Evan Dale // March 18, 2020
There’s something in Soul, in Funk, in R&B through the epochs that can’t be described with words, though much of the musical realms still can be. From the timeless vocals and the bleeding imperfection of organic instrumentation, to slappy bass and underwater synth progressions, Soul, Funk, and R&B shine with many of the most raw, experimental, and ultimately necessary building blocks of musical modernity. But, the something that makes the Temptations so relatable to this day; the something that made The Lollipop Man’s opening monologue on P Funk so intriguingly memorable; the something that made all of the 90’s R&B Golden Era so tearfully emotional, exists in just that – a play towards a listener’s emotionality – an expression from the pure emotionality of the creator. To this day, the three realms live on, evoking timeless self-expression and bottomless emotion, tethered to a need to hit the dance floor and to fall in love and in lust, all on one fell swoop.
How They Compare
Is everyone from The Internet a genius? It’s sure starting to seem that way. We always knew that Syd had the pipes and that anything she wanted to do with them was just as silky and sweet as anybody else in music today. But as guitarist Steve Lacy dropped his retrofuturistic debut album, APOLLO XXI (2019), and bassist Patrick Paige II did the same, yet on such an oh, so different wave, with Letters of Irrelevance (2018), it was clear that the roots of The Internet draw from far and wide through the epochs of Funk, Soul, and R&B. For his own part, Patrick Paige II dazzled with every track on his debut, from the D’Angelo inspired Voodoo to further, yet differing, explorations of his range, Patrick Paige II has become a staple in the corner of the Funk & Soul ridden corners of experimental music. And, with two tracks to kick off 2021 – So They Say: a silky, soulful R&B and hip-hop ballad & Whisper (Want My Luv): the funkiest of collaborations tapping Steve Lacy, Durand Bernarr, and Allen Love, he’s revving back up his dynamic sound for a new album in May.
Is there anyone in music more retro-R&B nuanced than Devin Morrison? Impossible. Though undeniably a figure of the current times, Devin Morrison’s inspirations bleed through to the largely intangible aesthetic of the 90’s. A wide-ranging instrumentalist who favors his handywork on the keys; a practiced and established producer whose textural grip reigns supreme; a vivacious vocalist whose register can, too, make a listener reminisce on the greats of the past, his is a brand of R&B that transcends time and space, evoking a new affinity for the sounds of old. With his 2019 debut album, Bussin’ Devin Morrison didn’t only transport his fans to an era come, gone, and come again, but ultimately, is building a bridge between a modern R&B Renaissance and the last one, where a flourishing bouquet of new aesthetics, old ones, and a reinvention of their coalescence is changing what the entire scene sounds like.
How They Contrast
Patrick Paige II adheres to his retrofuturistic take on the tenets of Soul and Funk above all else. A bassist and vocalist whose aesthetic feels pulled directly from the 70’s, 80’s, or in the possibilities of the now to reach back in time and reinvent without compromise, Paige II’s solo takes bleed of the bass and experimental vocals he so fervently draws inspiration from. The result is a bridge to a different era à la wave that his Internet compatriots also coast along – soulful, sweet, and founded on instrumental foundation and funk-strewn playfulness.
Devin Morrison sticks so strongly to his 90’s nuances that he’s making them modern again. With a dynamically wide range of artistic tools at his disposal, the ability to compose, write, play, sing, and produce his work top-to-bottom infuses it with a timelessness all his own making, and an ultimate reinvention of R&B for the then and more importantly for the now. And with the freedom to experiment how he so pleases, honing complete creative control, no matter the given track he’s a part of, his directionalism holds true North.
Proof in the Past
Patrick Paige II is part of a band. The band when it comes to groups slinging Neo-Soul and dance-driven Funk, The Internet have long given Paige II a foundation of collaboration. But, even in his solo work, he’s often not so solo. Though more than capable of crafting hits all on his own, his work with Internet team turned solo acts from Syd to Steve Lacy, to just recently lacing up with legendary old-school influenced vocalists like Durand Bernarr and Allen Love, he is at his best without friends, and also with them.
Devin Morrison is a born producer, and thus, a born collaborator. From producing and featuring alongside Korean pop star and rapper, Crush with 2019 hit Lookin 4, to just recently featuring on Boo Thang taken from VanJess’s 2021 Homegrown EP, he transcends the stylistic spectrum to collaborate, bringing with him always his established signature on the keys, in production, and with his vocals.
How They Collaborate
Collaboration between Patrick Paige II and Devin Morrison wouldn’t only be a fluid exploration of Soul, Funk, and R&B; of wide-ranging instrumentalism, focused production, and broadly understated vocalism, it’s probably also imminent. Both artists have been steadily collaborating with more and more artists in one another’s respective circuits because, frankly, their circuits are intertwined. As would be their tethered sound. With sultry basslines from Paige II and playful synth strokes from Morrison, the instrumental backdrop from the two would alone transcend eras. Pull into focus the dichotomy of vocal range at play and a honed, Golden Era tinged bit of production from Devin Morrison, and the whole collaboration – whether a single or a collection – would be an undeniable force of emotion, reminiscence, and ultimate futuristic invention.