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Premiere: Omari Hardwick Mourns The Loss Of Loved Ones On His Debut Single "Bloodshed"

Teaming up with singer-songwriter and producer Josiah Bell, the Power actor readies fans for his sophomore project Later Decatur.

Before anyone defined him, Omari Hardwick has always fancied himself as an artist first. As encompassing and lofty as the word may be, the 43-year-old has experienced much of his success as an actor starring in several high-profile roles, but most notably as James St. Patrick/Ghost on the STARZ hit drama Power. 

But just because fans know one dimension of Hardwick, doesn't mean there aren't others developed and waiting to be expressed. In an exclusive interview with VIBE, Hardwick takes time from shooting Season Four to explain why now is the perfect time for him to showcase his musical side.

"As a poet, I would always hear emcees come up to me and say, 'Yo, you should rap,' and I was like, 'No.' You know, the label was tough for me," Hardwick confessed. 'I'm a poet. I was proud of that distinction between the two, not wanting to be the other. So, I think just in terms of what God's call for me was, I think I was to pop in a world of visibility as an actor prior to audibility as a musician...People were seeing me enough that they might listen to something I had to say even if they didn't necessarily receive it. They'd at least give it a shot."

Titled "Bloodshed," Hardwick teamed up with singer-songwriter Josiah Bell to release a somber recording about some of the most horrific acts domestically and abroad. While Hardwick doesn't rap, there is a rhythm he maintains with his passionate delivery. Omari admits he cried at the end of the recording, got some weight off his chest, and helped him to mourn great loss he's experienced.

"For a long time, I had been very secretive about a lot of the things I'd been through personally, and a lot of that is purposeful...my fan base for the large part is the younger generation. They're like, 'I want to know everything! I want to know it all!' I don't add to it as much as I could by letting certain things be known and those things are everything from having lost a son during the same time my father was shot six times, which was only a year and maybe 10 months after my brother was shot 10 times. Within two years of that--father survived, son did not, brother did not--my cousin who was 33-years-old after fighting a seven-year battle with brain cancer passed on. There's a lot, and I don't really know how to mourn that well, so perhaps I do it through art."

This isn't Hardwick's first dance with music. In 2002, he released a 16-track album appropriately titled Return of the Poet, which didn't merit a lot of attention. Now, 15 years later, Hardwick is trying his hand at it again and hopefully to bigger fanfare. Later this year, the Georgia native plans to release his sophomore effort Later Decatur, in homage to a man never saying goodbye to his home, but eagerly looking forward to his future.

When asked if his music will be featured on the upcoming season of the STARZ drama, he coyly turned the question on its head.

"That's an awesome question," Hardwick said with a laugh. "That's such a cool-ass question and I can't wait for you to ask Courtney [A. Kemp] and Curtis [Jackson] that question."

Listen to Omari Hardwick debut single, featuring Josiah Bell "Bloodshed" below.

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Premiere: ALA.NI Enlists Lakeith Stanfield For Wistful 'VanP'

On her new single with actor/rapper Lakeith Stanfield, ALA.NI is fed up with a love interest who won't get their shit together – and she's ready to move on for greener pastures instead of continuing to waste her time.

"Got no patience with this masquerade / I'm not falling till you catch my wave / and there's beauty only steps away / all these silly games you want to play," ALA.NI laments, before Lakeith Stanfield (known for his roles in Get Out and Atlanta) delivers a frustrated, fearful verse about losing something special.

But part of what makes "VanP" special is the instrumental. ALA.NI initially planned for upcoming record ACCA to be an acapella album, so much of the album is made up of human voices. ALA.NI's arrangement is rooted in a moody beatbox by Dave Crowe and supplemented with a bass guitar by Phil Simmonds, lending to a sparse, spacious soundbed that leaves space for ALA.NI's breathy vocals to shine.

"The session took place in LA on a hot summer's day at Stone Throw's studio," ALA.NI told VIBE, referring to the iconic indie label that's been home to acts like Madlib, J Dilla and more. "Super cool. With posters all over the walls of MF DOOM and of course J Dilla...legend!!! So the pressure was on to stand in the home of these hip hop gods."

ACCA is ALA.NI's sophomore album, the follow-up to the Paris-based artist's 2017 debut You & I, and scheduled for a January 24, 2020 release date.

