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BLAC Detroit Magazine

Yaminah Brock’s Endless Journey

Yaminah Brock - BLAC Detroit Magazine -

Yaminah Brock is a veteran of stage and studio, and has sung every style of music from house and funk to country and Big Band and swing.

But now, she’s the boss, leading her own band, Yaminah and Jazzy Soul, and financing and marketing her solo debut, “Endless Journey,” a full-length collection of jazz-inflected soul music slated for a spring release.

While spending more than two years recording and assembling her band, Brock discovered the rewards and challenges that lie on the road to independence. Yet, she stays on course by staying true to herself—and the music.

“I have new respect for anybody who has [recorded an album] independently, because this is no joke,” Yaminah says. “It’s a whole other job! But it’s well worth it. I’ve learned a lot.”

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Hearing Redd: Detroit Soul Singer Neco Redd and The Full Disclosure

Neco Redd“The stage is my sanctuary,” says Ebony Neco Washington, also known as Neco Redd. “I turn into a completely different monster on stage. I’ve been blessed with the gift to work backstage as well, and I don’t have a problem with it. But if you’re gonna put me out front, expect Neco to act a damn fool!”

A native of Detroit’s west side, Redd seized the solo spotlight for the first time in 2010 with “No Discipline,” an eight-song EP of raw, bluesy soul. A year later, rather than watch a collection of songwriting demos languish in the dustbin, she offered an exciting and diverse 15-track mixtape as a free download through October 2011’s “The Full Disclosure” shows off Redd’s powerful pipes, her versatility and her funky attitude.

Still, Redd promises that the real heat will arrive this spring with the release of her first full-length album, “Still Trippin.” She describes it as a “bass heavy, guitar heavy,” horn-driven album with live instrumentation provided by Tony Ozier’s West Coast band The Doo-Doo Funk All-Stars.

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BLAC Detroit Music Blog: Always Saxy


Efforts to promote Saxappeal’s 2009 debut album “Stay Saxy” were often rebuffed by smooth jazz radio programmers who judged it “too urban” for their stations. That was good news.

That first album by Saxappeal, also known as LaDarrel Johnson, blends hip hop and new soul sensitivities with a sultry contemporary sax sound that is meatier and more adventurous than typical smooth jazz fare. The prominence of the horn, however, ensures that Saxappeal’s music won’t be played on most R&B, urban contemporary or hip hop stations, where all songs must feature singing or rapping.

He could have bowed to the pressure and churned out a second album that conformed to the dictates of the almighty programmers. Instead, he stayed true to his art, titled his new disc “Unmarketable” and set about creating an album of music that he describes as “delicious jambalaya.”

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B.L.A.C. Detroit Music Blog: D Allie

Emcee D’Allie is something of an anomaly in the often individualistic world of hip hop. He has fashioned a career based on a steady stream of compelling collaborations with producers, other artists and fans.

David Allie Strauss, otherwise known as D’Allie, grew up in a household where music was a family affair. He inherited a love for many types of music from his guitar-playing, Jewish father, Gary Strauss—who is featured extensively on his son’s albums—and his mother, Komeh Allie Strauss, who is from Sierra Leone.

“When I was maybe 6 or 7, my dad was playing at bars late night, and then waking up early to go teach,” D’Allie, now 28, remembers. “Occasionally he would bring me out for the first set, around 10 or so.”

Papa Strauss built a small, short-scale guitar for little David, but the instrument fell by the wayside when some older cousins introduced the youngster to “Yo! MTV Raps.” D’Allie began writing rhymes at age 7.

Fast forward about two decades, his hip hop duo Progress Report released the full-length album, “Eddie Logix and D’Allie Are Progress Report,” last month.


Detroit Producers Rule

For decades, Detroit has maintained arguably the most influential music scene in the country. Yes, awesome musicians, incomparable vocalists and mesmerizing performers learned everything they knew here. But this city’s influence on music is attributable not only to the iconic singers whose names we all know.

The D is also musically influential because of the people you don’t see. Detroit has contributed some of the most innovative and gifted music producers on the planet.

From early Motown staff producers like Smokey Robinson and Norman Whitfield, to funk maestro transplant George Clinton, to techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, to rock legend Don Was, to hip hop genius J Dilla—these and other local producers have set the global standard for quality, creativity, musicality and innovation.

Whether or not lovers of soul, gospel, R&B, hip hop, jazz or electronica know it, producers from Detroit consistently reshape and reinvent music. Year after year, they are leaders in the development of new sounds that resonate with music fans around the world.

Because the nature of record production is behind the scenes, producers tend to be unsung heroes. They are often more responsible for the sound of a hit song than the artist whose voice is on the record, but their contributions may go unrecognized by the general public.


© Nadir Omowale