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FIRST WORD RECORDS

Takuya Kuroda is a Kobe-born, Brooklyn-based trumpeter and musician, who was also a longtime player for Akoya Afrobeat as well as DJ Premier's BADDER band. Initially playing on the Japanese circuit with his trombonist brother, Takuya went on to relocate to New York City, where he has largely remained to this day, becoming a prominent player in the jazz scene, establishing a devoted fan base with jazz heads across the globe.

Following on from the recent 10 year anniversary vinyl re-issue of Takuya Kuroda's seminal 'Rising Son' album, we revisit his fourth official solo album 'Midnight Crisp', originally released in 2022 on the Worldwide Award winning UK label, First Word Records. Here we have two new interpretations designed squarely for the dancefloor.

Firstly we head to Detroit, with Waajeed's Hi-Tech Jazz remix of 'Choy Soda'. A pioneer in the worlds of house and hip hop alike, Waajeed's career is like no other. From his roots designing sleeves for Slum Village, to founding Platinum Pied Pipers, to running record labels, DJing and working with a ton of luminaries himself, Waajeed carries the spirit of his hometown in everything he does. This mix carries on the flavours he brought to the world on his 'Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz' album: bumpin' broken-beat tinged jackin' house music, this is pure heads-down music to groove to.

On the flip, First Word family, Kaidi Tatham takes on 'Dead End Dance'. Kaidi is a deeply-prolific, hugely-revered Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist based in Belfast. One of the original pioneers of the broken beat sound, he's worked with a ton of legends over the years, including Amy Winehouse, Soul II Soul, Mulatu Astatke and Leroy Burgess, to most recently on various projects with DJ Jazzy Jeff. He stays true to the original vibe and tempo of the track, adding a phat synth bass to the mix, before switching to an uptempo shuffle midway, in his own inimitable style & fashion.

Initial support for this release already in from selectors such as Gilles Peterson (BBC 6 Music) and Dom Servini (Jazz FM), whilst past support has included Pitchfork, Earmilk, Brooklyn Vegan and many more.

TRACK LISTING

1. Choy Soda (Waajeed's Hi-Tech Jazz Remix)
2. Dead End Dance (Kaidi Tatham Remix)

French multi-instrumentalist Quiet Dawn has been an integral part of the First Word family for a full decade now. His diverse catalogue has included organic ambient-jazz (2018's 'Human Being - The Short Story Of The Reed'), Dilla-esque instrumental beats (2023's 'Simple' beat tape), head nod Hip Hop (the 2015 debut album 'The First Day') and broken beat (2022's 'Movements' EP).

It's the latter project that this new project is the most obvious successor to, which he produced directly afterwards. This new album from Quiet Dawn (real name Will Galland) takes on an array of broken beat flavours and features a few luminaries from that scene along the way, including the legendary Bembe Segue (on the smooth soulful grooves of 'All Around'), LyricL (dropping bars on the lively title track 'Celebrate') and Oliver Night from the CoOp Presents crew (on 'Follow Your Instincts' and single 'Lost From Life').

Elsewhere there's uplifting jazz samba-tinged vibes (on 'It's All About Freedom' & 'He Is Lion'), a sprinkle of downtempo boom bap ('Flow' & 'See The Good'), and an assortment of instrumental bruk riddims with squelchy synths, sweet rhodes, skippy percussion & funked-up basslines. Quiet Dawn once again effortlessly combines the organic with the electronic. The whole piece exudes positivity and good times.

Quiet Dawn explains "I had already started making tracks for this album, before completing the 'Movements' EP - tracks like 'It's All About Freedom' & 'I Just Wanna Do This'. I composed the title track 'Celebrate' with my son on my lap; he was 2 and a half years old, and was the one who found the Rhodes bass notes on the drums that I composed first. I made the bassline, the arrangement, and then the track was completed with the talents of LyricL with her unique lyrics and style! I fulfilled a dream of working with Bembe and it felt so effortless. And of course it's always pleasant and powerful making tracks with Oliver - he has crazy talent, and we understand each other so much on the spirit of the pieces we make together.

Once again, the idea was to make a record that we can dance to, whether we are dancers or not, listen to at home, or on our travels. Celebrate life, love, and the people we love. Celebrate the different cultures of the world - our differences are a strength. Turn negativity into positivity. Celebrate our actions, whether in pain or not. Celebrate our different journeys.

TRACK LISTING

1. No Idea Is Final, Pt. 1
2. I Just Wanna Do This
3. See The Good
4. Celebrate (feat. LyricL)
5. Follow Your Instincts (feat. Oliver Night)
6. He Is Lion
7. Lost From Life (feat. Oliver Night)
8. All Around (feat. Bembe Segue)
9. Flow
10. It's All About Freedom
11. No Idea Is Final, Pt. 2

Tyler Daley is the acclaimed and highly renowned Manchester artist now surging into his autonomy with his debut solo EP 'Son of Zeus'.

With humble beginnings in Manchester's scene, Daley's influence merges a nostalgic love for pirate radio with a mix of musical inspirations journeying through roots reggae, street soul and R&B whilst modernising his sound through his love for hip hop and UK rave music.

