Evan Dale // Dec 14, 2017
Smooth as butter. Cold as ice. It’s how I like my ski slopes. It’s how I like my ice cream. It’s also how I like my soulful electrofunk – R&B collaborations. In this case, the recipe may seem simple enough, but the ingredients are exceptionally rare.
Like many beautiful things in this world, the music of Nick Murphy has come to grace our lives by way of past struggles and a subsequent rebirth. The artist formerly known as Chet Faker underwent a spiritual and creative awakening in 2016 that resulted in a name change, a new outlook on life, and the continued progression and improvement of his already established and recognized musical genius.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Australian artist by either name, now is as good a time as any to become acquainted. His consistently solid and wide-ranged releases starting with his cover of Blackstreet’s No Diggity in 2011 have triangulated him somewhere between electrofuck, soul, and pop. Realistically, he is another artist who is difficult to define – a fact that becomes especially true when seeing him live. Splitting time between real-time electronic production, jamming away at a keyboard, and sensually working the microphone and the crowd, his versatility is hard to miss.
His passion is even more obvious. Wiping a hard-earned layer of sweat from his mop and his signature beard is the only thing that slows him down during concert and one gets the idea that even if there were no crowd at all, he would still put forth the same energy. He is one of those all-or-nothing kind of artists willing to go to any extreme for his craft, which just so happens to be unparalleled, innovative music.
His 2014 album, Built on Glass (under the name Chet Faker), is a project worthy of crediting for electronic music’s synonymous standing with world-class vocalists in the modern music scene. Included on a short list that features Disclosure’s work with Sam Smith, Rudimental’s 2013 masterpiece, Home, and London Grammar’s collaborations with various British producers, Chet Faker’s vocal and production contributions will forever be attached to the mid 2010’s electronic golden age. What separated Chet Faker from this illustrious company is that he was able to do everything on his own.
To this day, though now under the name Nick Murphy, the one-man Australian, electronic juggernaut continues to make spellbinding jams from start to finish entirely as an independent force. But this doesn’t mean that he is somehow opposed to collaboration. In fact, many of Chet Faker’s most intriguing songs have come in the form of partnership with other talented artists across the musical spectrum. From electronic superstars like KAYTRANADA to up-and-coming rappers like Goldlink, Murphy has leant his talents to artists who can match his strengths. An artist who can compliment Nick Murphy’s exceptional talent must be willing to give way to his high level of production without getting buried underneath it.
That artist is none other than the nonconformist bad boy of rhythm & blues, JMSN. Consistently releasing equally high-caliber music in his own right over a similar expanse of time to Murphy, JMSN is arguably the most respectable artist in the R&B genre. After being signed to Atlantic and Universal and breaking ties with both by 2012 after the labels’ attempts to over-sexualize his sound, JMSN set out on his own and has since developed one of the strongest, truest cult followings not just in R&B, but in music as a whole.
He often goes unnoticed or simply unmentioned in discussions about the best artists in R&B, but his name belongs pasted to the top of the list. His strong, emotional vocal talent is equal to anyone in the genre, his content, likely due to his independence, seems far more genuine than his counterparts, and his unique, soulful style makes him a timeless artist that could have just as easily found success during the Motown era. But instead, he exists today and continues to put out some of the best content not just in R&B, but in music as a whole.
A vocalist with the strength and soul of JMSN is just what the indefinable electrofunk styling of Nick Murphy is in need of. The collaboration of their vocal talent alone would be enough to catch the attention of the entire music industry and when dancing over the soulful, keyboard-laden production found in both of their music, the result would be enough to make the whole world weak in the knees and leave humanity wondering why this collaboration didn’t happen sooner.