Overcoming preconceived notions can be a real challenge, especially for an artist like Zaakir Muhammad. Known by many as Soup of famed underground Hip-Hop collective, Jurassic 5, the West Coast artist has worked painstakingly these past few years to move beyond his past and showcase a new sound to the world. And he’s doing exactly that as Fullee Love, while embodying the spirit and soul of the ‘70s and ‘80s with a fresh sound, unique voice, and important point of view on his sophomore album, Free, White & 21.
“In order to make this move to a new sound, I needed an unused vehicle, and Fullee Love is a name I’ve known for years,” he says. “It’s cool, humorous, and shapeless at this point. It has freedom written all over it and that’s what’s needed.”
That freedom can be felt throughout the album’s 17 tracks that follow the theme of being “Free, White & 21,” a saying that was popularized by Hollywood in the 1940s. At that time, white women (mostly) used the phrase to announce their independence, which Love is doing on here in multiple ways. In addition to throwing a middle finger at white privilege, he is exploring a Funk-fueled sound that’s driven in part by the project’s sole producer, Nicholas Eaholtz (a/k/a Nick Green of The Internet).
As you’ll hear throughout the record, they’re quite the musical duo and share a knack for strong hooks and melodies. The two singles, “Deney Terrio” and “Nile Rodgers (Get On Down),” drive this point home beautifully while paying homage to an era they love so deeply (Terrio being the host of Dance Fever, and Rodgers being a Funk legend). There’s also a touch of Prince on instant standout “ShunGot,” some addictive flavor on “Again,” and real heart on closing ballad “Dream Big.”
When Love was crafting the album, he admits to being apprehensive because he was worried about how fans and new listeners would react. “But then I was like ‘I don’t give a frog’s fat ass, I’ma do what I want and how I want,’” he says, adding that Nick was on the same page. And really, what more could you want from an artist, especially when his vision sounds this damn good?
Free, White & 21 is due out July 27 on all major digital retailers and streaming platforms via Muhammad’s own Nalja Music imprint.