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AFROTRAK Presents: BILAL

AFROTRAK Presents: BILAL

Jay Illa, AMI

Fri · February 8, 2019

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm (event ends at 11:59 pm)

$25.00 - $50.00

Off Sale

This event is 21 and over

AFROTRAK Presents: BILAL
If there was one R&B artist for whom the neo-soul categorization seemed limiting, it was Philadelphia native Bilal. None of his recordings resembled the sycophantic worship of soul artists who thrived in the '60 and '70s, and it wasn't just because his voice -- classically trained, capable of singing opera in seven languages -- was so unique. While some inspirations were detectable, his recordings were wholly modern and became increasingly creative. His individuality led to being dropped from a major label, and he went several years without releasing any solo material. Through evangelism from his peers and word of mouth from his early fans, Bilal gained an insatiable following and was supported by sympathetic independent labels, where he was finally able to thrive creatively.

Bilal Sayeed Oliver came up in Germantown, a northwest neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A deep interest in jazz was fostered by his father, who took him to the city's clubs. Singing eventually became more than an interest. He attended New York's New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he received voice training, as well as training in jazz and big-band arrangements.

Grenique's Black Butterfly, a 1999 release on Motown, was the first major album to feature Bilal's vocals; he contributed to three songs. The following year, he established a deep connection to hip-hop by appearing on Common's Like Water for Chocolate and Guru's third Jazzmatazz album.

A turbulent solo deal with Interscope resulted in Bilal's debut album, 1st Born Second. An exemplary neo-soul release featuring collaborations with Mike City, Robert Glasper, and many of the Soulquarians, it was issued in July 2001 and reached the Top Ten of Billboard's R&B albums chart. One of its three singles, "Soul Sista," peaked at number 18 on the R&B singles chart, while "Fast Lane" -- co-written with Damu and Faulu Mtume (the sons of James Mtume and two of the singer's earliest supporters) -- narrowly missed the Top 40. At that point, the closest points of comparison were D'Angelo and Maxwell, yet Bilal was more dynamic than the former and less mannered than the latter. 1st Born Second carried an energy that neither one of those singers, as hot as they were at the time, could boast.

Bilal recorded a second album, Love for Sale, and handled much of the songwriting and production duties, while Jay Dee, Dr. Dre, and Nottz assisted in limited capacities. Promo vinyl was pressed and the album leaked online, prompting Bilal's label to put it on ice. Bilal was subsequently dropped, but his following increased significantly. He must have had some mixed feelings when he performed the material to appreciative crowds who knew the material -- off a technically unreleased album -- inside out.

Meanwhile, nine years passed without a commercially released follow-up to 1st Born Second. Bilal had been a featured artist on songs by Beyoncé, Musiq, Clipse, Sa-Ra, Jay-Z, and several others, including many of his fellow Soulquarians, but it wasn't until 2010 that he released his second proper album. Airtight's Revenge was released on the Plug Research label and saw Bilal working extensively with Steve McKie, along with Sa-Ra's Shafiq Husayn (Bilal had appeared on Husayn's own Plug Research album, Shafiq En' A-Free-Ka), Nottz, Conley "Tone" Whitfield, 88-Keys, and several studio musicians who gave the set a loose, band-like feel. Its "Little One" was nominated for a 2011 Grammy in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category. In February 2013, after appearing on the Roots' Grammy-nominated Undun and Robert Glasper Experiment's Grammy-winning Black Radio, Bilal released A Love Surreal on eOne. Appearances on a typically diverse range of albums by the likes of Otis Brown III, Kimbra, Kat Dahlia, Kendrick Lamar, and Slum Village led to In Another Life, an album-length collaboration with producer and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge. Bilal's fifth commercially released set, it was issued in June 2015.
Jay Illa
Jay has always been a fan of the hip hop culture. As kid in the 90's, he grew up listening to Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Black Moon, Common, and the Roots to name a few. He participated in every facet the hip hop lifestyle had to offer. At the age of 19 while hosting an Open Mic Night at K's Muzik located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Jay found himself behind the turntables putting the needle to the record to supply the instrumentals. This event sparked his love for DJ'ing. Apart of the last generation of DJ's before technology took over, Jay found himself constantly digging and building his vinyl collection. Jay's former baseball coach just happened to be a popular working DJ who went by the name of, DJ Shaun T. Shaun took Jay under his wing and taught him what it takes to be a good DJ. Jay was Shaun's "DJ intern" to say the least.

