Jesse Boykins III and MeLo-X are about forward movement; the singer/songwriter and rapper/producer make every song a journey. Collaborating together previously on solo projects, the two have joined forces to present Zulu Guru, a rumbling, floating, passionate trip inside the mind of a man, the space-age blues of romance and the complication of life’s issues.
A thinking album, Zulu Guru is lyrical, full of poems and scenarios, proclamations and futuristic historical accounts. The gripping intro of the same name featuring Trae Harris, along with “Schwaza” (a word Boykins uses often to describe “an amazing occurrence that leaves you with a lack of words to express the gravity of the moment”) parts one and two featuring JoeKenneth and Kesed, respectively, offer explosive spoken word narratives that sweep you up, forcing your mind to open and your soul to feel.
If you are still unclear, there is the towering outro, “Schwaza Culture” featuring Street Etiquette, an almost orchestral explanation of The Romantic Movement, the artistic collective that has birthed this music, where each member, self-proclaimed culture kings and queens, “lives to fight for love.”
Zuru Guru whips genres into colorful shape, blending Hip-Hop, Afro-Beat, Dancehall Funk, Electro-Soul, Trance, Dance and what feels like modern Bebop. Boykins’ ultra-smooth delivery decorates and elevates MeLo-X’s point-blank flow to create an abundant experience. It’s the musical jungle of “Black Orpheus,” where the gentlemen explore the confounding mess and excitement of unlabeled amorous relationships.
It’s the cloudy techno-soul of the enveloping “Broken Wings,” and the enrapturing strings and horns mixed with raw lyrics about the struggles of infidelity on “Change of Heart” (featuring MoRuf and Chris Turner). It’s the simultaneous high and low of the funky, prickling trance of the Bilal-esque, “Outta My Mind.” We are privy to a different view of male emotion here, the matter-of-fact brushstrokes of deliberate painters showing us their stories.
Zulu Guru moves not only your emotions, but also your feet. Be it the moody clap-stomp of “The Perfect Blues,” the ocean-floor groove and ecstatic modulations of the brilliant “Searching Her Ways,” or the tribal thump of the literally dope “Strange Recreation” and the sexy “Better For You” remix, this album has us breaking a sweat on the dance floor.
In a word, Zulu Guru is epic. The daring intensity and dense content offer something for every listener to savor. Bold ambassadors of creative freedom and artistic excellence, Jesse Boykins III and MeLo-X present a superior project, SoulCulture approved.