With an impressive roster of collaborations including notable features like Ghetts, Goldie, Shy FX and Bugzy Malone to name a few, his unique artistry plays on his pioneering stature and longevity in the game. Leaning on this wisdom to create a fresh, uncompromising sound, Daley has combined his knowledge with his cutting-edge aptitude for music in his new EP.

Paying homage to the multitude of success he's seen through his eclectic journey as one half of the universally loved Children of Zeus, Tyler Daley's new EP fuses his signature sound with a clear personalisation that offers a raw and transparent depiction of his artistry and musical prowess.

Having travelled the world touring and selling out shows everywhere from KOKO London to South Africa and Dubai, the EP is a self professed tale of balancing a crazy life and equally crazy career. Daley describes the EP as "that soulful Zeus sound, a blend of dusty low-fi soul, hip hop and R&B for the sophisticated blunt heads and vibe seekers".

TRACK LISTING

1. These Cards
2. Been Trying
3. All I Need
4. Small Circles
5. Never Look Down
6. 4SoLong
7. When You're Lonely

It's five years since we first released Yosi Horikawa's 'Vapor' album. To commemorate the occassion, we're releasing the album on vinyl for the very first time, also including a previously unreleased bonus track, 'Yoggo'.

The devil is in the details. And Yosi Horikawa understands this perhaps better than most musicians from his generation; crafting compositions with broad appeal that also withstand the most intricate scrutiny. Originality has always been a rare currency in the creative arts, and having honed his voice over the years Yosi has plenty of it to give to those willing to listen.

The RBMA graduate has collaborated with artists such as Jesse Boykins III, Dorian Concept & Daisuke Tanabe, performed at Glastonbury, Sónar, Mutek, Dimensions, Low End Theory, Ninja Tune's Solid Steel & Boiler Room, featured in Time Out Tokyo, XLR8R, Dummy & more, and received acclaim and support from the likes of Benji B, Tom Ravenscroft, Fulgeance, DJ Food and Gilles Peterson, with whom he has worked with on several projects since the release of 'Vapor', for Brownswood, Worldwide Festival & Worldwide FM respectively, producing a regular feature, 'Soundscape with Yosi Horikawa'.

Besides writing and producing music, Yosi is a highly skilled sound engineer, working with prestigious architects, fashion brands, and technology firms as well as designing speakers for bars and clubs. He's also composed numerous jingles and theme songs for radio stations to science exhibitions. Such is his diversity and originality, he was the subject of an RBMA film documentary in 2014, 'Layered Memories'.

Following his debut EP on Eklektik Records, two EPs were released on First Word prior to this, his debut album, 'Vapor'. 17 tracks from the Japanese sound designer and producer that weave together diverse field recordings and sample sources, with rhythms and melodies, creating something that defies stylistic boxing. Echoes of dance music, hip hop and musique concrete can all be found amid the sounds of nature and everyday life that underpin the grooves of the music. 'Vapor' is an album in the old-fashioned sense, a tightly-woven sonic journey that benefits from repeat listens.

'Vapor' was named amongst 2013 Albums of the Year lists in Fact Magazine and The Japan Times.

Sound Colour VIbration.com: "A sonic masterpiece and an entirely new pathway in to the matrix of emerging electronic creativity. Every piece on the album sounds boundless and full of texture & colour imaginable"

Earmilk: "A serendipitous mishmash of electronic, hip hop beats, and a litany of genres that fall in that spectrum with a liberal dose of acoustic magic.

TRACK LISTING

1. Intro
2. Bump
3. Maki
4. Splash
5. Beer
6. Wandering
7. Interlude
8. Summer In 1987
9. Kingdom Of Frogs
10. Rainbow
11. Cave
12. Starlings
13. Letter
14. Stars
15. Grandpa
16. Outro
17. YOGGO

A virtuoso in her field, this classically trained musician has quickly established herself as an essential player in the UK jazz scene, carving her own unique sound, following on from the paths forged by Ashby and Coltrane.

Amanda recently joined the First Word label roster, via a collaborative project with Don Leisure, 'Beyond The Midnight Sun', as well as a feature on his Welsh Music Prize nominated project 'Shaboo Strikes Back'.

She's previously toured extensively with her own band, as well as with Matthew Halsall, Rebecca Vasmant, DJ Yoda and Chip Wickham (who also features on this new project), whilst previously releasing three solo albums on Jazzman Records, and a remix project for Scrimshire's Albert's Favourites imprint. Along the way, there's been a nomination for 'Instrumentalist of the Year' from Jazz FM and she's garnered the support of DJs such as Radio 2's Jamie Cullum ("highly recommended") and BBC 6Music's Cerys Matthews ("my highlight of the Cheltenham Jazz festival 2023").

This 10-track album exemplifies Amanda's talents as a performer and composer, taking in an array of hypnotising sonics from the worlds of jazz; from fusion to spiritual and beyond. She is backed with accompaniment from a remarkable set of players in their own right, including Chip Wickham on flute and PEACH. on vocals. A confident display of purposefully blissful compositions that saunter as much as they soothe, whilst being unafraid to lean into some deep uptempo grooves.

Amanda describes the theme of this project as "liminality... that place in between, the transition from one place to another. No longer what it was, yet not what it's going to be.

The harp always presents itself at these moments. It's a sound that causes an emotion. My instrument chose me. It's been with me through every chapter of life. It's how I speak, especially when there are no words.