As time went by, Jay managed to get DJ gigs at Northern Illinois University and UIC Circle Campus, this is where he started to build his reputation and fan base. His first weekly event was Saturday nights at Dragon Room after the promoter, Shayne Evans from NewBirth USA heard him DJ at a Greek Basketball Tournament at UIC, at the time Jay was 20yrs old. Jay used that opportunity to obtain more work, and became part of the new generation of Chicago DJ's in the nightclub scene. Jay iLLa has been featured at many clubs in the Chicagoland area, old and new - Dragon Room, Boutique, Biology Bar, Zentra, Red Line, 212 On The River, Estate, Chromium, Reunion, Spy Bar, Y Bar, Boardroom, Lumen, Mix, Minx, Soundbar, The Buzz, Ontourage, Door 21, Tantrik, Promontory, Lite, Room Seven, and that's not all.

Jay has had the opportunity to DJ for iconic figures and big time celebrities. He's done events for Kanye West, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Lebron James, Derrick Rose, Spike Lee, & Common. He's shared the stage with Chaka Khan, Memphis Bleek, Freeway, Slum Village, The Pharcyde, The Lox, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kid Capri, DJ Clark Kent, DJ Clue, DJ Scratch, and Jermaine Dupri. Jay iL has DJ'd for Bon Appetit Magazine the past 4yrs at Chicago Gourmet, which happens in Millennium Park the end of September. He's had the opportunity to DJ for Spotify on several occasions, and is currently the Chicago Bears Field DJ. You can find Jay gettin' busy in Soldier Field every home game on the north end of the end zone during pre game warm ups. Jay iLLa was also the featured DJ for the opening night after party for the hit Broadway play Hamilton in Chicago, which featured cast and crew members. Other clients of Jay iLLa's have been Nike, Don Julio Tequila, Bacardi, Crown Royal, Courvoisier, Hennessy, and more. Jay has also been featured on Sirius XM's Shade45 Sway In The Morning and The Drive.

It's Jay's style and music selection that makes him a go to person for certain events. His ability to seamlessly mix different genre's, and make them work when you don't think they should is what sets him apart. There's no way Nirvana and Future should sound so clean. Whether it's hip hop, disco, house, euro 80's pop, soft rock, or Motown, Jay iLLa can make it work and make it sound good. His influences are; D Nice, Mick, Jazzy Jeff, 33 1/3rd, and the late great Tim Buck 2. Jay iLLa is about the music, and he's letting that be known one event at a time...
AMI
Chicago artist, AMI is a singer/songwriter and musician trained in several genres of music including gospel, rhythm & blues and classical. The combination of influence from these genres and her unique vocal styling presents a fresh sonic experience.

Her debut EP “The Revelation” was released in August of 2016. Following the positive reception of her EP, AMI has become a top feature on the Chicago music scene and is known for her captivating & engaging live performances.

Along with her band, AMI has opened up for several artists including Esperanza Spalding, Jon B, Al. B Sure and Malcolm London. Recently, AMI accompanied rising star, Smino on keyboards as he opened up for SZA's CTRL tour and she is also the keyboardist for Chicago artist, Jamila Woods.

As a classically trained musician, and someone who grew up with arts education readily available to her, AMI is very passionate about music education and gives back to the community by working with schools to encourage the implementation and stabilization of music education.

She has also taught piano in her hometown of Gary, Indiana and performed with several organizations including the Chicago Children’s Choir and Musical Arts Institute.

AMI has been working tirelessly on her forthcoming 2018 release“IAM AMI”, a deeply personal project that will reflect her growth as a woman and as an artist. The first single off of this project will be released on June 21,2018.
Venue Information:
Chop Shop.
2033 W. North Ave
Chicago, IL, 60647
http://www.1stwardevents.com