Listen: ArtOfficial

Ever wonder what some rap would sound like over a live band consisting of brass, keys, guitar, and percussion? Of course you haven’t, because God, and more recently Jimmy Fallon, have blessed our lives with The Roots. But let’s imagine for a second The Roots cut a few members and added another full time emcee. Also imagine this band kind of came together by way of a happy accident. Now take it one step further and imagine this band is from Miami, Florida. And there you have it: talented Miami natives ArtOfficial.

Let me explain a little bit about how the “Listen” feature works here at CoS. Up and coming bands submit their material for us to listen to. We’re an up and coming music website, they’re up and coming bands, makes sense right? Anyway, so many bands submit their portfolios that we are thereupon left with a never-ending labyrinth of bands that have been recommended to us. And this week as I was running the course of the “up and comers” gauntlet, I came across one that intrigued me.

It was the name that struck me first. ArtOfficial. It registered in my brain that I had read this play on words many times before: ArtOfficial Intelligence is the name of an album by hip-hop moguls, De La Soul. Incidentally, the naming of the band had nothing to do with De La Soul, according to one of the emcees. They were obviously aware of the album, but the name is not derivative of it. So, believing I’d found a band that would give me something similar to De La Soul, I delved into their material. Unexpectedly, I found a creative jazz hip-hop crew that blew my mind. I have since decided that I was right in following my De La instincts. These guys were something to write home about.

The self described hip-hop/jazz/funk band consists of keyboardist Danny Perez (not to be confused with the Animal Collective cohort), saxophonist Keith Cooper, drummer Manny Patino, bassist Ralf Valencia, accompanied by emcees Newsense and Logics. The creation of the band is actually an interesting story. I had the opportunity to speak over the phone with Logics earlier this week and he gave me a brief rundown of the band’s conception:

“We’ve been together for three years now,” Logics explains. “It kinda just fell into place. At the time, Newsense and I were in a hip-hop group called So What? and things weren’t really working out with them. And around the same time, Manny [the bassist] was in a similar situation, playing in a band that wasn’t working out, so he was looking for something new. He knew some other guys from the jazz scene and we all kinda sat down and had a meeting and assessed what we would each be bringing to the table as individuals. And that’s how it went down.”

Two separate entities from completely different backgrounds, combined to make one imaginative, cohesive type of art. Their creativity has won them fandom within the local Miami scene, but they’ve reached others outside their bubble. According to Logics, they leave the state a couple times a year to do shows in Boston, Chicago, New York, L.A., and San Francisco; basically all the cities any aspiring band would love to hit. They even had the wonderful opportunity of playing at Rock the Bells alongside the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Talib Kweli, and Mos Def. And if that doesn’t build up their ethos enough for you, last year they won the Florida Grammy Showcase, becoming the first ever hip-hop act to do so.

The group released their first EP, Stranger, and their full length effort, Fist Fights and Foot Races, independently and have achieved moderate success. They have another release slated for April 23rd, a free online project entitled The Payback, which will consist of original material as well as re-workings of songs by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Jay-Z, Radiohead, and others. In other words, it’s something that shouldn’t be missed.


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