London-based GRAMMY and MOBO nominated Jazztronica duo Blue Lab Beats have announced their long-awaited new album and full-length Blue Note Records debut Motherland Journey, out February 25th. The announcement comes with the album’s title track featuring Ghanaian producer KillBeatz and vocals of the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.
An album that has quite literally been years in the making, Motherland Journey is the result of tireless days in the studio - a celebration of pushing boundaries, taking risks and overcoming adversity. What started as over 70 demos has since been meticulously whittled down to the 17-track iteration that remains. It is still Blue Lab Beats’ largest project to date, and the fact it is delivered via the legendary Blue Note imprint reiterates its importance.
The LP includes several previously released singles including “Labels,” a majestic sonic creation that combines Kofi Stone’s slick bars and Tiana Major9’s head-turning vocals with the smoothest of production. Further singles have come in the form of “Blow You Away (Delilah)” and “Sensual Loving,” both featuring the unmistakable vocals of Afrobeats prince Ghetto Boy, and “Dat It,” a potent combination of sly piano lines and funk-drenched synths courtesy of Stones Throw affiliate and Drake collaborator, Kiefer.
There are a host of star-studded collaborative tracks on Motherland Journey. Perhaps the most prominent is the title track, co-written in Accra, Ghana with Ghanaian production talent KillBeatz at 3am in the morning. It features the vocals of none other than that of the late Fela Kuti, with the estate of the Afrobeat pioneer giving BLB their blessing to release the song.
“Motherland Journey is an extremely special album to us,” Blue Lab Beats enthuse. “This album took us two-and-a-half years to finish, our longest process to make an album, but it was so worth it. On this album you’ll hear many fusions of genres and inspirations that we gathered throughout that time frame and especially to work on so many of the songs during the first lockdown it was a test in itself. We had to figure out so many different ways to achieve what we exactly wanted sonically and having Blue Note to help us achieve that was an absolute blessing. Many of the vocal features and instrumentalists on this album are great friends of ours and it’s just so amazing to have family on this album.”
One of the fastest-rising production duos in the world right now, with a Grammy nomination for their work on the Angelique Kidjo album Mother Nature, and a MOBO nomination for ‘Best Jazz Act’ in 2021 testament to their rise, Blue Lab Beats consists of producer NK-OK and multi-instrumentalist Mr DM. Starting out as bedroom producers, remixing tracks from A-listers such as Dua Lipa and Rag’N’Bone Man, the pair quickly grew into something far more potent - crafting a supple, wide-ranging sound inspired by the pioneers of hip-hop and the music of the African diaspora while staying true to their London roots.
With over 32 million streams and having played Glastonbury as well as supporting the likes of Roy Ayers and Thundercat, Blue Lab Beats releases such as 2017 EP Freedom, with its stand out track “Sam Cooke & Marvin Gaye,” and 2018’s “XOver,” a debut album brimming with hits including the eight-million-times-streamed “Pineapple,” have proved how popular their sound has quickly become. Releases such as the 2019 EP Vibe Central, which has features from Grammy-nominated trumpeter Theo Croker, and statement track “Hi There,” a soulful instrumental sermon that also appears on Blue Lab’s 2020 album Voyage, has brought them further success. Following their appearance on 2020’s acclaimed Blue Note Re:imagined project, the duo released their debut EP for Blue Note Records We Will Rise earlier this year. They also performed a sold out hometown show at Hootananny Brixton in November, sounding off what was another career-defining year in style.
Their biggest and most complete undertaking yet, Motherland Journey is a spellbinding LP that sees Blue Lab Beats further refine their Jazztronica sound.
1. Sky Reflections (Intro)
2. Labels Feat. Tiana Major9 & Kofi Stone
3. I’ll be here for you Feat. Teni Tinks
4. Gotta Go Fast Feat. Poppy Daniels
5. A Vibe
6. Don’t Let It Get Away Feat. Emmavie
7. Inhale & Exhale (Interlude)
8. Blow You Away (Delilah) Feat. Ghetto Boy
9. Sensual Loving Feat. Ghetto Boy
10. Motherland Journey Feat. KillBeatz & Fela Kuti
11. Ultramarine (interlude)
12. Warp Feat. Jackson Mathod & Kaidi Akinnibi
13. Slow Down Feat. Ego Ella May
14. Dat It Feat. Kiefer
15. Home Feat. Pip Millett & Dylan Jones
16. Real Good Feat. Jerome Thomas
17. Reflection (Outro)