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Rickey Mindlin

Rickey Mindlin is the co-founder of The Soul Mates Project, which traces the roots of hip-hop by imagining “collaborations that never were.” As executive producer of Amerigo Gazaway’s Yasiin Gaye, Fela Soul, and Bizarre Tribe albums, Mindlin serves as conceptual collaborator with Gazaway, and the duo’s work has charted on Billboard’s Top Selling singles chart. He studied audio production at The New School before beginning his career at Sony Music. 

“Roundtable: Conjured Collaborations, Political Voice, and Hip-Hop History”
Across imagined and curated collaborations between Fela Kuti and De La Soul, Marvin Gaye and Yasiin Bey, and B.B. King and UGK (amongst others), Amerigo Gazaway, in concert with partner Rickey Mindlin, brings towering individual voices into sonic and vocal conversation, offering a new hip-hop and soul historiography, traversing soul and post-soul sound formulations, and highlighting unexpected linkages across artists’ work. Gazaway’s work is neither mixtape, deejaying, or remix, but rather a sonic conversation in which the artists’ voices ask and answer each others’ questions, collide, talk over one another, and perhaps disagree. Together, the voices create a new, single voice that comments on a particular historical moment, place, or space, and offers a rather unified political voice on art and justice. On The Trill Is Gone, for instance, Gazaway brings together two late bluesmen from different generations and genres, B.B. King and Pimp C, as a mourning of both of their deaths with UGK’s Bun B as co-narrator and eulogist. Their voices together, coupled with those of other bluesmen, uncover hidden (and sometimes imagined) southern pasts and suggest possibilities for future collaborative conversations on race, region, masculinity, and inequality. On Yasiin Gaye, Gazaway pairs the political voices of Gaye and Yasiin Bey to tell Gaye’s story as well as the story of the ongoing conversation Yasiin Bey had already been having with Gaye’s work. Gaye’s voice operates as both central fixture and background, as point of celebration and point of mourning of a voice gone too soon, hovering over and behind Bey’s narrative. The conversation between Fela Kuti and De La Soul on Fela Soul highlights the multiple voices of Fela Kuti—instruments, background singers, and his political voice—and the collective of De La Soul as its own kind of brightly colored political chorus. Reflecting a pan-Africanist dialogue across the Atlantic from African liberation to the post-Civil Rights era, Fela Soul points to Diasporic voice that speaks across space and time.

This panel will consider the import of The Soul Mates Project’s work for how we might marshal voice—and conversations between multiple voices—to offer up lessons for musicology and music history, and to also inform conversations about the intersection of art, voice, and social justice. Gazaway and Mindlin will discuss the process of putting together The Soul Mates Project, from the genesis, to the selection process for the artist “collaborations that never were,” as well as the selection process from the varied other voices beyond that of the chosen artists that populate each album. Robinson will give a paper considering the broader implications of the endeavor as a whole, beginning with what it says about the continuing significance of voice in a moment in which social media offers us all a quite loud one; highlighting what it might contribute to our musicological investigations of voice and narrative as critics and scholars; and weaving the broader history of hip-hop, culture, and political protest the work creates.


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