Do you have enough funk in your life?
Shawn Lee defines worldly. He is one of the most talented musicians in the game right now and he doesn’t get nearly enough credit. In the last decade, Shawn Lee has released something like 35 full-length projects. Movie trailers, Rockstar video game soundtracks, you name it. He has done two collaborative projects with the elusive Clutchy Hopkins. Shawn Lee contains just enough funk to blow up your house. As far as output, he’s like funk’s version of Madlib. Soul’s version of E-40.
But don’t get it twisted, Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra is a one-man band. Much like Madlib’s Yesterday’s New Quintet, Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra allows him to hunker down in a studio and create all of the grooves and pitter patter shakes floating around in his brilliant head. Like Adrian Younge, Shawn Lee can play every instrument put in front of him. He makes every song personal, like he knows the exact song you need to walk down whichever street it is you’re walking down. Like he knows your middle name. He has enough albums a year with enough international influences that this one-man show sounds like all of Earth’s 195 countries coming together for a peace festival. Dude is from Witchita, Kansas. What the fuck have you done today?
Miles of Styles, one of my favorite albums by him, came out five years ago, and he hasn’t halted. He has soul albums. He has Indian bongos. He has features on really, really strong albums like Blundetto’s offensively overlooked Bad Bad Things. Miles of Styles, if you couldn’t tell from the artwork, covers numerous countries. It’s a movie. It’s an instrumental poem. In order to get from the 1970′s-inspired flute-heavy “Tokyo Dancer” to the hips of the “Brazilian Bubble”, one must first take the “Mystery Train.”
Lee takes us from India to Nigeria. From Czech Republic to France. Italy, Finland, Greece, the U.S. coast and back again. “San Diego, California, I wanna goooooooo.”
“Dinosaur Island” sounds like a dream gone wrong: a haunting chase scene backdropped by metal guitar riffs and a thumping that never ends. It is a song that takes us off the globe and into a fiction location created from Lee’s imagination. If you say “Shawn Lee” really quickly, it sounds like “Chun-Li.” Yes, I’m rambling that hard right now, but no one ever has even been mad over a little Street Fighter funk.
Producers everywhere take note. Shawn Lee is the man. Ubiquity Records holds it down in every way and Shawn Lee is their hottest client. Listen to his infinite number of projects in your iTunes or Spotify or whatever the hell you use (R.I.P. AudioGalaxy) and get to crackin’. Your work will get done faster and your toe-tappin’ will most-assuredly increase.
If this isn’t enough to satisfy your funk palette, there are eleven more Ping Pong Orchestra projects. There are over a dozen solo albums. Grab Facsinating Fingers with Lee and Clutchy Hopkins. Dive into soul with Soul in the Hole. Enter the world of a 2,000-year-old Chinese harp that sounds like a kung-fu film with Into the Wind. Wake up on the beach with AM and Lee’s Celestial Electric. See the world with Miles of Styles.