Where I’m Meant To Be is Ezra Collective’s first new album since their self-released debut You Can’t Steal My Joy in 2019 and continues to pioneer a new sound that hails from Jazz, Afrobeat, Hip-Hop and UK Grime.
Where I’m Meant To Be is a thumping celebration of life, an affirming elevation in the Ezra Collective’s winding hybrid sound and refined collective character. At its core are themes of resilience and resistance. It’s the unique story of the Black British experience and the beauty and joy that people of the diaspora find as a product of their perseverance and community-building. The album speaks to the understanding that for so many life itself is fundamentally difficult, but to celebrate the spoils afforded to those that push through hardship and find the aspects of life - whether in community, in the arts, in cuisine - that bring us fulfillment.
The sound of Where I’m Meant To Be harnesses the energy of celebration after enduring hardship. With its album cover referencing Thelonious Monk's Underground, the songs marry cool confidence with bright energy. Full of call-and-response conversations between their ensemble parts, Where I’m Meant To Be is a natural product of years improvising together on-stage. The album, which also features guest artists Sampa The Great, Kojey Radical, Emile Sande and Nao, will light up sweaty dance floors and soundtrack summer dinners in equal measure.
The 14 tracks on Where I’m Meant To Be took 18 months to record. This gearshift, far from the mere hours and days spent on all previous releases, not only reflects the impact of lockdown life on artistic creation, it is buoyed by the patience gained from slowing down.
The group, consisting of Femi Koleoso (who also drums for Gorillaz) as drummer and bandleader, Joe Armon-Jones on keys, James Mollison on saxophone, Ife Ogunjobi on trumpet, and Koleoso’s younger brother TJ on bass guitar, originally came together in 2012 as teenagers at the youth band of Tomorrow’s Warriors, a music education initiative at the South Bank Centre in London. They have since shot forward to become architects of a new phase in their city’s musical journey, a hybrid time in which Black genres like jazz, grime, afrobeat and more, can dovetail and harmonize fluidly, at new, forever rising levels.