Bilal's Vengeance

Bilal's Vengeance
"It's been a long ass time," Bilal says with a pensive laugh. The Philly-born soul singer-songwriter has put behind any bad vibes over 2006's stillborn project Love for Sale ― a project leaked and subsequently shelved by his then-major label ― and moved on. Love for Sale canonically lives on though his impatient online fans, and Airtight's Revenge represents his first official album since 2001's 1st Born Second. He's kept busy touring and making guest appearances on other people's records, and sense of liberation being on an independent label (L.A.'s Plug Research) and having more career control is palpable. "It feels great," says Bilal. "I've been grinding for the last nine years and to actually have an album come this time instead of being bootlegged is cool."

Airtight's Revenge sheds the "neo-soul" tag his debut was saddled with. This is a musically adventurous project ― one that traditional R&B fans may find themselves lost in. "It's a genre-bending type of music," the classically trained musician explains. Bilal wrote and produced much of the album, and leans on 88 Keys, Nottz and Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra to flesh out the musical oeuvre. Tracks like "Little One," "The Dollar" and "Move On" largely colour within contemporary R&B lines, while the guitar-driven "All Matter," the distressed falsetto of "Cake & Eat It Too" and the electro-schism of "Levels" herald a level of musical line-stepping that estranges as much as it entrances.

"I'm kind of in my own world," he says. "[People] are in for some ruffled feathers, some intriguing sounds and some thought provoking material."