Straight out of Philadelphia comes jazz, funk, neo-soul singer, hip-hop evolutionist Bilal Oliver. Coming from what he describes as a "regular kind of neighborhood," Oliver was first introduced to music when he attended a small local church. Not until Oliver attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts did he really start taking his music seriously, realizing this was the direction he wanted to go with his life. bThe effect of being immersed into a creative, music-infused environment caused the young Oliver to interpret his voice as an instrument, especially in the songs he began to write.
Oliver began at small clubs, until he took classical training in jazz and big-band arrangements at the Mannes Music Conservatory at the New School for Social Research in New York. After meeting Aaron Coleman of the Spin Doctors, private jam sessions gave birth to a demo of songs that would land Oliver a record deal with Interscope working with famed producers such as J Dilla, Dr. Dre, and Mike City.
His debut album, 1st Born Second, was released in 2001, and boasted the popular single "Soul Sista." While touring, Oliver and his band started to morph the music into what he describe as a "jazz-fusion/rock type funk." This musical freedom bled into the songwriting for Oliver's next project, Love for Sale (2006), which was well received by fans and music critics and has become an underground classic. This time around, Oliver worked with a myriad of new collaborators, from Sa-Ra to Denaun Porter to
Nottz, even gathering a number of his former New School peers to participate.
To date, Oliver has collaborated and performed with some of the industry's most prominent artists, including Beyoncé, Common, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Boney James, Musiq Soulchild, D'Angelo, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Raphael Saadiq, and the Roots among others. Oliver is
currently on his Little Ones tour, promoting his latest album, Airtight's Revenge, progressive music with a very firm jazz foundation.