Why you should care

Because if Dr. Dre’s calling them “the new crack,” who are we to question his diagnosis?

This past week, the multicultural, border-blurring group the New Royales released their first full-length effort as a band, Freedom’s for the Brave: The Mixtape. And if you haven’t heard their name before, you’ve almost certainly heard their music. So let’s get acquainted.

The New Royales are: DJ Khalil (a Grammy-winning hip-hop producer from Los Angeles), Chin Injeti (a Grammy- and Juno Award-winning “Alternative Urban” producer from Vancouver), Erik Alcock (a Britpop/rock-influenced multi-instrumentalist and singer from Toronto) and Liz Rodriques (a multi-genre-influenced singer/songwriter from Toronto). Formed in 2008, the group has worked with the likes of Pink, Eminem, Pitbull and Dr. Dre.

Their story began when Khalil and Injeti were brought together to work on a song for one of the Pussycat Dolls. The track never saw the light of day, but a fast friendship and creative partnership formed between the two producers. Meanwhile in Toronto, Injeti had already worked with both Alcock and Rodriques on various projects, including his own album. And what started as musical collaborations between the four metamorphosed into a band. The combination of Rodriques’s Portuguese heritage, Alcock’s love of English rock ‘n’ roll and Khalil and Injeti’s hip-hop/urban background made for perfect music symbiosis. The rest, as they say, was history.

Although their early days were mainly spent creating music for others, the next logical step was to focus on their own music.

Although their early days were mainly spent creating music for others, the next logical step was to focus on their own music. Dividing their sessions between Toronto and L.A., the group finally managed to complete their mixtape, Freedom’s for the Brave, and release the standout track “Drugs In My Pocket” online. The album, which consists strictly of covers — ranging from the White Stripes (“Fell in Love with a Girl”) to the Cure (“Friday I’m in Love”) to Antonio Carlos Jobim (“One Note Samba”) — demonstrates their musical diversity and versatility as a group.

According to Rolling Stone, the good Dr. Dre reportedly called them “the new crack,” while artists such as Eminem and Pink have simply come to expect their particular fusion of styles and sounds.

The result?

Two Grammy Awards (on Eminem’s Recovery and Lecrae’s Gravity) and an underground buzz that is getting louder with time. Fans can expect to hear more from the group in 2014: Their next album, featuring original songs, will be accompanied by a series of live dates, tentatively scheduled for spring.

Enjoy the eclectic and electric sounds of their debut project, which boldly breathes new life into classic songs like Jefferson Airplane’s much sampled “Today,” while putting an edgy and raw twist on more modern tracks such as “Fell in Love with a Girl” by the White Stripes. For a real trip, our money’s on the semi-obscure “Drugs in My Pocket” by The Monks.

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