Jamil Rashad, better known as Boulevards, will release his new studio album Electric Cowboy: Born in Carolina Mud on 11 February 2022 via New West Records imprint Normaltown Records. The 12 tracks on the album were co-produced by Blake Rhein (Durand Jones & the Indications) and Colin Croom (Twin Peaks) and were recorded in Chicago, Nashville en Atlanta. The album also features Adrian Quesada of the Grammy-nominated neo-soul act Black Pumas, Nikki Lane and Macie Stewart. The new single Better Off Dead featuring Nikki Lane is out now.

"I was born in the North Carolina mud, that’s where I have my roots. I’ve lived in Los Angeles and New York, but I keep coming back here. This is home. This is where I’ve learned the most.” His fourth album, Electric Cowboy: Born in Carolina Mud, is caked in the soil where he grew up, mired in the muck of this place—not stuck but freed. “North Carolina doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves, but there are all these amazing people doing it a very particular way that is very inspiring. It’s always been at the center of so many different scenes—soul, country, jazz, hip-hop, indie rock. I wanted some of that dirt on this record. I’m leaving my footprint in that mud.” All of those styles and genres inform Electric Cowboy, but the dominant sound—the dominant mindset—is funk: gritty, warm, weird, charismatic. “On Electric Cowboy I wanted to make some modern funk that the kids would enjoy, but still have some soul elements and some punk elements,” he says, listing James Brown, Shuggie Otis, and Baby Huey among his heroes, but also Bad Brains, Gang of Four, Television and The Cramps.

Electric Cowboy: Born in Carolina Mud is an album full of demons. Rashad sings about some of the same troubles that shook his idols: drug abuse, racism, violence, systemic oppression, professional and romantic self-sabotage. Electric Cowboy doesn’t wallow in the darkness, but counters those tribulations with wild, electric grooves. “On the cover you see a black man on a horse running away from his demons. That’s me. You can hear it all in the songs – struggling with demons and still coming out on top of it all. That’s what funk is! You got some heavy, dark shit, but you also got some joyful compositions, funky basslines, dope harmonies, infectious hooks. So that’s me on the cover, the Electric Cowboy, slaying anything that comes in my path. I gotta keep riding, keep trucking, keep fighting, keep pushing.”

The new single Better Off Dead is an addiction saga featuring vocals by Rashad’s New West labelmate Nikki Lane. It’s an affecting duet, each bringing both a charisma and a world-weariness to their performances. “I wrote this song about coming off a week-long bender. The question I used to ask myself was what’s worse, the pain or the hangover? So many times after my binges, I would want to contemplate suicide and not be alive. During the following days after the pain I inflicted on myself, I would just want to leave earth and not go through it. The same goes for withdrawals from alcohol. I would have the worst migraines and the worst shakes from withdrawals. So I’d rather be ‘better off dead,’ than deal with all this pain.” Listen to Better Off Dead below.

Boulevards - "Better Off Dead (feat. Nikki Lane)" [Official Audio] - YouTube

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