BILAL

 

Bilal Sayeed Oliver (born August 21, 1979),[1] better known by his stage name Bilal, is an American neo soul/jazz singer-songwriter, musician and producer. He is also a core member of the loose collective, the Soulquarians. Bilal started out by singing in small clubs until he began classical training in jazz and big-band arrangements at the Mannes Music Conservatory in New York. With this formal training, the singer/songwriter learned to sing opera in seven languages. Bilal is a member of the Soulquarians collective, along with Common, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Q Tip, and D’Angelo. These are exciting times in music; a return to purity, risk-taking and truth-telling. Yet it has been some time since we have seen the likes of BILAL OLIVER. His prodigious debut album 1st Born Second (Moyo Music/ Interscope), is a symbolic raising of the bar, worthy of critical examination. Herewith the work of a man born on the cusp of the eighties: the launch of MTV, Prince's Dirty Mind, Reganomics, the digital revolution, the lingering stank of Parliament's Motor Booty Affair (aww-aakk! aww-aaakk!), and "Rapper's Delight". At barely twenty-one years old, Bilal Oliver is clearly possessed with that oldest instrument: the Voice.

To wit: 1st Born Second, a work of resounding superiority, recalls Donny's soul and Mahaila's sanctified. Like Nina Simone, Bilal is classically trained, he in jazz and big band arrangements and opera voice. This child of hip-hop seeks to approach swing and scat with the same expansion and technique as Ella Fitzgerald. He writes his music, lyric and note. That is worth repeating: Bilal writes his music, lyric and note. Because of all these things-exquisite turns of phrase, embodiment of the feminine, and a rooted understanding of pitch, emotion and the note-that, if all goes as should in these, Bilal is surely one of the most significant artists of our changing times.

After twice appearing on Common's Like Water For Chocolate, Guru's Jazzmatazz Street Soul, and writing and producing with kin like Erykah Badu, it is understandable that 1st Born Second is ultimately about birth, elders, and order. The lazy ear, that ill-tuned instrument, may hear brother Bilal and carelessly crown him "neo soul"-which is fine. But like that lazy, ill-tuned ear, "neo-soul" is non-specific and smothering, describing anything remotely derivative from our current embarrassingly formulaic rhythm and blues. 1st Born Second is at turns reverent and blasphemous. Ragtime and Rufus. Mardi Gras and baptisms, homecomings and homegoings. An amalgamation of field hollas and folktales, organs and weeping, brave bursts of song, heavenly choruses and truth, truth, truth.

Artist Bio Continued

 

Bilal was born Bilal Sayeed Oliver in northwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His interest in jazz music was fostered by his father, who took him to the city’s clubs. Singing eventually became more than an interest. Bilal attended Mannes College in New York City, where he received voice training, as well as training in jazz and big-band arrangements.

By 1999 Motown recording artist, Grenique released her debut Black Butterfly, an was the first major album to feature Bilal’s vocals; he contributed to three songs. The following year, he established a deep connection to hip-hop by appearing on Common’s album, Like Water for Chocolate and Guru’s Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul. These recordings led him into the Soulquarians, a rotating collective of collaborators who included Common, Jay Dee, the Roots' Ahmir Thompson, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Q-Tip, and Raphael Saadiq within its ranks.

 

 

Additional Bio's .

2001, he released his debut album 1st Born Second, which featured contributions from the Soulquarians as well as high profile producers such as Dr. Dre.[3] The album, while critically lauded, failed to achieve any significant mainstream success, and received limited promotion (although the single "Soul Sista" became fairly popular on late night alternative radio). Despite this, Bilal managed to gain a sizable following and high attendance at his live shows,[4] as well as much acclaim and respect from his peers, many whom noted his range and ability to sing in a freeform style, and his classically trained falsetto.[4]

In 2002, Bilal contributed to the critically acclaimed Red Hot + Riot, a compilation CD created by the Red Hot Organization in tribute to the music and work of Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti, that raised money for various charities devoted to raising AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. He collaborated with fellow hip-hop artists Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, and Jorge Ben to remake the famous song by Fela Kuti, "Shuffering and Shmiling," for the CD.

In the following years Bilal continued to appear on projects by other artists both high profile and avant garde, while recording and developing his follow-up set to be released on Interscope Records and featuring contributions primarily from producers Dr. Dre and J Dilla (as heard by Dilla himself). These plans proved to be changeable and the final result, Love for Sale, was an album that appeared to be built around Bilal's own musicianship, with many of the tracks produced and written by the artist himself except "Something to hold onto" was produced by grammy award producer Nottz. However, near the album's completion, Interscope delayed the release date, then shelved the album indefinitely, hinting that it saw little commercial potential in it since it had already leaked online in its entirety. Online, many fans and music critics expressed their sadness that what they viewed as a carefully crafted album would be kept from a proper release. Bilal signed to Plug Research in 2009.[5] In May 2010, Bilal visited Billboard's Mashup Monday and performed "All Matter" from his soon to be released new album, well as a cover tune of Soft Cell's 80's hit, "Tainted Love".[6] On August 24, it was reported, Bilal kicking off a US road tour in support of Airtight's Revenge.[7] His third album Airtight's Revenge was released September 14, 2010.[8][9][10] Bilal has said in interviews that the album's inspiration came from the struggles of dealing with the fallout from Love for Sale.[11][12][13] Bilal continues to tour in 2010

 

 

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