BBE / Rapster ushers in one of the world’s A-list R&B / hip hop producers, JAMES POYSER, for THE ReBeL Yell, a jaw-dropping new project alongside KHARI FERRARI MATEEN (The Roots, J*DaVeY, Skillz) and vocalist SupaStar.
You’ll know Poyser primarily for his peerless production CV. He’s a Grammy Award-winning songwriter for "Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop)" by Erykah Badu + Common, and he was also nominated for Best R&B Song for Erykah’s "Danger" and again a year later for Mariah Carey’s "Mine Again"
He has written and produced for everyone from Common, Jill Scott and The Roots to Al Green, Talib Kweli and Queen Latifah and is a member of the Soulquarians alongside Questlove, J Dilla (RIP), Bilal, Common, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Q-Tip and Talib Kweli. He can also be seen on TV playing keys for The Roots as part of Jimmy Fallon’s house band.
His productions are renowned as consistently on-point, polished and musically accomplished, a stamp of quality behind some of the great names in contemporary black music and an important part of Philadelphia’s new soul heritage. But nothing from his lengthy back catalogue prepares you for this.
Teaming up with Mateen and SupaStar, Poyser starts with a blank sheet and moves light years on from the standard R&B template for an album with an anything-goes twinkle in its eye. Shameless sonic references are liberally sprinkled and fused throughout: ‘Strawberry Fields’-era Beatles psychedelia gets pitched into a fidgety urban groove on ‘Wanted’; electro booty beats meet dark, Tubeway Army-inspired synths on ‘Everybody Doing It’; hazy live band tracks like ‘Life’ get dotted into the mix and production techniques and sounds more readily associated with house music get lifted and re-appropriated in entirely new ways.
The lyrics too mix the styles and toy with your expectations. There’s parables and social commentary (‘Save The World’) sitting alongside girl-trouble love stories and full-on grinding, un-PC sweat tracks. And Poyser enlists a suitably eclectic range of Philly’s younger generation on vocals with featured artists including fresh Columbia signing Nikki Jean, The Roots protégé Dice Raw, alt-rockers PAttyCraSH and video director-turned-singer Domini Quinn SupaStar, a revelation on lead vocal duties.
All the tracks on Love & War feature SupaStar on vocals. A Philly resident with a rich history in the local scene, from hanging out with Jill Scott, The Roots, Boyz 2 Men and 3x Dope after school, to hooking up with The Roots crew in 2004 and going on to feature on the track ‘I Don’t Care’ from the Tipping Point album and producing their music video for ‘Birthday Girl’ which featured Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy.
On the back of this relationship with the crew, James started giving tracks for SupaStar to write to, the first one being ‘Heartbreak 101’, a new track a month followed from James and The Rebel Yell project was born.
You can’t categorise this album – it’s simply misfit R&B, taking a stand against black music stereotypes and life’s clichés too, a rebel yell against uniformity and rulebooks. And, under Poyser’s disciplined direction, it’s a revolution for everyone. It’s accessible, it has a commercial edge and, like the Neptunes and Timbaland before it, takes risks with the confidence to know that people everywhere will sing along whilst recognising it as the next sh*t.
For more info check: www.rebelyell-armyofmisfits.com