RK Dawkins, The Journey

by Nolan DeBuke

RK Dawkins album is entitled Journey, a kaleidoscope of sounds, rhythms and grooves that are sure to soothe your soul and excite the music lover in you.  So, who is RK Dawkins?  RK Dawkins grew up in Saginaw, Michigan listening to the likes of Ronnie Laws, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Earth Wind and Fire, Grover Washington, Jr.   He learned how to play guitar while in college, and by the time he graduated he had begun composing songs and laying tracks in Bernard Terry’s studio in Flint, Michigan. After graduating from law school in 1985, his newfound passion for recording resulted in RK building his own studio.  His background as a rhythm guitarist, evolved into a full-fledged producer of various genres, even writing and producing radio and TV commercials from the late ‘80s to 2006.   Working in varied artists such as rappers MC Breed, Awesome Dre and Dangerous D, artist/producer Kenny Finnel (Bobby Brown, Shaq,) blues artist Larry McCray, and drummer Steve McCray, as well as producers Gary Spaniola (Ready for the World, Insane Clown Posse) and MC Burton III (Real Husbands of Hollywood), Dawkins walked away from the music business in 2006. He moved to Atlanta to concentrate on a law career, as his sole focus.  Retiring from the practice of law in 2016, the music bug hit him again and he designed and built a new recording studio. Spurred by 10 years of pent-up creativity, he immediately began work on Journey.

The album begins with “Strut,” and let me tell you, strut is does. A relaxed groove with swirling keyboards and backbeat that won’t quit.  Dawkins is the instrumentalist with plenty to say; he is the sole musician on Journey; layering each part, instrument and building each track from scratch.  One pitfall that can happen when the ideas only come from one mind is the potential for repetitive ideas, not so on Journey; Dawkins serves up delicious ideas.  A fine example of this is “The Jungle (Box of Tricks), African rhythms, deep bass grooves, electronic vibraphone sounds keep the tune flowing, nicely flavored with a pan flute element to add a nice texture to the track.

“Smokin,” is another standout track, a perfect song to put on after a long day at the office, relaxing vibes, cool grooves and an energetic sound, truth be told I cooked a meal to while listening to it.  Dawkins tunes are each uniquely different, though the project is cohesively rooted in a groove-oriented funk sound, it’s very reminiscent of the great music of the 70s and 80s.  Programming never sounded so good. You find yourself forgetting you are listening to one man running the show. Truly, this is soundtrack quality music.  Are you listening out there, TV and Movie music procurement types?  This is your go to man.

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