|There are exciting times in music; a return to purity, risk-taking and truth-telling. Yet it has been some time since we have seen the likes of Bilal Oliver. His prodigious debut album 1st Born Second is a symbolic raising of the bar, worthy of critical examination. Herewith the work of a man born on the cusp of the eighties: the launch of MTV, Prince's Dirty Mind, Reganomics, the digital revolution, the lingering stank of Parliament's Motor Booth Affair and "Rapper's Delight". At barely twenty-one years old, Bilal Oliver is clearly possessed with that oldest instrument: the voice. 1st Born Second, a work of resounding superiority, recalls Donny's soul and Mahaila's sanctified. Like Nina Simone, Bilal is classically trained, he in jazz and big band arrangements and opera voice. This child of hip-hop seeks to approach swing and scat with the same expansion and technique as Ella Fitzgerald. He writes his music, lyric and note. Because of all these things--exquisite turns of phrase, embodiment of the feminine, and a rooted understanding of pitch, emotion and the note--Bilal is sure to be one of the most significant artists of our changing times.|
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Personnel includes: Bilal Oliver (vocals, Clavinet, organ, keyboards, vibraphone, drums); Mike "Starr" Steverson, Serban Ghenea, Eran Tabib, Mike Moreno (guitar); KC Benjamin, Laron Thomas, Markus Strikland (horns); James Poyser (organ); Robert Glasper, Mike Elizondo (keyboards); Rene Hart (upright bass); Aaron Comess (bass, drums); Pat Mc'Clam (bass); Gintas Jansonis, Amhir "?uestlove" Thompson (drums).|
|Producers include: Bilal Oliver, Dr. Dre, Raphael Saadiq, James Mtume, Aaron Comess.|
|Engineers include: Vidal Davis, Ken Stubbs, Tony Prendent.|
|Personnel: Bilal (drums); Mos Def (rap vocals); Mike Elizondo (guitar, keyboards); Mike Starr, Serban Ghenea, Mike Moreno (guitar); James Poyser (Fender Rhodes piano, organ); Mel-Man, Robert Glasper , Tom Coster, Jr. (keyboards); Aaron Comess (drums).|
|Audio Mixers: Steve Mandel; Alan Mason ; Greg Burns ; Jim Danis; John Tyree; Andres Levin; Russell Elevado; Serban Ghenea.|
|Recording information: ? Studio; ATOJ Studios, Phila., PA; Battery Studio, New York, NY; Encore Studios, Burbank, CA; His House Studios, New York, NY; Interscope Studios; Record One Studios; The Lab, Detroit, MI; The Studio, Philadelphia, PA; Westlake Studios, Hollywood, CA.|
|Easily at home bouncing between a soothing croon and a goose-bump inducing falsetto, Philly-born and classically trained, 22-year-old Bilal's (Beloved, Intelligent, Lustful, and Livin' It) impressive talent quickly caught the ears of quite a few famous fans. This reputation soon led to appearances on Common's LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE and touring as part of D'Angelo's Soulquarians musical outfit. For his stellar debut, the young singer-songwriter with roots in the church and a deep appreciation of Miles and The Duke cast his net wide and came up with material that draws from a wide area of the black musical experience.|
|Highlights abound and include Dr. Dre showing up in production mode to pump plenty of jeep-beats into a cautionary tale of the street ("Fast Lane"), a Philly International soul-meets-Kingston-reggae hybrid ("Home") and a smooth-flowing throw-down with Mos Def and Common ("Reminisce"). On slow jam cuts like the Raphael Saadiq-produced "Soul Sista," (which first appeared on the LOVE & BASKETBALL soundtrack) and "You Are" Bilal sparingly wields his falsetto in a manner reminiscent of legends like Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Curtis Mayfield. Like Prince before him, Bilal is a multi-faceted talent whose got enough game to quash any inklings of unwarranted hype.|
Curtis Mayfield | Eddie Kendricks | Ella Fitzgerald | Junie | Marvin Gaye | Nina Simone | Prince
Alicia Keys | Angie Stone | Carl Thomas | Darien Brockington | Donnie | Dwele | Eric Roberson | Erykah Badu | Jill Scott | Om'Mas Keith | Omar | Raheem DeVaughn | Rahsaan Patterson | Sa-Ra | Sy Smith | The Foreign Exchange (Rap/R&B) | Thundercat | Van Hunt | YahZarah
Jesse Boykins III
Associated Artists and Works
|MDR Symphony Orchestra|
|Release Date : 07/30/2001|
|Original Release Date : 2001|
|Catalog ID : 4930092|
|Label : Interscope (USA)|
|Number of Discs : 1|
|Studio/Live : Studio|
|Mono/Stereo : Stereo|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00606949300920|
- 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Remarkable...the excitement sparks from Bilal's restless willingness - as a singer, songwriter and producer - to make his own rules, to try anything..."
- 7 out of 10 - "...This sounds like it should have come with a complimentary bottle of Kama Sutra oil..."
- "...One of the best 'nuevo' soul albums of the year..." - Rating: A-
- 3 stars out of 5 - "...[Potently] impressive..."
- 4 out of 5 - "...Brilliant...this is drunken soul....sitting alongside some of the finest soul of the past 3 decades..."
- 4.5 discs out of 5 - "...Undoubtedly one of the best R&B albums of the year..."
- 7 out of 10 - "...There are intriguing arrangements, innovative beats, and amazing flashes of inspiration. Bilal has soul..."
BioBilal Sayeed Oliver is named so because his mother is a devout Christian and his father, orthodox Muslim. Raised in Philadelphia, Bilal frequented hole-in-the-wall clubs till sunrise with aspirations of scoring film. His eventual classical training at New York City's Mannes Music Conservatory ensured him the ability to sing opera in seven languages as well as an extended musical vocabulary.
Just six years ago, at a Philly barbershop, Bilal met brothers Fa and Damu Mitume, creators of Moyo Entertainment. After hearing his demo the Mumes asked Bilal if he was interested in becoming a recording artist. Eventually Bilal moved to Brooklyn and began gigging around the city. His tape landed in the hands of Erykah Badu, for whom he appears and produces on her new album, Mama's Gun. He is now also a venerable member of the collective Soul Aquarians, along with folks like Badu, Mos Def, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Q-Tip, D'Angelo. "They're like our forefathers," he says. "They were doing this not so long ago, but I was just coming up. I'm like their child. Hence,1st Born Second.