So, 2011 brought us some nice albums that we can't leave this year without mentioning. Liberated Muse began with the intent of showcasing artistry not signed to big labels and it is only right that we showcase some of our top drops that not only showcase top-notch talent but the triumph of artistry over big-money and the PR machine. You may not have heard about all of the acts listed, but that should be an incentive to realize that real music-- great music-- may not necessarily be readily accessible on your radio, but that does not mean you have to look far for it. Kudos to places like SoulBounce.com, SoulTracks.com, SoulTrain.com, and other online spaces that make it easy to hear about artists who may fall under the mainstream radar. Remember, it's up to you to find music worthy of your money and your attention!
Here are some our picks, with videos showcasing a tune from the selected album. Your favorite indie album of 2011 not on the list? Add yours in the comments section below.
Little Dragon- Ritual Union
Little Dragon are more than just a band with a really dope name. They take music next level while always bringing to mind your favorite artist. A perfect blend of a little bit of Prince, a little bit of Rick, a little bit of quirk and a lot of spunk, their 2011 drop Ritual Union took them all over the world and to television screens near you. Peep this 2011 appearance on NBC where they sound even better live. If you haven't checked them out before, let this be your incentive.
Little Dragon 'Ritual Union' (Live on Fallon) from lentetijd on Vimeo.
Zo!- ...just visiting three
Zo! is part of the musical clique that includes some of the hottest indie soul acts out right now-- from The Foreign Exchange and Yahzarah to angel-voiced Sy Smith. On his 2011 release ...just visiting three, the Detroit-born instrumentalist produces some hot tracks with his buddies, including this Barry White-remake that Anthony David lends his rich vocals to. This CD is one of the best of 2011 for its phenomenal cast of characters and its melodic renderings from the beginning to the end. A must-add to any collection.
Eric Roberson- Mr. Nice Guy
Most likely the most popular indie soul artist out there, Eric Roberson did not disappoint his fans with his latest drop. Mr. Nice Guy follows his very popular Music Fan First with the same formula that works for Mr. Indie-himself every time-- honest lyrics, interesting arrangements and signature vocals.
Deborah Bond- Madam Palindrome
With a unique concept and impeccable music assortment, Madam Palindrome is a win from the beginning to the end. Couple that with a website that maintains the eclectic theme, this album is an experience that you won't regret engaging in. The first single "You Are the One" is our favorite of the year.
Rahsaan Patterson- Bleuphoria
What makes Rahsaan Patterson such a remarkable indie artist is his longevity. He has been in the music game for a while, had contact with mainstream success as an artist and actor and still carved a niche for himself once his affiliation with a major label waned. His latest offering Bleuphoria is jammed-packed with special guest appearances, but even those aren't the reason to pick this blickie up. This CD wins solely because of Patterson who engages in vocal gymnastics with ease, class and panache.
Maimouna Yousssef- The Blooming
It's like we are writing about the awesomenss of Maimouna Youssef every week, but, for real, this lady is all that and then some. If you haven't picked up The Blooming yet, seriously, something has to be wrong with you.
Gloria Ry'ann- Just Glow
Gloria Ry'ann's voice is so angelically melodic that you instantly fall in love with this chanteuse. Her EP finally dropped in 2011 and we are anxiously awaiting videos from the EP to appear, particularly for some of the EP's highlights like the sexy "Wait a Minute" and the upbeat "Gravity". Here is a cover of vocal idol Minnie Ripperton's "Inside My Love".
Dionne- Living in the Music
When Deedee Kirby joined the Liberated Muse network in 2009, she was an emerging artist who was still defining her sound. Fast forward almost three years later, and she has dropped the nickname and last name and uses simply her first name Dionne. She has found her musical element, a new indie label home and re-released her first LP, re-packaged as Living in the Music. Melodic, uplifting and inspiring, this CD is classic, something you will be listening to years from now
Gods'illa- CPR BlendTape hosted by Erykah Badu
Gods'illa has to be one of the hardest hip-hop acts, for, less than a year after dropping a debut CD, they release the CPR BlendTape with the support of no other than the ever-popular Erykah Badu. The DC-based trio of brothers have created a brand with their music that has spilled into the cultural landscape of their home city, from their popular weekly open mic on the U Street corridor to their clothing line and events-- including bowling parties and cook-outs. A brand-- a movement, Gods'illa truly made 2011 a major win and this mix tape was among their top successes.
Les Nubians-- Nü Revolution
Les Nubians is composed of French sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart, best known for their single "Makeda" from their Grammy-nominated album Princesses Nubiennes. After leaving Virgin Records, they started their own label Nubiatik which has produced their latest albums, including this year's Nü Revolution.
Special guests on this project range from Eric Roberson, and South African pop stars
Freshly Ground, to Ghanian-American MC Blitz The Ambassador and Polish MC