Classics: Quentin Harris feat. Monique Bingham – Poor People (Poor Vocal) (Symple Soul)
“Ain’t got no green. Can’t afford no dreams. And the only thing gettin’ cheaper is me it seems. Look out my window. Still the same. Same bunch of no count niggas being don’t count niggas. Nothin’ changed. What we talkin’ ‘bout we talking ‘bout. Poor People, talkin’ bout poor people. Poor People, talkin’ bout poor people…”
The message is clearer than clear. Remindin’ us as to how reputedly Dance Music isn’t only about gettin’ people to shake their arses on the floor. Here we most likely have the best of both worlds. In other words, the straight to the point and, in the meantime, so vibrant considerations of Monique Bingham regarding her surroundings. With the whole comin’ up over Quentin Harris‘ instantly recognizable arrangements and rhythmic approach. With both of them most definitely showin’ another facet of theirs out of this collaboration…
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– The first time I came to cross the path of Quentin Harris was at some Underground party in Miami, FL during the Winter Music Conference. I think it was Slaag Records doin’ it in association with some other label. The floor was packed and then, behind the decks, a DJ was litteraly magnetising the crowd with the music he was playing. Enough to tickle my curiosity and try to get to know more about him.
A native of Detroit, MI, Quentin Harris unsurprisingly first got into R&B and Hip-Hop. With this being for much in his obsession for the groove. Thus quoting luminaries like Prince, Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown as definitive references.
The unique gift he has as a DJ is something one definitely can find in the music he’s been producing or remixing. Meanwhile comin’ up with an instantly identifiable even though he’s never been into willin’ to establish a formula. And, by that, riskin’ to feel under the threat of being emprisoned.
The first traces we can find of him bring us back to 2003 and his seminal remix of Donnie‘s ‘Cloud 9’. Thus opening an impressive series of one of a kind reworks. From Sting‘s ‘Send Your Love’ to Lathun feat. India Arie‘s ‘When Love Came In’. Eventually boosting Patti LaBelle‘s ‘New Day’ and Alicia Key‘s ‘Diary’. If not Jill Scott‘s ‘Golden’ or Beyoncé‘s ‘Déja Vu’ among others. Meanwhile 2004 would see him delivering his first production. This while joinin’ forces with Cordell McClary on ‘Traveling’ for ‘Space Kat Records.
From then, Harris established his name among the most in-demand ones. Soon after strenghtening his position on ‘Always’, featuring Robert Owens. But also retouching ‘Spritual Life’ for Steal Vybe featuring Rich Medina. Then sharing the bill with Monique Bingham on the socially conscious ‘Poor People’ in 2006. Not to mention the delivery of his debut-album – ‘No Politics’ – on Japanese label Canyon International.
The following year seeing him jamming along with the one and only Margaret Grace on ‘My Joy’. Then reworking the vibrant ‘We Are Lonely’ for Studio Apartment in 2008 and going progressive along with Jennifer Hudson on the energetic ‘Spotlight’. This before sharing the bill with Ultra Naté on ‘Give It 2 U’ and releasing his second album by the likes of ‘Sac•ri•fice’ two years later.
More recently, he joined David Morales as a member of Def Mix. Eventually releasing the firing ‘Stronger’ featuring Jason Walker on the label. Meanwhile 2017 saw him makin’ his debut as Black Stereo Faith along with Ultra Naté with a self-titled album.
– Monique Bingham has delivered some of the most poignant soulful Jazz-infused House Music gems of the past 20 years…
Her career began with Acid Jazz band Abstract Truth in 1995 at François K‘s Axis studios. The first single, ‘Get Another Plan’, received international critical acclaim. Gilles Peterson eventually pickin’ it up for his UK imprint, Talkin’ Loud, the year after.
Its follow up, ‘We Had A Thing’, which she penned and performed, is another indisputable Soulful Jazz House classic. A gem that owes a lot to Matthias Heilbronn’s infectious remixing work.
Once injected into the veins of the underground, Ms. Bingham’s penchant for painstakingly crafted lyrics put her in a class by herself. In addition to her work with Abstract Truth she went on to solo performances with Blue Six. But also Sir Piers (cf. ‘American In Chelsea’), Studio Apartment and Liquid People.
She has also worked with some of the House scene’s most respected DJ’s/producers… Quentin Harris (cf. ‘Poor People’), Kerri Chandler, and Ralf GUM. Her writing skills brought her to the attention of Jellybean Benitez. The latter signing her to his NYC publishing house in 2008.
In 2009 and 2010 she released songs with Karizma and Osunlade. Then with Phil Asher and Bah Samba.
In 2011, Monique completed her first self-produced single, ‘You.Me.World’. A song which she released on her own record label, Bigga Sounds. That same year also saw her coming for the first time to South Africa. There she performed at the 12th annual Capetown International Jazz Festival. Sharing a bill with luminaries such as Wayne Shorter and Earth, Wind & Fire! Subsequent tours throughout S.A., Botswana and Lesotho have confirmed her as one the country’s most respected underground artists.
Her 2012 collaboration with Ralf GUM, ‘Take Me To My Love’, turned into a runaway hit worldwide. It garnered 500,000 plus YouTube hits as of this writing. She also happened to be the first ever non-South African artist to perform live for a television audience of over 10 million viewers. This was at the 12th annual Metro FM Awards in 2013 where her song, ‘Pride’. A performance which helped DJ Pepsi snag the award for House Album of the year.
In 2014, Monique came to collaborate with one of the world’s greatest living Jazz legends, “Bra” Hugh Masakela. She therefore penned ‘With Her Hand’ along with Ralf GUM for his sophomore album, ‘In My City’. A song about about the late human rights icon Nelson Mandela passing in the presence of Winnie Mandela. The latest single release with Ralf GUM, ‘The Pap’, received international critical acclaim too. And it reinforced her love of and contribution to South Africa’s explosive House Music scene.
Monique celerated her 2 decades in the recording industry back in 2015 with the release of ‘Best Of Last’. An antholgy featuring a host of classic and rare tracks as well as new music. From ‘Deep In The Bottom (Of Africa)’ with Black Coffee. To ‘Gets You Off’ with remix courtesy of Rocco. And also Chymamusique‘s reinterpretation of ‘Bloody Lucky’ to name a few.
Monique Bingham remains one of the most interesting and enduring artists the New York City underground has ever produced. “It’s weird. After 20 years of making music and being on the road, I almost feel like I’m just getting started. I have so much more to say and in some ways I’m more excited now than I was back in ’95. The future is wide open.” she says…