Review: Imogen have stumbled across a rare gem here, presenting some previously unheard liquid funk jams from the lesser known Chicago pioneer James Perri. Some of his jams as Jimi Polo are perennial classics, while his time spent in Soul II Soul and elsewhere are testament to his gifts, but this particular set of recordings from the 90s have lain in wait for their time to shine. You can hear his skills as a session musician and arranger coming through in abundance on this warm, grooving, acid jazz inflected EP. "70s Theme" is a sparse, moody jazz funk cut, while "Brother Beware" is a smooth, sultry slice of message soul. "Express Yourself" is the truly uplifting slice of the pie, and it will chime just fine with any lovers of that classic Soul II Soul sound.
Review: The criticism of Anderson .Paak's last album, the glossy, big-budget "Oxnard", was so voluminous that his mum took to social media to defend it. The fast-rising rapper laughed off the haters at the time, but it must have hurt. Either way, he's changed direction again on "Ventura", a follow-up that's noticeably more refrained than its predecessor. Musically, what we're offered is stripped-back '70s soul and Prince style purple funk instrumentation fused with head-nodding hip-hop and R&B beats. Paak is lyrically on point throughout, eschewing some of his more sexually explicit lyrics in the post #MeToo era. To complete the picture of an artist going back to his roots, the assembled guests (Outkast's Andre 3000 included) are generally pushed to the background in an unobtrusive manner.