André Akinyele has recorded under the names Marcel and Ajamu Akinyele. He is the bandleader of the jazz/funk fusion band Gemini Soul, the rock band Looking for Lester (credited as Rebellion), and the electronic/synth-pop duo Lavender Lush (credited as Chambliss Charlie). He is also the co-author of the book Elliptical: The Music of Meshell Ndegeocello.
André Marcel Ajamu Akinyele (b. André Marcel Wilson; June 21, 1972), is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, musician, record producer, record executive, and entrepreneur. He has recorded under the names Ajamu Akinyele, Marcel, and Michael Angelo. His sound incorporates electronic, funk, hip-hop, jazz, neo-soul, pop, R&B, rock, and soul elements. In addition to being a vocalist, he plays bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, percussion, and piano. Aside from music, he is an author, a game developer, graphic designer, and software developer/engineer. André was born in San Pablo, California, but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Hilltop, El Sobrante, Richmond, and Oakland areas. He worked in various jobs, including as a flight attendant, before founding his own record label, Bombay Recording Company, in 1998. In August 2004, he changed his birth name to André Marcel Ajamu Akinyele to reflect more of an African heritage. He is the pioneering force of the cyber-jazz movement of the mid-to-late 2000s with his band Gemini Soul, merging musical technology with jazz, funk, fusion, and political topical experimentation; along the lines of such artists as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Meshell Ndegeocello. After releasing a single in 1989 titled "Brina Brown" in Europe, in 1998, André decided to go on his own right at the brink of the digital age. Known for his socially conscious musical style, Andrés first five albums as Marcel found him heavily influenced by Prince. But, it wasnt until the changing of his name, and then playing jazz that he would depart from that influence, coming into his own as Ajamu Akinyele (meaning strong warrior in the Yoruba language of Nigeria, Africa) with releases such as 'Supernova' (2005) and, with his band Gemini Soul, 'The Nefertiti Xperience' (2008 - Number 15 Amazons Hot New Releases: The Bestselling New & Future Releases Chart), and 'Dark Skin Babies : The Movement' (2009 - Number 13 Amazons Hot New Releases: The Bestselling New & Future Releases Chart). As André Akinyele, he released the pop/funk album The Potomac Syndrome (2012), the singer-songwriter album Metal Skin and Ivory Birds (2015) which questioned the world where no one or nothing was off limits, the hip-hop/R&B album The Unauthorized Playlist (2016), and the pop/R&B album Telegram Mews (2018). In January 2020, André Akinyele will release Uniqlo Boy a black gothic, futuristic, and universal journey through hardcore beats, electro love songs, and dance music. The album will be promoted with the singles Ride or Die, Uniqlo Boy, Streetcar, and App Love (Digi-Love).
André Akinyele has performed live as a solo artist (even when he went by the names Marcel and Ajamu Akinyele) and with his band Gemini Soul. Performing as Ajamu Akinyele and the leader and bassist of his band Gemini Soul, they opened for Sheila E's father the legendary Latin/Jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo at the 2007 San Jose Juneteenth Festival, where Mr. Escovedo stated, "Ajamu is one FUNKY bass player!" The band performed in some of the country's most prestigious venues such as Catalina Jazz Club and The Knitting Factory both in Hollywood, CA; The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, CA; The Rhythm Room, Phoenix, AZ; Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz, CA; The Hedley Club Lounge, San Jose, CA; and Shanghai 1930 Jazz Lounge, San Francisco, CA.
André Akinyeles influences include the following Meshell Ndegeocello, Prince, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Jon O'Bergh, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Maxwell, Rahsaan Patterson, Esperanza Spalding, and Solange.
When playing instruments, André Akinyele uses Fender and Schecter basses, Roland keyboards, and Ibanez and LTD guitars. When recording, he uses Digital Performer and various sound modules.
André Akinyele wants you to support indie artists (buy music and cool merch, attend shows, etc.). Also, he wants you to expand your mind and musical tastes beyond what's presented in mainstream media. Finally, he states don't pigeonhole artists; allow them to grow to fully develop their talent.