If you can only listen to one track today, let it be ‘Black Empress’ featuring violinist Mazz Swift (Whitney Houston, Valerie June) and Paris-based hip-hop legend/wordsmith/rap pioneer Mike Ladd (“king of the hip-hop concept” – The Guardian).
But should you have time to listen to the full album, we recommend the ‘Sacred Places’ album from NYC-based rock-punk-funk fusion outfit Dope Sagittarius. Their 12″ vinyl is released via their own imprint Buddhabug Records. This collection presents a rich tapestry of funky grooves, thoughtful synths and rocking vocals, featuring contributions by such achieved artists as Ronny Drayton, Corey Glover, Mike Ladd, Marc Cary, Roy Radics, Mazz Swift and Micah Gaugh.
If this weren’t a unique enough approach to an album release, the record also comes with a copy of the comic book ‘Dope Sagittarius In the Bumbaclout Strain’, which was written by Luqman Brown with artwork by Tim Smith III. We love the overall multi-faceted ultra-care package that Brown and company have made of this album. Music investors will not be sorry for picking this one up for their collection.
“Tim has worked on many Marvel titles such as ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Ms Marvel’. He also did a series called ‘Black’, where the only people in the world who had super powers were black. My comic is the first chapter, introducing you to three tuskegee airmen (Captain M.C. Whisler (that’s myself), Sargeant Bambam (that’s William Ramsey Jones) and Leftenant Spanish (that’s Ernesto D’ Amaso). They have been chosen by the great Bam Beyonder to fly a B-29 bomber plane through the multiverse to stop the evil D Incredible from destroying all life with mediocre music,” says Luqman Brown.
Dope Sagittarius is the brainchild of Harlem-based Luqman Brown, whose mother is a folk-singer-turned-teacher and father a well-known playwright. The independent spirit of art in his blood got amped up early upon seeing Funkadelic at the Apollo. By high school, he had joined his third band — punk-funk outfit FunkFace, who first opened for 24-7 Spyz and soon Fishbone, slowly rising to prominence through hundreds of shows and three studio releases.
Earlier, Dope Sagittarius revealed alt pop jazz single ‘Define Love’. In their music, Dope Sagittarius present an eclectic mix of avant-garde pop-rock and funk with an occasional dip into reggae and street, their unique sound influenced by Bobby Womack, George Clinton, David Lee Roth, The Bad Brains, Fishbone and Ronny Drayton.
While ‘Sacred Places’ was slated to release in 2017, Luqman suffered a stroke. Everything screeched to a halt as he learned to speak and walk again, followed by heart surgery in 2019. After continual recovery, he’s back with this album, as if he’s never missed a beat.
“Being able to properly put this record out into the world means that I didn’t give up in the face of death. This album was supposed to be released in 2017, but I had a stroke as a result of severe complications with my heart. In 2019, I underwent heart surgery to place an LVAD in my heart to keep it pumping. The result of these health complications left me weak and without the breath to perform,” says Luqman Brown.
“At the time, I thought that myself and this album would never make it out into the world—as proud as I am of it. Nevertheless, I slowly came back and now the world will get to hear what it’s like living in NYC everyday—hard times, staying alive, and taking the time to have a good brunch along the way.”
As of May 14, the ‘Sacred Places’ LP is out on vinyl and available on Apple Music and Spotify. It can also be ordered via Bandcamp or from Buddhabug Records.
Performed by Dope Sagittarius
Written by Luqman Brown and Brian Gosher
Produced by Brian Gosher
Recorded in Harlem, New York and North Brunswick, New Jersey, except ‘LaRonda’
Mixing and Mastering by Brian Gosher.