OSUNLADE spinning as part of SHifting Gears with Dee Jay Nav and Jason Palma at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West), Saturday (June 30), 10 pm. $15. 416-703-4862. Rating: NNNNN
Hardcore West African beats have been creeping into deep house tracks for a while now, but New York producer and Ife priest Osunlade is determined to turn Afro-house into something deeper and more universal than the trendy, exotic dance-floor sound of the moment.
His entrancing beatdowns like Rader Du, featuring the captivating voice of Wunmi, have already caused a ruckus in more progressive house venues around the globe, while his forthcoming Paradigm (Soul Jazz) album threatens to infiltrate and seduce the rest of the deep house orthodoxy bored with the predictable thump.
It might be a stretch to imagine transfixed Electric Circus dancers chanting along to one of Osunlade's pounding praise songs like Cantos A Ochin Et Oya, but if Desi Arnaz could sneak Babalu onto 50s network television, anything's possible.
And Osunlade knows what it takes to crack the mainstream. Before he did production work for Eric Benet, Lauryn Hill and India.Arie, he recorded music for Sesame Street. That was right after his first successful studio job -- Gerardo's Rico Suave.
"Technology has almost completely taken over mainstream music, to the point where pop music is more electronic now than ever before.
"I get calls from popular soul artists all the time who say, I've just been to a house club, and it was so great to hear real music for a change -- I've got to have some live strings on my next record!' Heh, heh... it's interesting.
"A lot of house producers are doing great things with live instruments, and that's what's going to take this music to the next level. People still need and want to feel that human touch."