This album is a rite of passage for "her". A feeling of alchemy, a feeling of liberation. Moments of inner searching, intertwined, waiting but moving forward. Never looking back.

'The Liminality of Her' encompasses the highs and the lows. The nomadic love of freedom and spirituality. It's all so much bigger than you or I…"

From the cinematic, classical fusion of 'After Dark', to the more playful 'Lost in Abstraction', this album invites you to float in a soundscape of liminality...

TRACK LISTING

1. Finding The Way
2. Facing The Sun
3. Intertwined (feat. PEACH.)
4. Liminal
5. Nomad
6. Alchemy
7. Waiting To Go (feat. Chip Wickham)
8. No Turning Back
9. Rite Of Passage (feat. PEACH.)
10. Feels So Far Away

A lyricist, lawyer and a Londoner, legendary MC Essa has earned praise over the years from artists such as Nas and Mark Ronson, as well as performing and recording with legends like De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan, Guru, Slum Village and Pharoahe Monch.

This 15-track album is considered one of the greats to emerge during UK Hip Hop's "golden era"; a vibrant time for the genre when artists such as Ty, Jehst, Roots Manuva, Klashnekoff, Skinnyman, Task Force, Doc Brown and Foreign Beggars were garnering huge fanbases, and an eco-system of shops like Deal Real, club nights like Kung Fu, labels like Lowlife, and stations like Itch FM were prevalent, while BBC 1Xtra was a mere infant.

'The Essance' includes production and features from luminaries such as Harry Love, Mr Thing, Lewis Parker, Kyza, Devise & Ben Grymm, to name a few.

Esteemed author Musa Okwonga says on the reissue liner notes "the most startling thing about 'The Essance' was its range. Yungun (Essa) was one of the few MCs who could perfectly walk the paths of hope and melancholy with equal ease, whose artist name belied the wisdom of his lyrics. Beyond that, his delivery was supremely self-assured, filled with a swagger he could always justify.

Yungun's gifts also extended to the stage, where he was one of the best young actors that many of his contemporaries had seen, and to languages, which saw him writing and rhyming in Spanish with a notable flourish. He was also someone who constantly walked between two worlds, excelling in one of the country's most competitive academic environments during the day and then delivering a soaring radio set by night. Raised in a vibrant vein of North London, endlessly curious about the world around him, Yungun's fine ear for music and passion for the variety of life made him someone who could reach all audiences.

'The Essance' is a beautifully-woven meditation on the human condition, one which takes you from the dancefloor to the summer afternoon barbecue to the bathroom mirror; yet it is also the opening statement of a unique career."

In the words of Essa himself "my key goal for this album was to span so many moods and styles that I couldn't be categorised, leaving me free to then go in whatever direction I chose. I was almost too successful with this – I would later struggle to pin down my own identity, both on and off the mic, as a rapper slash lawyer, of mixed-heritage, blessed to be able to enter many circles but feeling truly at home in none. As I write this, twenty years (plus a marriage and several children) on, I finally feel more at peace with being undefinable, and am getting better at bringing my full, authentic self into as many aspects of life as I can. I am grateful to be able to look both back and forward, with equal passion."

'The Essance' was followed with a collaborative album with DJ Mr Thing ('Grown Man Business'), then some years later on First Word with 'The Misadventures of a Middle Man' in 2014. There's also a forthcoming project in the works, due for release Summer 2024 with all-new material produced by Pitch 92. Both these releases also coincide with the 20th anniversary of the First Word label (named "label of the year" at the 2019 Worldwide Awards).

A timeless piece of work, 'The Essance' is true-skool boom bap through and through that stands up two full decades later, from the ethereal anthem 'Liquid Love', to the uptempo bounce of 'Dancing Shoes', to the grit of 'The Big Idea', to the thought provoking 'What Eye See Pt.2', to bangers like 'Push' or 'Spit Fire', this is an essential addition to the collection of any discerning hip hop head.

TRACK LISTING

1. In
2. The Big Idea (feat. Lewis Parker)
3. Push
4. The Art Of Celebration
5. Tea Break
6. Chef YG
7. Gringo Lingo (feat. Red & Nico Suave)
8. I.C.
9. What Eye See, Pt. 2 (feat. Devise)
10. City Breaks
11. Liquid Love
12. Everything Is Alright
13. Dancing Shoes (feat. Mr Thing)
14. Spit Fire (feat. Kyza Smirnoff)
15. Out

'Rising Son' was first released on the seminal Blue Note Records imprint 10 years ago in 2014, with Takuya being the first Japanese artist to sign to the label. The record received widespread critical acclaim, hitting No.1 on Japan's jazz charts at the time, with original copies now fetching hundreds of pounds on Discogs and the like. There has long been high demand for a re-press of this album, and we're very pleased to say it's finally here, a decade on.

The re-issue is to be released via London-based Worldwide Award-winning label First Word Records, who coincidentally celebrate their 20th year running in 2024. First Word released Takuya's highly-revered previous two albums, 'Fly Moon Die Soon' (2020) and 'Midnight Crisp' (2022).

For those that don't know, Takuya Kuroda is a Kobe-born, Brooklyn-based trumpeter and musician, who was also a longtime player for Akoya Afrobeat as well as DJ Premier's BADDER band. Initially playing on the Japanese circuit with his trombonist brother, Takuya went on to relocate to New York City, where he has largely remained to this day, becoming a prominent player in the jazz scene there.

