We recently checked out the new album from San Francisco Bay Area R&B/Soul collective THA BUILDING -OUTSIDE OURSELVES
In the tradition of a loose collective of gnat’s-ass tight musicians performing fine-crafted songs comes Tha Building. What differentiates this groove monster from its forefathers is that Tha Building is a self-contained band with its own body of booty-shaking songs, and it will break out of the studio to hit the stage. Tha Building was erected by primary songwriter, producer, executive producer, and multi-instrumentalist J. Brewster. Joining Brewster in his funk-soul quest was Bay Area ace guitarist/mixer/co-producer Cam Perridge who worked tirelessly alongside Brewster during the pandemic to procure remote tracks and set up safe in-person sessions. This community of 25-plus hand-selected musicians from the Bay Area and beyond feature the sharpest pro players with firm groundings in funk, hip-hop, and soul, including two Grammy-winning instrumentalists. The powerhouse band makes its entrance with the sleekly soulful debut, Outside Ourselves
My goal with Tha Building was to write songs with originality, depth and swag,” Brewster shares. “The title ‘Outside ourselves’ is really about the idea of looking outward in an era of a ‘Me’ culture with selfies, TikTok, etc. It’s social commentary on how to change course with what has gotten us to the place where we are right now.”
Brewster grew up in Berkeley and Oakland in the 1980’s and 1990’s, soaking the Bay Area’s vast contributions to funk, rock, soul and hip hop, and beyond. And some of these contemporary prime players are in Tha Building. Notable contributors and writers include Bay Area legend rapper Lyrics Born; Brewster’s childhood buddy and bassist Uriah Duffy (Alicia Keys, Whitesnake, Christina Aguilera); producer singer and songwriter Trance Thompson; Bay Area soul royalty Naté the Soulsanger; violinist Shaina Evoniuk (Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello, Leon Bridges, Roy Ayers); Grammy-winning instrumentalist saxophonist Tony Peebles (Fred Wesley, John Lee Hooker, Karl Denson); young badass drummer James “StickNasty” Small (Fantastic Negrito); and multi-instrumentalist Adam Theis (Bobby McFerrin, Roy Ayers, Jazz Mafia).
The main thing that stands out with OUTSIDE OURSELVES is the positive and uplifting message of togetherness and empowerment .
“We have a positivity-is-paramount attitude, and strive to balance celebrating and having fun with bringing awareness to issues with our emotionally-charged playing and writing,” Brewster says.
Outside Ourselves winds through an exhilarating mélange of indie-funk, new jack swing, hip-hop, social conscious jams, Motown and Stax vintage soul, R&B balladry, and pristine jazz-pop. It recalls a diverse platter of influences, including Vulfpeck, Jamiroquai, New Edition, Too $hort, Tupac, Motown, Stax, and Steely Dan. Though spanning genres and eras, the record makes a cohesive statement in the groove
The opening track “Ain’t Standing Down” Gets you in the groove from not one . Perfectly funky, you can’t help but want to dance . The orchestrated stream of incredible melodies and perfectly placed vocals makes this track the perfect opener . The production is lavished with horns, organ, chanking funk guitar, and a propulsive bassline. It feels like Earth, Wind & Fire 2022. This is a funk anthem of perseverance, and it brims with feel-good lyrics such as: I been talking to people, everyone I find myself/And nobody seems to have an answer/It’s got me shaking I keep making all these/Dumb rookie mistakes/But lord knows I ain’t standing down.
“Begin At The End( feat Omega Rae and Luqman Frank) is one of our favorite tracks on the record. It has the big beautiful horn sound that is simply breathtaking. The vocals are simply amazing we just couldn’t get enough of this heaven sent track .
Tha Building refreshingly explores a female’s perspective on the R&B ballad “No More Darkness.” This is a say-no-to-toxic-love slow-burn anthem, and it features a powerhouse vocal performance by Joyo Velarde. Other tunes like “TYBAH (Take Your Broke Ass Home) featuring Naté the Soulsanger” and Stop! offer sage social commentary. “TYBAH” is a driving funk-rock jam with a searing guitar solo and impassioned female vocals. “Stop!” fuses riffy funk with rugged hip-hop, and it’s a wake-up call with lyrics by singer Trance Thompson and rapper Dakini Star. Another album standout is the Motown-flavored ballad “Waiting,” sung by Rocky Ramirez which serves as a tearful goodbye to Tha Building’s talented friend and bandmate who went missing last year.
We thoroughly enjoyed this record . You can feel the love on every single track this is definitely a record that you have to check out.
You can listen to the album Outside Ourselves Here