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James Brandon Lewis

Days Of FreeMan

Sony Masterworks | OKeh

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James Brandon Lewis - Days of FreeMan
Days of FreeMan - Jamaaladeen Tacuma talks with James Brandon Lewis
James Brandon Lewis & Aruan Ortiz - Justice is Compassion / Arts for Art - Jan 9 2018
James Brandon Lewis - "Fear Not" (feat. The Messthetics)
1 Foreword
2 Brother 1976
3 Of Dark Matter
4 Black Ark
5 Break I
6 Days of FreeMan
7 Bird of Folk Cries
8 Break II
9 Wilson
10 Lament for JLew
11 Break III
12 Bamako Love
13 Boom Bap Bop
14 Steelo
15 Break IV
16 Able Souls Dig Planets
17 Speaking from Jupiter
18 Unarmed with a Mic
19 Epilogue (Brother 1976)
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I didn't grow up a hip-hop head, but where I grew up in Buffalo, New York, on Freeman Street, the sound of 1990s hip-hop was ubiquitous," James Brandon Lewis says. "I decided to go back and explore that time through music."

Visionary composer and tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis's bravest, yet most palpable artistic feat,  opens with a poignant and profound introductory monologue from a maternal sage. She says: "The best thing of living is living who you are. You can't be somebody else; you gotta be what God gave you to be and who you are. You look in the mirror and see yourself and say ‘I'm James Brandon Lewis."' Next, bass and drums congeal around the sapphire melodic motif of "Brother 1976," recalling one of those jazzy jewel-like hooks from a 1990s Native Tongue hip-hop jam. The effect is like 1990s hip-hop's fascination with jazz being spit back by a prodigious jazz innovator. Welcome to Days Of FreeMan (OKeh) available July 24, 2015. 

For his third album, James uses ideas from 1990s hip-hop to masterfully weave together threads of cultural identity, cross-generational identity, and personal reflection. 

 The second to last track of Days Of FreeMan is the political and timely "Unarmed With A Mic" and is a reminder of hip-hop's power as a form of protest music. On this track, James plays with seething sentimentality. The album concludes with "Epilogue," a reprise of the infectious melody of the opening track "Brother 1976." 

Days Of FreeMan is imaginatively organized in chapters with classic hip-hop style breaks and interludes functioning as chapter breathers. Like the cross cultural and generational mosaic on Freeman Street proper, the album invites the listener into many dialogues. It is a nod to 1990s hip-hop, and explores rhyme-scapes and the musical conventions of that golden age of hip-hop in a revolutionary way. The album also explores hip-hop as a culture through taking inspiration from the original four pillars of hip-hop: dance, rapping, graffiti, and DJ-ing.

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