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Sly Johnson

Sly Johnson is an all-around vocalist -- he sings, beatboxes, and raps -- and a songwriter and producer. He came up in Saïan Supa Crew, and since the 2007 breakup of that French rap collective, his career has steadily diversified. His full-length discography alone includes a duo album with jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz, a full-length project under his hip-hop production alias TAGi & Steven Beatberg, and four solo LPs ranging from 2010's 74 to 2022's 55.4, all within the realm of progressive R&B deeply rooted in classic soul. Johnson was known first as Sly the Mic Buddah, a member of Saïan Supa Crew. The group's eclectic sound -- incorporating styles such as old-school hip-hop, zouk, dancehall, and salsa -- indicated that Johnson's work outside the group could go in virtually any direction. SSC split after three studio albums and a live set, and within a year, Johnson teamed with Erik Truffaz for 2008's Paris, released on Blue Note in France. Johnson supplied much of the album's low end -- beatboxing the basslines, sometimes resembling a bass clarinet -- and also sang on a handful of the songs. Signed to Universal Music France, Johnson worked closely with producer Jay Newland (Norah Jones, Charlie Haden) and released his first proper solo album, 74, in 2010. He next recorded The Mic Buddah for the Heavenly Sweetness label. Despite its title, it was a move forward in every respect, displaying Johnson's facility with slightly warped slow jams, vintage-sounding ballads, and modern funk workouts alike. After a set issued in 2017 under his production alias TAGi & Steven Beatberg (featuring collaborations with Georgia Anne Muldrow and Rapper Big Pooh), Johnson followed The Mic Buddah with Silvère, a predominantly boisterous affair that also contained some atmospheric ballads. That album was issued in 2019 on Just Looking Productions. Johnson changed labels yet again for 55.4, released on Peter Adarkwah's BBE label. Titled after the number of days it took to make (55) and its place in Johnson's catalog (as his fourth solo album), 55.4 was recorded during COVID-19 lockdowns from March into May 2020, with Johnson producing the material, backed by a core band with a featured appearance from singer Jona Oak. The richly funky album was issued in 2022.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Discography

13 album(s) • Sorted by Bestseller

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