In 1968, Hendrix commissioned for a studio that would miraculously become a reservoir for redefining artistry. In only a couple of years after the discovery of Electric Lady Studios, his death left the small space in the progress of degeneration for over a whole decade.
In a cubicle of dust and muck, a young up-and-coming artist with visionary vigor decided to turn the lights back on and use the legendary studio, along with some leftover equipment, to record his debut album.
D’Angelo opened the gateway for Electric Lady Studios again, allowing the life of the studio to be revitalized a couple of years later. With the studio already witnessing the presence of Stevie Wonder and U2, the next wave of musical revolutionaries was ready to conduct their historical projects within the small studio.
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The studio was initially preoccupied with D’Angelo after the release of his debut album, Brown Sugar, and Questlove and his band, The Roots. The small space was gaining a bit of life, little by little. Around the late 1990s, the studio was preoccupied with a collective that set out to revamp the Neo-Soul with added tastes from their Hip-Hop roots.
The collective, who called themselves the Soulquarians, included the likes of Beat Maestro J Dilla and his group Slum Village, R&B poet Bilal, Queen of Soul Erykah Badu, and confrontational Rappers Common and Mos Def, just to name a few. The source of their work was to combat the digitized evolution of music with lively and raw instrumentation along with the pulsating vibrations from the MPC.
The process of their creations frothed some of the most legendary works to ever intertwine the primal vulnerability of Neo-Soul with the contemporary practices of Hip-Hop. As The Roots’ Things Fall Apart allowed their image to perforate within the Hip-Hop industry, Slum Village’s Fantastic Vol. 2 became the source of academic study for future aspiring beat producers.
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As Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun served as the successful predecessor to her debut album Baduizm, Bilal introduced the world to his poetic vulnerabilities and eager, soulful yearnings with his debut album, 1st Born Second. As a whole, the artists won several platinum and gold awards, including a Grammy win for D’Angelo’s Voodoo.
After the year 2000, through some simple blunders and mishaps, the collective split apart and trod their own waters. With obvious success from the artists themselves, the Soulquarian period served as a scripture of necessary creativity. The albums made during this period became some of Hip-Hop and Neo-Soul’s most renowned pieces of work.
Although the group is no longer together, their legacy will hold much of music’s most precious momentary and necessary get-togethers.