THE MIDNIGHT HOUR featuring ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD and ADRIAN YOUNGE
LOREN ODEN, ANGELA MUÑOZ, JACK WATERSON, and DJ JON JON SCOTT (Sound Verite)
THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
The Midnight Hour (2018) is Black excellence: an ode to the cultural sophistication that the Harlem Renaissance established for its people. The Midnight Hour is comprised of Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, alongside a tight rhythm section and a full orchestra. The album has features from Cee-Lo Green, Raphael Saadiq, Marsha Ambrosius, Bilal, Eryn Allen Kane, Karolina, and more.
Adrian and Ali began working on this album back in 2013, but put the project aside as they would score the hit Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage (the two even perform in a second season episode). The Midnight Hour is a soul/jazz/hip hop album which continues the conversations started by yesterday’s jazz and funk pioneers; those that created the bedrock of samples for hip hop producers in the ’80s/’90s. The Midnight Hour is sophisticated hip hop that fans will enjoy, capturing their jazz rhythm section, and a full orchestra, to analog tape.
ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD
DJ/Producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad is a hip-hop icon. As one-third of legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, his influence and impact on the musical landscape is still felt today. The soft-spoken and contemplative Brooklyn native began a life of music at an early age, spending years DJing parties in his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood before co-founding Tribe in 1985. The group’s socially conscious lyrics and unique production style is as innovative today as it was two decades ago.
Muhammad carried that classic sound into the production unit The Ummah with Jay Dilla and Q-Tip, and continued working with artists including Faith Evans, Mos Def, and D’Angelo. In 1999, he co-founded the Grammy-nominated all-star trio Lucy Pearl with Dawn Robinson, formerly of En Vogue, and Raphael Saadiq, of Tony! Toni! Toné! The group’s organic and sexy fusion of funk, rock, R&B, and hip-hop revealed Muhammad’s growing musical maturity.
After Lucy Pearl, Muhammad focused his attention on his production company and developing new talent. In 2004, he released the very personal and adventurous solo debut LP Shaheedulah and Stereotypes, featuring some of his new proteges. Working on material for a follow-up, Muhammad set up a studio with Martin “Doc” McKinney of Esthero and Weeknd fame, and continued writing and collaborating with other artists as well.
In 2013, Muhammad received an invitation from Adrian Younge to work on fellow Golden Era legends Souls of Mischief’s There Is Only Now, where he narrated the album, playing as well as providing background music to accompany the narration. The results were impressive enough to ignite a creative burst in the two producers that quickly produced an album’s worth of material in a matter of weeks. “He’s such an easy person to work with, he has such vision when it comes to music. We really get each other, and that’s the other fun part of creating and finding a partner you’re on the same wavelength with,” says Muhammad.
Adrian Younge is the next generation of soul music. A self-taught musician and recording engineer who has dedicated his life to the study of classic soul music, Younge finds himself at the center of a new soul renaissance with a vision for pushing the boundaries of the music itself.
Beginning in 1998, he taught himself how to play various instruments to fully realize his vision; a soundtrack to a fictional film titled “Venice Dawn.” Recording the album over the course of the next year, he developed a sound that is equal parts Morricone, Air, and Portishead. Self-released in 2000, the moody, synth-drenched album was entirely composed, arranged, played, and recorded by Younge himself. Eight years later, Younge would find himself at the center of the Black Dynamite phenomenon. Instrumental in the film’s development, Younge not only edited the film, but also composed the original score, which was hailed as a modern blaxploitation masterpiece, solidifying himself as a force to be reckoned with, composing music for the accompanying cartoon series for Adult Swim.
In 2009, Younge envisioned a new sound that would revisit his earlier, more baroque instrumental work, and mesh it together with the deep, gritty soul of Black Dynamite, releasing material under the moniker Venice Dawn. Something About April (2009) was a heavy, dark mix of psychedelic soul, and cinematic instrumentals, with hip-hop aesthetics. Two songs—”Sirens” and ”Reverie”—were sampled by Timbaland for Jay-Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail, respectively on the lead single “Picasso Baby” and “Heaven,” featuring Justin Timberlake.
In spring of 2013, Younge released Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics (Wax Poetics Records), cowritten with William Hart, as well as Twelve Reasons to Die, a concept album with Ghostface Killah on RZA’s imprint, Soul Temple. Since then, Younge has launched his own record label, and completed work with Souls of Mischief’s, a sequel to Twelve Reasons to Die, and produced albums for Bilal, and A Tribe Called Quest alumn, Ali Shaheed Muhammed.
“I aspire to be the modern-day Quincy Jones. I consider myself a composer, not a beatmaker. Beatmakers make ten beats in a day, I try to make one good song every two or three days…”
Vocalist and lead singer of The Midnight Hour. Debut album, My Heart, My Love, coming soon.
Featured vocalist for The Midnight Hour
Jack Waterson is the acid that Adrian never took as a kid. The result, as you’d expect, is both colorful and dark; full of sonic and musical surprises. The creative relationship they have questions the social order of the United States, yet theirs is a quintessentially American Story: Kindred spirits.
Punk rock and hip hop came from the same place, fueled by identical sentiments: people taking the music back, reclaiming it, and finding a new audience. Waterson, primed from the mid-70s Punk scene, began his musical career in ’79 as a founding member of Green on Red. They inspired artists as diverse as My Bloody Valentine, Wilco and Mazzy Star with their records and psychedelic palette. Years later, Waterson continued his influential journey by opening the revered musical instrument store, Future Music, a Los Angeles staple.
In ’99, an 18 year-old Younge realized that he wanted to create music that sounded like the records he was sampling. Unbeknownst to him, he serendipitously wandered into Future Music. It’s there, he realized his dream was possible. Intrigued by the stores focus on pre ’83 equipment, Waterson soon became a mentor in developing Younge’s unique analog sound. They spoke heavily about the importance of vintage equipment and it’s use in creating revolutionary worlds.
During these years, Waterson schooled Younge on psych and art rock; Younge returned the favor by schooling him on Hip Hop, the origins of sampling, and its source music. Together this unlikely duo manifested new revolutionary worlds with Waterson appearing on every Younge album within the last decade. Adrian Younge presents Jack Waterson is getting lost in the impressionistic and at times jarring world of psychedelia, questioning what is real and challenging to question the role you play in this world. These kindred spirits have created a cinematic psych album with no boundaries. Laced with hip hop breaks and acid rock, their intention is to subvert the designation of what is black vs. white music.