The word “supergroup” has gotten thrown around loosely over the years, and sometimes the collected resumes don’t always add up to that distinction. But that is … very much not the case with Dinner Party. The new band is the project of Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, and 9th Wonder. These guys have spent their whole careers eliding the boundaries between jazz, soul, and rap, and that’s exactly the intent with Dinner Party — to blend their influences, anchor the music in hip-hop, but explore in other directions on top of it. They have a self-titled album ready, and it’s coming out in just a couple weeks.
The name Dinner Party is intended to convey the whole vibe of the project. A lot of these musicians go way back: Martin went to high school with Washington, and also met Glasper at jazz band camp in the mid-’90s. The genesis of the project came from when Martin was on tour with Glasper, and then they got together with Washington and 9th Wonder, working towards the album for a couple years before recording it in late 2019.
Along with the announcement, the group has shared a single called “Freeze Tag,” featuring the Chicago singer Phoelix (who Martin met while touring with Herbie Hancock). The title might sound playful once you hear the song — a warm, soulful summer groove with Phoelix singing an easygoing melody above it. But the track actually grapples with Black experiences with racism and police brutality. “They told me put my hands up behind my head/ I think you got the wrong one/ I’m sick and tired of running/ I been searching where the love went,” Phoelix sings in the first verse, before later adding: “They told me if I move they gon shoot me dead.” He sings the same melody over and over in a circle, the lyrics constantly echoing each other, as if to underline the cyclical and systemic nature of the plight addressed in the song.
“Freeze Tag” also comes with a video showing the group working on the song in the studio, filmed by Samantha Whitehead, Brendan Walter, and Jasper Graham. Check it out below.
Dinner Party is out 7/10 via Sounds Of Crenshaw/Empire. Pre-save it here.