Sometimes I feel truly hopeless. This sentiment is usually the result of the inability to decide on something to listen to. I am sure that all of you have experienced a similar feeling: you’re stuck in a musical rut, constantly listening to the same tunes and not coming across anything that REALLY speaks to you, nothing that forces you to get out of that metaphorical (perhaps literal) fetal position, wipe off the tears of frustration, take a deep breath, put on some clean pants, and face the world. Well, that’s what it felt like when I came across my new favorite record label, Ropeadope Records, and my first love from their VERY impressive roster of artists, Sidewalk Chalk. These cats are EXACTLY what I had been searching for.
I’ve tried to come up with something that I don’t like about this track, “Get It Right,” off of their latest album, Shoulder Season. I’ve listened, analyzed, and dug DEEP, but I’m just much too impressed with everything that this song does well: those dreamy, jazzy keys that greet us when the song starts; the steady drums that take us on a stroll through a dreamland; the vocals that hit our faces like a gentle breeze. And I haven’t even talked about the emcee yet. Oh boy… It would be enough to merely mention the delivery of a seemingly eternal stream of internal rhyme right at the start of the verse. My man wastes no time. Or maybe we can talk about his earnest flow, the type of sound you’d expect to hear at a cypher, reminiscent of the great Eminem, especially during the latter half of the tune.
Bands like Sidewalk Chalk are serving a very important purpose: they are keeping the jazz tradition alive. They are taking the wonderful sounds of jazz and throwing them into a mix of so many other traditions. This is what breeds innovation. Furthermore, it is this crowd-pleasing R&B/soul/hip-hop/jazz sound that is reaching new audiences, exposing them to sounds that they might not have experienced otherwise.