I had the pleasure of stumbling across the work of vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and the all-around talented Diggs Duke several months ago and in turn introduced him to EARMILK readers. Some may recall Duke's cover of Thundercat's "Is It Love?" which was featured on the site back in June. The D.C. resident has returned with a new original project entitled Mass Exodus.
Composed of all original material, the genre-defying project that is Mass Exodusshowcases Duke's masterful skills on the bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, electric piano, acoustic piano, trumpet, alto saxophone, djembe, shekere, wood blocks and drum machine. It should come as no surprise that all the sounds found on the project are performed by Duke. His chops as a true multi-instrumentalist are only matched by the strength of his pen and his vocals. While the term multi-talented and multi-faceted seem to get tossed around quite frivolously these days Mr. Duke is a genuine multi-talented artist.
From the project's opening track "Lion's Feast" which opens with a beautiful pairing of saxophone and guitar that progressively breaks out into lively percussion and horn drive afro-beat infused number to the project's closing titular track "Mass Exodus" Duke keeps listeners entertained and engaged with his skillful blend of sounds. With each release Diggs Duke continues to deliver solid soulfully rich music while continuing to further hone his craft, much to each listeners enjoyment.
While Duke has a treasure trove of free music available for download on his Bandcamp page,Mass Exodus is not a freebie and for good reason. Stream the four track project below and be sure to support Diggs Duke and good music in general by checking out his Bandcamp page and grabbing a download of Mass Exodus, which is available now for $4.
- Adrian, EarMilk
Where most would be miffed, Diggs Duke keeps his cool, writing on his Facebook page, “ iTunes messed up the title of Diggs’ new EP, ‘Mass Exodus’ and it is listed as “Diggs Duke – EP.” But, whatever. That doesn’t stop the music from being good.”
While some detractors might raise an eyebrow at the soul-singer’s cockiness, Diggs’ new EP proves that the man really has something to boast about – ‘Mass Exodus’ is a trip from the banal world of radio-friendly soul music, and into a jungle of styles, instruments and influences. It excites with its uncertainty; Just as something becomes apparent, the direction changes. Take your eye off Diggs for a second and he’ll have slipped down a side road and emerged out onto a new avenue. In a new continent!
A saxophone starts up on opening track ‘Lion’s Feast’, and pulls the listener into the muggy, sun-blazed heat of the Serengeti. As the image sinks in, a ripple of strings cuts through the saxophone-haze like the circling feet of a preying lion. “Lions feast on this strange beast,” Diggs sings, “food for cubs, antithesis of safety.” Musically, Lion’s Feast is certainly the antithesis of safety: it has no chorus, a small number of lyrics and a long introduction. But Diggs appears to be unconcerned, and the track breaks into a tune that is exotic and tribal-like but still soulful as a saxophone capers above the tribal melody.
But ‘Nine Winning Wives’, the second track on the EP is nothing like its predecessor. It’s also nothing like the third track which itself is wholly different from the first and last track. In fact, the only obvious similarity between the four tracks is their timing – none of Diggs’ songs run past the two-and-a-half minute mark, showing Diggs’ ability and inclination to create songs that are crafted and honed rather than long and tedious.
‘Crazy Like a Fox’, the third song on the EP, is the standout pop-song of the lot. It slinks around initially but quickly grows and builds and conjures up images of a prohibition jazz hall where smoke whirls, men wear hats and women saunter around in flapper dresses and fur coats.
While Diggs Duke has plenty of free music available for download from his Bandcamp page, ‘Mass Exodus’ is currently charging at €2.99 (And rightly so). Above all, he keeps his listener on their toes without becoming tedious or coming off as pretentious. Mass Exodus is a snap shot of a man with incredible talent and the potential to create incredible music going ahead into the future.
