Like many a trusted producer, Terrace Martin built a name by way of his associations. A decade or so ago, he was known for his work with Snoop Dogg. These days it's impossible to say his name without mentioning another defining West Coast rapper, Kendrick Lamar. If you've heard any of Lamar's albums — from his 2011 debut, Section.80, through this year's DAMN. — you're familiar with the silken texture of Martin's music, whether you know it or not.
Close observers of the L.A. scene first got to know Martin — whose father is a jazz drummer — in his teens, as a promising saxophonist mentored by another drummer, the master Billy Higgins. Jazz now represents part of a larger fabric for Martin, who at 38 is part of a style-blending cohort that includes his fellow saxophonist Kamasi Washington and pianist and producer Robert Glasper.
It says something about Martin's collaborative instinct that his big new statement — Sounds Of Crenshaw, Vol. 1, released two weeks ago on his Sounds Of Crenshaw label, through Ropeadope — isn't a solo album but rather the debut of an R&B confab, The Pollyseeds. Along with Martin, this group includes a pair of magnetically soulful singers, Rose Gold and Wyann Vaughn, and a rapper, Chachi (also known in L.A. hip-hop circles by another name, Problem).
"Intentions," the album's lead single, is a solo feature for Chachi, who has the self-regarding suavity necessary to deliver a naked come-on: "Don't mind my bad intentions / But you have my attention." Throughout the track, which slithers along in a G-Funk groove, Chachi does his best to sound solicitous, rather than on the prowl.
Now The Pollyseeds have released a video for the song, directed by The ViLLAGE. The backdrop is a graduation party somewhere in downtown Los Angeles; the action toggles between a backyard to a living room to a driveway to a bedroom.
But there's a unifying mood to the footage, which is richly color-saturated and oozing with style, but hardly a portrait of luxe consumption. The scene is boisterous but friendly, broadening the frame of the song, with its person-to-person propositions, into something more innocent and social.
The members of The Pollyseeds appear in the video, partying down like everybody else. Martin can be seen at a keyboard, leading a jam. On the track you can also hear his alto saxophone, about three-and-half minutes in — against an outro vocal hook with a "Nyah nyah-nyah nyah nyah" melody. That the lyrics for the hook are "I like you, I like you, I really, really like you" only feels appropriate — this is just the sort of song to wring reassurance out of a taunt.
Sounds Of Crenshaw Vol. 1 is out now.