Photo | Rafael Zajac

Kamaal Williams will release his second album, Wu Hen, on July 24 on his own Black Focus.

Wu Hen brings groove back to the forefront, oscillating between celestial jazz, funk, rap, and R&B, reinforced with the rugged beat-heavy attitude of grime, jungle, house, and garage—a fusion Kamaal describes as “Wu Funk.”

“This is a revolution of the mind,” Williams says. “A spiritual rebellion: to reach new heights requires separating ourselves from the material world and finding power in what’s intangible. That’s what music and art is for— whether it’s a primitive emotion or something deep, you feel it. And there’s a subliminal element that resonates throughout my work. If you’re painting, it’s what you’re feeling as you’re painting. And the person looking at that artwork or listening to that music, they can feel it too, because it’s sincere.”

The album’s title refers to the the nickname Williams’ grandma gave him as a child. The Taiwanese side of his family are originally from the Wu Dynasty, and the name Wu translates as “Gateway to Heaven.”

Sonically, we’re told that transcendental moments of sheer beauty combine with musical evocations of the rowdy energy found in (pre-lockdown) streets, with these contrasting tensions colliding and exploding in “beautiful, exciting ways.”

The record features Greg Paul, of Kalayst Collective, on drums, Rick Leon James on bass, Quinn Mason on saxophone, and guest harp from Alina Bzhezhinska. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, who has worked with Ray Charles, Flying Lotus, and Dr. Dre, contributes signature strings. There’s also guest features from cult rapper Mach-Hommy and rising R&B artist Lauren Faith.

Williams released The Return LP in 2018, following his work with drummer Yussef Dayes in 2016 as one half of the short-lived London-based jazz group Yussef Kamaal.


01. Street Dreams ft. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson
02. One More Time
03. 1989
04. Toulouse
05. Pigalle
06. Big Rick
07. Save Me ft. Mach-Hommy
08. Mr.Wu
09. Hold On ft. Lauren Faith
10. Early Prayer

Wu Hen LP is out on July 24 via Black Focus. Meanwhile, you can stream “One More Time” below and pre-order here.