- MIchelle Doyle, Music Review Unsigned
Today's more athletic brand of R&B is all fine and good, but sometimes you want a bit more than the slick production and endless sea of oversinging and falsetto that seems to be mainstream R&B's flavor du jour. So, where do you look when you need a little bit of substance and art with your soul music? Look no further than indie artist Diggs Duke. If you're familiar with the sound of Coultrain or Jose James, then Diggs will be right up your alley. A vocalist as well as an multi-insrumentalist, he utilizes the textures of jazz in his work to create a rich, full sound that is at once soothing and attention grabbing. Look no further than his latest EP, Gravity, for proof of this. The title track is a short but sweet groove anchored by the slight rasp of his voice that, as its title suggests, you'll find yourself pulled to for repeated listens. Elsewhere on the EP, "The Epic Lie," though shorter than its title suggests, blends jazz and soul efortlessly as Diggs has a musical heart-to-heart with his lover about where their love is going. Right now, Diggs is offering the five-track EP on his Bandcamp page. If you're lucky enough to be one of the first 200 downloaders, you'll be able to grab it on a pay-what-you-like basis. While you're downloading, you can also visit his SoundCloud page to listen to -- and download -- a few more goodies from Diggs. For those who haven't hightailed it to snatch up the EP, check out "Gravity" and "The Epic Lie" below and hit the bounce to see his inventive visual for the track "Cause I Love You."
- D-Money, SoulBounce.com
It's been a long time since an artist has been able to combine jazz, R&B and hip-hop influences so seamlessly, which is why we love Diggs Duke. With a voice similar toJohn Legend, Duke masterfully adds a level of personality and artistic creativity to topics that would otherwise be unoriginal. For now, he's offering two EP's –'Gravity' and 'Black Gold' -- for less than $5.00 but the quality of the music is priceless.
- Latifah Muhammad, TheBoombox.com (AOL)
Diggs Duke is a highly gifted composer, multi-instumentalist and singer from Maine, USA. During the last few months he made a great leap forward in his career. With the unique take on soul that was featured on his debut EP ‘Gravity’ (released in November) he hit the mark and proverbially appeared out of the blue to mesmerize r&b/soul aficionados around the globe. Only two months later – last week – he released his sophomore EP ‘Black Gold’ which consolidates his remarkable position in the world of contemporary soul.
The EP is well-equipped with five smooth soul-miniatures, that forge a bridge between neo soul in the vein of D’Angelo or Erykah Badu and the jazzy beats from some of the heroes of the golden age of hip hop, think of A Tribe Called Quest or The Pharcyde. Like these artists the Duke combines elements ranging from hip hop, jazz, funk, bossa nova, fusion and pop to African music for his beats and pairs his silky, limber voice with winding horn lines and electric guitar passages. We are tempted to call his music smoothed out hip hop soul, on his Facebook page he just describes it as ‘original, deliberate, passionate, intelligent soul.’ Word!
Discover Diggs Duke’s beautiful songs ‘Something In My Soul’ and ‘Holding On’ below and grab the whole‘Black Gold’ EP for as much as you want to pay. Since the longest song is barely longer than two minutes, the EP seems like a teaser for his upcoming LP, which is scheduled for early 2012. Keep your eyes peeled for this gem!
- Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape Blog
Our inbox was blessed by some soulful music from Diggs Duke who released his debut“Gravity” EP last week via bandcamp. My first thought was ‘where the heck has this guy been hiding’, but I soon realized it was in Maine. I’m sure we’re gonna be posting a lot more of his music in 2012! Good news…the first 200 downloaders can download this one for freeby filling in a $0 price or you can also put down any other price you seem fit to support future projects. Diggs will be releasing another EP in a few months and is hoping to get a full-length album out there as well in the future (which I am sure he will be doing on some fortunate independent label). This is the perfect way to start you Monday..and a free download on our Soundcloud page especially for the people who missed out on Bandcamp!
