What if Marvin Gaye and Yasiin Bey made an album? Ever wondered what a Fela Kuti and De La Soul collaboration would sound like? The Soul Mates Project traces the roots of hip-hop and the history of music by imagining “collaborations that never were.” Established by producer Amerigo Gazaway and brother, Rickey Mindlin, the Soul Mates Project is now a creative platform for unique collaborations spawned through music, visual arts and multimedia.
“While music scholars often acknowledge the multiple influences artists claim in their work, uncovering the conversations within the work, like the conversation singer Erykah Badu may be said to be having with blues woman Billie Holiday, is less often seen as a distinct site of inquiry in itself. This, in part, is because such inquiry is difficult to carry out empirically. That is, how might one account for and persuasively demonstrate the specific artist origin of each distinct influence in a song or an album of another artist? The recent controversy between the estate of Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke, and Pharrell over the sonic origins of the latter’s single, “Blurred Lines,” highlights this difficulty.
Yet, there are other ways into these kinds of questions in musicological inquiry, and they involve not a linear, one-directional path of influence from one person to another, one genre to another—in the blues begot gospel begot R&B sense—but in placing artists into conversation with one another, across time, space, and genre, regardless of a direct connection. The Soul Mates Project’s conceptual collaboration albums combine seemingly disparate artistic and sonic landscapes—that of Marvin Gaye and Mos Def, Fela Kuti and De La Soul or B.B. King and UGK—to tell new stories about music and sound politics. In the process, they offer the remix as a method for music historiography and musicological study more broadly”
Zandria F. Robinson, PHD
(Social Scientist, Cultural Studies Scholar and Literary Critic)
Forging an evolution of the “mashup” album format, producer Amerigo Gazaway’s “conceptual collaboration” projects imagine studio sessions between like artists of different genres and eras. With a process the LA Times’ Randall Roberts described as “drawing a different design within a similar framework,” the producer/DJ deconstructs and re-orchestrates samples from his respective subjects, bridging overlapping themes of the two musician’s classic catalogues. Equally influenced by his Brazilian roots and southern U.S. upbringing, the 28 year old Nashville native’s work was featured in Apple’s “What Will Your Verse Be” series of iPad commercials, called “brilliant” by music’s premier aficionado, Questlove, and earned praise from national/global outlets such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, The LA Times, Vulture, NPR, BBC, MTV, BET, REVOLTtv, EBONY,VIBE, XXL, THE SOURCE, OKAYPLAYER, Wax Poetic, Gizmodo and HipHopDX to name a few.
The son of renowned Jazz trumpeter, Gary “El Buho” Gazaway, Amerigo’s thematic documentary-like concept albums uses found interview sound-bites, live performances, and original multi-track stems to help narrate and craft his combined artists’ stories. Finding his first success with 2011’s Fela Kuti/De La Soul pairing “Fela Soul,” the project went on to land on several year-end “best of” lists including NPR, Soul Train, and OKAYPLAYER. Following the release in 2012 with “Bizarre Tribe: A Quest to the Pharcyde”, a concept that layered vocals of The Pharcyde over re-imagined productions sourced from the original Soul, Jazz, and Funk records ATCQ utilized to create their productions, Gazaway would later collaborate with The Pharcyde on their single “Still Got Love” and perform with the legendary group at SXSW.
Continuing the theme of his previous work in 2014, the producer united Brooklyn rapper Yasiin Bey (FKA Mos Def) and soul legend Marvin Gaye for a dream collaboration aptly titled “Yasiin Gaye” (side one and side two.) Building the album’s foundation from deconstructed samples of Gaye’s Motown classics, Amerigo re-purposes the instrumentation into new productions with the familiar fervor of the original work. Carefully weaving Bey’s tangled raps and Gaye’s soulful vocals over his new arrangements, Gazaway delivers a quality much closer to an authentic collaboration than a lukewarm “mashup” album. Drawing nearly 20,000 downloads in its first two days of release, the “Master Modern Soul Match Maker” (Juan Vidal- Vibe Magazine) earned a perfect “5 Star” review from BET, collaborated with New York Magazine cartoonist, Drew Dernavich, for the project’s side two cover art, and landed on Billboard’s Best Selling Singles Chart with the album’s third single, “You Are Undeniable.”
Honing his DJ skills through tours of Europe, Brazil, and the U.S., Gazaway’s dancefloor driving live set features classic breakbeats, original blends, remixes, edits, and mashups of multiple genres including Funk, Soul, Disco, Hip-Hop, Afrobeat, and everything in-between. With presentations and lectures logged at USC, MTSU and upcoming dates at Google HQ (NYC) and SXSW 2015, the DJ/Producer continues to highlight the possibilities of sample based art and shows no signs of slowing down.