The original album featured several Roy Ayers covers, including the all-time classic 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine', and this 2024 pressing also includes a brand new remix of the track from keys player & producer, Joe Armon-Jones. Joe is hugely-acclaimed in his own right as a solo artist, as well as his recent collaborations with Mala (who has a track named after him on this very project, as Takuya was influenced heavily by his 2012 Brownswood album 'Mala in Cuba'), and as an integral member of the legendary Ezra Collective, winners of the 2023 Mercury Music Prize in the UK.

Flitting between the genres of jazz fusion, soul, r&b, hip hop and afrobeat, the album was predominantly produced by a previous Takuya collaborator, vocalist José James, while also featuring phenomenal accompaniment from Nate Smith (drums), Solomon Dorsey (bass), Corey King (trombone) and Kris Bowers (keys).

In the words of José James, "no one sounds like Takuya. His tone, warmth and most of all his storytelling have inspired me for years. His writing is soulful, modern, and effortlessly bridges the gap between jazz and soul, and between history and tomorrow."

Previous reviews and accolades for Takuya's third album 'Rising Son' include AllMusic's Best of 2014, NPR Music, Jazz Weekly, Leo Weekly, All About Jazz, Icon, Relix, Pop Matters, Jay Z's Life + Times, WBGO, Upscale, The Revivalist, East Bay Express and The Jazz Line, to name just a few.

TRACK LISTING

1. Rising Son
2. Afro Blues
3. Piri Piri
4. Mala
5. Everybody Loves The Sunshine
6. Green & Gold
7. Sometime….
8. Call
9. Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Joe Armon-Jones Remix)

'Beyond The Midnight Sun' expands upon ground first explored on Don Leisure's track 'All Praises Due', which also featured Amanda (with Angel Bat Dawid), and featured on his previous album 'Shaboo Strikes Back'. This is a full-length project that these two formidable Welsh artists have collaborated on together.

To bring you up to speed, Cardiff DJ and beat-maker Don Leisure has been twice nominated for the Welsh Music Prize, with the afore-mentioned album 'Shaboo Strikes Back', and a previous project, 'Steel Zakusi'. As well as being 50% of Darkhouse Family with Earl Jeffers, he's released music under various monikers on labels such as Metalheadz, International Anthem, Fat City, Earnest Endeavours, Group BraCil and on Rough Trade with another regular collaborator, Gruff Rhys. Other collabs have included Charlotte Church, Om'Mas Keith, DJ Spinna and First Word label-mate Tyler Daley (Children of Zeus).

His DJ portfolio includes sets for BBC 6 Music, NTS, Rinse FM, Solid Steel, Boxout FM (India), The Jazz Cafe, Fabric and Boiler Room, while previous support has come from Lauren Laverne, Tom Ravenscroft, Huw Stephens, Lefto, Rob Da Bank, Huey Morgan, Jon1st, Om Unit, Kid Fonque, Mr Thing and many more. His album 'Shaboo' was named "the best album of its kind since J Dilla's 'Donuts'" by Piccadilly Records.

Joining him throughout this project, we have the pleasure of welcoming the phenomenal talents of highly-acclaimed harpist Amanda Whiting to the First Word label. A virtuoso in her field, this classically trained musician quickly established herself as an essential player in the UK jazz scene, carving her unique sound following the paths forged by Ashby and Coltrane.

She's toured extensively with her own band, as well as with Matthew Halsall, Chip Wickham, DJ Yoda and Rebecca Vasmant, whilst previously releasing three solo albums on Jazzman Records, and a remix project for Scrimshire's Albert's Favourites imprint. Along the way, there's been a nomination for 'Instrumentalist of the Year' from Jazz FM and she's garnered the support of DJs such as Radio 2's Jamie Cullum ("highly recommended") and 6 Music's Cerys Matthews ("my highlight of the Cheltenham Jazz festival 2023").

Don explains more…

"The project is a journey down the road that was revealed to me on 'All Praises Due' on 'Shaboo Strikes Back'. Amanda's willingness and eagerness to continue collaborating was a dream come true. Being able to get harp parts from someone who is so open minded is such a rare treat that a deeper project was inevitable.

I wanted to move in a different direction from the beat tape format on my previous releases while still maintaining the core Don Leisure sound, fused with live instrumentation and vocals etc".

The talents of Deborah Jordan are also featured on a couple of the album's tracks. Deborah is a stalwart in the UK soul and jazz scene in her own right, working over the years with artists like 4Hero, Bugz In The Attic, Ty, Jneiro Jarel, K15, Robert Mitchell and Kaidi Tatham (someone who's collaborated with all the players on this release at some point).

'Beyond The Midnight Sun' is a 7-track affair comprised of delectable spiritual jazz fused with hip hop beats, psychedelic electronics and a touch of soul.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: A beautifully rendered mix of chilled lounge percussion and downbeat atmospherics with Whiting's beautiful harp floating atop the deep roots. It's propulsive and dynamic without being frantic, calm without being one-dimensional. Gorgous psychedelic nu jazz flavours in a beautiful package.

