Shawn Lee’s understood it all. The evolutive game of music business has never been about competition, but rather about talent and exposure. And marketing helps a lot when you lack the former. But when artists like him add over-productivity and near-genius talent to a basic understanding of the realities of record selling, their label and/or manager can happily ride on (small) roads of money-making. Mr Lee never askedhis label (Ubiquity Records) for an advance on record sales, instead, he’s been delivering 2-3 albums a year, while giving Ubiquity full liberty to find commercial uses for his music (in movies, TV, ads, videogames, etc.).
Restraining himself to thematic albums (without lacking artistic vision), he soon delivered a few CDs of breaks to sample from (the “Ape Breaks” series) and 3 CDs of supa-cool library-style music! Of course the label managed to get heavy hitters to use some samples, placed some music on adverts and movies… and the albums were at the same time incredibly good!
Leaving his “Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra” one-man army moniker, he released a pop-soul album on BBE (“Soul Visa”) and soon returned to Ubiquity for 3 new no less than unmissable albums this year!! The first one, “Voices & Choices”, was an incredible burner of funk and soul vignettes. The new one, released this october and aptely titled “Hits The Hits”, is an addictive collection of covers of recent hit singles. From the uptempo dancefloor jazz of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” to the dub smoker of Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood”, Shawn Lee just lines new hit versions of new new hit classics. Many are ingenuous instrumental arrangements, but this is not just a compilation. The selection flows easily in the CD player (the iPod, etc.) like a well-paced album. Even though this is the poppier side of Shawn Lee’s various incarnations of orchestral funk, you’ll be forever glad to have this in your record collection (and DJ bag!).
I’ll now be waiting eagerly for his Christmas album to be released next month: if Shawn Lee’s coming to town, I surely won’t miss that!! (to be featured on our annual xmas mix on ParisDJs.com hopefully… )