El MIchels Affair and Black Thought

El Michels Affair & Black Thought
Glorious Game

By Jason Boucher


Leon Michels was playing music in The Mighty Imperials as part of Soul Fire Records and had gigs all over the NYC area. They played warehouse parties and shared stages with other Brooklyn and Manhattan based jazz, funk, and soul bands. It’s where they expanded into the Daptone Records scene (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, Budos Band) and it gave Leon an opportunity to create his own label and soul group–The El Michels Affair. Michels blended his soul/funk sound with hip hop and in 2009 released Enter the 37th Chamber after touring with Raekwon and members of the Wu-Tang Clan.


Fast forward to 2023 and The El Michels Affair has released its fourth studio album with Black Thought of The Roots. It’s called ‘Glorious Game‘ and it’s one of my favorite albums of the year. I know it’s only May, but once you hear it you’ll understand. Black Thought’s rhymes over this ten-piece band is simply phenomenal. The organic beats, funky bass lines, and soulful flow with minimal samples strategically placed add to the greatness of this new record. Black Thought described ‘Glorious Game’ on Bandcamp as “one of my most personal projects to date.”


‘Glorious Game’ is twelve tracks of real storytelling hip hop. Favorite tracks include Grateful which starts quickly with a tribute to Shabba Ranks, Glorious Game, I Would Never, I’m Still Somehow (a super slowed down sample of Joni Mitchell), Protocol (feat. Son Little), That Girl, and Miracle. Working with Black Thought of The Roots isn’t El Michels Affair’s only hip hop collaboration, they’ve also worked with Freddie Gibbs & Madlib with a lot more on the way.



Lastly, find yourself a copy of Bumpy’s Lament — the 2009 El Michels Affair’s tribute to Isaac Hayes and Shaft. You won’t be disappointed.