On "Free," Bilal borrows a record from the roller rink jukebox and delves into that classic sound and swagger of '70s disco-soul. It feels like an imaginary soundtrack to a gritty cop drama: Rick James would play bass, Curtis Mayfield on the guitar and Richard Roundtree would talk tough in the Gordon Parks-directed joint.
Now we've been to the rink before, in visionary producer Shafiq Husayn's video for "Cheeba" featuring Bilal, but it's great to be back.
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Like Husayn, Bilal doesn't just look backward when crafting his sound. He's new school too. Bilal's voice soars and syncopates with the vinyl-scratching, stomping beat. Near the end, the beat drops out for a minute, leaving just Bilal's vocal layers intermingling, creating a choir of one.
Sit in with Bilal's choir: