RaheemDeVaughn and Wes Felton ARE The ChrossRhodes

RaheemDeVaughn and Wes Felton ARE The ChrossRhodes
New Album Footprints On The Moon Available Digitally Friday October 22nd
"Silence ensures that history repeats itself"
- Erin Gruel

Music has fueled many movements for black folk in America. Coded messages in songs on the plantation allowed slaves to communicate with one another under the Overseer's watchful eyes. Inspiration for a generation was found in the somber Civil Rights era anthem "We Shall Overcome" unifying the protest against common foes. Negroes embraced their new identities as Black people in the wake of the rights afforded by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 chanting along with James Brown, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud." Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets famously extolled "The revolution will not be televised" - yet with the advance of time and technology, we now know Heron was right only to an extent. If The CrossRhodes have anything to do with it, the revolution will most likely be streamed...on YouTube, Spotify, or apple music directly to the hand-held devices of a generation hungry for more.

It's the year 2017, forty three years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, twenty one years since the San Jose Mercury news first published their story about the funneling of illegal drugs into the black community by the CIA during the 80's, fueling the "crack" cocaine epidemic in Urban America, and 13 years since the release of "Limited Budget Unlimited Quality" the seminal debut by The CrossRhodes. In these times which AllHipHop.com characterizes as the current state of "social unrest" Wes Felton andRaheemDeVaughn flip the script as griots challenging the status quo in Hop Hop,  returning after a 13 year silence with their sterling follow-up "Footprints On The Moon."

"We were sent to de niggatize you"
- The CrossRhodes

Claiming a revolution back in 2004 on songs like "Dreamin'" and "I Woke Up" from their socio-politically themed debut - the duo deftly blends the gifts of soulfulcrooner RaheemDeVaughn and the multi-hyphenate Wes Felton (poet, rapper, actor, film-maker). The CrossRhodes’ independent release was soon to be eclipsed by the commercial success of DeVaughn's Jive Records solo debut, The Love Experience (2005). In the decade plus which has passed, Raheem would go on to cultivate an image as an R&B  "love master", selling hundreds of thousands of records, become nominated for two Grammy awards, and to win two BET awards for his solo work. Wes Felton continued his ascent as a wordsmith, developing his reputation as the "future funk-soul hero" collaborating with Eric Roberson, Sy Smith and Prince Paul among others, acting in political theatrical works at hallowed venues like the Kennedy Center and the Nyorican Poets Cafe, all the while performing and publishing two books of poetry.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
~Martin Luther King Jr.

In this current climate of overt racism and blatant police brutality, aligned with radical political shifts in focus and power, DeVaughn and Felton were empowered by the burgeoning passion fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement to break their silence and reactivate The CrossRhodes. 

Raheem, for whom it has been 12 years since his solo debut shares, "CrossRhodes for me, It's the ghetto gospel. This moment is necessary because it's going to save somebody's life...it's necessary because it's saving my life." Offering this sage insight he continues, "Everything has it's own time and reason. I'm in the perfect headspace and Wes is, too. it is actually ideally the perfect time. I just started my next decade of music. In the first decade - with The CrossRhodes and Urban Ave 31- it molded and shaped who I was as a person - as an artist, so I could never really stray away from from that. As artists, we soul search and you go back to finding yourself, so actually it's perfect."

Innovation happens at the intersections
The Medici Principle

Wes Felton, the son of a jazz pianist deftly reveals The CrossRhodes origins in a typically lyrical fashion while explaining in a recent interview "This collaboration started in in 1999. Raheem and I were artists part of the U-street renaissance era. We crossed paths and connected and I drew him into the soul and poetry world where people create art based on their feelings. Rather than us being competitors, we learned we had the ability to incorporate from one another. That's what The CrossRhodes is...instead of coming to the crossroads and choose between good and bad - it's coming to the crossroads and choosing the same route."

"Are you choosing? or are you being made...it's designed to control your mind but y'all don't know this."
- Footprints On The Moon

Hip-Soul-Hop as created by The CrossRhodes is both musically and lyrically dense. Felton's skills as a intelligent wordsmith are full display as are the same emotionally wrenching pleas which make DeVaughn's R&B offerings so popular with the ladies. Yet within this context, DeVaughn's tenor is transformed into a siren call for consciousness through encouragement.

The title track "Footprints on The Moon," boasts a wholesale re-appropriation of the 'n-word" - by recasting the all too typical "nigga" with "Negus." As the debate rages on black twitter about the need to retire the word, The CrossRhodes hook you with an swaggering chorus which upon closer inspection reveals that "my nigga' is in fact "my Negus". While Felton rhymes about untold dysfunction in the black community, DeVaughn inspires with "You deserve the world my negus, see the world is yours my negus, though it's never to soon for footprints on the moon"  For the uninformed, which turns out to be most of us, "Negus" is ancient Amharic for King or Ruler giving the lyric a subtle potency deflating the criticisms, for in the end, we should all aspire to be Negus shouldn't we?

"All I want is to see 25 birthdays...I'm praying prayers."
- Praying Prayers

"Praying Prayers" might best be described as a 21st century exploration of contemporary urban issues, ironically many of the same conditions described in Marvin Gaye's seminal "What's Going On." Ironically, Gaye's song was released in May of 1971 underscoring the glacial progress made by blacks in America over the last forty-six years. 

Sadly, while it is often fashionable for the so-called progressives to abandon their religion, The CrossRhodes proclaim "turn to God for religion" calling on the power of collective spirit and prayers and the guidance of the ancestors to guide us through the "valley of this poison". Can they get an Amen?

 "Before I knew I loved you, I loved YOU"
- Look At You

For the legion of RaheemDeVaughn's fans who have come to know him through the filter of his "love master" persona, "Look At You" suspends the socio-political rhetoric for a spoken word exploration of female beauty.

While DeVaughn croons "Look at you... beautiful like the words in a poem written by Maya Angelou" Felton guides the listener forward with a lyrical description of the ultimate in love-making with a barrage of metaphors which reveal a tenderness and depth not often associated with the male of the species. Yet, even in the boudoir Felton manages to slip in a fitting socially conscious metaphor  when he speaks "in darkness don't let me go." Not merely a plea to weather turbulent times in their relationship, Felton acknowledges that in these turbulent times, change can only be accomplished together. Black men and women together.

A Call To Action

"Footprints On The Moon" serves as sixteen track call to action for black America wrapped in caramel choruses and chocolate themes. Stark observations and admonishments are balanced by uplifting song slogans ripe for implanting in today's young minds bewildered by the current state of affairs in America and communities of color around the world.

On "All Go Blind" which neatly bisects the album, The CrossRhodes take the consciousness global using the urban transformation of Washington D.C. to illustrate what is happening to black communities around the world. "You better call for a call to action,"wails Devaughn continuing "I've seen it from DC, to Paris, to London, B'more...all the way to South Africa" illustrating that while black Americans may believe they are alone in this struggle for racial and economic parity, they are not.

"What is America? What are we working for?" The CrossRhodes pose on the plaintive "America" acknowledging our country at the intersection of what was and is going to be. The Medici Principle explains how innovation happens when disciplines and ideas intersect...at the crossroads if you will.

RaheemDeVaughn and Wes Felton ARE The ChrossRhodes.

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This is what Urban Digital Radio is supposed to sound like. We spin the whole record with no talking over it. We play Hip-Hop, RnB, House, Reggae, Funk, Urban Jazz, Pop, Ol' Skool, and Gospel.
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