Don’t Sleep on Hypnagogia
Every once in awhile a group comes along that makes fans question why they are so inclined to gravitate towards commercial music. In the 90’s there were several groups that challenged the norm of what was considered popular and what was good. Think back to the first time you heard Soul II Soul, Arrested Development, The Fugees and even Outkast. Something was different about these particular artists. These artists had soul and paved the way for De Angelo, Rapheal Saadiq, Erykah Badu and the amazing Jill Scott. What made these artists special was their ability to infuse multiple sounds into something cohesively unique, Whether it was the Carribean inspired dub step Hip Hop of the Fugees or the funky jazz gangsta booty shaking bass of Outkast; these artists had tremendous range in the spectrum of music.
I want to introduce you to the next such artists. If you are looking for a group to challenge the norm, look no further than Los Angeles based Neo Soul/Hip Hop group Ebony Coast. In the spirit of Ashford and Simpson, Ebony Coast is a male/female duo consisting of the producer/emcee I-dia and talented songstress Carissa Rashea. One listen to their debut album, Hypnagogia; highlights the deep relationship that is apparent between the two talented artists. The two share a relationship beyond the music and the synergy between the two artists is special.
The music produced by Miami native I-dia is a mixture of funk, jazz, rock, metal and Hip Hop. From the first track “Space Drifter” listeners are propelled into “Hypnagogia” which is defined as the state between wakefulness and sleep. The track has a deamy Inception like quality that composer Hans Zimmer would be proud of. The dreamy production continues on the Lounge Bar like “Walking On the Moon”. Here I-dia production seems to enhance Carissa’s soft voice making her vocals feel as if they are a part of the arrangement. I-dia has achieved what most independent producers have not, which is creating a symphony of sound that includes the vocals. The album is very cohesive in that fashion. I-dia as a producer is on a level reserved for those with major label backing. Ironically all the music was produced, arranged. recorded and mastered in his Los Angeles apartment. I can only imagine what the man could do in an actual studio and I guarantee somewhere some record exec is wondering the same thing.
Carissa Rashea as a vocalist seems to have a ghost like effect that reminds you of Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This is not a critcism but rather an acknowledgement of how much talent the young woman has. Her abiltiy to challenge I-dia’s production at times or blend in with it, is a testament to how refined of a singer she has developed into. Peep the song “Good Vibrations” which has the potential to be a major single. Carissa enhances the track rather than let the track dictate her peformance. Also check out the phenomenonal “Love Evidence” where Carissa does her best to demand listeners to pay attention to her vocal ability.
I-dia as an emcee seems to have been influenced by his time in Los Angeles. He has a smooth West Coast delivery that is undercut by his roots in Miami. At times is southern drawl reaches the surface and battles with his newly formed west coast sensibilty which leads to some great vocal moments like on the infectious “Im Gone”. Also check out the Outkast like “Mama Said” where I-dia seems to channel Andre 3000 vocally. I-dia could potentially hold his own with most soul influenced artists like Cee-lo and even a Hip Hop influenced artist like Kid Cudi.
If there’s any crticism to Hypnogogia it can be found in it’s 20 tracks. 20 is a large number for a debut and a lot to ask from todays pop infuenced audience. However I-dia’s production is so fluid that there seems to a good pace to the album that hums in at about an hour. It’s a great Saturday morning album to play from beginning to end. There is also the potential of the live performances, each song seems to be readily made for a live audience because I-dia has managed to eliminate most of the assistance afforded most pop artists. There are no “magic mics” on any of the tracks which gives the album a sense of the organic.
All in all “Hypnagogia” is a solid effort and should garner Ebony Coast some much deserved exposure on the music scene. Ebony Coast will be one of the groups people will refer to in the next decade as being on the forefront of the resurgence of good music from the Hip Hop generation.
For more on Ebony Coast check out these Links:
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To download Hynpagogia please visit: http://ebonycoast.bandcamp.com/album/hypnagogia?permalink