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S-Curve Records

Premiere: Leslie Odom Jr. Provides Easing Mantras On Comeback Single "Under Pressure"

There's a climatic aura surrounding Leslie Odom Jr.'s new single "Under Pressure." Blame the favorable string instruments or the singer's light falsetto. Whatever it is, fans will enjoy the ride to clarity.

Produced by Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Joseph Abate, the Grammy-winning artist takes a slight pivot from jazz into a traditional R&B format as he sings about the perils that come with success as well as internal strife. The thoughtful single was one of the last songs completed for Odom Jr's new project.

Setting up creative shop in George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, the album is not only an array of emotions from Odom Jr. but stories that weave together his evolution.

"Under Pressure was one of the last songs we wrote for the record," Odom Jr. tells VIBE about the creation process with executive producers Joseph Abate and Steve Greenberg. "It came together after we’d spent some hours getting to know one another and we were comfortable with each other. Once you’re comfortable you can start asking, 'Ok so, what scares you?'"

The project also warranted emotional reactions from his tribe. "I played the record for my family this past week. My mom and my sister cried. My dad broke down which songs he thought were the “hits.” [Laughs] Writing the music started in such a personal way. Feels appropriate to share it with the people closest to me before we share it with the world. I hope everyone likes it. I really do. But if for some reason “the world” didn’t, I think I could rest knowing that it touched the people who’ve known and held me up the longest."

But "Under Pressure" won't give you anxiety. Throughout the track, Odom Jr.'s voice is complimented well with orchstrated production that includes violins, cellos and deep horns. It's a refreshing feeling only Odom Jr. can deliver.

Known for his iconic time on Hamilton, the award-winning entertainer has released two jazz albums including his self-titled debut album in 2014 and an amazing Christmas album titled Simply Christmas in 2016. Both albums topped Billboard's Jazz Albums chart.

Enjoy "Under Pressure" below.

Credits

Produced by: Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Joseph Abate Executive producers: Joseph Abate, Leslie Odom Jr. and Steve Greenberg

Violins: Bruce Dukov , Alyssa Park , Charlie Bishara, Jessive Guidero, Lucia Micarelli, Phil Levy, Tammy Hatwan, Sara Parks Violas: Zach Dellinger, Shawn Mann Cello: Jake Braun Horns: Dylan Hart, Steve Becknell, Rob Schaer , Jonah Levy, Steve Suminski, Steve Holtman, Woodwinds: Heather Clark, Julie Burket, Lara Wickes, Stuart Clark, Don Foster, Dan Higgins Background Vocals: Suzanne Waters Orchestrations by: Bill Elliott, Gordon Goodwin

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Courtesy of RCA

Premiere: Next Town Down And 6LACK Make Love Look "Easy" In New Visual

Love looks pretty good on Next Town Down. The R&B group does the dance and then some in their new visuals for "Easy" with 6LACK.

The visuals are simple and sweet as the guys' court their partners with adoring compliments. Comprised of Leon, Malik, Terence, Tre'Von and Chris, the guys met on social media after sharing interests in legends like Boyz II Men and Chris Brown. From there, magic happened on the music and with fans via apps like Musical.ly and YouTube. "Easy" proves this as each vocalist is given their time to shine while flashing their unique style of pop-like R&B.

In a statement to VIBE, Next Town Down gushed about their major-label debut and working with Grammy-nominated crooner 6LACK. “It was insane to work with 6LACK on our first major-label release. We look up to him and his artistry and he really took the record to another level,” they said. The guys signed a deal at RCA, home to other popular acts like Childish Gambino, SZA, Zayn Malik, Miguel and Usher.

“It is our dream to sign at RCA, the home of R&B and of truly legendary artists like Chris Brown and Usher who made us all dream of pursuing careers in music," they said. "We are grateful to the entire RCA team for this enormous opportunity to be a once in a generation R&B group.”

Their "Evolution of Boybands" video helped boost their image with over 20 million views. In addition to big co-signs from "boy band" legends like Ricky Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, and *NSYNC, they're working hard to make their own lane.

 

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jus about ready to take over the damn world

A post shared by NTD (@nexttowndown) on Aug 7, 2019 at 4:34pm PDT

Enjoy the visuals for "Easy" below.

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