Black Bottom Collective
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Black Bottom Collective

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The best kept secret in music


"Review: Black Bottom Collective,"

By Mekeisha Madden Toby / The Detroit News

It's been fun watching the Detroit-grown Black Bottom Collective evolve over the years. Now, the soul, hip-hop, jazz and spoken-word group is back with its second contribution, "People Mover." Full of attitude and energy, "People Mover" moves BBC to the next level with impressive and moving cuts such as "Have You Any" and "Before Our Love Will Die," a touching tune about endless love. Instrumentally, the latter sounds like a song right out of the 1959 film classic "Black Orpheus" with the same lyrical heft as Stevie Wonder's "As." This album is full of love songs and while "Before Our Love Will Die" is the best and most beautiful, "When You Sleep" and "L-O-V-E" are fine head-bobbers that embrace everything from lust to agape. "Dogon Desert" is just a sweet, mostly instrumental jam that will have you rewinding constantly while "Gnat Booty" makes you shake your booty. There are a few gooey dough songs on the album such as "Stuck On Before," which oversimplifies drug dealing and alcoholism and "Where Were You," which comes across as too insular in its subject matter. No one is perfect. It's just nice to have BBC back performing live at Fifth Avenue on Thursdays. GRADE: B+ - The Detroit News

"Show Touches Souls, Elevates Band's Status"

May 15th crept up on Detroit like an old school jam. The well designed flyer in my hand said that doors opened at 8:00 p.m. I looked at the line forming as I stepped out into the frigid air half naked and grimaced. This shit had betta be hot because it was cold as hell and at 8:15 the doors still weren’t opened. Several all-star poets in the community circled around me as we buzzed about our excitement.

The conversation brought heat to frosty cheeks (and arms, and breasts, and hands) and I felt my heart race. The doors opened and we stepped into a vibe that promised a dope night and…hell naw, another line! It didn’t matter. I was warm. Anticipation sang harmonious rifts in the ears of each eager patron. When the hell were they gonna let us up? Line moves forward. Cute girls in view at the door as we ascend the steps. Twenty fat ones. CD copped. Sweet cover design. Enter into the soul-stirrin’ meeting with a spirit of expectation. We wanted to feel DEEP tonight.

The atmosphere bustled as more fans eagerly awaited Black Bottom Collective’s entrance. Voices hummed in mellow monotone to Anthony Hamilton’s Charlene playing in the background prepping us for the meeting to come. By 8:45 there were over 175 people in the room. Excellent. Shortly after, the lights dimmed and Monica Blaire (she’s dope as hell) graced the stage with Mike E (on his way to Africa to help heal the nations) to hit us with a fly opening complete with a freestyle and BBC trivia for prizes. Jamaal “Versiz” May rocked the mic with a super flow that had hands slapping the air in enthused syncopation.

Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Hispanics, Bi-racials, and Martians from another planet all vibed together in unison. It was clearly the illest display of music appreciation I’d ever witnessed. The usual suspects from the Detroit poetry community showed their love as well. Black Ink Collective, Third Eye Open, Get Christie Love, Legacy, Carmelita, Versiz, Khalid, Mike T, Epiphany and a host of others gathered to get instruction from the word slayer himself – Khary Kimani Turner. We desired to find heaven in Black Bottom Collective, God, and each other.

After making a grand entrance with his eclectic band (all of them looked incredibly well coordinated), the stage packed like a Stevie Wonder concert. The music absolutely kicked ass. From catchy head bobbers like Leave a Message (Hello. You’ve reached you know who. And we’re out who knows where. At the tone do you know what. And we’ll get back who knows when) and Gnat Booty (Soon as I step up in the party, BBC somebody. Soul-stirrin' meetin' always tight like...gnat booty! Gnat booty!), to thought-provoking urban awareness in Have You Any (This attitude goes on and on. Respect bounces off my man like his name was Teflon), to an interesting switch on pop culture in Interview with a Porn Star (Flat out, you like it. [Flat out, I like it.] You like it, fine. It’s your choice. [All mine. What I do with my time and my dime is my choice.] Look, I’m just asking the questions. [Well, I’m just using my voice.]), Black Bottom Collective not only broke the mold with this music, they have undoubtedly redefined the experience of music in its entirety.

Khary Kimani gave the audience his utmost appreciation for the fact that Detroit (and surrounding suburbs) showed so much love to the collective by paying twenty bucks for the show. He expressed the collective’s anxiety about what the turnout would be. He even hit us with the announcement that BBC was going to recommence their role as the house band on Thursday’s this summer – to which the audience thunderously applauded. After our zeal began to quiet, Black Bottom Collective took us back to church with stomps and claps. We rediscovered our Caribbean roots as the band cranked beautiful Calypso-styled music for us. The air was so contagious with energy that even cats who lacked rhythm found themselves moving metrically to the beats. Indeed, souls were stirred, filled, refreshed, and reconnected to the universal Oneness.

The set ended with a song that literally brought men (yes, I saw brothers crying) and women to tears. I even found myself soaking up several pieces of tissue. Since instructed me to work very hard to keep the story as short as possible (I mean come on now, how can I keep it short? It’s Black Bottom Collective for God’s sake…), I thought their conclusion to the show would be a fitting finale to this account of an incredibly well-mastered show. Black Bottom Collective, you are clearly walking in your divine calling. thanks you for the opportunity to allow us to experience a deeply spiritual, richly enlightening, and flat out holy performance. We submit to you the words of blessings that you bestowed on us from your anthem All Good Things as you take over the city of Detroit and world abroad with your soul replenishing music:

Don’t let the bastards grind you down, Baby.
What better way to win than to fight back, Baby?
All you gotta do is
Fear less
Hope more
Talk less
Say more
Hate less
Love more
All Good Things Are Yours.

©2005 LaShaun phoenix Moore
LaShaun phoenix Moore is an accomplished performance poet, published writer, and activist for at-risk youth. She is the newest staff addition to -

"Behind the Mic: Khary Kimani Turner"

The spirit of giving lingered in the air like apple blossoms when Ben Jones, Khary Kimani Turner and I walked out of the NCADD/IMPACT residential substance abuse treatment facility. The teenage boys and girls ranging from 14-17 had just been made privy to the secret we three emerging griots had known for years: Words speak life. Glazed off our performances and the philanthropy, I walked into the stale night air slowly enjoying a moment of reflection. Khary and Ben chattered like school boys in front me. Strong black monuments was the image that conjured in my head looking at the two of them. Khary, in his rich timber looked back playfully. “That was a peace night, eh Phoenix?” I smiled. Indeed it had been a pleasant evening. Sighing and presuming the night had come to an end, my thoughts were interrupted by a proposition that had me running to Khary’s modest SUV like a trained track star. “Wanna listen to a couple of songs off the new joint?”

The request felt like an even coat of corduroy brown lipstick across a full black mouth: Delicious.

Standard with any great (but humble) artist, Khary shared each ample sampling of his group’s new album People Mover with us by first giving a meaty disclaimer. It was completely unnecessary. I left his car overstuffed with soul, life, and spiritual victuals. At the time of the interview, the Black Bottom Collective were nearing their album release party at Fifth Avenue-Royal Oak, so I begged to allow me to relax in the company of one of the few brothers whose words literally saved my life. If you’ve never met him, enjoy him now. If you have then you already know.

Coach. Brother. Peer. Teacher. Friend. Raw Soul Warrior. Khary Kimani Turner.

THE INTERVIEW (prompt and early as hell on a Saturday morning):

LPM: How did the sales from Stay Low, Keep Movin’ pan out?

KKT: Honestly, the sales weren’t good. However, we only had a couple thousand in print. We weren’t experts in marketing CDs and eventually our live shows down at Fifth Avenue [Royal Oak] took precedent over the CDs. The live shows essentially became our bread and butter.

LPM: Your live shows are dope, by the way. My grandmother has your album and she and my grandfather told me that they wanted me to do work that could touch the life of the old and young alike. They are major fans. How do you feel about the live band experience, you guys have received quite a bit of acclaim?

KKT: Well, we’ve always known that we wanted to be the best live band in the city.

LPM: Do you think you’ve attained that status?
(Silent pause as the maestro considers his answer)

KKT: You know what? Yeah. I do think that we are the best band in this city. Sometime ago I had a chance to sit down with KRS-1. It wasn’t an interview. I met him and talked with him outside of journalism. We were discussing the key to longevity. KRS-1 told me “If it’s dope, tell them it’s dope…then give it to them”. I’ve been moving in that direction ever since. I’m humbled by all of our success, but reminded that we’ve put a lot of hard work into this collective.

LPM: What prompted the decision to do the second album People Mover?

KKT: Well, the second album was always a part of the plan. I am admittedly nervous about it. I wanted to give the listener a glimpse of what they would get at the live show. I can honestly say that we have recorded in People Mover a revolutionary project in three ways. One, we have raised the standard of how live music is used in hip-hop. Secondly, we have set a new standard of how poetry is set to music. Thirdly, we have set a new standard on how hip-hop, spoken word and rap are blended. The sound of this album is so complete it scares us. It’ll bring a lot of responsibility with it.

LPM: Dude, what I heard in the car already has me anxious to cop the album. I was so inspired by several of the joints on there. This is the kind of music the world has been waiting for!

KKT: Yeah, there is a buzz already. A cat I let get a copy of it told me that his album is already skipping in three places because he’s played it so much.

LPM: Hell naw! That’s hot, Doc. For real?

KKT: (sighing/smile in his voice) I know. Phoenix, if this album comes out and bombs, I won’t be disappointed. I know without a doubt that I poured out my heart and soul. I submitted to the creative process. I submitted to my band members. Its [the album] success is already there for me – before our release party. Although at the show, we are giving the people something brand new. We will be doing 90 minutes with no break and are expecting a crowd so large that we’ll have to turn around and do it again.

LPM: Excellent. My only concern, Doc, is that my grandparents are going to have a ticket before I will. Crazy, right? They looked at me when they found out that I was doing this interview and asked, “Where we get some of dem tickets?” Hot mess, Man (the maestro laughs heartily). Tell me a little about the beauty of making soul music with your soul mate. What is that like?

KKT: (smile in his voice/you can almost hear the blush) There are no words, Phoenix. No words. I wouldn’t be able to do this if my wife [Tunesia] and I weren’t best friends. We met through music as rivals at an audition. I saw her three weeks later at church. Music and God are our bases. We just celebrated seven years on May 2nd and I still have a crush on that woman (side bar, everybody…did you hear what this brother just said? He said he still has a CRUSH on his wife. That’s some DOPE SHYT!!! Okay, back to interview). We don’t put conditions on our love. Having a woman I can hang with, fight with, and work with makes this whole thing fun. When it comes to BBC [Black Bottom Collective] we are business partners. We don’t bring that home and the small moments when we do speak on it at home it’s done out of the desire to make sure that the band succeeds together. We are very family oriented in BBC. Family comes first. (Sighs) Anyway, I could go on and on about Tunesia. She is a phenomenal woman and I love her… (Voice trails off)


KKT: (laughing heartily) I can!

LPM: What is the vision for Black Bottom Collective?

KKT: It’s not even deep, Phoenix. It’s quite simple, actually. We want to share our music with as many people as possible and make good money doing it. We want to tour, meet interesting people, and have a few adventures. I mean…we just want to enjoy making and selling our music. Very simple.

LPM: What is your feeling about Detroit right now?

KKT: (exasperated sigh) Detroit is a depressed city. There’s like this cloud of collective depression lingering over the city. As it relates to People Mover, I believe that this is an appropriate time to put the album out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Detroit. We have so much pride and integrity in this city. I always tell cats to leave Detroit for two weeks and I’d bet they would come back with a level of pride in their city. No matter where we travel, we can always spot a “D-nigga”. The politicians sometimes make you want to leave, but I am happy that this is my home.

LPM: Your favorite Detroit artist right now?

KKT: Flat out, Fluent. He is an emcee, not a poet. The guy is a wordsmith. I’ve been anticipating this album for a few years and when it came out, I was happy. It is an honest album and a very personal record of the man’s life. That is how hip hop is supposed to speak to souls. It is supposed to grow with us. I listen to music now and it aggravates me sometimes because hip hop has this stunted growth. I don’t know if it is the responsibility of the artist or the industry, but hip hop has got to grow up. It is not the artist’s responsibility to be a politician. We should be delivering honest, real life lyrics to our listeners. Fluent was real on this album. I felt him completely.

LPM: The brotha’s album is indeed hot. It’s another one that my grandmother has. Like me, she is very impressed with what’s happening in the community. I find that lately I listen to more local talent than I do the radio. My spirit needs more, ya dig me? How are you feeling about the Detroit poetry community? I know you don’t get to come around as much because BBC is all over the map, but I know you’ve got your ear to the ground. What are your thoughts?

KKT: I am really thankful to the new school of poets. Everyone now seems more concerned with having a healthier, creative, and vibrant community.

LPM: I feel that. There used to be so much drama, but everyone is on this sorta peace vibe. I love it. I’ve been spending more time with poets outside of the community than I have inside of the venues. We eat together, play together, perform together…it’s really different these days. On a tangent, man wassup with some little Turners running around?

KKT: (laughing) You real funny. (Sighs thoughtfully) All in God’s time. I mean, we aren’t running from having children. I know it’s God though. We are so focused on BBC right now that this wouldn’t be an optimum time to bring a child into the picture. I’m concerned about children not being neglected and I want to be fair to my kids and to the band’s children. So, we’re not running. We’ll see. I think I would be a good father though.

LPM: I agree, man. You’ve done so much in terms of mentoring me and several other poets in the city. You were/are like a lifeline to us.

KKT: That never stops humbling me. I know what God gave me in terms of a vision for BBC, Phoenix. If I ran around here hollering about my personal contributions to the community and to the band, it would be disrespectful. I will never forget what poetry and this band does for me. It helps me to output to the rest of the community.

LPM: Khary, you are our superstar. Many poets look to you like you’ve already attained a level of success and acclaim that they desire. I would venture to say that you have opened incredible doors for poets in Detroit. You are who we aspire to be. We love you. We support you. We are making your dope ass show our field trip. It’s like we’re going to see our big brother put it down. Like a baby Jesus (he chuckles to that comparison). Do you have any final words or thoughts you want to share with your fans?

KKT: I could say a whole lot of deep sentiments. (Thoughtful pause) At the end of the day, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the support. Thank you for keeping our names in your mouths positively. I love you. That goes without saying. If you enjoy what you hear, get behind the project. Call the radio stations. Insist that they put us on. Finally, if Black Bottom Collective’s lot in life is not to blow up, we know because of you that we’ve made music that has changed lives.


The Collective (from their website): Turner, words and vocals; Tunesia Turner and Karen Bennett, vocals; Carl (DJ Invisible) Hollier, DJ (he also is a DJ for rapper Xzibit); Kamau Inaede, bass; Mark (Swami) Harper, keyboards and production; Edward Canaday, guitar and producer; Ivan (Groove) Prosper, drums.

LaShaun phoenix Moore is an accomplished performance poet, published writer, and activist for at-risk youth. -

"Khary Kimani Turner SPEAKS!"

BIG BANG POETRY, Son!: i saw you talking about EM on a VH1 documentary. I was proud to see that a member of the Mid West Poetry Scene was approached to give an intelligent point of view regarding a Hip Hop icon. Ironically, a lot of people don't see the cultural connections between Hip Hop and Spoken Word. People tend to think that Hip Hop heads and Poets don't get along. How does BBC bridge the Cultural divide...if any?

Khary Kimani Turner: I was on Ultimate Albums: The Marshall Mathers LP because I was the first journalist to cover him for a national magazine back in 1997. The producers wanted to talk to a writer with early history on him. It was a cool experience, and a natural conduit to what I do in poetry and hip-hop. In my opinion, the differences between poetry and hip-hop are merely mechanical. One uses music, the other doesn't. One requires more use of meter and rhythm, the other can be much more formless. But it's poetry across the board. Black Bottom bridges that because, in my opinion, few poets are also experienced songwriters. So, when you listen to a poetry album, it's usually a track with a poem on top of it, maybe a chorus added. We wanted the poetry, the hip-hop and song to be homogenous. Fortunately, I've been an emcee and singer longer than I've been a poet. So we're able to pull it off on a regular basis.

BBP: Do you enjoy writing to Music or do you prefer that the Band create music that enhances the Themes and Scenes you've created on Paper?

KKT: I don't play music, but I'm a very musical dude. So I do get involved in the songwriting process, but I try to do it without stepping on the toes of the musicians. It works out well, I defer to their expertise, but they recognize that I have very musical concepts to contributes. We've done songs three different ways. I may come with lyrics and a full musical concept, or the band might write a soundbed together. Or we may all just get in a room and bang out a song in a matter of hours.

BBP: Alot of Performance Poets struggle with the balancing act of Performance and Poetry. Where as, some poets sacrifice the aesthetic nuances of Poetry for the instant gratification from a bangin' Performance. Or Vice Versa. How do you handle it? Have you become more of a Performer now that you are on stage? Do you continue to write for "Self Love" or are you beginning to write more for the People?

KKT: That's an excellent question. Yes, I still write for "selflove" and God, foremost. Even with BBC's reputation, I mess up during performances where I hit the stage thinking selfishly. It's part non-preachy ministry, part performance. Ego screws up a lot of poetry, because it's a humble artform. Poor writing skills also screw it up. A poet who is not a good writer, in terms of mechanics, will not be a good performer. Picture an emcee who can't tell you about the history of hip-hop. Knowledgeable emcees will listen and hear subtle nuances that reveal the deficiency in that character. Poetry is the same. You don't just pick up some shit and write.

BBP: What can people expect from People Mover (I like the reference to Detroit’s Public Transit system, by the way.)? Where does your last Album leave Us and Where does PEOPLE MOVER take Us?

KKT: People Mover is a departure and a growth from Stay Low, Keep Movin'. We used drum programming on much of the last album. This one is a live joint. It's a better representation of the energy you get from our live show. The musicians killed it on this one, because there are no MPC's speaking for them. That, alone, is ill, because it's an actual live hip-hop album. It's a people's album, and it deals with issues that we all confront. Sexuality, alcoholism, love, hate. But the combination of lyrics and live music gives off that feel that you used to get when you listened to your parents old records. That fluidity, that vibe. But now, it's on a hip-hop record. When was the last time you heard a hip-hop record that was not just hot, but alive. That's how I feel when I go back and listen to it. It's alive.

BBP: Do you have any poems u'd like to leave with Us?

(a freestyle)
to unblazed trails and
lonely paths
unset sails
dormant math
lives with no clear use for laughs
this one is for you

to wingless birds
broken homes
unheard thinkers
unread tomes
awesome creations left to alone
this one is for you

people...move... -

"BBC's Sound Defies Categorization"

May 15, 2005

If we lived in a time when it wasn't necessary to squeeze a band or a singer or a rapper into a particular category, then the world would know about the incredibly eclectic Detroit band Black Bottom Collective.

Major label or not, and categorizable or not, the group makes the kind of music that will earn a permanent position in your CD changer. Its new album holds that truth steady with a potent mix of hip-hop, poetry, rock and jazz.

Together since 1999, BBC has built a sizable local following for its rocking live performances, particularly a longtime gig at Fifth Avenue Billiards, the home of tonight's CD release party.

This disc will make the group's fans smile broadly. The eight-piece has grown up since its last effort, "Stay Low Keep Moving," and that's evidenced by the production and lyrical quality and the way it works through a song. With a nice double entendre of a name -- "People Mover" -- the CD picks up where the debut left off with its funky, upbeat sound, poetic lyrics and strong instrumentation. This is still music for grown folks, and it takes listeners on a ride through loves, pains and questions, and in many ways gives us resolve.

If one day a Motown or a Def Jam does come with papers in triplicate, don't worry that the record label will make the band fit a certain mold. It won't. And fans will be happy all the same.

By Kelley L. Carter, Free Press music writer - Detroit Free Press


People Mover (2005);
first single, "L-O-V-E", is currently receiving airplay
Stay Low, Keep Movin' (2002)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Detroit band Black Bottom Collective boldly treads the musical arena in the spirit of artists who have bent the rules of music, only to create innovative avenues for fans to enjoy. Their sound mashes raw urban energy with the roots of rock. Their music is hip-hop. Spoken word. Soul. If you need a section of the record store to look for them, go to “Rap.” But be prepared for much more.

Black Bottom Collective’s live show is their signature. It’s so ferocious, energetic and revivalist that it’s been dubbed the “soul-stirrin’ meetin’.” Few fans ever settle for just one outing. They return for the band’s lyrical content. No, for their gospel-tinged power harmonies. Maybe the angry guitars, or the DJ, or the rhythm section. Maybe they’re so loyal because they’ve discovered a crew whose music helps them leave venues, or CDs players, feeling better than they did before arriving, or pressing play.

The eight-man band consists of emcee/poet/producer Khary Kimani Turner, also founder and leader; vocalists Tunesia “True” Turner and Karen “Kay Bosco” Bennett; Carl “DJ Invisible” Hollier, also DJ for rapper Xzibit; bassist Kamau Inaede, keyboardist/producer Mark “Swami” Harper; guitarist/producer Edward “Teduardo” Canaday and drummer Ivan “Groove” Prosper.

Christened in 1999, the name honors a Detroit neighborhood that thrived during the 1940s and 50s. As the band grew its membership – African-American, European American, Native American, male and female – began mirroring segments of the fabled enclave. This inclusiveness represents an unheralded part of Motown’s history, the part that quietly boasts more than 140 cultures within city limits.

Black Bottom Collective’s ethnicity influenced their sound as members contributed individual tastes to songs. Traces of The Roots, Bob Marley and Black Sabbath began to show up in their sets. No matter the makeup of the audience, or where the band played, crowds ate it up. Trails were blazed, and people followed. And not just in Detroit. After conducting a national search, Budweiser’s True Music Live organization declared them one of America’s best six unsigned bands in 2004. Their story and photo ran in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair that same year.

Their growing fan base supported their debut album, 2002’s Stay Low, Keep Movin’, which won Detroit Music Awards for Outstanding Funk/Hip Hop/Urban Recording in 2003, and for Outstanding Funk/Hip-Hop Group in 2004 and 2005. Three award-winning years, from one album.

Black Bottom Collective insists that it’s unnecessary to validate themselves by dropping the names of artists they’ve opened for or performed with. The truth is, however, their experiences span far and wide, and they’ve landed on stages with people worth mentioning. So…the names, anyway. Common. Mos Def. Talib Kweli. Angie Stone. Dwele. Stevie Wonder. Nnenna Freelon. Vinx. Jill Scott. KRS-One. Doug E. Fresh. Will Downing. Cee-Lo Green. Dianne Reeves. Joe Hunter of The Funk Brothers. Angelique Kidjo. Quincy Troupe.

Now for the next step, the release of a new album, People Mover. The project finds the band making life-altering music with groundbreaking arrangements to help usher listeners through life’s isms. Eyes and ears to the street, the crew recognizes ordinary people who struggle with everything from alcoholism, to love, to life in the ‘hood. The result is an album that speaks to all walks of life, streets to suites, hoods to havens. With People Mover, Black Bottom Collective triumphantly continues the trailblazing trend, and invites you to follow. Will you? Move, people. Move.

“Don’t be shy about your creation. If it’s dope, tell them it’s dope. And then, give it to them.”
- KRS-One to Khary Kimani Turner, Detroit, 2005