Amerigo Gazaway, Yaasin Gaye 

Amerigo Gazaway, son of renowned trumpet player Gary “El Buho” Gazaway (Phish, Tito Puente, etc.), is gearing up to release another Soul Mates mashup. The producer, DJ and MC has a good ear for pairings (see Fela Soul, for example) and has unified Yasiin Bey—f.k.a. Mos Def—and Marvin Gaye in sound. Yasiin Gaye drops on February 25, but listeners are being titillated in the meantime with tidbits from the project leading up to its release.

Gazaway’s latest two teasers are “Inner City Travelin Man,” a complete track that fuses Bey’s “I’m Leavin” (from when he was Mos Def) with Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” It’s a winning combination that eerily sounds like both artists were actually recording in the same space at the same time. Mos Def fans can recall Marvin Gaye-esque songs from his previous musical catalogue anyway (i.e., “The Beggar,” “The Panties”), so let’s just take this as a sign that it was meant to be.

Life Dutchee ft. Troy Ave, “Pounds and Bricks”

Life Dutchee and Troy Ave combine classic boom bap with sounds of the digital age over this gritty SwishaMad-produced track that serves as the first release from Dutchee’s forthcoming mixtape, Brooklyn European. Dutchee, a Brooklyn-bred MC via Suriname and Amsterdam opens the track with the hard hitting, “Who getting G’s us, minus the Christ/I heard hip-hop’s dead, ironic, I’m life/Flip a dollar to a thousand I ain’t lying/Like the Clipse, since my first single I been grinding,” as both BK-dwelling rappers trade bars back and forth about (of course) being nice. They’re doing a lot of bragging here, but based on the skill set displayed, they can back it up.

Jade de LaFleur, Jaded 

Jade de LaFleur musically lives up to her name, but be careful because Jade’s flower petals are hiding barbs, and I mean that in a good way. The Saint Heron artist recently released her debut on the label, and although it’s titled Jaded, it’s more along the lines of bittersweet. Jade’s music has an ethereal quality that’s flavored with soul and life experiences in general. She sings about love, sex and freedom in a way so liberating and beautiful, it’s almost as if she’s created another genre. Jade’s voice itself is a dulcet and beautiful alto 1/soprano 2, and her sound combines funk, jazz, R&B, blues, even reggae, in a hodgepodge of awesomeness.

Nasimiyu ft. Marcella Precise, “Even in the Dark (LAAT AfroTrap Edit)”

Nothing lifts the mood more than some good drums. Enter the funky tribal sounds with a bit of pop created by Nasimiyu and Marcella Precise in this collaboration. Nasimiyu Murumba is a Kenyan/Scandanavian (via Minneapolis) singer/songwriter described by Okayplayer as “a soulful ringleader of a circus-folk orchestra.” She sites Etta James, TV on the Radio, Dirty Projectors and Fela Kuti among others as musical inspirations.

Marcella Precise is a New York City-based, Grammy-nominated, Billboard-charting singer/songwriter whose sound has been described as pop melodies with a classic hip-hop attitude or, electro-chic. Together these ladies sing about self-love as well as being empowered and smart, as the hook goes, “Even in the dark baby, I can see by the light of fire burn inside of me.” It’s a cute way of encouraging people not to play the fool. You can find this gem on Nasimiyu’s EP, Dirt.

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and love. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at