First Listen: Truth Universal and Sybil Shanell – “Motivated”
plus Album Release Party

This week’s “First Listen” comes from New Orleans hip hop artist Truth Universal, who has, without a doubt, been unwavering in his music’s message. Cheap thrills like auto-tune and easy trends like mash-up beats are just not his style. Nor are superficial rhymes about cash, females or rides. He delivers yet another thought-provoking hip hop record, this time employing more laid-back, fuller soul samples. Truth’s third self-produced LP, Invent the Future is released next Tuesday, October 8, but OffBeat has an exclusive sneak preview of one of the singles off the new album that we are particularly fond of for the next 3 days.


Truth Universal releases third LP, "Invent the Future" on Octover 8.

Following his first two full length recordings, Self Determination (2008) and Guerrilla Business (2010), the Trinidad-born and New Orleans-raised MC maintains his militant grassroots cadence, yet raises the mood without loosening up his tone on this latest project. North Carolina heavyweight beatmaker Khrysis (Jean Grae, Rapper Big Pooh, Sean Price, Masta Ace) of 9th Wonder’s Justus League camp lends beats to the album, as do rising local producers Shawde Banx (now Atlanta-based) and the rising AF The Naysayer (currently working with recent New Orleans transplant Jneiro Jarel). Baltimore / Bay Area true school staple, Kev Brown also appears on Invent the Future, as does longtime friend and collaborator of Truth’s, Lyrikill.

The single “Motivated” features unsung New Orleans house and soul vocalist Sybil Shanell on possibly her first “known” hip hop record to date. Though her house music stylings are somewhat different from what we hear from her on Invent the Future, Shanell at times on “Motivated” echoes Ms. Lauryn Hill, and demonstrates a dynamic range not typically heard from her as of yet around the local underground scene. Coupled with Truth’s firm bars, she breeds positivity among struggle and even flirt with a chorus that borders on anthemic.

But you can listen for yourself here, for free until Monday, October 7 and let us know what you think in the comments section below. OffBeat will be offering an exclusive free download of Truth’s new single “Motivated” with Sybil Shanell right here. Simply click play or download on the player below.

You can also catch Truth Universal live with special guests and a multi-media performance at his Invent the Future record release party beginning at 7 p.m. at Ashe Cultural Arts Center (1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd) this Sunday, October 6.


Truth Universal – “Invent the Future” Album Release Party
featuring Sybil Shanell, WonEye, Slangston Hughes, Skipp Coon,
Chuck Lyrikill Jones, Nato Caliph, Marcel P. Black and DJ E.F. Cuttin
Sunday, October 6
7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Venue: Ashe Cultural Arts Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. (map)
Neighborhood: Central City
Admission: $10 includes digital download of album, $15 includes CD of album
More Info: