Tuesday 21 August 2018

'The Midnight Hour' by Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge

Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge - the long-standing musical duo famed for their work on Marvel's Luke Cage Netflix series - unveil their highly-anticipated project, 'The Midnight Hour'.

Released through Younge's Linear Labs label, the music here is certainly its own beast in that it mostly sidesteps the blaxploitation aesthetic from Luke Cage but conversely finds itself comfortably adorning the stage of the show's revered Harlem Paradise club.

'The Midnight Hour' does however still revel in the retro soul stylings perhaps more synonymous with Adrian Younge projects like the 'Black Dynamite' soundtrack, 'Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics' and 'Songs About April'; but for the A Tribe Called Quest DJ, and the man whose production credits include D'Angelo, Angie Stone, Eric Benet and Jon B, it's certainly no challenge for Ali Shaheed Muhammad to own as much of the stage as Younge.

There's an A-list selection of guests appearing throughout the 20-track project including Marsha Ambrosius, James Poyser, No ID and Questlove who all excel, as does Raphael Saadiq on the mini-Lucy Pearl reunion number, 'It's You'; Bilal on the high-energy 'Do It Together', and Cee Lo whose original version of 'Questions' is thankfully included here after having morphed into 'untitled 06 06.30.2014' for Kendrick Lamar from his 'untitled unmastered' project of 2016.  Finally, the revamping of Luther Vandross's 'So Amazing' is a welcome addition and a fitting tribute to one of the duo's musiucal heroes.

'The Midnight Hour' is a stunning release - a classicly-themed soul album, rich in a crispy analog sound accentuated by lush orchestral strings, great production and stellar vocals.  Not one to miss!

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