The Freshest R&B You've Never Heard
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the sum is greater than its parts this time.
By Nat Roe and Libby Coleman
Two Berklee College of Music grads walk into a bar … of course they’re there to play music. AOE, or Ambassadors of Earth, is the multiplication of two talents: producer Dawaun Parker, formerly mentored by Dr. Dre, and singer Phil Beaudreau.
The sound that results is dynamic, sometimes soothing, other times knocking harder. It’s always catchy, with Beaudreau’s clean vocals and snappy hooks and Parker’s high production value. Their latest, an EP titled Homecoming, brings soulful singing and exciting song arcs — each track builds slowly to big moments that don’t come cheaply. Case in point, the track “Never Know Me,” which explodes some two minutes in and then again, three and a half minutes in.
Though the two men attended Berklee at the same time, they didn’t work side by side or even know each other until a handful of years after graduation. They met at a party in Los Angeles, when Dawaun was finishing up Eminem’s album Relapse and thinking about his next move, and Phil was fronting a rock band, though he’d studied R&B in school. A connection was struck.
They booked a studio date and Parker played a beat that had been running through his head. Beaudreau quickly wrote a hook and sang it. “It was like, you know, what’s in my head,” Beaudreau says. Today, their bromance nearly reaches Obama -Biden limits, full of fist bumps, affirmations and compliments.
The name Ambassadors of Earth is perhaps a nod to their sometimes alien sound and their purportedly pure values (a desire to live, and to create art, conscientiously). But Beaudreau says that at times AOE is reconceived: “When we’re hungry, it’s All or Everything.” When they need a reminder, it becomes Art Over Entertainment.
Video by Nat Roe. Text by Libby Coleman