Philly label Artists First Records arranged to record the shows for the sake of history, and now Digable Planets LIVE is set for immediate release on Friday June 30.

New Music | HUW

Last November we boarded a train out of London, bound for a little town in The Peak District called Stoke-On-Trent. The goal? To meet Aaron Dolton, the man behind HUW - If you're just tuning in Aaron (and his brother Mike) have released several records on Ropeadope, all of which are in regular rotation at the office. Aaron showed us the new studios at Staffordshire University, an impressive setup of digital and analog for students to get the hands on of recording. We talked about the next HUW record, and now we are pleased to say it's cued up for release on July 7. Music From The Multiverse is a new step for HUW - with plenty of vocals and an array of interesting styles, all with a signature groove that is HUW. our fave is the first (earworm alert) track Already Home featuring Jube. Dig in right here, and while you're there step back and start with this track to get familar.  

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah | Diaspora

The second record in The Centennial Trilogy, Diaspora is set for release this Friday. The term diaspora is used here by Christian in the broadest sense possible. He is referring to the WORLD Diaspora – All peoples, oneness & love. While Ruler Rebel identifies who is speaking, Diaspora identifies the listener – WHO is being spoken to. Growing up in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was keenly aware that people of different histories and cultures were enduring the same experiences and challenges. Despite this commonality, they accepted the notion that they we’re not kin and therefore nemesis. Topical ideas like race, religious purview, sexual preference & perceived economic standing ultimately stunt the growth of community, which in turn stunts the growth of Cities and Municipalities, States and Provinces, Nations, and finally our world. A deliberate stretching of styles and genres speak to this fundamental issue and offers a path forward. A path to break down perceived barriers and work together to build a lasting future. Drop in here to listen and support. 

Matt Cappy

If you're anywhere near East Philly you know the name Matt Cappy. if you've seen Jill Scott, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, The Mavericks - you've probably seen Matt Cappy. if you've heard Michael Jackson's Invincible, you've heard Matt Cappy. And that's just a few of the credits. We've known Matt for a minute in our hometown, and we are fortunate enough to hear that unique TONE drifting out of a local hang when he's home from the road. Now the world gets to hear Matt's debut album : CHURCH AND STATE is an epic beginning, with a diverse range of experience and style that tell the story of the man. Today marks the beginning - the preorder is up on Itunes with a smashing track featuring Chill Moody. Stay tuned, because the unveiling continues with appearances from Marsha Ambrosius, Stephen Costello, Steve Mckie, and many more. 

New Music | Sidewalk Chalk

Soul, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and social discussion about the duality of our lives and our world - these are the things that Sidewalk Chalk bring to their new release, An Orchid Is Born. Out today, the album was recorded at Make Believe Studios in Omaha and produced by Robert 'Sput' Searight. The band is in peak form, and without trepidation has ventured into new territory that redefines their sound and their vision. It's the kind of record that requires repeated listening sessions to gain a full understanding, and we're right in the middle of that process of discovery. Sidewalk Chalk is: Rico Sisney (MC), Maggie Vagle (Vocals), Charlie Coffeen (Keys), Garrett McGinn (Bass), Tyler Berg (Drums), Jumaane Taylor (Taps), Sam Trump (Trumpet), and David Ben-Porat (Trombone). Drop in and support An Orchid Is Born.

Terrace Martin Presents The Pollyseeds

In classic style, Terrace Martin dropped some casual news on Thursday about a new band called The Pollyseeds, and their upcoming release Sounds Of Crenshaw Vol 1. And then about 800,000 people jumped on board. Who and what are the Pollyseeds? An all star cast of producers and players who get together for the sake of the song; Rose Gold, Robert Glasper, Wyann Vaughn, Trevor Lawrence Jr, Brandon Eugene Owens, Taber Gable, Kamasi Washington, Marlon Williams, Jonathan Barber - to name just a few. Paying heed and respect to The Funk Brothers, The Sounds Of Philadelphia (TSOP), and The Wrecking Crew, The Pollyseeds know the roots of the music and keep pushing it forward. The record hits on July 14th, preorder is right here

Modern Icon Recordings

Drummer Adrian Harpham first landed at Ropeadope with the release of ATLAS by Light Blue Movers, and now he's gearing up to bring us MODERN ICON RECORDINGS. Adrian works in the studio with the likes of Stephanie McKay, Monty Alexander, and many more, and he's bringing his vision for substantial, timeless, and iconic sound to the world. The journey begins with a beautiful album from Jack Snyder - AKA Leyeux - ready for your ears on June 9th. In Adrian's words:

'The future of music? It’s fair game and we have to really bring it, not just because of the state of transition in the music industry but because art is now reacting to the times: it has no choice. I think now is one of the most exciting times I've witnessed in my musical life. Just watch, incredible sounds are emerging from this frenetic air we now find ourselves in.’ 

Drop in right here to learn more about Modern Icon Recordings, and stay tuned for a taste of Leyeux. 

In a random encounter, unlikely collaborators Tim Emmerick and Andrew Neesley met in New York and soon began writing music together, locking in a unique partnership that seems to complete each writer. With the traditional song ‘Jesus On The Mainline’ popping up repeatedly in the mystical computer algorithm on Andrew’s feed, the band name was chosen and now permanently represents purposeful connection with the source, regardless of differences in background. Jesus On The Mainline begins with this duo, but expands to a fifteen piece group of New York’s finest young musicians. '"The Morning Bell is Jesus On The Mainline’s debut full-length record and is our first opportunity to truly fly our flag as songwriters and record makers. As a band, we have been fortunate to receive great support for our live shows, and the stage has been our home. But we also love albums that stand on their own merit, and that is what we strove for with The Morning Bell. The pool of musical influences on this album is massive and includes everything from gospel traditionals to John Coltrane to the Alabama Shakes to Abbey Road. '

Dig into the beautiful collection of songs known as The Morning Bell. 

Featured Artist | Adam Ben Ezra

Adam Ben Ezra plays the double bass. And much more. Hailing from Israel, Ben Ezra is a fascinating man who is constantly exploring and adding color to his musical palette. Drawing inspiration from Bach, Sting, Bobby McFerrin, and Chick Corea (among others), Adam performs as one man - starting with the bass and looping the sound, adding piano, flute, clarinet, oud, and cajon. Last year he performed and recorded a series of shows at Little Big Beat Studios in Liechtenstein, stunning the attentive audience. The wonderful result is PIN DROP, a full length album set for release on May 19, and available for preorder right here. Stop in and see what Adam does on the youtube, it is quite remarkable.