Artist: Blue Lab Beats
Album: Motherland Journey (2022)
Label: Blue Note Records
Genre: Neo-Soul / Jazztronica
Over the last several weeks I have been teaching my junior high school music students about the cross pollination between the jazz and hip-hop music genres in modern music. There is no better contemporary example of this than with Blue Lab Beats’ masterful debut long-player for Blue Note Records, Motherland Journey.
Much like the title suggests, MJ encompasses a kaleidoscope of influences and sounds while still retaining a distinct identity. They fuse the sounds of the African diaspora with modern instruments and rhythms from the London underground music scene, resulting in a melange of jazztronica, afrobeat, neo-soul, funk, and fusion. Guest stars abound, adding contemporary pop, r&b, and hip-hop flair to the smooth fusion instrumentals laid down by producer NK-OK and multi-instrumentalist Mr. DM.
At 17 tracks and an hour’s worth of listening time, one would thing that Motherland Journey might strain to maintain a sense of cohesion and unity with all the genre-skipping, but the opposite is in fact true, as MJ instead plays like an expertly-curated celebration of the London underground electronic music scene.
Thomas Jacob Jr is a Producer, Composer, Singer-Songwriter, Music Educator and Digital Artist currently based in Arizona – Bringing us rare and interesting selections from his extensive Vinyl collection! For more content follow his vinyl-dedicated Instagram account