Liberation is both the modus operandi and main ingredient of the fearless five-man band Phony Ppl. Comprised of the cream of Brooklyn’s young musician crop, each member is a product of musical parents who gifted their children exposure to the greatest, from Mandrill to Bossa Nova, and, most importantly, wings for exploration and self-discovery. The result is a collective that is as limitless as its music; one that has received praise from the likes of Tyler The Creator and Childish Gambino, performed with Erykah Badu, Fetty Wap and The Roots, and killed festivals (Camp Flog Gnaw), late night television (Jimmy Kimmel) and their own residency at New York City’s legendary Blue Note.
The warmth of lyrics are mainly credited to lead vocalist Elbee Thrie, a former Manhattan School of Music student whose vocals possess a disarming charm and lyrics glowed by advanced perspective and retrospection (“I broke out of my shell just to find that I’m living by myself”). Elbee also made an appearance on the new Snakehips EP “iii’m Not Sorry.” Co-writing, keys and arrangements are handled by trained composer, Aja Grant, who also produces for artists like Mac Miller. The two-man string section is original School of Rock alum Elijah Rawk (also a member of Princess Nokia’s band) and Bari Bass, Phony Ppl’s visual artist and bass player. The crew’s heartbeat is percussionist and former Music Conservatory study Matthew Byas (his father is DJ Jazzy Jay of the legendary Zulu Nation). You can catch Matthew in the studio with Domo Genesis of Odd Future.
Although these shapeshifters created several now Internet buried independent albums since their 2008 inception, it was Yesterday’s Tomorrow (the first 300 Entertainment distribution) that introduced the world to their genre-less flavors. Released in 2015, the audio rainbow offers experimental splashes of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, soul, rock and many more sub-genre expressions. It hit #6 on the iTunes R&B chart and the media applause roared in: The New York Times called the band “forward-thinking,” NPR chose “brilliant,” Rolling Stone placed their album amongst the year’s 15 greatest.
Anticipation for Phony Ppl’s latest composition has never been as high. Titled mō'zā-ik. because each song is a singular piece of art possessing shapes and colors separate from the others, yet they all adjoin to make symmetrical magic. Setting things off is “Way Too Far,” a slow dance under purple neon to killer lines like, “‘I got you but it's me i'm missing.” “Cookie Crumble” transports ears to the 1950’s after a latin jazz spirit possesses “Once You Say Hello.” The invitation to this exhibition is the palm tree-breezy hip-hop ballad “Before You Get A Boyfriend,” which transcends classification and time. Soft rock of the early 80’s, early 90’s rap, or the mood music of today? For Phony Ppl, the new album is simply an offering to the religion of music and attempt at adding more hues to future radio.
Cheers to your ears.