Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy! - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy!

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-10
Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy!
Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy!

Back in 2015, Nico Segal (a trumpeter and producer from Chicago) debuted a collaboration called Surf, an album by the project Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment. Segal pulled in a massive guest list that featured high profile names like Chance the Rapper, Erykah Badu, J. Cole and Janelle Monae, in addition to some the lesser known but rising artists like Noname, Saba, DRAM, and the relatively unknown Jamila Woods who stole the show on the album’s best track “Sunday Candy.” Paired with sunny piano and trumpets and Chance the Rapper’s bright verses, Woods took the chorus and delivered one of the most soulful moments on a record full of them.

It’d be a year before Woods would drop her debut album HEAVN, an album full of protest music in the vein of R&B and soul and included a wide range of guests from the Chicago area (where Woods hails from). HEAVN was an instant success, landing on several year-end lists alongside powerhouses like Beyonce. Three years later, and Jamila Woods is back with an album that keeps the guestlist minimal, and instead ups the ante. This time around, Woods is front and center, and while a bit less experimental, Legacy! Legacy! Is every bit as compelling as HEAVN.

The first three songs on Legacy! Legacy! roll directly together, and house one of the most powerful intros this year. “BETTY,” “ZORA,” and “GIOVANNI” tell you everything you need to know about the album and its direction as well as its heart. “BETTY” begins with a solemn piano, before Woods springs in, with her 90s tinged vocals, and launches into a soulful chorus that is inviting, head bobbing, and most importantly relevant. “ZORA” is the banger the album needed to get noticed, and it’s one of the best cuts on the album, which is saying something since the album is full of them. It’s got a classic R&B feel to it, the samples bang, the chorus is stunning, and Woods feels in complete control of the song.

Each of these songs are titled after inspirational figures in Woods life: Zora Neal Hurston, Sun Ra, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Octavia Butler. Woods has never shied away from elaborating on her cherished influences. She wears them proudly, and as a poet, her words speak so much stronger than those who attempt to imitate or cash in on a fad. Woods is real, and her soul is on display on Legacy! Legacy!

The album teeters between neo-soul and funk and features some therapeutic blues guitar in sections like on “MILES” and “GIOVANNI.” The Saba assisted “BASQUIAT” has a smooth bass line which gives way to a lounge-version Woods, where the cigar smoke wafts in the room, and the Glenlivet sits in a glass with no ice. Woods poetry background makes several moments on the album feel like you’re right there in a poetry session. The producers in the room with her – Peter Cottontale, oddCouple, Kweku Collins, among others – highlight Woods powerful presence to a mesmerizing degree. It’s this collective that helped with HEAVN, but instead of going more experimental, Legacy! Legacy! reigns it in and gives way to a more thoughtful album. Like it’s star, Legacy! Legacy! is inviting, and each track will be cherished by the audience.

While the guest list is smaller this time – Saba, Nitty Scott, Jasminfire, theMIND, and Nico Segal – Woods fills Legacy! Legacy! to the brim with groovy funk, selfless soul, and her message is still front and center. With her sophomore album Woods makes a pivotal statement in new age R&B, while pulling from the 90s, and beading it all together into heaping sized morsels. It soars with the best of them and is one of the standouts for 2019.

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