Ukweli came into the spotlight early last year after producing a track featuring American artist Willow Smith. ‘Get Lost’, which was also a collabo with electro-singer JABS, is a minimalist arrangement of ambient sounds and lyrics. The 19-year-old describes his productions as
“a collage of genreless music”
and this may have a lot to do with his background, being partly Tanzanian, Somali, Seychellois, and Ethiopian. Still, he is able to create a distinct sound especially with the use of percussion and the blues signature that runs through most of his tracks.
“My influences are varied from soul all the way to alternative rock,” he says.
For Ukweli, sounds are flexible and allow him to weave across styles and genres. Many of his songs feel psychedelic, sampling and cutting through a variety of genres from jazz to blues to hip hop. His series called ‘Monday Blues’ features three tracks: ‘Champagne and Reefer’, ‘Love and other Drugs’ and finally ‘Whisky & Jazz’. Aside from the alcohol and drugs in the titles, the songs sound almost completely unrelated, although, if played in one sitting, they have a dizzying effect.
More recently Ukweli has been working with other artists, including Joseph Kiwango and Karun, on their LPs. Ultimately, he likes to keep his audiences constantly surprised and the most important part of his set while preparing to perform is the song selection. He likes searching for obscure records that aren’t appreciated enough and introducing them to the audience. Ukweli’s show will definitely be an exclusive experience for the Blankets and Wine audience.