Bilal's New A Love Surreal Was Inspired By Salvador Dali

Categories: Bilal

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Even though Bilal Sayeed Oliver -- that's Bilal, to his fans -- has a new album, A Love Surreal, ready for fans to consume, he is still hounded by that one question: Will Love for Sale ever get the proper release it deserves?

"Well, I don't know," Oliver says. "I would like for it to, but it's a lot of stuff mixed up into that whole record - you know, Interscope and everything. I was also signed to a publishing company, so it's just a lot of hands mixed into that."

For fans of the 33-year-old, Philadelphia-born, Brooklyn-based soul crooner, Love for Sale is considered his masterpiece, albeit an unfinished masterpiece that never got a proper release since most of the music was leaked and bootlegged during production. Guess we need to go back a bit on how this began.

See also: Five Lesser-Known Soul Men Worth Your Attention

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Five Lesser-Known Soul Men Worth Your Attention

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You're right to believe Frank Ocean was robbed by Mumford & Sons for Album of the Year at the Grammys Sunday. But nevertheless, last year was a good one for r&b, one that saw different facets of the genre take center stage. By extension, Frank Ocean is now a household name. And though Kelly Clarkson might not have been familiar with him, lots more people know the name Miguel than when the LA-based crooner dropped his Kaleidoscope Dream in October.

It got us to thinking about some other r&b artists we've been listening to for years that never crossed over into the limelight. Here now, five lesser-known soul men you should lend your ear to.

See also: Frank Ocean, the Weeknd, Miguel: Who Will Be the Token Black Guy on Year-End Best of Lists?

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Live: Robert Glasper Brings His Glow To The Highline Ballroom

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Andrée Lamoth
Robert Glasper Experiment
Highline Ballroom
Tuesday, February 28

Better than: Sitting at home with the radio.

"About what time does ?uestlove finish up at the Fallon show? It couldn't have been that long ago, right?"

That query, overheard amid the big beats pumping from the Highline Ballroom's system as I entered its near-capacity music room, was the first sign that I'd entered what might be termed the "Glasper Glow." Its namesake, pianist Robert Glasper, wouldn't hit the stage for another hour or so, but his presence was undeniable even in the absence of the rolling keys that are his signature sound. Scanning the space, another question came to mind: What other jazz musician (an identity Glasper doesn't seem to question, despite its checkered commercial history) would be able pull together such a youthful, multihued crowd, all of whom were on board to hear improvisation, silky urban-contemporary smoothness, and beats-to-the-rhyme? The star power attached to Glasper's gestalt was already visible on the bandstand; the aforementioned Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson was at stage left, playing warmup DJ for Glasper's record release showcase within hours of punching out from the Roots' "day job" at 30 Rock.

Not for nothing does Black Radio, Glasper's fourth album, feel like the pianist's statement of creative unification. His records have edged toward this soothingly heady synthesis for some time now, attempting to reconcile his benchmark skills in acoustic postbop with his high-flying keyboard excursions backing up the Roots, Yasiin Bey (the artist formerly known as Mos Def) and soul singer Bilal, whom Glasper met when both were in the New School jazz program. It remains to be seen whether the Glasper Glow will make its way to the pop airwaves, but last night was the first of two evenings scripted to get many of the album's special guest stars (Bey and Bilal among them) onstage with the Experiment's core electric quartet (Casey Benjamin, sax and vocals; Derrick Hodge, bass; Mark Colenburg, drums).

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