Adrian Younge is the next generation of soul music. A self-taught musician and recording engineer who has dedicated his life to the study of classic soul music, he finds himself at the center of a new soul renaissance with a vision for pushing the boundaries of the music itself. Beginning in 1998, he taught himself how to play various instruments to fully realize his vision; a soundtrack to a fictional film titled “Venice Dawn.” Recording the album over the course of the next year, he developed a sound that is equal parts Morricone, Air, and Portishead. Self-released in 2000, the moody, synth-drenched album was entirely composed, arranged, played, and recorded by Younge himself. Eight years later, he would find himself at the center of the Black Dynamite phenomenon. Instrumental in the film’s development, he not only edited the film, but also composed the original score, which was hailed as a modern blaxploitation masterpiece, solidifying himself as a force to be reckoned with, composing music for the accompanying cartoon series for Adult Swim. In 2009, he envisioned a new sound that would revisit his earlier, more baroque instrumental work, and mesh it together with the deep, gritty soul of Black Dynamite, releasing material under the moniker Venice Dawn. Something About April (2009) was a heavy, dark mix of psychedelic soul, and cinematic instrumentals, with hip-hop aesthetics. In spring of 2013, he released “Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics” (Wax Poetics Records), cowritten with William Hart, as well as Twelve Reasons to Die, a concept album with Ghostface Killah on RZA’s imprint, Soul Temple. Since then, he has launched his own record label (Linear Labs), and completed work with Souls of Mischief’s, a sequel to Twelve Reasons To Die, and produced albums for Bilal, and A Tribe Called Quest alumn, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, with whom he is in a real dynamic duo “The Midnight Hour” with…as well as a brand new project, Jazz Is Dead.
I had the honor of checking in with Adrian about the latest project Jazz Is Dead (the first album out is a teaser of what’s to come titled simply 001). We dive into the project, the new label associated with it and how the path to working with many jazz legends, whether from the day or in the now has been getting paved. To me, Adrian is an open-minded individual who wants to keep making the best of music that can be had from where it was at a time to how the conversation can be enhanced in the now for the future generations to take with them as they keep building on. It was an honor just to get to listen to this music, so getting a chance to connect with Adrian, a person I see as a visionary and pioneer, to find out more about how it all went down, is going down and what’s to come, was yet another reason why music is the bridge I try to help build.