By Jaelani Turner-Williams
In April, despite being quarantined in the middle of touring with electronic duo Drama, Chicago funk/disco-infused hip-hop artist Ric Wilson still held a sweet social distancing birthday party from home — complete with a caramel cake from sweet city staple Angelica’s Bakery. The occasion also served as a pre-celebration for his new EP, They Call Me Disco, made with Los Angeles-based jazz-fusion and G-funk multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin. Having already shot visuals before the pandemic, notably for lead single “Chicago Bae” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid, Wilson had no plans to change the EP’s release date, so he didn’t. Instead, he offered more for fans, sharing intimate freestyle sessions through his social platforms. They Call Me Disco dropped today (May 8) as planned.
It’s fitting for the performer who was coined “Disco Ric” while touring with R&B singer and former Snarky Puppy member Cory Henry. Wilson cites disco influences as his “aura” while remaining open to dabbling in other genres — as long as he can, as he told MTV News, “make it Black.” Just two years after his 2018 EP Banba, and a year out from appearing on Joe Swanberg’s Chicago-set Netflix series Easy, Wilson shows no signs of halting his creative process, foreseeing They Call Me Disco to be the soundtrack for much-needed escapism during the pandemic.
“I think we’re seeing all the different stages of people [who were] freaking out in the first couple weeks. Now we’re in the stage where people are adjusting to their style of life. I think this [time] brings a bit of escape to people in their lives,” Wilson told MTV News. That bit of escape shines through the EP’s relentlessly rhythmic six tracks, featuring additional guests Corbin Dallas, Malaya, and Kiela Adira. From the house touches of “Move Like This” to the downright funk of “Before You Let Go,” the fruits of Wilson and Martin’s musical partnership are on full display.