TRACK LISTING

1. Walk With Us (feat. Amanda Whiting)
2. Just Be (Free) [feat. Amanda Whiting & Deborah Jordan]
3. The First Chant (feat. Amanda Whiting)
4. Beyond The Midnight Sun (feat. Amanda Whiting)
5. Peace Of Mind (feat. Amanda Whiting & Deborah Jordan)
6. Crying Tiger (feat. Amanda Whiting)
7. Third Bass (feat. Amanda Whiting)

First Word Records in collaboration with Heavenly Sweetness proudly bring you a 'Beautiful' new album from the formidably funky French duo, Souleance.

So the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or perhaps in this case, the ear!). How we define beauty varies from person to person. Be it a meal, a landscape, a picture, a record…

Appreciating and admiring beauty could be considered an art in itself, and one that Souleance have made a rule of life. This ethic is transposed into their own craft, used as fuel to turn beautiful moments into music. This 15-track album seeks to convey this through an assortment of sun-saturated grooves of different shapes and sizes.

While remaining true to their style of creating cut & paste sound collages and incorporating dusty samples, this album seeks to expand upon their own sonic path. Fulgeance lays down masterful work on keys, beats and bass, with Soulist the driving force behind song composition and percussive scratching. Combined, their only guideline is to make music that makes them tick, beyond the constraints of genres, trends or the criteria of "beauty" outside of their own tastes. An amalgamation of hip hop backdrops, analog synths and Moog modulations, merged with the swagger of 70's jazz-funk and the energy of club dancefloors, while auriverde guitar hooks glide with an effortless glissando of discoid piano riffs.

For this project, the duo are not alone, taking on the definition of beauty to a global base. The microphone turns to Joao Selva for a poetic moment in the streets of Rio, then off to Réunion Island for an accordion jaunt with Kaloune & Papatef, before heading to Istanbul for a touch of Kit Sebastian's psychedelic funk, and ending the journey for a joyful jig of the soul in Tel Aviv with Jenny Penkin. There's no pre-defined flight plan here, other than savouring the art of creation itself, and searching for beauty within the dance.

Souleance have been releasing music for almost 15 years, receiving support over the years from renowned selectors worldwide, such as Gilles Peterson, Natasha Diggs, Tom Ravenscroft, Novena Carmel, Bill Brewster, Huey Morgan and Kev Beadle, to name just a few.

TRACK LISTING

1. Douce
2. Cultural
3. A Onda
4. Mamãe Não Quer (feat. Joao Selva)
5. Out Of Touch (feat. Kit Sebastian)
6. Breath It (Interlude)
7. Koul Dan Mon Do (Interlude) [feat. Kaloune & Paptef]
8. Wiggle
9. Rapsodie
10. Feliz
11. Lightweight (feat. Jenny Penkin)
12. Grosse Ambiance (Interlude)
13. La Fête
14. Diva
15. Beautiful (Outro)

Ruby is a vocalist & songwriter hailing from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Her soulful yet distinctive voice has enabled her to front numerous projects; perhaps best known as lead vocalist of the critically acclaimed Submotion Orchestra, since 2009.

She also toured as lead vocalist for Bonobo's live band, for Nubiyan Twist, and with hugely successful 1940's-esque vocal trio, The Sugar Sisters. There have also been features for dance outfits such as GLXY & Franky Wah, additionally to writing & recording for the likes of Krept & Konan, Alfa Mist, Roska, Hemai, Barney Artist and XOA, to name just a few.

In 2021, Ruby was awarded a DYCP Arts Council grant to fund her own creative project, which was taken as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board creatively, spending time working out how her own music would sound and what messages she wanted to convey.

After initial sketches on her Native Instruments Maschine, she began to work with fellow Submotion Orchestra member, Chris 'Fatty' Hargreaves; a long time friend and collaborator, and a revered musician in his own right, with his low-end theory science triumphantly stamped across his other projects, such as Pengshui and Outlook Orchestra. Ruby and Chris began bouncing ideas back and forth, and gradually this solo project started to take shape and form the bulk of this debut EP.

In Ruby's words "After years of working in big projects with lots of people, I often struggled to feel like my voice was being heard. Branching out on my own is an opportunity for me to make music that I would actually listen to myself! This process has been healing for me, and I'm so proud of myself for continuing to learn and develop my craft, whilst learning how to produce songs from scratch.


Becoming a mother also changed me for the better, and provided me with a wealth of experiences and challenges that have gone on to fuel my lyrics. I've grown a lot, and this EP gives a snippet of my life thus far".

'Sincerely' is comprised of five tracks, firmly based in the realms of hip hop soul and neo soul sonically, with an unashamedly '90s R&B vibe throughout. Throughout the EP, Ruby's story tells tales of motherhood, relationships, commitment, independence and inspirations. Further collaborations on the set come from vocalist Isaac Malibu (on 'Mr. Unavailable'), wind player Arran Kent (on 'My Favourite Song'), and assistance on a couple of beats from acclaimed hip hop producer, Pitch 92 and San Diego's Martel Howard, along with more Submotion alumni, Danny Templeman, Dom Howard and Bobby Beddoe and the debut performance from Ruby's daughter, Amber!

A truly triumphant body of work, this is just the start of a new chapter for Ruby Wood.

