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Andre Akinyele

Multi-instrumentalist André Akinyele was the pioneering force of the cyber-jazz movement of the mid-to late '00s with his band Gemini Soul, which merged musical technology with jazz, funk, fusion, and political topical experimentation; along the lines of such artists as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Meshell Ndegeocello. His first five albums as Marcel, including his debut album The Diary of Marcel (1998), found Akinyele heavily influenced by Prince. But, it wasn’t until the passing of his grandmother, the changing of his name, and then playing jazz that he would depart from that influence, coming into his own as Ajamu Akinyele (meaning strong warrior) with releases such as Supernova (2005) and, with his band Gemini Soul, The Nefertiti Xperience (2008 - Number 15 Amazon's Hot New Releases: The Bestselling New & Future Releases Chart), and Dark Skin Babies : The Movement (2009 - Number 13 Amazon's Hot New Releases: The Bestselling New & Future Releases Chart).

André Marcel Ajamu Akinyele was born on June 21, 1972 as André Marcel Wilson in Richmond, CA (Hilltop/El Sobrante area) but raised in Oakland, CA. He's been signed three times by independent labels (even signed as Michael Angelo in 1989 releasing a single titled "Brina Brown" in Europe), but decided in 1998 to go on his own right at the brink of the digital age, tired of all the false promises. That decision led to his debut album The Diary of Marcel released in 1998 on his own label Bombay Recording Company. It was a refreshing take on Old-School R&B, reminiscent of Tevin Campbell and Rahsaan Patterson. He toured the local circuit and became a true contender on the independent scene. He then released Spice: The Alternative Hip-Hop Experience in 2001 to critical success garnering rave reviews and media exposure. Throughout the '00s, he continued recording with his last Marcel album being released in 2004 to make the transition to playing jazz as Ajamu Akinyele, primarily a bassist and band leader. He stated that he had nothing else to say lyrically.

After several successful albums with his band Gemini Soul, who toured relentlessly for five years, in 2012, he released The Potomac Syndrome as André Akinyele. It was a return to his funk roots. The album was also a return to his Prince influenced sound, along with a nod to Lenny Kravitz. It was hailed as one of his best efforts after performing jazz for a long period. The songwriting was mature and on point, as was his 2015 follow-up effort Metal Skin and Ivory Birds that questioned the world where no one or nothing was off limits.

2016 brings yet another musical change, with pristine vocal arrangements on top of an ol' skool vibe, his release of The Unauthorized Playlist uses underground hip-hop, funk, and futuristic sounds to explore the madness of keeping secrets, the anger of friendship betrayal, and the rise of self-empowerment. A worthy contrast to his earlier works, the album takes cues from contemporary hip-hop, R&B, and "neo-soul" visionaries, such as Pharrell Williams, Erykah Badu, and D'Angelo, to create a distinctive consciousness.

A radical in his own right, André Akinyele has defied stereotypical genres to focus on his diverse musicality, a conscious rejection of mainstream conformism. Almost two decades into his music career, he remains a magnetic and viable presence in the music industry.