Tuesday, Oct 31 2006 | 18:18

The voice. It hits you from the get-go. It excites. It soothes. It swings, flows and confronts. And above all – it moves you.

From the first track of “Gumbo”, the new full-length release from New Orleans-based hip hop artist Voice, heads will be hooked on her personal take on hip hop. Over 15 tracks, Voice adds to the style shown on her acclaimed 12″ releases with tremendous depth and diversity. Already making her mark on the industry, Voice’s razor sharp flow is featured on the new “Visioneers” album produced by Marc Mac – 4hero (out previously this year on BBE Records) and also blessed the new Zero DB album on Ninja Tune. Featuring production courtesy from the likes of Moonstarr, Arch Typ, Marc Mac and Murr, “Gumbo” is laced with clever wordplay, thick beats and has ‘classic hip hop’ stamped all over it.

Voice’s childhood and recent personal experiences shape “Gumbo”. Growing up in L.A. and New Orleans as the daughter of a classically trained jazz singer and an actor led her to express herself through art and music. She embraced hip hop at an early age, studying the pioneers like Public Enemy and Eric B. & Rakim as well as recent movers like Bahamadia, Aceyalone and Medusa. As Voice began finding her … well, voice, she got married, had two children and escaped hurricane Katrina to make the record of her career.

Recorded in New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, “Gumbo” fuses a vibrant cross section of urban music into one unified sound while covering a lot of ground lyrically. Voice’s trademark delivery can be heard on the jazzy synth-based hip hop 2006 critique “Fantasy, Part 1”, the stomping lounge beat of “Guerilla Hustlin” and the woman-empowering in-your-face flow of “Total Eclipse”. Voice also changes it up with creepy broken beat emcee epic “Know Rhythm”, the blessed-out psych jazz of “1000 Summers” and the straight up major-label fable “Sign Where?”.

Even with the varied styles of producers like Public Transit Recordings boss Moonstarr, Murr of LAL/Da Grassroots, Marc Mac of 4Hero, Arch Typ of 21/22 Corp., Superdelic, Itai Shapira, Alister Johnson and The Incubator, Voice keeps everything on point and gelled together. Her steady, syrupy tone gives the record its backbone and tells the story of a woman just trying to be herself in a world of negativity, consumerism and bullshit.

The voice will not be silenced.


Don’t look now, but music is changing. And I’m not talking about downloading or filesharing or emcees endorsing cowboy boots or any of the usual “music is changing” hooha that web writers get paid hefty salaries to pull out of their ass. The people who make our music are changing. How, you ask? Simple. They’re becoming us. Or, we’re becoming them. Whichever you prefer. You no longer have to be some kind of conflicted basket case, needled-up attention whore or adolescent horror story in order to succeed as a musician. All you have to do is make good music – and you’re free to be yourself. And Los Angeles-bred, New Orleans residing, two-children-one-husband-having working-loving-struggling-complaining-cooing-cajoling-rapping renaissance woman Voice is nothing if not herself. And she seems to have the good music part down somewhat too.

A child actress coming from a family with roots in the entertainment industry, Voice was almost a showbiz train-wreck herself. Fortunately, her people’s roots run way deeper than Hollywood, both her parents calling New Orleans, Louisiana, home, and raising young Voice equal parts in both cities. Her mother is celebrated jazz vocalist Zardis, who mentored under Horace Silver, Herb Mickman (former musical director of Sarah Vaughan), the late Billy Higgins and Barry Harris, among many other notables. Her sister was part of PG-13, a group that had a song called “What’s Your Name” on the Sound Control Mob’s Compton Compilation, which was released in 1989 and featured the first commercially released song from MC Eiht’s crew Compton’s Most Wanted. And that is the Voice paradox in a nutshell: 50% jazz, 50% foot in yo ass. Her tone is smooth, warm, sultry, steady; but it’s the faintest tilt that she gives the most random words and syllables that reminds you (if you are actually listening) that she ain’t here for baby-talk and holding hands, unless you’re her baby or her man.

Voice was first introduced to the world (well, Japan) on 2002’s “The Christie And Dupont” EP, an import-only release on Canadian label Public Transit Recordings produced by PTR mascot Moonstarr, who has gone on to become Voice’s most constant partner in crime, producing her follow-up outing “BB Girl”, which appeared on the “Scattered Snares Across The Track” album from the same year (Twisted Funk Records). Her debut solo album “Gumbo”, also released courtesy of the venerable folks at PTR, is an intoxicating stew of the cities and experiences that birthed it: Los Angeles, Toronto, New Orleans, New York, hip hop, jazz, house, lounge, being broke, being frustrated, finding love, creating love, putting it all together and moving forward. You know, everyday life shit. Just way more interesting.

Audio Files: Listen

The album VoiveGumbo” (Public Transit Recordings) has been released October 27, 2006.

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