Album Review of Black Focus by Yussef Kamaal.
Release Date: Nov 11, 2016
Record label: Brownswood
Genre(s): Rap, Jazz, International
The music on Black Focus is a seamless weave of spiritual jazz funk, broken beat, and global sounds, but it's also more and less. The duo enlisted a who's-who of South London all-stars to assist in various spots: Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, trumpeter Yelfris Valdes, bassists Tom Driessler and Kareem Dayes, and guitarist Mansur Brown. The set was produced and engineered by the Heliocentrics' Malcolm Catto.
As a debut, Black Focus is dope. Inspired by '70s jazz/fusion, it's tightly constructed and conceived across 10 tracks; UK-based percussionist Yussef Dayes and keyboardist Kamaal Williams know jazz and its progenitors, and are able to transform this knowledge into a dexterous take on the genre. Weaving between broken beats, synth swirls and brassy ambiance, the project is firmly new wave, but with callbacks to names like Herbie Hancock and Joe Harriott and references to hip-hop, post-bop and UK grime.