TRACK LISTING

1. Let Him Go
2. Me And My Girl
3. My Favourite Song
4. I'ma Get Mine
5. Mr. Unavailable (feat. Isaac Malibu)

Takuya Kuroda

Midnight Crisp / Fly Moon Die Soon

Takuya Kuroda is a highly respected trumpeter and arranger born in Kobe, Japan and based in New York City. 'Midnight Crisp' is Takuya's seventh studio album, entirely self-produced and following 2020's highly acclaimed 'Fly Moon Die Soon', also released on UK label First Word (winner of the Worldwide Award's Label of the Year in 2019). Consisting of six new tracks, this once again sees Takuya displaying his unique hybrid sound, blending soulful jazz, funk, post-bop, fusion and hip hop.

After following the footsteps of his trombonist brother playing in big bands, he relocated to New York to study jazz & contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he graduated from in the mid-noughties. It was here that Takuya met vocalist José James, with whom he worked on the 'Blackmagic' and 'No Beginning No End' projects.

Following graduation, Takuya established himself further in the NYC jazz scene, performing with the likes of Akoya Afrobeat and in recent years with DJ Premier's BADDER band. Premier said "The BADDER Band project was put together by my manager, and an agent I've known since the beginning of my Gang Starr career. He said, 'What if you put a band together that revolved around a trumpet player from Japan named Takuya Kuroda? He's got a hip-hop perspective and respect in the jazz field…"

Takuya Kuroda is already incredibly prolific, releasing six albums in the past decade and fortifying a solid reputation in the global jazz scene. 2011 saw the release of Takuya's independently-produced debut album, 'Edge', followed by 'Bitter and High' the following year and 'Six Aces' on P-Vine in 2013. Takuya was signed to the legendary Blue Note Records in 2014 for his album 'Rising Son', as well as appearing on their 2019 cover versions project, 'Blue Note Voyage'. He released his 5th album 'Zigzagger' on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalas on a reimagining of the Donald Byrd classic 'Think Twice'.

His last album was the afore-mentioned 'Fly Moon Die Soon' on First Word, which appears on the second disc here on CD for the very first time, and received plays and support from the likes of Pitchfork, Earmilk, Bandcamp Weekly, Worldwide FM, All About Jazz, Apple Music, Tidal, Stereogum, Treble, Brooklyn Vegan, FIP (France), Tony Minvielle, Jazz FM, Huey Morgan (BBC 6 Music), BBC Radio 3, Novena Carmel, KCRW and tons more DJs, tastemakers, selectors, radio stations, bloggers & magazines.

TRACK LISTING

1. Midnight Crisp
2. Time Coil
3. It's Okay
4. Dead End Dance
5. Old Picture
6. Choy Soda
7. Fade (feat. Corey King)
8. ABC
9. CHANGE (feat. Corey King)
10. Do No Why
11. Fly Moon Die Soon
12. Moody
13. Sweet Sticky Things
14. Tell Me A Bedtime Story
15. TKBK

This is Kaidi's 4th solo album under his own name, following on from 'An Insight To All Minds' (2021), 'It's A World Before You' (2018), and 'In Search Of Hope' (re-pressed in 2020), all released on First Word, along with several EPs from 2017 onwards.

To bring you up to speed, Kaidi Tatham is a legendary multi-instrumentalist born in the Midlands and based in Belfast. Once dubbed "the UK's Herbie Hancock" by Benji B, he's a virtuoso on the keys and a true innovator in sound production as one of the original creators of the Broken Beat sound. Over the years his musical prowess has blessed numerous projects, recently with the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff, Andrew Ashong and with longtime accomplice, Dego. This in addition to session and remix work for artists such as Mulatu Astatke, Slum Village, Marcos Valle, Amy Winehouse, Soul II Soul, Nubya Garcia, Rosie Frater-Taylor and Leroy Burgess, along with First Word label mates Eric Lau, Children of Zeus, Allysha Joy and Darkhouse Family. Kaidi is also a revered DJ known for rocking parties globally, whilst his solo catalogue spans tons of EPs and releases for labels such as Dego's 2000 Black, Alex Nut's Eglo Records and Theo Parrish's Sound Signature.

This new album 'Don't Rush The Process' opens with an intro of sweet strings on 'Mystery Solved', ahead of lead title track, which is on a mid-tempo boom bap vibe, before switching to a more uptempo boogie vein, with the assistance of The Easy Access Orchestra, who also appear on 'We Chillin' Out', which is on a similar boogie tip. 'All I Need' is some gospel flavoured hip hop, whilst 'Knocknee Donkey' steps things up in a jazz-funk fashion. The second half of the album takes on a very Brazilian flavoured stance, with a set of delicious latin flavoured grooves on 'Any Flavour', 'Runnin' Tru', 'What A Dream' and 'Sooretama', the latter featuring the additional prowess of pianist Robert Mitchell. There's a touch more of the hip hop beats thrown in via 'Funky Fool' and the album closes out in inimitable Kaidi style with a short message: 'Mind Yourself'.

A hugely prolific artist, here he adds to an already impressive catalogue, a body of work that falls within the cracks of jazz and dance music, exemplifying modern British black brilliance; uncompromising, innovative, groundbreaking, intricately sophisticated and deeply funky. His fanbase expands on every release and it's no surprise that that fanbase includes a diverse set of peers such as Madlib ("ahead of his time"), Gilles Peterson ("a key part of an entire movement"), K15 ("a limitless source of inspiration") and Kyle Hall.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: The musician's musician and broken beat pioneer Kaidi Tatham graces us with a lavish selection of boom-bap, semi-instrumental hip-hop and pure broken beat funk. It's an amazing collection from this much-lauded innovator.

