VA: BamaLoveSoul presents On Deck 3
Displayed at the bottom of the cover design for this third iteration in BamaLoveSoul's On Deck series is the following: “More Future Soul Classics For The New B-Boy Generation.” That type speaks volumes about the kind of material awaiting the listener, ideally one with a jones for luscious neo-soul and hip-hop-inflected jams. Before advancing to the release itself, a few words of a preliminary nature are needed to clarify what the project's about.
Operating out of Birmingham, Alabama, BamaLoveSoul's a tastemaking-styled website featuring podcasts and related content; launched in 2008, the site directs its energy towards bringing attention to fresh and oft-underexposed artists and music. Helming the On Deck compilations is DJ Rahdu (real name Roderick Moody, also known as the host of the weekly two-hour Diamond Soul Xxxperience show) whose latest collection makes a compelling case for the vitality of the BamaLoveSoul experience and the up-and-comers showcased.
A diverse, hour-long set featuring fifteen cuts, most of them vocal-based and song-styled, On Deck 3 is a quality affair from start to finish. Waju and Garimastah open the release promisingly with “Alive,” a dusty slice of downtempo hip-hop warmed by Rhodes chords and Muc J's laconic flow, after which the breezy, Latin-tinged swing of Salah Ananse's “When I Call” appears. Paying homage to Prince's “When Doves Cry” when it's not enumerating binary code, Rob Milton's heartfelt ballad “Her” also includes a brief turn from MC Ill Camille. As consistently strong as the collection is, certain cuts lodge themselves more firmly in memory, among them Idesia's “Nu,” a sultry serenade distinguished by her gentle vocal delivery, and Renee Dion's “Not Enough,” an equally affecting soul jam boosted by her plaintive vocal performance.
On the jazzier tip is Sean Haefeli's “Essential,” which nicely spotlights the composer's singing, scatting, and piano playing, and Mental Abstrato's “Feeling Good,” which backs Joycee Weza's singing with Ornette-styled sax bleats. Moody's taste extends to tripped-out jams, too, as evidenced by the inclusion of DOC Mastermind's wonky instrumental “Space Homeboy Pt. 2 (Other Mix)” and Jazz Spastiks' slinky “Jazzspormers,” which merges vibes and turntable swizzle like it's the most natural thing in the world.
One of the most striking things about On Deck 3 is the way its tracks deftly integrate genres. Not a single cut ties itself to one genre only, and it's common for a given piece to work elements of jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and soul into its soundworld. The contributing artists shine, but perhaps the greatest shout-out should be extended to Moody for curating a collection that never falters.