- Nilez, Moovmnt.com (Netherlands)
Whoa, here’s a listen that’s so sublime I’m sure that many of you will be tempted to keep this treasure to yourselves. Come on now, let’s not be selfish! Gravity is a collection of 5 original compositions that will leave you with comparisons to both jazz and soul greats and praying that more works of this calibre are forthcoming…from Diggs Duke or anyone else for that matter! Download HERE and enjoy!
- DJ Rahdu, BamaLoveSoul.com
It’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in the modern day music world since the internet came about and you and your momma all turned into an emcee, producer or DJ. But every now and then, an artist comes across your path where you’re grasped from the first note, and you can feel the honesty and sincerity through their music. Diggs Duke from Maine is one of them, I can tell you that much. The only negative thing I can say is that Gravity only packs 5 tracks and leaves you hungry for more. Alas.
- Lemonface, SuperNiceMusic.com
I know it’s not Christmas yet, but since I’ll be away during that time, I might as well treat you with as much music as possible. It is actually quite rare for me to be that inspired these days so I am definitely taking advantage of it and sharing all this beautiful music with you. Yes, I am generous like that.
After ELQ’s futuristic funk and boogie, I’m now showcasing a smoother EP that is none the less very appropriate for a Friday evening/weekend, simply for a different mood and atmosphere. With this debut EP, Diggs Duke presents a beautiful collection of soul music which sole flaw is to be way too short. The good news is, the singer promises us a new EP soon, as well as a future full-length whenever possible. I discovered Diggs Duke andGravity on Bama Love Soul as I was doing a most necessary and long overdue catching up on blogs a few weeks back, before realising I had an email waiting for me where the artist presented the project. I promise, I will do better with emails in 2012! Where or how I heard about this project doesn’t really matter though, as what is important is that I fell in love with the music and had to share it with you.
Diggs Duke voice is smooth and warm, the perfect remedy to this winter’s cold and greyness. The different tracks have a beautiful soulful and jazzy vibe, where the horns add some sensuality to the voice and lyrics, making a rise in temperature inevitable (whether you are dancing solo or with a partner, or simply imagining what you could do with that special someone). Clearly, this is soft, baby-making music and it should definitely help you chase your blues away whenever that is necessary. Because the project is so short and the combination of music/lyrics/vocals so smooth, there is an addictive element inGravity and it should be rather difficult not to put the EP on replay. Repeatedly. This is what I have been doing while typing this little write-up and I will probably continue to do so for a little while, to make my evening/night sweet as chocolate-dripped strawberries (or anything else you fancy). As you probably understood from those previous lines, if you are a soul music lover, I highly recommend you give Gravity a listen and support Diggs Duke and his music. You will thank me later.
- Carminelitta, http://www.carminelitta.com
I listened to the first track of this and loved it instantly. A muted yet jazzy, drum n bass roller with neo-soul elements splashed all over it, 'Something In My Soul' is a real winner. It keeps the head nodding at a keen pace all the while touching something in the soul. The next track, 'Holding On', was destined to be good in my books; I haven't heard a single song yet entitled 'Hold(ing) On' which doesn't sound so good to my ears, all the while giving me the strength to do as the title says. I was, of course, not disappointed. It's much more fun and funky than the first and equally, if not more unique with fresh, real, live sounding percussion. The sax in all the tracks is glorious to hear, none more so than in 'The Cure'. Despite all the tracks being under 2 minutes, bar the last, it's still a great listen. The title track, 'Black Gold', is a real B-Boy's track with hard breaks cut up to perfection. The synthesis of the electronic with the live instrumentation is near-perfect.
- Ajay Sharma, goodhairmusic.blogspot.com
If you, like me, have some sort of coursework/revision/slave labour to concern yourself with around this time of year – the right kind of music can often put you in the right frame of mind and make the work less labourious. With that in mind, I’m going to be compiling a little series of posts featuring music that gets me in the mood for mind-numbing reading.
If you’ve heard of Diggs Duke, then you should already know what to expect. His Gravity EP was released a few months back to critical acclaim, despite being very short, and ended up on many ‘End of Year’ lists – with a jazzy voice and an ambient, atmospheric sound being prevalent throughout the tape. You can get your hands on this heavy EP for only 99 cents (convert that into GBP if you’re that much of a Scrooge).
His recently released Black Gold EP (produced in collaboration withBamaLoveSoul) is also not the longest in the world (at all), but the soulful and sultry sounds emanating from the Maine resident will definitely have you putting it on repeat. My personal favourites so for me include ‘Something In My Soul’ and the title track ‘Black Gold’.
To enjoy Black Gold in it’s entirety, head to the bandcamp page (click the cover artwork above) and name your price. The first 1200 people get a free download, no complaints here.
- Ori, psamag.com
Depuis l’industrualisation à outrance du R&B dans les années 2000, ce genre a perdu les lettres de noblesse qu’il lui restait, c’est naturellement que beacoup comme les membres de la RedacTeam de ce blog se sont réfugiés dans la Soul dans sa forme la plusclassique ou dans sa forme plus contemporaine dite nu-soul ou alors plus vintage telle que l’envisionne Raphael Saddiq. C’est dans la première mouvance que Diggs Duke se situe, vocaliste talentueux et instrumentaliste multi-instruments il livre son premier opus dopé à la Soul Music chimiquement pure infusé de Jazz et de Blues. Nous vous proposons de découvrir deux extraits qui sauront vous convaincre d’en découvrir plus.
- Audrey L., groovemusiconly.com (France)
C’est que très rarement que le RnB sonne aussi juste et aussi simplement qu’ici. Tout simplement déroutant.
- moosetache.over-blog.fr (France)
2012年産の作品第一弾として今回は、メーン州をベースに活動をするコンポーザー / シンガーソングライターにして、ドラム / ベース / サックス / トランペット / ギターをこなすマルチ・インストゥルメンタリスト 『Diggs Duke』 の 『Black Gold』 をピックアップ。
前EP "Gravity"に続き2012年1月1日にリリースされた本盤を覆う大まかなテイストはネオソウルなのだけれども、冒頭で押し出すジャズから、ソウル / ファンクへのラブとクリエイティビティーが噴き出し加速する様が、音楽に対し貪欲なまでの姿勢を見せ呑み込み昇華させていった往年のソウル / ファンク・アーティストの情熱を思い起こさせる(#05-"The Solo")や、ジャジーなベースとホーンのレイヤーを被せながら、ドラムパターンはエレクトロ系のアーティストを彷彿させるパターンを配しブラジリアンなバックヴォーカルを敷き詰めたNu-Soulタッチなトラックを体言する(#04-"Black Gold"), ラテンのビートを下地にジャズ、ソウル、ファンクのエッセンスを丁寧に重ねていく、そのクールでこ洒落たソウル・ジャズに酔う(#01-"Something in my Soul"), Stevie WonderやEarth Wind And Fireといったソウル/ファンク・フリークのみならず多くのリスナーを魅了したアーティストのような普遍さと聴き手の身と心をほぐしていくハッピーなヴァイブが充填された(#02-"Holding On")や、アットホームなジャズの暖かさとヒップホップ / R&Bのビートを組んだドラムパターンを配した(#03-"the Cure")の2曲のようなネオソウル色が濃い目のトラックを収めた決して「ネオソウル」というわけではなく、どのトラックからも伝わってくるソウル / ファンク / ジャズへのオマージュ。その懐古にしがみ付くことのないセンス。かと言って自己陶酔で完結してしまう難解さもなく、人柄を思わせるウォームなサウンドを愛嬌のあるソウルフルなヴォーカルでコーティングしていく姿は「音楽」を純粋に楽しんでいるように映り、音楽が好きだというシンプルな部分でDiggs Dukeとリンクして楽しめる好感触の良盤に仕上がっている。
- Kurofune Crew, http://kurofunelp.blog54.fc2.com (Japan)
As a music blogger, I do get my fare share of poop assaulting my inbox on a regular basis. I try to keep an open mind and give everything a decent listen. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day, but as a one-man-band, I appreciate that it’s hard to get your voice heard and I try to pay respect to those that have made the effort to send their music. Although, emails that start, ‘Fam’ tend to go to the back of the list (but we still do check them, family!).
A couple of tracks came through last week from a new artist (well, to these ears at least) called Diggs Duke that initially sounded a little rough around the edges, almost sketches of tracks. However, something definitely piqued my interest, particularly the cut, Last Night. And after a number of spins, I found myself hooked by his lo-fi, jazzified soul. Undoubtedly original, Diggs Duke’s sound is, however, clearly the product of a deep love affair with the soul and jazz of the past. It’d be too easy to state that Diggs Duke reminds me of Lewis Taylor, but if that’s shorthand for stating that he’s an interesting talent creating music with identity, integrity and individuality, then I suppose my lazy blogger comparisons are perhaps, for once, justified. He’s released two cuts for free download via Soundcloud, the top track for SoulCuts being the aforementioned Last Night (Check the vid below). Pop over and download, you know it makes sense.
- Cut, SoulCuts.org (UK)
A long night out at the club deserves an equally long cool down, and there’s no better soundtrack for a candlelit afterhours session than the latest two offerings from blues crooner Diggs Duke.
Admittedly, Duke‘s musical offerings aren’t like anything we’ve ever posted on the site before as chilled out soul doesn’t very often fit in with bass heavy dubstep or arpeggio laden electro. Diggs Duke makes great music though, and whether it’s dance oriented or not, it’s music that needs to be heard.
Two original, soul-filled songs await your ears. Listen. Download. Share with your friends. And above all else, sit back, relax and let the music take you away!
Na początku grudnia poznaliśmy twórczość Diggs Duke’a za sprawą debiutanckiej EP-ki „Gravity”. Już wtedy było wiadomo, że artysta pracuje nad kolejnym materiałem. Oto i on. „Black Gold” podobnie jak poprzednia EP-ka, ukazuje muzyka jako artystę w pełni świadomego swojego talentu, kształtującego i kreślącego swój własny świat muzyki, zawarty w każdym brzmieniu, każdej nucie znajdującej się na wydawnictwie. Charakterystyczny, kojący głos Diggs’a w towarzystwie żywych instrumentów, szczególnie saksofonu, napawa uczuciem błogości, spokoju oraz relaksu czyli wszystkim tym, czego oczekujemy po muzyce spod znaku soulu. Niesamowicie dobra rzecz, na szalenie wysokim poziomie. Szczerze polecam!
- Brown Sugar, SoulBowl.pl (Poland)
Du R&B en apesanteur. Nice.
- http://www.surlmag.fr (France)
When Diggs Duke released his Gravity EP (listen) we were so excited that we wanted to make sure we worked with him to bring you some more dope content. Black Goldis his next release both figuratively and literally! This EP, although considerably short, showcases an evolution in Duke’s sound, while revealing a range of influences to his sound which bursts with texture, range and diversity! Go HERE to listen to the latest work from one of the most unique, talented artists to enter the game.
- DJ Rahdu, BamaLoveSoul.com
While most of us were chugging champagne from the bottle this New Year's Eve (don't even try to act like it was just me), our Bounce-Worthy brother Diggs Duke decided to start off 2012 by releasing some new music for us to enjoy. Teaming up with our friends over at BamaLoveSoul, Diggs gives us his lastest EP, Black Gold. It picks up where his last EP Gravity left off, expanding on his fusion of jazz and soul with ease and multi-layered grooves sure to make your ears oh-so happy. If there was one gripe that I had about this collection, it's that the songs are a bit on the short side (I often found myself really getting into a groove only to have it end way too soon). Maybe we can convince Diggs bless us with some extended tracks one of these days. Still, you really can't get much better than what he delivers here. Check out the beautiful "Something in My Soul" and "Holding On" below and head over to his Bandcamp page, where you can download Black Gold now. Make sure you hurry, though, because only the first 1200 to download will be able to get the set on a pay-what-you-like basis (which, of course, includes free).
