Andre Cymone’s new album might be titled 1969, but nostalgia is the farthest thing from his mind. “There’s so many parallels between 1969 and now,” the veteran singer / songwriter / producer observes. “You watch the news and see all the crazy, crazy stuff that’s going on, and you realize that we’re still dealing with a lot of the same issues now that we were dealing with then. That inspired a lot of these songs.”
Indeed, the sonically bracing, lyrically incisive record draws some startling parallels between its titular year – the year when the utopian ideals of the ’60s came face to face with harsh reality – and today. The result is a deeply compelling musical statement; the work of a passionate idealist confronting the brutal disappointments of the real world.
Throughout 1969, Cymone’s edgy melodic craft and emotion-charged lyrical insight balance unflinching realism with an unmistakable sense of hope, insightfully addressing issues of racial and economic inequality. “Look at where we’re at, compared to where we should be. It’s pretty shocking,” Cymone asserts. “We’ve come such a long way, but as human beings and as a civilization, we should be evolving. There’s a large faction of people who’ve just refuse to move forward, and it’s up to people of good conscience to keep pushing that boulder.”
1969 marks a creative landmark in a long and colorful career that’s encompassed wide range of creative pursuits, from Cymone’s early collaborations with Prince through his solo successes in the eighties and his work as hitmaker for an assortment of notable pop and R&B acts. In 2014, Cymone ended a self-imposed 27-year recording hiatus with The Stone, a remarkable self-reinvention that saw the artist emerge with some of the most accomplished and personal music he’s ever made.
Minneapolis has a long history of distinctive R&B styles and flavors. ZULUZULUU arrived in 2014 and began to expand on that with an eye on the future but with respect to the past: “I see it as the next chapter of the Minneapolis sound” says guitarist ∆RT P∆RTÉ. One of their first shows was playing a Clash tribute; months later landing on First Avenue’s Best New Bands 2014. After bursting onto the scene the band took a hiatus and gathered to build collectively and contribute to the new vanguard of black music.