Jessica LipskyJul 5, 2022
It Ain't Retro
Daptone Records and the 21st-Century Soul Revolution
Soul is the most powerful expression of American music--a distinct combination of roots, migration, race, culture, and politics packaged together for your dancing pleasure. But if you thought the sounds of Motown or Stax Records died along with 8-tracks and macramé, you'd be wrong. For two decades, Daptone Records has churned out hard funk and such beautiful soul that these records sparked a musical revolution.
Run by a collective of soul-obsessed producers and musicians, the Brooklyn-based independent label launched the careers of artists such as Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, and Bruno Mars. Daptone's records--and those of the larger soul revival scene--pay homage but never lip service to the original artists, proving that soul is still culturally relevant, and just as exciting as ever.
It Ain't Retro: Daptone Records and the 21st-Century Soul Revolution (Jawbone, 2021) charts this revival's players, sounds, and tectonic shifts over the past twenty years, taking you from dingy clubs where soul crazed DJs packed the dancefloor, to just uptown where some of the genre's heaviest musicians jumpstarted the renaissance in a basement studio, and all the way to the White House. This definitive tale of Daptone Records' soulful revolution chronicles the label's history, players, and sounds while dissecting the scene's cultural underpinnings, which continue to reverberate in pop music. The book also contains rare and unseen images of Daptone artists past and present, including Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, Antibalas, The Sugarman 3, The Budos Band, and more.
Jessica Lipsky is a journalist and DJ from Brooklyn by way of the San Francisco Bay. She first encountered sweet soul music as a child by obsessively tuning her radio dial and has since extensively covered soul, funk, reggae, and alternative Latin music. Her work on the intersection of culture, music, and politics has appeared in NPR, Billboard, Grammy.com, Columbia Journalism Review, Vice, and LA Weekly.
Jessica Lipsky on Twitter.
Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
Bradley Morgan on Twitter.