Jaimeo Brown, a drummer and producer whose music blends his fascination with history (his master’s thesis was titled, “How the Black Church Affected Jazz”) with jazz and hip-hop influences, joins forces with producer/guitarist Chris Sholar (Kanye West, Jay Z) to pay tribute to American popular music’s beginnings with upcoming album, Work Songs. The project (together, their name is Jaimeo Brown Transcendence) centers around modern reworkings of archival recordings — “Be So Glad,” the track premiered exclusively on Billboard below, samples a 1959 recording of inmates at Mississippi’s Parchman Farm Prison from legendary ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax.
“Conceptually, ‘Be So Glad’ is a conversation between [hip-hop producer] J Dilla, [blues innovator] Robert Johnson, Deadmau5 and John Coltrane,” Brown tells Billboard. “It’s a Frankenstein creation where the ideas of these artists can communicate with each other. As producers, Chris Sholar and myself often talk about common denominators between different styles.”
By putting a fresh spin on these classic recordings, the duo seeks to revitalize interest in the music that, really, started it all. “The common repetition used in black work songs creates a mantra that changes the feeling of manual labor,” he continues. “This song attempts to really capture the emotions of that process, of experiencing a spiritual breakthrough in the midst of struggle.”