Jamil Rashad is providing a social good with his debut album Groove! in that he’s administering unadulterated funk en masse. Rashad’s project, Boulevards, plays pure simplistic funk that calls back to Rick James, Prince, and George Clinton for an infectious sound that demands listeners to light up the dance floor. Eschewing current music fads for a golden recipe of a funky slap-bass, 80’s peaked synths, and sex-drenched smooth vocals, Boulevards is breathing life into a sound that is elemental yet so rare these days. Boulevards has borrowed the funk essentials from the past and packaged it into a fresh, upbeat score to help us all get down in 2016.
Groove! fires off with some succinct but punctuated tracks like the instructional “Set the Tone” and the wonky, strut-filled “Up On Your Love.” Arguably the best track on the album is “Got To Go” with its booty-shaking bass line, disco guitar chucking, and casual sex lyrics ‘Your love is mine/Don’t act surprised/ Just another night between your thighs’.
“Cold Call” is a runner up for best track on Groove!, building momentum with hypnotic synths that break into a deep earworm of an infectious hook. The track “Patience” melds vintage hip-hop with pop, while tracks like “The Spot” and “Talk to Me” are pure sexuality over bedroom beats.
Tight technical precision keeps the funk fresh throughout Groove! and tracks like “Weekend Love” and “Love and Dance” bring back a new progressive era of disco, which can’t help but instill excitement in listeners.
Groove! may draw on music genres that had their heyday decades ago, but Rashad’s bravado and smooth persona make it lively and relevant. While many artists today hide their personas behind their music, Boulevards is coming unapologetic and risqué with his sound and leaving modesty at the door. The soul purpose of this album is to force you onto the dance floor and, by embracing the lighter side of funk, soul, jazz, and disco – Boulevards wins easily.
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