Michael Olatuja | Speak [Obliqsound]British/Nigerian bassist Michael Olatuja debuts his vision as producer, composer, arranger and performer on Speak on July 28 on Backdrop, ObliqSound’s sublabel focusing on modern electronic and groove-based music. Olatuja, 28, began crafting the music that would become Speak as long ago as 2003. From there, the music took shape organically as the pieces fell into place, Olatuja calling upon a large cast of musicians to assist him in realizing the self-produced project, including several singers who alternate on lead vocals: Eska Mtungwazi, Andrew Roachford, Terri Walker, Michael’s wife Alicia Olatuja and the late neo-soul artist Lynden David Hall. The ten songs on Speak find Olatuja stepping out of his role as sideman with artists like Lisa Stansfield, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and Terence Blanchard, among others, and finally presenting his personal vision as producer and composer.
With musical influences and guests from around the world, the album touches on each spot Olatuja has hit around the globe, including his childhood in London and Lagos, Nigeria, and his professional years in London and New York. Speak is clearly the album Olatuja has been working toward his entire career and points to a strong future. Themes of hope, encouragement, inspiration and positivity emerge from strong instrumental tracks and vocals in English and Yoruba. “The language of music is one that we all speak,” Olatuja explains. “It unites diverse cultures.”