Listen: Soul Crooner Bilal Drops "Free" MP3
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.
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:
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Los Angeles, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.