ArtOfficial thrives on originality. It’s the quiet thrum that runs beneath every track and performance like a current, igniting and electrifying their sound. They tread their own path, eschewing the simple magic of beat machines and samples for the irreplaceable warmth of organic instrumentation, and a meticulous care for crafting music with soul.
Formed from the remnants of two very different bands in Miami in 2007, ArtOfficial’s one-of-a-kind sound is as inherently ingrained in the group’s core as a trait buried in genetic code. Since their inception, they’ve been compared to groups like Soulive and The Roots, but theirs is a different brew–a seamless marriage of unyielding, unapologetic urban poetry with an unflinching array of jazz melodies that results in some of the most uniquely crafted and sincere hip-hop you’re likely to find–not just in Miami–anywhere.
The six-piece band dropped their indie debut, the Stranger EP, in 2007, and followed it in 2008 with a well-received sophomore effort in Fist Fights & Foot Races, which was released on Goon Trax records in Japan. They made the album available in the U.S. in December of 2010, but by then their fans had already been clamoring for more ArtOfficial. So earlier that year, AO answered the call, giving away their mixtape The Payback online. Both The Payback and Fist Fights were widely shared on the Internet.
You’d expect nothing less from a band who has shared the stage with the likes of KRS-One, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, N.E.R.D, Pharoahe Monch and many others. They won the Florida Grammy Showcase and been named Best Band by alternative weekly, and sister paper to the Village Voice, Miami New Times. And from one-offs and stops around the country, this hard-gigging group continues touring tirelessly, sharing stages and crowds with some of the biggest names in the music business.
2011 witnessed the birth of their latest musical creation, Vitamins & Minerals. And on their latest record, they continue to break the mold. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; they’re doing exactly what they’ve always done. It’s just that what they’ve always done was so unique to begin with. And they’ve only gotten better each and every step of the way. Perhaps it’s because they are a band that relies on perfect balance. Or maybe it’s their unwavering quest for perfection, so intense, it borders on OCD. Either way, the result is apparent from beginning to end.
Take the album’s lead single “Migraine”, for example. Both vintage AO, and cutting-edge, it blends vertigo-inducing lyrical mastery and a hook that rattles in your head like a loose screw, with hauntingly jazzy instrumentals. But it represents much more than just an instant classic for this unique band. In an ongoing effort to push the envelope, they sought new collaborators. So they brought them in. They wanted to record with a 15-piece string orchestra, so they organized one. They wanted to record a marching band, so they assembled it. And by virtue of that attitude, where everything is possible and limits are nonexistent, they achieved their most solid effort yet.
It’s a badge of honor for a band so road-tested, to be held in such high regard for their shows. But it is also well deserved, as anyone who’s witnessed the focused frenzy that is ArtOfficial’s live performances can attest. From flawless musicianship to remarkable pacing, to an ease dictating the ebb and flow of the crowd that’s downright uncanny, ArtOfficial has it all. And there’s no question the possibilities are limitless.
Miami-based ArtOfficial are a hip-hop ensemble with jazz and funk influences featuring vocalists Newsense and Logics, Ralfy Valencia on bass, Keith Cooper on the saxophone, Armando Lopez on Drums, Jason Mathews on keyboards & Eric Escanes on guitar.