Hunte's 'R.A.W.' restarts vocal career
Some aspect of Angela Hunte's decades-spanning work is on a contemporary Jamaican disc jockey's playlist. The Brooklyn-born, Trinidad-raised singer earned her first Grammy Award as a songwriter, and many of her credits appear in that capacity.
Besides that standard-bearing accomplishment and extensive involvement behind the scenes, Hunte's career has always been as a recording artiste. After two decades in the music business, Angela's debut album, R.A.W., peaked in the number two slot of the Apple iTunes Reggae Chart last week.
Angela's recent forays into soca (Party Done with Machel Montano; Mon Bon Ami) have been highlighted by NPR in their list of the best songs of 2015 and 2016, respectively, and have made her a household name in her family's native Trinidad.
"I consider myself a genre-less artiste. I was an artiste first. I was signed to Motown with my group 7669 in the early '90s. My first record was hip-hop and R&B. Then I became a writer," Angela told The Gleaner.
Angela wrote Empire State of Mind, the highest-charting track of Jay-Z's career, and a winner of multiple awards at the 2011 Grammys.
"Afro-Caribbean music has found its way into any mainstream pop songs. [The genres] have always complemented each other for many years. I have lived all around the world. It would be hard for me to consider myself core to just one type of music. If you are a true musician, you admire all sounds and every genre," Angela said.
She has written songs for Amy Winehouse, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, Danity Kane, Gyptian, Machel Montano, Melanie Fiona, and Leikeli47, landing her credits in hip-hop, R&B, pop, reggae, dancehall, soca, drum and bass, and dubstep.
Before launching her singing career, Hunte was a stylist and casting director for standout music videos, including Boyz II Men's Motownphilly and End of the Road, Color Me Badd's I Wanna Sex U Up, Biz Markie's Just a Friend and Jodeci's Come and Talk To Me.
Angela's admiration of multiple genres reflects in her debut solo production.
"You can always find them alongside each other, especially in my music. The one factor they all have in common is they all derive from an urban culture. Being that I am of Trini heritage, my roots will always be soca music. That ain't going nowhere. I love seeing how soca has been embraced in Jamaica now! Amazing to see that. I find it amazing that people find our music so refreshing," she said.
Hunte grew up around a Jamaican community in Flatbush, Brooklyn, which she says has prepared her to engage with the local Jamaican audience.
"The reggae influence has always been there. I'm not new to using this sound. I've worked with many reggae artistes and producers - Spragga, Sly and Robbie, Lenky, Stephen McGregor and, as of recently, Spice and Tarrus Riley. Reggae happened to be a dominant sound on the album, because that's what felt good," she said.
"I've already performed at Sunrise Breakfast Party, Shaggy's show and Dream Weekend, to name a few. I get so much from the ladies in Jamaica. I would love to perform there more."
Angela told The Gleaner that R.A.W. has been entered to the Recording Academy for consideration in the next Grammy cycle.
"Who doesn't wanna win that little gold trophy? LOL! No one knows what to expect from these things. All I know is I created a body of work I'm proud of. So no matter what happens, that's all that matters," Hunte said.