Photos by Steven Arroyo and Amy Price
Garage rockers NE-HI and R&B songstress Jamila Woods are both having breakout years. The former released their sophomore LP, Offers, and just dropped a new 7-inch, while the latter has been whetting our appetites for a follow-up to last year’s HEAVN with new tracks and pairings with the likes of Chance the Rapper and Joseph Chilliams. Now, the CoSigned band and CoSigned singer have paired for up for a unique collaboration.
A “rework” of NE-HI’s “The Times I’m Not There” from their self-titled debut, the song finds the rockers re-recording the song’s individual parts in new arrangements as Woods croons her own reimagined lyrics. The result is both funky and sultry, and it’s refreshing to see two talents from the Chicago scene bridging genre divides. Listen to it below.
All proceeds from the song will benefit SocialWorks, an arts empowerment charity co-founded by Chance the Rapper. (The charity recently made headlines for making a $2.2 million donation to Chicago Public Schools.) NE-HI’s James Weir describes the collaboration thusly:
“We spent some time this summer reimagining the arrangement and rhythmic approach to ‘The Times I’m Not There’, a song from our first record. The idea was to explore new melodies and textures to shape around the guitar hook and find a different voice to take the song somewhere else. Jamila Woods, being the amazing vocalist that she is, came on and completely led the song into a new life. After tampering around with the edit for a while, what started as an experiment turned out to be a memorable song and recording process. Shout out to Jamila Woods, Dave Vettraino on production, and Dee Lilly on the keys! This being a project between two Chicago artists, we wanted to give all the proceeds back to young people in the city through the arts empowerment charity, SocialWorks.”
Woods also offered some thoughts: “I had a great time working on the song with NE-HI, we had never worked together before but I really like their sound and it was fun to collaborate during the process. I think it’s dope that they chose to partner with SocialWorks for the release.”