Jamil Rashad pounds out old-school Funk/Pop at its ivy-walled finest. Performing as Boulevards, Rashad channels classic party Funk from the ’70s and ’80s and blends it with a contemporary wash of Hip Hop, Jazz and Soul to create a danceable solution that is fresh and yet eerily familiar. The recent brace of Boulevards recordings are steeped in influences like Rick James, Prince, Morris Day & the Time, Eddie Murphy (see below) and Earth Wind & Fire, resulting in a sound that is firmly rooted in the sonic textures of a bygone era without devolving into simple nostalgic calisthenics.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., Rashad received an early education in music appreciation from his father, a local radio DJ who was well versed in R&B, Jazz and Blues and provided his son with a diverse foundation on which to build his eventual career. As a teenager, Rashad found himself drawn into Raleigh’s Punk and Metal scenes as both fan and band member, which would ultimately add another interesting wrinkle to his songwriting and performance arsenal.
After finishing art school and then joining a succession of local bands, Rashad returned to his root love of Funk and R&B; his 2015 eponymous debut EP as Boulevards was solid evidence of his intention to bring classic Funk into the new millennium. That sonic attitude coupled with a party-all-the-time and let’s-get-it-on lyrical stance was in full bloom on his full-length debut, 2016’s Groove!, which folded more Jazz and Soul into the mix and yet retained and expanded the irresistible appeal of banging ’70s synth-and-guitar Funk.
Last year’s Hurtown USA was Boulevards’ hangover album, a measured and more mature set examining the realities and repercussions of the day after the night before. While not as immediate as its predecessors, Hurtown USA showed the depth and breadth of Boulevards’ musical and lyrical skills and proved that his love of the party scene is tempered with the knowledge of exactly what love has to do with it.
Boulevards is not just letting his Funk flag fly, he’s all in as far as reinventing the form as both aficionado and purveyor, student and teacher, lover and fighter.