Sounds Like: A sunny afternoon barbecue in Leimart Park, with the boombox switching between jazz for the parents and hip-hop for the kids
For Fans of: Robert Glasper, Anthony Hamilton, Kendrick Lamar at his free-jazziest
Why You Should Pay Attention: Thanks to the enormous success of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, one of its chief architects, Terrace Martin, is drawing long overdue attention. Since the early 2000s, the saxophonist, producer and sometime-rapper has brought his warm and earthy blend of jazz and hip-hop to tracks for Big K.R.I.T., Talib Kweli, Y.G., Travis Scott and many others. Velvet Portraits, his first album for Ropeadope (co-released with his Sounds of Crenshaw imprint), is his most ambitious solo outing to date, a thematic tapestry of jazz and soul that serves as a valentine to South L.A. Conceived and recorded during the past two years, it's the culmination of decades of work that threads from his teenage participation in the legendary Multi-School Jazz Band (along with saxophonist Kamasi Washington and bassist Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner) to his breakthrough as a producer with Snoop Dogg and a brief, unsuccessful deal with Warner Bros. in 2007. "It feels amazing when I see young kids play instruments, or when I see people soothe their problems to the music that I helped create," says Martin, who collaborates with Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway, and others on Velvet Portraits. "I'm inspiring kids; I'm touching people. That's my only goal."
He Says: When asked why he doesn't rap on Velvet Portraits, Martin says, "I'm a product of rap. It's just fun. We used to rap around the house — my mom rapped, my dad rapped, everybody just rapped. But me as a rap artist on the mainstream of things, it gets a little tricky because you have cats like Kendrick, Drake, J. Cole, you have these monsters that do that on a front scale level. You have to respect that they're some bad muthafuckas. If you ain't up to that, you should just rap at home like I do! These cats are making it hard."
Hear for Yourself: On "Patiently Waiting," Martin arranges a gritty soul-blues as Uncle Chucc and the Emotions sing about love and reconciliation. Mosi Reeves