Marsha (songstress) & Natalie (floacist), aka Floetry, are soul mates. Contrary to the popular making-of-the-band phenomenon surrounding pop and trickling down into R&B with Mr. Manufactured himself, P. Diddy. The London-bred duo is a union of musical fate and Floetic is their brainchild.
The basketball court provided their first encounter and pegged them as rivals instead of partners. It wasn’t until years later that the poet and songstress would put down the rock and pick up the mic to make history. What else would you call having Michael Jackson perform their song (virtually the same exact way it appeared on the demo) “Butterflies” on his comeback album? They did, however maintain their link to basketball through their manager J. Erving, Julius Erving’s son.
Since the days on the court, the two have found a place in the massive, yet crowded musical space. Their sound is poetic narrative fused with a melodic vocal stream that confirms and celebrates the complexity and simplicity of what soul was, is and will be.
Floetry blew quickly around the London performance circuit, and the two found themselves wanting a piece of the American pie. Serious, they packed up and moved to Philadelphia to bask in the artistic sun that shines through the glass ceiling and touches the underground. Philly native Eve forewarned us, “How many times I gotta tell you, silly / Don’t no corny shit come outta Philly”.
The move proved to be monumental. The self-proclaimed neo-soul mecca acts as headquarters to the Soulquarians and more importantly, A Touch of Jazz Productions. Mr. Jeffrey Townes, or as we love to call him, Jazzy Jeff, has kept himself quietly busy providing musical inspiration to serious artists. His production squad includes Andre Harris, Vidal Davis, Ivan Barias, Darren Henson, and Keith Pelzer. Together they have provided the groundwork for artists Jill Scott, Darius Rucker, Kenny Lattimore, and Musiq to individually build their own masterpieces. The result was no different with Floetry; the talented staple was able to precisely interpret the group’s musical embodiment.
In Philly, Floetry began pumping their sound out into the streets, leading to work with Glenn Lewis (they penned four songs off his debut), Bilal and Cherokee while Faith Evans and Brandy anticipate their turn to be blessed.
The real triumph, even beyond Jackson’s rendition, is their debut, Floetic. The album’s fusion succeeds across genres never stumbling, spawning perpetual dopeness. It isn’t a monotonic effort; both shine, individually, together and as brilliant songwriters who write life. Natalie’s spoken word seems effortless and Marsha has an ear for sophisticated voice melodies. As clichéd as it sounds, the album has something for everyone from the hip-hop lover to the love song fanatic, with a majority of the album being mellowed out.
The first single, “Floetic”, is a “Hi, we’re Floetry and this is what we do”, jingle introducing their flavor and versatility. On “Say Yes”, Marsha exhales passion that drips from the hook and swirls around the arrangement. “Opera” reveals Natalie’s talent as a raptress (makes you revert to thoughts of Monie Love briefly), exerting a smart flow, reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, sharp and defined. “Headache” is the musical epitome of that pounding pain spurred by relationship confusion that rhythmically bangs against your cerebrum. Definitely a universal feeling.
Floetic could quite frankly be one of the best eclectic soul albums released this year. It’s one of those rare debuts that satisfies from start to finish, with a brilliant execution that makes you ask the unenlightened, “Yo you haven’t heard the word about that Floetry shit?”
One thing is for sure, soul is as discriminatory as rhythm. Just like the awkward cousin who can’t do the electric slide on beat, you either have it or you don’t.
And these two women definitely have it.