Jill Scott also played selections from Madlib, Art Blakey, and James Brown, as well as the Claudine soundtrack from her vinyl collection.
Our newest video series Needle 2 the Groove — where vinyl lovers and collectors across the world talk about some of their favorite records and why they bring them comfort — kicked off with Chuck D sharing some notable records from his collection that included everyone from Richard Pryor to Funkadelic. Now, Jill Scott serves as the second guest for Needle 2 the Groove.
Jilly from Philly remains one of the city’s most talented exports, the singer beginning as a spoken word artist before helping The Roots co-write one of their most popular songs of all time — “You Got Me.” But it would be her debut album Words and Sounds Vol. 1 that would introduce her to the mainstream, the album earning her Grammy nominations for Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards. Her legacy as a singer was celebrated and honored earlier this year as part of her Verzuz matchup against Erykah Badu, the pairing of the two neo-soul singers resulting in one of the most popular installments from the online series.
Scott continues to make music as well as act, appearing alongside the late Chadwick Boseman in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get on Up, and TV shows like Black Lightning and Black-Ish. She also recently kicked off her own podcast series J.ill, which made its premiere on November 18.
For her appearance on Needle 2 the Groove, Scott chose the following vinyl to highlight from her collection: Madlib’s Medicine Show No. 7: High Jazz, Gladys Knight & the Pips’ Claudine soundtrack, James Brown’s Live at the Apollo, Art Blakey’s A Night at Birdland, Minnie Riperton’s Love Lives Forever, and Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet.
Kicking off the discussion with High Jazz, Jill Scott described the album as having a “radical imagination,” before speaking favorably on the project’s musicianship.
“It washes away every thought I had and gives me something else,” she said. “Sometimes it’s silence, peace of mind. And then sometimes, it’s another thought — something that I wasn’t even remotely thinking about. But it’s giving me life.”
Following High Jazz, Scott went into the soundtrack for the 1974 film Claudine. Although all the songs for the soundtrack were written and produced by Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knights & the Pips serve as the album’s performers.
“The idea that all the musicians were in the room is just thrilling to me,” Scott said of the soundtrack.
Then came the first-ever live album James Brown ever did at the Apollo. Released in 1963, Live at the Apollo was recorded on October 24, 1962, and featured Brown’s vocal group, The Famous Flames.
“There’s so much intensity with everything that he says, and you know that band is so tight. Definitely felt like I was right in the room,” the singer said of the album.
Scott then chose another live album — Art Blakey’s A Night at Birdland. Recorded February 21, 1954, the album finds the legendary jazz drummer leading a quintet made up of Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver, and Curly Russell.
“It’s like he created water for everybody else to swim in,” Scott said of Blakey’s drumming. “It’s everywhere — genius.”
Minnie Riperton’s Love Lives Forever was her first posthumous album following her death in 1979. What’s notable about the album is that all of Riperton’s vocals were taken from earlier, original music tracks, while the backing tracks were completely redone. The album also featured an all-star roster of contributors including Roberta Flack, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Patrice Rushen.
“It’s the brutal honesty of it all,” Scott said of Riperton’s distinct vocal delivery. “She just didn’t fear any note not only because she could do it, but because she could express the intentions behind the note. That’s an artist; that’s a musician. She can truly play her instrument.”
Lastly, as an honorable mention, Scott highlighted Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet. Released on December 10, 2013, the album served as a turning point for Gambino, with Donald Glover pairing the project with a short film — Clapping for the Wrong Reasons — and a screenplay, foreshadowing his rise as one of the entertainment industry’s most talented multi-hyphenates.
Before ending the video, Scott also clarified whether she was singing about sugar or savory grits on her song “The Way,” and if you want to know the answer of which one she was referring to, you better watch until the very end.