Photos © 2018 by: Laura Sedor
Biography: Jamil Rashad, a/k/a Boulevards, is the embodiment of funk. Taking queues from pioneers such as Prince, Rick James, and Earth Wind & Fire, Boulevards seamlessly delivers cheeky, party-themed jams that range from raw and risqué to soulful on his debut LP Groove!
From an early age, Jamil’s father, a R&B Radio DJ, exposed him to jazz, blues, and R&B. This pushed him to get involved in the city’s local music scene early on in his youth. In his teens, he embraced the punk and metal scene in his hometown of Raleigh, NC; genres that would later go on to influence Rashad’s songwriting by way of their tight technical precision and power. After an art school education and several stints in local bands, Jamil rediscovered and returned to his first true love: funk.
Boulevards evokes a spirit from a time that combined intricate production with a focus on rhythm and getting people back on the dance floor. With Groove!, Boulevards does just that. On tracks like “Patience,” Rashad melds pop with vintage hip-hop elements — think Eddie Murphy meets The Sugarhill Gang — and it just works. “Cold Call” introduces a slow hypnotic groove before a symphony of synths, creating a rhythmic cadence that stays with you even after the party is over. However, to give Groove! merit solely based on nostalgia would be a mistake. Groove! is not just a rework of a classic sound — it is an intelligent collection, an evolution to reign in a new era of funk – heard via the disco pulses on tracks like “Weekend Love” and “Up On Your Love,” nodding to industry giants like Pharrell and Breakbot.
Bringing back producers Roller Girl! and Taste Nasa, who helped craft his critically received self-titled EP. Groove! delivers catchy songwriting, infectious bass lines, and plenty of hooks to keep you grooving until dawn, a clear indicator that there is still room for funk in 2016 – and that room will be occupied by Boulevards.