Midnight Voices

Midnight Voices – an up and coming black alternative / hip hop band, who brilliantly combine their ethics as social activists with their vision as musicians. Joining the likes of En Vogue, Too Short and Rappin’ 4-Tay, Midnight Voices were nominated two times for best urban contemporary album at the Bay Area music awards (the Bammies). In addition to being awarded for their sound, the band is also recognized for their commitment to being positive role models.
The band’s story goes back to middle school, when Will Power (William Wylie) and Mystic (Mohammed Bilal, who you might recognize from MTV’s The Real World) hooked up for the first time in their neighborhood, a predominantly working class African American parcel of San Francisco called the Fillmore. The neighborhood was alive with Afro centric activity — both studied music and culture at an early age and had strong parental role models who taught them about Malcolm X even before they entered grade school. Wylie talks about raiding his dad’s record collection for new sounds and sampling — “It’s phat, – I grew up listening to so many different kinds of music because of him. He turned me on to Prince when I was eleven years old. He had every Coltrane album. He had jazz and funk albums, rock and new wave albums, and really rare weird stuff too.”

MvprshotAfter honing their skills in high school and college, the duo entered the 90’s as Midnight Voices,and promptly stormed the Bay Area hip hop scene with a fresh sound, mixing their childhood influences with an unconquerable live show. Featuring a full band and using elements of theater — acting, and dancing — the Bilal / Wylie core tore through rhymes like a full force hip hop hurricane. Their show has since been critically lauded as “intellectually and spiritually uplifting” as well as a “full-on street theater tinged phunky experienze.”

Midnight Voices – an up and coming black alternative / hip hop band, who brilliantly combine their ethics as social activists with their vision as musicians. Joining the likes of En Vogue, Too Short and Rappin’ 4-Tay, Midnight Voices were nominated two times for best urban contemporary album at the Bay Area music awards (the Bammies). In addition to being awarded for their sound, the band is also recognized for their commitment to being positive role models.

The band’s story goes back to middle school, when Will Power (William Wylie) and Mystic (Mohammed Bilal, who you might recognize from MTV’s The Real World) hooked up for the first time in their neighborhood, a predominantly working class African American parcel of San Francisco called the Fillmore. The neighborhood was alive with Afro centric activity — both studied music and culture at an early age and had strong parental role models who taught them about Malcolm X even before they entered grade school. Wylie talks about raiding his dad’s record collection for new sounds and sampling — “It’s phat, – I grew up listening to so many different kinds of music because of him. He turned me on to Prince when I was eleven years old. He had every Coltrane album. He had jazz and funk albums, rock and new wave albums, and really rare weird stuff too.”

momainAfter honing their skills in high school and college, the duo entered the 90’s as Midnight Voices,and promptly stormed the Bay Area hip hop scene with a fresh sound, mixing their childhood influences with an unconquerable live show. Featuring a full band and using elements of theater — acting, and dancing — the Bilal / Wylie core tore through rhymes like a full force hip hop hurricane. Their show has since been critically lauded as “intellectually and spiritually uplifting” as well as a “full-on street theater tinged phunky experienze.”

The collective group built on this reputation with the release of Dreams Keep Blowing My Mind, their 1991 debut disc on Monster Music (available through Red Giant). Dreams’ funk/jazz/dance/ world beat/rock tinged hip hop garnered the band a BAMMIE (Bay Area Music Award) nomination for Best Urban / Contemporary Album, where they competed against artists such as En Vogue and Too Short. The SF Weekly, the highly regarded San Francisco alternative paper, also served up honors with a 1992 WAMMIE award for Best Hip Hop/Rap band. The disc’s theme encompassed the everyday challenges African Americans faced in dealing with the outside world at the dawn of a new decade.

With their second release, Late Nite At The Upper Room (also available through Red Giant), the Voices continued their quest to explore Hip Hop’s outer regions. While Late Nite featured a more traditional hip hop approach, the MV’s still experimented with jazz, African beats, far east rhythms and funk. This time the Voices focused inward to their home turf in the Fillmore, where they still live. It’s a deeply personal work, with tracks that both celebrate the neighborhoods rich heritage and lament its recent gentrification. The disc’s centerpiece and first single, “Runaway,” hits the home and heart. It recounts the tale of a good Fillmore father who falls prey to local drug dealers, and the effect his eventual death has on his son and family. It’s Will’s story — his dad passed away in May of 1994.
Now with the group expanded to include some of the best young musicians and producers in the Bay Area, Midnight Voices celebrates the release of their third and most powerful album to date, “Howling At The Moon.” This album breaks new ground by working the live band deep into an edgier, more modern production. Drawing from elements of Drum N’ Bass, Jazz, Blues and raw Hip Hop, Howling’ offers not only tight dance tracks, but a combination of soul and the creative spirit, giving you something painfully rare in the mainstream these days – art.

The Voices personal experiences — the pain, the passion, the violence, weakness and strength — remain the backbone of their unique sound. Wylie further cements the groups philosophy: “People are beautiful complex beings. One person told me that human beings are half god, half beast. There are times when there’s music in you or you’re making love and it’s just….god! Then there are times when humans are just so evil and lost….. all of us are a combination of that. That’s what this life is about — a battle, to try and work those two out.” The Voices are fighting that battle through some of today’s most righteous Hip Hop. The San Francisco Bay Guardian tagged it best by simply stating they are the “overseers of the new realm.”

Listen to some clips from the new CD
CD’s available here