Album Rating System 4 out of 5 records
The marquis outside of 10 East 60th street in Manhattan reads “A night at the Copa with Yasiin Gaye.” Out with the Rat Pack crowd, with their black and white tuxes and Mafioso-DAs, and in with the black crowd. It’s black night at the Copa and they’re here to support brother Yasiin. Conks, fried-dyed-and-laid-to-the-side, old-fashioneds and dirty martinis – impeccably dressed men and women with thick-framed glasses, skinny ties and cocktail dresses fill up the seats to the rafters. The headliner, Yasiin Gaye steps on stage into the spotlight in a midnight blue shark skinned suit and the show begins.
Though Yasiin was never at the Copa – only as I have imagined he would be in this write-up – he effortlessly brings you the elegance of that time period. Yasiin Bey formerly known as Mos Def brings us Side Two of his second installment of his mash-up with the late Marvin Gaye. Marvin’s legendary Motown catalogue is reconstructed in an eclectic composition that mixes funk, soul, blues, rock and hip hop. The album itself is an imaginative, cross-generational period piece that meets Marvin Gaye and Yasiin Bey at the crossroads of Bey’s nostalgia and the after life. Yasiin is sort of a Marvin Gaye incarnate. He brings to life – if but for a moment – Marvin Gaye and everything in the 60s-70s time capsule in a surreal way.
The whole feel of this album is cinematic. You can picture Yasiin at the Copa serenading the crowd with a drink in hand. You can picture Lincoln Continentals, Cadillacs, and Buicks. You can picture the streets of Harlem. You can picture pretty black women with afros, flips, beehives, dashikis, mini-skirts, and pillbox hats. You can picture the Black Power Movement, leather jackets, and rallies. You can hear Mary Wells, The Four Tops, The Temps, Rare Earth, The Who, and The Moody Blues. You can even picture Marvin singing Distant Lover to tens of thousands of screaming ladies live at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum back in ’74.
The sculptor responsible for this concept album is Amerigo Gazaway, a Nashville based producer who has the uncanny gift of blending various genres of music into one pulsating, rhythmic, breathing and living organism. His breakthrough success with Fela Soul in 2011 put him on the map and made him an Internet sensation. In Side Two he effortlessly travels through time zones of music with the masterful hand of a barber blending the perfect taper. One second you’re listening to 70s funk and the next you’re listening to hip hop without realizing where the transition started. Sheeesh!
This is a great album with respect to the quality and integrity that was put into it; not because it captures you and serves as a cornerstone etched in your memory bank as an album that defined a certain period in time – like a good kid, m.A.A.d City or a Reasonable Doubt. With that being said, I’m sure that Marvin Gaye is quite pleased with this fine piece of work.
© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014
Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group