- D-Money, SoulBounce.com
Musician-singer-songwriter Diggs Duke is a one man band. He plays bass, sax, guitar, keys, drums, trumpet and sings lead and background on all of his tracks! Maestro Duke’s music is original, refined and radio-ready. Abandoning the 3 minute industry standard, each of Diggs’ tracks “do what it do” in its own style and time frame. His lyrics are smart, poetic and concise. He dovetails melodies and vocals to corner a mood, capture a familiar feeling and express his experience and opinions. His newly released EP, Black Gold is aptly named because each song is solid gold and like the colors black and gold, the mix of songs is striking and complementary.
Diggs’ beats and vocals leap from sensual and contemplative to funky, frothy and frenzied-often times within one song. His voice is smooth, dusky and has a commercial pop appeal. Nowhere is “Diggs Duke- Pop star of the future” more visible than on “Holding On.” Duke exploits the dichotomy between serious lyrics and a bubblegum beat by layering hot horns into the mix, thus expanding the catchy tune’s appeal to include the geriatric tribe. Despite his gift, Indiana’s native son does occasionally wander into “off-key” land. There’s an instance on “The Cure” where the vocals swan dive and the sophomoric lyrics crash, but Diggs Duke gets back on course with vibrato flourishes that splash musical notes from his soul right into your headphones. Diggs’s vocals also strain a bit on the title cut “Black and Gold” but he recovers by mesmerizing the tympanic membrane with lush horns and bombastic high-hatting. “The Solo” opens with a short but intense glitzy jazz horn blast that challenges one’s musical equilibrium, and then steadies itself with a blast of wah-wah pedal guitar porn. All of Duke’s songs are well-balanced, complicated and interesting but way too short. He tickles and tantalizes, only to wrap long before you are ready to stop listening.
Unpredictable, exciting and featuring wandering sax and enthusiastic guitar, Black Gold is an adventure in music. It offers a full range of soulful-funky-jazzy-pop ballads and head bobbers. More songs and longer tracks—please! Give Black Gold some love and consideration and hollah back. I enjoyed it and I’d love to hear what you think. This dude is deep, courageous and fine. Diggs Duke is a talented, unique artist and worth a listen. You’ll “dig” him too.
- GSpot, AmpedSounds.com
If you need to know about any indie artist this year, Diggs Duke is someone you must check out. This phenomenal musician writes, sings and produces his own music. He also plays numerous instruments including the drums, sax, and the trumpet. Duke has two LPs out currently along with a new video for the track, “Gravity”. Thankfully, he took the time out to chat with The Soulcial Circle about his new project, musical background and influences.
Diggs Duke is an artist with something to say, and he says it beautifully with his voice, chords, rhythm, and more. I'm certainly looking forward to more from this guy.
- Angie Adams, AudioLunch.Blogspot.com (UK)
Wow … It was LOVE at first listen when I heard Digss Duke’s Gravity. It was obvious that he needed to be kept an eye on. Usually keeping track is a hunch that often does not amount to anything … but with Diggs …it’s bulls eye!!
Bama Love Soul decided to start the new year with an EP containing possibly the shortest tracks released in 2012. Diggs Duke’s Black Gold EP might be kinda short but it is just that … black gold!!
Pleasantly surprised to see that the Duke was able to up the ante and move on from where “Gravity” left you behind. It’s another delightful musical journey taking you to the next level.
Needless to say that … as of now … I am a hardcore Diggs Duke fan.
Amazing what you can come across from a simple twitter follow.
I sometimes feel that good organic music is hard to find these days. And then artists such as Diggs Duke come along to make me reconsider. Drums, horns, and guitar mesh with Duke's soulful melodies to provide the listener with an experience not easily forgettable.