Jamma-Dee, “Perceptions”
By John Morrison · August 29, 2023 Merch for this release:
2 x Vinyl LP

Perceptions is the debut full-length from Los Angeles producer/DJ Jamma-Dee. With its stylistic head nods to R&B, UK street soul, jazz-funk, house, and beyond, the album weaves decades of music into something uniquely contemporary. Despite this keen ear for selecting the right synth patch or chord progression to evoke the feeling of late ‘80s Chicago house or L.A.’s rich funk and R&B sound of the early ‘80s, these songs are not slavish imitations of old records. By referencing and updating the sound design and arrangement styles of the past, Jamma-Dee crafts a sound that is tasteful and fresh.

Packed with features from the likes of Mndsgn, Swarvy, Koreatown Oddity, and guitarist Craig T. Cooper (who’s collaborated with Bob Dylan, Anita Baker, and more), each song on Perceptions feels like a snapshot of a specific moment in time updated with a contemporary perspective. The album opens with “Up and Down,” a slow, syrupy tune, awash in dreamy, lunar keyboard chords (a spiritual nod of sorts to Al B. Sure!’s 1988 classic “Nite and Day”) and pitched-down drums. “Jamma’s Jam” rolls the dial back to the mid-’70s with its warm electric bass and keyboard chords; add in a perfect vibraphone solo, and you get something akin to The Mizell brothers scoring a NASA space launch. With its early ‘90s R&B-style bounce and swooning vocal harmonies,  “Every Morning” (feat. Sarah Jewel) is arguably the biggest standout. Jewel’s tone is crystal clear, her delivery effortless; were it released 30 years ago, the track would’ve fit perfectly next to classics by Xscape, SWV, or any of the other groups that ruled Black radio station playlists at that moment. 

Pulling production cues and energy from everywhere and damn near everywhen, Jamma-Dee’s Perceptions is a colorful montage of influences. It takes a sophisticated ear to replicate so many sonic details with accuracy, but to do it in a way that doesn’t feel clinical requires taste—and that’s exactly what he’s done here, from start to finish. 

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