Over 40 years after Jimi Hendrix's tragic death in 1970, twins and regular Hendrix collaborators Tunde Ra and TaharQa Aleem (AKA the Ghetto Fighters) are promoting a new musical project that promises to bring all new tracks featuring the legendary guitar player to light after decades locked away in a vault.
I was recently given the opportunity of an interview with the Aleem Brothers about the release of Mojo Man, the first track in their planned Urban Street Tales project and stories like theirs certainly make you think about the wealth of undiscovered material that might still be hidden out there, hoarded away from the world by fearful estates or rights owners or, more often, simply sat unrecognised or unacknowledged until a new generation of fans are inspired to start seeking their own interpretation of our musical greats.
For the Aleems it's clear that this collaboration has taken on an almost spiritual dimension over the years, and they see the project as almost akin to 'time travelling' with themselves cast as the pilgrims arriving in the "future with presents from the past."
Hendrix was always more than the music, "a true visual experience" according to TaharQa, and one of the most obvious nods to the future has to be the choice of visual collaboration that the brothers have opted for on for their promotional video for Mojo Man.
Jake Hughes is a motion comics animator, and wasn't even born when the Aleems and Hendrix first sat down to start work on what would become Urban Street Tales. Hughes is currently best known as the artist tasked with taking the packed panels of Watchmen the equally as legendary comics writer Alan Moore and translating them into a 'motion comic' for Warner Bros and linked to the release of Hollywood's adaptation by Zack Synder, director of 300 and the forthcoming Superman: Man of Steel.
An animated promotional video might not sound so original on its own, but when you factor in how the visual representations of Jimi are based on a number of his own cartoon self portraits you start to understand how the Aleems have attempted to recreate their friend and colleague as a form of virtual avatar for the 21st century, still alive within the music.
"Jimi's guitar playing inspired animation in our minds," explains TaharQa. "We literally witnessed life, colour and movement emanating from his music... Jimi created sounds from his guitar that caused a tonal induced pyschedelic vortex to open. This vortex exposed us to ethereal world never witnessed prior to Hendrix revealing it... Mojo Man is our artistic interpretation of that mystical experience with Jimi Hendrix."
At this point I couldn't help think of how another comics genius, Grant Morrison, guest starred a divine Godhead version of John Lennon in his seminal graphic novel series The Invisibles. There certainly seems to be a lot of truth in that idea of how our rock and movie stars can gain a certain degree of pop cultural immortality far beyond the heights reached during their own careers.
What I hope is that the Aleem's own musical contribution won't be lost beneath the excitement surrounding the discovery of new and unheard material from one of the 20th century's guitar greats.
Tunde Ra and TaharQa are an essential part of the story of Jimi Hendrix, having previously played on classic works like Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes, and this latest projects shows not only how influential a figure Hendrix remains to this day, but also his willingness and passion for seeking out like-minded artists to create and collaborate with.
As the brothers conclude, "The Ghetto Fighters project was Jimi's insightful way of helping us to grow as artists and producers. Through Ghetto Fighters, Hendrix forced us to use him as a tool for creating, whereas on his product, we acted as tools for his expression.
The first track of the urban street tales project, Mojo Man, was released on the anniversary of Hendrix's birthday, 27 November, and is available from the iTunes store now.
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