Kamaal Williams – DJ Kicks

Published on Wednesday, October 2nd 2019 11:39 am

Game-changing multi-instrumentalist Kamaal Williams is the latest big name to record a mix for DJ-Kicks’ prestigious series. Due for release on November 8th, it features four of his own exclusive tracks, and illuminates some of the influences that spurred him to become such a prominent, vital artist.

“The main aim of this mix for me was to give praise and pay my dues to the forefathers, the originators London’s underground scene. From the likes of Dego, Seiji and Steve Spacek, through to contemporaries like K15, Tenderlonious or myself, it’s about connecting the lineage and giving respect to the creators – those undervalued heroes of this British dance landscape who deserve more recognition today.” Henry Wu AKA Kamaal Williams.

Alongside being a tribute to the capital’s music and multicultural flavours, the mix is a whole lot more too, encompassing Karriem Riggins’ Detroit beat weirdness, Peven Everett’s funk driven Chi house and Max Graef/Ratgrave’s German future funk. Beats scatter, swing, break and shuffle in a multitude of different ways, mirroring both the protagonist’s dancing keys and his lesser-known background as a drummer. From Seiji’s ‘Buggin’ Out’ to his own ‘Snitches Brew’ to literally every other track, all are deeply individual and rhythmic; this is dance music as boosted by a jazzer’s flex.

Although not traditionally mixed or predictably sequenced, this unique standout set has a high level of narrative and coherence, linking styles like a family tree, with branches including jazz, funk, house, UK funky, broken, Dilla schooled beats, wild jungle-esque drum patterns, nu soul and general spiritual goodness. There’s a level of musicality and soulfulness that’s not found in your average linear mono-genre beat mixes. In fact, there’s nothing standard about the mix, which is why it stands out and shines.

Kamaal‘s inspired work in the studio and live arena has influenced a whole new generation of like-minded musicians, who‘ve helped make London one of the most musically exciting cities in the world.

The Yussef Kamaal album ‘Black Focus’ was one of the most talked about records of 2016. Vinyl pressings kept selling out, it received widespread rave reviews, earned the band the Breakthrough Act award at the 2017 Jazz FM awards and led to spellbinding live shows all over Europe. The follow up,  ‘The Return‘, came on Williams’ own new Black Focus label and took his band global, charting highly and making it onto Best Of 2018 lists in The Guardian, The Standard, i-D, Crack, The Wire, DJ, Brooklyn Vegan, The Vinyl Factory, Complex and Bandcamp.

In addition to Kamaal’s much loved urban jazz, he makes more electronic pieces under the name Henry Wu, who – following standout EPs on labels like Rhythm Section, Eglo and 22a –  shares here the new exclusive ‘Wivout U’, whilst Kamaal Williams exclusives featured are a live version of ‘Snitches Brew’ plus new tracks ‘Shinjuku’ and ‘Strings ATL’.

His music is so singular it‘s more than deserving of its own tag, which he calls Wu Funk – a style and attitude heavily present on this adventurous and inspirational new mix. Kamaal Williams‘ DJ-Kicks is a fascinating insight into the record collection and mind of a true alchemist. You can buy the mix on the !K7 webstore and Bandcamp.