You may just be recognizing the name Om’Mas Keith, but the producer/singer/engineer/musician has a history with music that dates back to his birth. He grew up in Queens, New York to a pair of parents heavily immersed in the jazz scene of the ’60s and ’70s. By 16, he was job-shadowing at some of the biggest studios in the city, learning how to work the boards and even assemble and build valuable recording equipment.
He first met his longtime music partner, Shafiq Husayn, in the early 90s while working with the hip-hop group Raw Breed. He was mentored by Jam Master Jay, and along with Shafiq Husayn, he formed the illustrious and influential (though underrated) production trio Sa-Ra Creative Partners. In a relatively short run, they amassed production credits with Musiq Soulchild, Bilal, Erykah Badu, John Legend, N.E.R.D., J Dilla, Common, and were among the first acts signed to the first incarnation of Kanye West’s GOOD Music label. He’s also played on records for Jay-Z.
This was all before his breakout year in 2012, when he played an instrumental role in the development of Frank Ocean’s classic (yeah, classic) Channel Orange. Mr. Keith is a credited producer on every single one of the tracks on the LP. Still, for those in the know, there still lay one landmark this tremendous talent had yet to check off his list: his own solo album. While his brother Shafiq crafted a deep debut with his En A-Free Ka piece in 2009, Om’Mas was set to follow suit with City Pulse, yet years passed and the album stayed in a hard-drive.
Well, the wait is over. Feeling the momentum from his recent accomplishments, Om’Mas just days ago let his first LP loose onto the world via the world wide net. City Pulse is an elegant and decadent offering that showcases Om’Mas’ uncompromising sound in the span of 15 songs. There are collaborations with frequent colleagues like Shafiq Husayn, Erykah Badu, Rozzi Daime and Jimetta Rose. The narrative sprouts from the auteur’s own life experiences in the industry, sprinkled with a dash of fantasy.
Lucky enough to have had a sneak peek at the album for some time, I can certainly vouch that ‘Mas did not slack in effort. Many if not all of the LP’s tracks were mulled over and re-calculated until Om’Mas achieved his vision exactly. My favorite joint is without a doubt “Heatwave.” The song feels like the first days of summer, light and liberating, fun and carefree. Enjoy the track and be sure to head over to Om’Mas’ own corner of the interwebs to download the full LP, complete with instrumentals, artwork and a capellas, free!