Artist picture of Yussef Kamaal

Yussef Kamaal

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Artist's top tracks

Lowrider Yussef Kamaal 04:28
Black Focus Yussef Kamaal 04:34
Strings of Light Yussef Kamaal 08:28
Joint 17 Yussef Kamaal 08:19
Yo Chavez Yussef Kamaal 03:59
Remembrance Yussef Kamaal 09:00
Mansur's Message Yussef Kamaal 02:06
WingTai Drums Yussef Kamaal 01:16
O. G . Yussef Kamaal 00:46
Ayla Yussef Kamaal 00:46

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Black Focus
Strings of Light
Yo Chavez

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A short-lived, mellow jazz-funk duo from South London, Yussef Kamaal was formed by multi-instrumentalist/producer Kamaal Williams and drummer Yussef Dayes. Though their formal collaboration lasted less than two years, the pairing resulted in one acclaimed album and a handful of well-regarded performances, the reputations and style of which have followed the two in their subsequent projects.

Prior to Yussef Kamaal, Williams embarked on a recording career under the name Henry Wu, releasing house and breakbeat music, while Dayes was drumming for Afrobeat band United Vibrations. The two met as working musicians in the late 2000s and would periodically jam together, but nothing tangible emerged until 2016, when BBC Radio fixture Gilles Peterson invited them to perform at the Worldwide Awards, which led to a record deal with Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings. That November, Yussef Kamaal released Black Focus, a heavily-improvised album that touched on the pair’s myriad influences, from funk to jazz to electronic to hip-hop. The album was also a tremendously collaborative affair, featuring performances from a range of fellow South London jazz artists. 

Black Focus was met with significant praise upon release, and the band was dubbed Breakthrough Act of the Year at the 2017 Jazz FM Awards. Touring followed, but as the pair was preparing to head to the United States for a series of appearances based around the South by Southwest Festival, Dayes was barred from entering the country as part of newly-elected President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban. With the duo’s momentum slowed, the two went their separate ways, and Williams continued the direction of Black Focus with the 2018 solo album The Return, while Dayes teamed up with English jazz guitarist Tom Misch for the album What Kinda Music in 2020.