The house of Bilal_lowres

 

Bilal Oliver has, over a 20-year career, been inked to Interscope Records, issued four innovative and acclaimed R&B LPs and worked with a wide swath of A-plus-list collaborators (J Dilla, Dr. Dre, Common, The Roots, Kendrick Lamar). So why isn't he more of a household name? The answer begins with the one album he didn't release: Love for Sale, the would've-been a follow-up to 2001 debut 1st Born Second, whose sharp left turn went unfollowed and then disavowed by the risk-averse suits at Interscope. (This soon would become known as the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot treatment.) Risk-perverse rebel that he his, Bilal doubled down against the short bet that Love For Sale was unmarketable, further abandoning the "neo-soul" branding on two subsequent experiments, 2010's Airtight's Revenge (a deftly executed middle-finger salute) and 2013's A Love Surreal, each of which dug deeper into his knotty roots as a jazz freestyler — albeit one blessed with a cocoa vocal delivery and frontman elan. Bilal seems more interested in staying interesting, aligning creatively with boundaries-blurring avant-guards Thundercat, Terrace Martin and Kendrick Lamar, whose epochal 2015 juggernaut To Pimp a Butterfly brought them all together in an overwhelming convergence of political, social, emotional and artistic metamorphosis. Following three months after that windfall, Bilal's most recent release, In Another Life (eOne), got somewhat swallowed up in the wake, but it's his oddest and most confident statement yet, buoyed and bent by composer/producer Adrian Younge into strange new shapes resembling, at different times, Stevie Wonder, Prince, John Legend, Chet Baker, Eartha Kitt and Sade. How's that for a household of names?

Tickets $18. At 8 p.m. Sunday, May 13. House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., (504) 310-4999; www.houseofblues.com/neworleans.