PREMIERES NEW VIDEO AND EP FROM GRAMMY® AWARD-NOMINATED ALBUM
STAR PEOPLE NATION
UNDERSTAND YOURSELF (FEATURING CHRONIXX)
EPONYMOUS THREE-TRACK EP FEATURES DISTINCTLY
DIFFERENT TAKES OF UNDERSTAND YOURSELF
OUT NOW ON DDB RECORDS VIA SONY MUSIC MASTERWORKS
Life in the continuum is a communal thing. We all have a duty to honor those that preceded us, to acknowledge and add something new — something of value — to the history that anticipates our arrival in the now and do our part to extend the past into the future.
Instrumentalist and composer Theo Croker, whose latest album Star People Nation recently earned a nomination for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” at the 62nd GRAMMY® Awards, carries this deep understanding with him in both his life and music. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear it in the notes and tones, moving with the melodies and floating in the breaks. This transcendent, ever-evolving sense of self and community has manifest itself in an incredible constellation of artists who collectively embody the album’s guiding philosophies around oneness, ancestral reverence, and creative autonomy.
With “Understand Yourself,” the album’s closing track, Croker joins forces with Chronixx, a Jamaican singer whose wide-ranging approach to music and innovative sound (what he calls “black experimental music”) made him the perfect choice for the record. The song notably samples Jamaican-born political leader Marcus Garvey’s “Know Yourself” speech. Garvey’s iconic words become the raw material for Croker and Chronixx’s sonic explorations, remixing Garvey’s message of nation-building and taking it into uncharted musical territory. Croker and Chronixx were able to nurture and marry their unique collaborative voice and vision through a process of mutual exchange where ideas were shared for months before the two actually recorded the trumpet and vocals together in Los Angeles. This meaningful back-and-forth between artists speaks to the larger world building ethos that Croker intentionally cultivated throughout Star People Nation. For Croker, the album is not merely the result of his own personal artistry but represents a collective effort on the part of a “nation” of creative people from all across the globe whose contributions allowed the project to transcend even his original vision.
A host of creative luminaries, with various specialties and backgrounds, helped to transform “Understand Yourself” into a powerfully audacious film. The composer designated alternative musician Gita as his Artistic Director, also the artistic force behind the development and curation of the entirety of Star People Nation’s spirit and visual identity. Gita collaborated with Noirwave Pioneer and multi-disciplinary artist Rharha Nembhard, who was brought on board as an associate and creative producer. Both Gita and Rharha played a vital role as creative architects for this project, by birthing the visual aesthetics and initiating Kordae Jatafa Henry to be the film’s Director. In addition, Samantha Blake Goodman transmuted feelings into choreography; dancers Qwenga and Sasha Rivero married their individual styles with Goodman’s movements to give life to the film’s narrative; stylist El Lewis tapped designer Theophilio and Jewelry designers Dynasty & Soull Ogun of L’enchantuer for the film’s wardrobe direction. Tanya Melendez did both the hair & MUA. Every single collaborator brought their skills and resources to the project and created an image of a future world where the healing power of nature is properly acknowledged and uplifted. In this world — a world liberated from modern technology, the natural environment is the catalyst for inner clarity, transcendental experiences, and higher states of consciousness
In an era where jazz music videos are a rare occurrence, “Understand Yourself” makes its own rules. And, in this way, it beautifully encapsulates Theo Croker’s unique trajectory as an artist and creator. With Star People Nation, which he self-published, arranged, and financed, Croker is able to transcend personal limitations. The journey from Shanghai to Los Angeles to Kingston led to personal and musical breakthroughs that gave birth to new pathways of expression and greater self-understanding.
The three-track “Understand Yourself” EP also released today contains distinctly different takes of the song from the original album version and in addition to Chronixx, also features pianist Sullivan Fortner.
THEO CROKER’S “UNDERSTAND YOURSELF” EP
1. “Understand Yourself” (Acoustic Version) feat. Chronixx & Sullivan Fortner
2. “Understand Yourself” (Instrumental Duo Version) feat. Sullivan Fortner
3. “Understand Yourself” (Original Beat Demo)