TRACK LISTING

1. Mystery Solved
2. Don't Rush The Process (feat. The Easy Access Orchestra)
3. Just Not Right Rudi
4. All I Need
5. We Chillin' Out (feat. The Easy Access Orchestra)
6. Knocknee Donkey
7. Any Flavour
8. Funky Fool
9. Sooretama (feat. Robert Mitchell)
10. Runnin' Tru
11. What A Dream
12. Mind Yourself

Delivered unfiltered, straight from the soul, ´Torn : Tonic' pulls us into a 10 track journey that weaves through the multiplicity of letting go, standing tall, and creating space all at once. The album's expansive and vivid exploration of healing examines the power that comes with accepting the complexity of change. Allysha walks listeners through the remedy she finds in sound and emerges empowered to share this healing with others. Deeply moving and lyrically compelling, 'Torn : Tonic' hosts a stellar line-up of artists, creating a world of collective power, growth, and hope.

Allysha Joy is an integral member of the vibrant Melbourne soul & jazz scene, well known for both her solo work and as lead vocalist for 30/70. A uniquely-talented soul, her husky voice, and formidable Fender Rhodes prowess have garnered attentive audiences around the world.

Her 2018 debut album 'Acadie : Raw' was named 'Best Soul Album' at the Music Victoria Awards, featured in Bandcamp's 'Top Soul Albums' of the year and received a nomination for 'Best Jazz Album' at the Worldwide Awards. An incredibly prolific artist, Allysha has released on labels; Rhythm Section, Gondwana, Future Classic, Total Refreshment Centre and now another drop for First Word, after her acclaimed 2020 EP, 'Light It Again'.

Allysha's production on 'Torn : Tonic' effortlessly arches across a sonic palette, comprised of shuffling broken grooves and exquisite celestial melodies. There are healthy swathes of skippy neo-soul boom bap sensibilities, entwined with stark swing-laden electronic percussion, Detroit-esque sun-saturated synths, and Antipodean bruk backbeats. And whilst this project was produced entirely by Joy herself, she is far from alone, inviting in an array of female and non-binary artists to bless assorted tracks with their own unique gifts. Ego Ella May, BINA, Rara Zulu, Belle Bangard and Dancing Water all appear, expanding upon the formulaic roles of featured artists to share the creative space as equal collaborators.

'Torn : Tonic' exudes vibes, from the opening whiplash snare of 'Peace, to the rolling jazz-bruk of lead single 'Let It!', to the sweet soulful sonics of 'Still Dreaming', to the closing triumphant shout of "All Joy!!" on 'G.N.D.', this is a 40-minute opus that will definitely require repeat listening.

Allysha's poetic introspection reveals the album's intention to demand space, purpose, and pleasure. Her words are deliberate and direct to the alarm bells and messages her artistic vision carries. Fluid, cross-genre, and spirited with generational stories embodied, 'Torn : Tonic' sits at the intersection of a feminist manifesto of Joy's momentous leap as an artist, and her exploration of what it means to be human in today's capitalist-driven world.

In Allysha's words, 'Torn : Tonic' is exactly as the name describes. "It is looking directly into the shadow of pain and overcoming it with joy. No love songs! Just social, political, emotional anthems for change! It is the first record I have produced entirely on my own and it feels like that perseverance that I have consistently had to conjure up is embedded in this music, overcoming my own conditioning in a society and industry that constantly tells me I can't, so I must!"

TRACK LISTING

1. Peace (feat. Rara Zulu)
2. Calling You (feat. Ego Ella May)
3. YK X YE (feat. BINA)
4. Let It!
5. Quit, Trying So Hard
6. Still Dreaming (feat. Rara Zulu)
7. Remedy
8. Healers (feat. Dancing Water)
9. Fatima (feat. Belle Bangard)
10. G.N.D.

First Word Records is very pleased to present a brand new full-length album from Sarah Williams White! Emanating from the "hilly fields of Lewisham" in South London, Sarah Williams White is a singer songwriter, multi instrumentalist and producer. Her sound is a unique blend of psych-soul, folktronica and experimental synth-pop.

Sarah released her acclaimed debut album 'Of The New World' on First Word in 2015, which was written, produced and performed by Sarah from her home studio, with the assistance of drummer, engineer & husband, Timmy Rickard. Her projects have seen support from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Tom Ravenscroft, Nemone & Chris Hawkins (BBC 6 Music), Jamie Cullum (BBC Radio 2), FIP Radio, Clash & The Guardian, to name a few, and she's toured the UK with Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and Golden Rules (Lex). There have been additional collaborations with label-mate Quiet Dawn (on the 2021 compilation / EP 'A Family Affair') and with her brother, Paul White - a revered producer in his own right, with credits including Danny Brown and Sudan Archives.

Following a hiatus, Sarah now brings us her sophomore album, 'Unfathomable'. A project that offers up escapism from the mundane, enticing us to connect with our natural planet in this prevalent time, via the eyes of a new mother.

In her words, Sarah states that the album is "about escape. It's about deflating the ego by looking up to the endlessness of outer space, connecting with the greatness of mother nature, and loving how unfathomable the universe and life itself is".

11-tracks in all, including the recent singles 'Nebula', 'Green' and 'Monsters', this opus sees Sarah's buttery lathing of vocals merged with cutting beats and atypical pop sensibilities across the project, again entirely self-produced from home, defining her as one of the UK's most irresistible DIY psych-soul talents.

With a voice reminiscent of Peggy Lee, tapestried harmony akin to Hiatus Kaiyote, beats fit for Little Dragon, and experimental production evocative of Kate Bush, Sarah Williams White's signature genre-defying sound invites us into a world uniquely hers.

TRACK LISTING

1. Nebula
2. Oh!
3. Monsters
4. Spectrum Of Light
5. Those Ones
6. Green
7. Greetings
8. How I Need You
9. 364
10. Unfathomable
11. Exit Lyra

First Word Records is extremely proud to welcome back Children of Zeus with their sophomore album, 'Balance'.

Following the release of their debut album 'Travel Light' in 2018 (which featured in numerous 'Album of the Year' lists), Tyler Daley and Konny Kon spent the next two years extensively touring the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

With shows on ice over the last 12 months, Children of Zeus took the time to mature their sound; 'Balance' is 50 minutes of future-classic British soul music encompassing hip hop, neo-soul, gospel and r&b. Konny's laidback flow once again merges with Tyler's unmistakable buttery vocals across a set of bass-heavy backdrops and smoothed-out keys, taking the blueprint from their debut and evolving it into a deeper, more-refined sound.

As with previous material, the album is largely produced by the duo themselves, though we also see the return of Grammy-winner Beat Butcha, whose previous production credits include Jay Z, Beyonce, Nipsey Hussle, & Griselda (one of Butcha's productions graces first single 'No Love Song'). Title track 'Balance' comes from upcoming producer & Soulection regular, cay caleb and also features the only vocal feature on the album, from rising UK soul talents Akemi Fox and Georgie Sweet.

The Children of Zeus journey began with a mutual love of 90s Manchester pirate radio; consuming hip hop and beats, r&b and street soul, lovers rock and dancehall, garage and bass music. Then followed decades of performing, creating and collaborating in different guises. Over the past few years, the hip hop soul duo have garnered props far and wide; from Jazzie B to Jazzy Jeff. They've done performances for the likes of Soulection and BBC, in addition to hosting their monthly NTS Radio show and collaborating with artists like Black Milk and Goldie.

From travelling light, to travelling nowhere, it's been a time where we've all had to reflect on the lives we lead. This album is about equilibrium; walking the thin line of life and striving to keep your footing firm at all times, ever pushing forward. Balancing the rough with the smooth and the work with the play.

The Children of Zeus sound is now fully grown. It's time to bring 'Balance' into the universe. This is unashamedly big people music to be played out of big speakers. The definitive sound of UK street soul in 2021. The story continues..

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Super smooth soulful grooves and pristine production isn't beyond what we've come to expect from the great Children Of Zeus, but 'Balance' sees them refining their already lauded sound to a whole new level. Languid grooves and woozy beats perfectly coalesce into a wonderfully satisfying and genre-defining whole.

TRACK LISTING

1. Sunrise
2. No Love Song
3. I Know
4. Be Someone
5. I Need You
6. Nice & Sweet
7. Balance (feat. Akemi Fox & Georgie Sweet)
8. Cali Dreams
9. 42Long
10. The Most Humblest Of All Time, Ever
11. What I'm Seeing
12. Love Again
13: Sunset

Yazmin Lacey emerged onto the new jazz scene with her beautiful sound, her new release When the Sun Dips 90 Degrees is on First Word Records.The EP follows on from her two recent singles, '90 Degrees' and 'Something My Heart Trusts', both of which are included here, along with three previously unreleased tracks, 'Heaven', 'Body Needs Healing' and 'Burn & Rise'. This set illustrates again Yazmin's candid songwriting delivered in her uniquely laidback soulful style, whilst a glorious fusion of neo-soul and jazz performed by Pete Beardsworth and her trusty band rides throughout. Initially a Brownswood 'Future Bubbler' graduate, Yazmin self-released her debut EP, 'Black Moon', last year. This lead to a Maida Vale session late 2017 with Jordan Rakei, Moses Boyd, Oscar Jerome and now label-mates, Children of Zeus. She kicked off the year with a performance at the Worldwide Awards with Skinny Pelembe, and has recently done shows with artists such as Ezra Collective, Tall Black Guy and Fatima. Yazmin has a UK tour scheduled for later in the year, as well as several festival appearances across Europe locked in. There's a lot more to come from this Notts-based Londoner yet. In Yazmin's words: "'90 Degrees' is about that time of the day / night when there's a shift in pace and energy. When you decide to lock off from the 'outside' world and create your own atmosphere, take some time to give thanks for what's breathing love into your life and smoke off the fuckeries. Everyone needs a little routine for self preservation."


STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Beautifully warm vocals layered on top of relaxed neo-soul vibes and jazz elements has created this perfect sound that I’ve fallen in love with.

TRACK LISTING

1.  90 Degrees
2.  Something My Heart Trusts
3.  Burn & Rise
4.  Heaven
5.  Body Needs Healing 


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