On a recent pleasurable visit to Blakeslee Recording Studio in Burbank, California, I sat down with studio owner Raphael Saadiq to discuss his latest project “Jimmy Lee.” Saadiq shared glimpses of his childhood growing up in Oakland, California and his emergence as an artist, songwriter, and producer, as well as the creation of what the world now knows as the album “Jimmy Lee,” named aptly for his brother. It is a collection of songs that most can relate to in one way or another. Raphael is candid, humble, and brilliant. His artistry has touched and crossed over a multitude of facets in the entertainment industry including movies and television. The first single from the album, titled “Something Keeps Calling” featuring Rob Bacon, came in recently at no.1 on the Urban Contemporary/R&B chart.
Enjoy my conversation with Raphael Saadiq at Blakeslee Studio where his hits come to life:
I read a quote that said, “Funk is everything, it’s a religion to me.” Knowing the man who said those words makes it easy to understand exactly what they mean. Funk is everything to guitarist Rob “Fonksta” Bacon. He is called the “Fonksta” for a reason. Growing up in the Motor City of Detroit, you can’t help but be surrounded by the sound of music. Having a father who played the guitar and a mother who sat down with him and played records all the time, Rob could feel the music stirring on the inside. One day, his dad heard him playing George Benson’s “Breezin” and to his astonishment discovered that he was playing it with only 3 strings because one had broken. Now that’s what I call an “aha” moment. The gift revealed itself not only to Rob’s dad but to Rob himself. After leaving Detroit and heading to LA,he began to work with artists like Raphael Saadiq, DJ Quik, and George Clinton. It didn’t take long for him to become one of the best session guitarist in LA. Rob is fortunate to be able to play different genres of music such as pop, R&B, funk, rap, and jazz. He’s mastering his craft and constantly learning. This year is a very big one in his life. He will release his first solo project and will be the guitarist for the new Aresnio Hall Show airing in September. It’s still surreal for him, but he has worked very hard and appreciates growing even more in new directions. You can count on this for sure: where there is Rob “Fonksta” Bacon, there will be FUNK.
On a calm evening in Seattle, Rob and I talk about music, the past, present, future, and funk.
There are so many words to describe the multi-talented Kelvin Wooten. In fact, there are so many, that it’s challenging to limit my perspective to just a few. Growing up, music was always a part of his life, whether it was at home or in church. In middle school, when he decided to actually pick an instrument to play in the school band, he chose the Baritone. That was only the beginning of what Kelvin was going to accomplish in his future. After his freshman year at Alabama A&M University, his life was forever changed. As some would say, he was in the right place at the right time. He was doing what he loved to do when unbeknownst to him, someone heard him playing the guitar in the background and asked to speak with him. That someone was the one and only Raphael Saadiq. Kelvin was asked to fly to LA, and that was the beginning of his illustrious career. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, writer, arranger, and producer. He’s worked with some of the best in the business. This year, he received a Grammy nomination with Anthony Hamilton for Best R&B Album. He’s produced music that has sold more than 10 million albums, yet he also makes the time to give back and be a part of his community in Alabama. I could honestly go on and on about Kelvin and what he’s accomplished. However, I’ll let his work speak for itself.
Listen to what he has to say.