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James Blake

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Biography

Producer/singer/songwriter James Blake became known for a unique style that wrapped aching, gently sung R&B vocals around the deep bass and minimal rhythmic elements of dubstep. He arrived in 2009 with a series of 12" singles and achieved both critical acclaim and worldwide fame following his self-titled 2011 album. His renown continued to rise over the next several years, and he collaborated with pop icons like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Bon Iver, in addition to consistently working on solo material. Born James Blake Litherland in London, England in 1988, Blake was raised in a musical family. He was classically trained in piano from a very young age and would focus on musical studies throughout his education. While still very young, he and his friends became fixated on electronic music, in particular the emerging dubstep sound that was beginning in London in the mid-2000s. He took inspiration from early U.K. dubstep artists like Burial, Distance, and Skream and merged it with influences from textural R&B innovators like D'Angelo while developing his first original tracks. Blake's R&B-sampling strain of dubstep first arrived in the form of his Air & Lack Thereof 12" on the Hemlock label in 2009. Blake received quite the endorsement when the heralded Soul Jazz label picked the track up for their Steppas' Delight 2 compilation that same year. Blake raised his profile every few months during 2010 -- something of a breakout year for him -- with a succession of warmly received 12" releases: The Bells Sketch (Hessle Audio, March), CMYK (R&S, June), Klavierwerke (R&S, October), and the single-sided Limit to Your Love (Atlas, November). The last of the series -- a cover of a song by Feist in which Blake's heartfelt vocal was placed front and center -- served as a precursor to his first full-length, issued the following February. Titled James Blake, it made a major impression, and was eventually nominated for a Mercury Prize but lost to PJ Harvey's Let England Shake. Blake returned to Hemlock for the Order 12", then reverted to Atlas for Enough Thunder, a six-track EP with a Bon Iver collaboration and a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You." Yet another 12", Love What Happened Here, was out by the end of 2011. Blake spent much of 2012 working on his second album, releasing new work under the name Harmonimix, and performing less often as the new songs percolated. In April 2013, second album Overgrown appeared, featuring collaborations with Brian Eno and RZA. It won that year's Mercury Prize, and Blake's songwriting was acknowledged when "Retrograde," one of the album's highlights, won an Ivor Novello Award in the category of Best Contemporary Song. Apart from an Airhead collaboration and an EP on his 1-800 Dinosaur label, little was heard from Blake for three years. He resurfaced in April 2016 with contributions to Beyoncé's Lemonade. A couple weeks later, The Colour in Anything, his third album, arrived with only a few hours' advance notice. Recorded in England and at Rick Rubin's studio in Malibu, California, it included input from Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. The album peaked within the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 and topped the U.S. Dance/Electronic chart. That year, Blake also contributed to Frank Ocean's Endless, Vince Staples' Prima Donna, and Travis Scott's Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. He continued into 2017 with appearances on Jay-Z's 4:44 and Mount Kimbie's Love What Survives, while also producing "Element" for Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. In 2018, Blake was active as a co-writer/performer of two songs on the soundtrack to the superhero blockbuster Black Panther: he contributed to the single "King's Dead" alongside Kendrick Lamar, Future, and Jay Rock, and to "Bloody Waters," also co-written by Lamar. "King's Dead" would go on to win 2019's Grammy for Best Rap Performance, Blake's first Grammy win after multiple nominations over the years. Several singles arrived throughout 2018, beginning in January with "If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead," followed by "Don't Miss It" in May. Throughout the year, Blake's production and vocals appeared on new albums by experimental electronic artist Oneohtrix Point Never and mainstream rapper Travis Scott. By year's end he announced his fourth album, Assume Form. It was released in January of 2019 and included guest spots from Metro Boomin', Andre 3000, and Travis Scott. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Retrograde
  3.   Limit to Your Love
  4.   CMYK
  5.   The Wilhelm Scream
  6.   I Need a Forest Fire
  7.   A Case of You
  8.   Unluck
  9.   If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead
  10.   My Willing Heart
  11.   Can't Believe the Way We Flow
  12.   Digital Lion
  13.   Where's the Catch? by Andre 3000
  14.   Into the Red
  15.   Take a Fall for Me
  16.   Lindisfarne, Pt. 1
  17.   I Never Learnt to Share
  18.   Overgrown
  19.   Life Round Here
  20.   Fall Creek Boys Choir
  21.   Mile High featuring Metro Boomin
  22.   Power On
  23.   Air & Lack Thereof by Untold
  24.   I'll Come Too
  25.   Barefoot in the Park by Rosalía
  26.   Why Don't You Call Me
  27.   Tell Them featuring Metro Boomin
  28.   Radio Silence
  29.   Pan
  30.   Order
  31.   Lock In the Lion by Airhead
  32.   Buzzard & Kestrel
  33.   Are You in Love?
  34.   Don't Miss It
  35.   Soberty
  36.   Take a Walk with Me..
  37.   Vincent
  38.   Two Men Down
  39.   The Colour in Anything
  40.   Noise Above Our Heads
  41.   Choose Me
  42.   I Hope My Life
  43.   Timeless
  44.   Our Love Comes Back
  45.   To the Last
  46.   DLM
  47.   I Am Sold
  48.   At Birth
  49.   Love What Happened Here
  50.   Not Long Now
  51.   Postpone
  52.   The Bells Sketch
  53.   Sparing the Horse
  54.   Enough Thunder
  55.   Give a Man a Rod
  56.   Assume Form
  57.   Meet You in the Maze
  58.   Always
  59.   Put That Away and Talk to Me
  60.   Lindisfarne, Pt. 2
  61.   Footnotes
  62.   I'll Stay
  63.   Voyeur
  64.   Roller Coaster
  65.   To Care (Like You)
  66.   Sensei or Samurai
  67.   Curbside
  68.   Give Me My Month
  69.   Mulholland
  70.   Lullaby for My Insomniac
  71.   California 101
  72.   Waves Know Shores
  73.   F.o.r.e.v.e.r.
  74.   Love Me in Whatever Way
  75.   Points
  76.   Measurements
  77.   I Mind
  78.   Modern Soul
  79.   Once We All Agree
  80.   We Might Feel Unsound
  81.   Pembroke by Airhead
  82.   Timeless
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