EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Modern-Funk Provocateur Boulevards Spins Emotional Turmoil Into Retro Gold

Photo Credit: Ryan Jenq

North Carolina-based Jamil Rashad, a.k.a. Boulevards, is not appropriating 70's R&B–it's embedded in his soul. Rashad's father, a well-known radio DJ, made sure to marinate his son's childhood in the classics, keeping the genre's forebears (Prince, Rick James, and Earth Wind & Fire) on constant rotation.

We all know that kind of discipline often causes rebellion in a young pupil, and teenage Jamil found his escape in the burgeoning metal scene taking shape in his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The precision and power of punk stayed with him, but as he entered adulthood, Rashad rediscovered and returned to his roots: funk and vintage hip-hop. It wasn't long before he issued two stellar albums, including the acclaimed, Captured Tracks-released LP, Groove!

Boulevards' throwback sound could not have been timelier, falling in step with other breakout retro dance revivalists like Blood Orange and Breakbot. The expansive new LP, Hurtown, USA, builds further on Rashad's unique sound, applying the feel-good facets of funk to his poignant stories of love and loss. The title-track deploys a dizzying array of waterfall synth lines and West Coast bass blasts, creating a groovy bed for Jamil's emotional catharsis. Of the subject matter, he explains,

“‘Hurtown,’ is about driving through pain and heartbreak and letting go of that hurt. Me, Adam and Laura wanted to create a song that is based around an emotional turmoil that is hard to come back from. Anxiety, fear, loss, depression are things the heart goes through while dealing with heartbreak. This is what 'Hurtown' sounds and feels like.”

There it is from the man himself. When you feel the pain, just funk it away. Hurtown, USA is due out December 8.