Photo by Ray Ermel (Ray Ermel Photography)
by Matthew Foran
When I told my grandmother- the daughter of Polish immigrants- that I would be seeing The Polish Ambassador, she was ecstatic to believe that I was indeed meeting the political ambassador to Poland. Trying not to break her lil’ ol’ heart, I politely explained that he was actually my favorite musician, and he did not have any political affiliation with her parents’ homeland.
The Polish Ambassador name is nothing more than a moniker for producer David Sugalski, also founder of Jumpsuit Records. Yes, he may be Polish, but the Intergalactic Diplomat of Funk is best know for his quest to create an environment that emphasizes not just unity with the Earth, but between people of all kinds. This was made evident in his label’s latest expedition, Pushing Through the Pavement: A Permaculture Action Tour, which did much more than just showcase The Polish Ambassador’s new album with fellow Jumpsuit-rocking label and tour members Ayla Nereo and Mr. Lif.
The funk in Philadelphia began at District N9ne last Wednesday night after an opening set that informed fans about sustainable living and spoke of unity, not just between one another or the earth, but in all. It was a magnificent sight to see so many alike minds embracing such a culture. There was even a permaculture booth set up throughout the entirety of the concert where one could find more information on the movement.
However, with impatience increasing in the audience, it became time for the funk. Showcasing her remarkable live performance skills using a loopmaster, Ayla Nereo’s beautiful folky-funk voice paved the way for the night. Ayla was joined onstage by TPA (The Polish Ambassador) himself, as well as hip-hop artist Mr. Lif. Many of the songs on TPA’s newest album, “Pushing Through the Pavement”, feature both these incredible vocalists, and in those songs, resonates the concept of unity that the label so purposefully promotes. Backed by TPA’s world music beats- consisting of everything from African drum rhythms to Indian instruments, Ayla continued to embody all that is feminine, making us feel nice and fuzzy inside of our onesies; while Mr. Lif’s hard-cutting, yet soft-spoken words marked the tracks’ masculinity, putting on a performance most often unparalleled in today’s hip-hop scene.
Mr. Lif brought the good vibes of underground hip-hop to an event that promoted positive vibrations in all of life. With lyricism that scorned capitalism, while encouraging self-reliance and following one’s dreams, it became obvious why Mr. Lif had joined up with Jumpsuit Records. But the vibing did not stop there- not at all.
The Polish Ambassador stepped off stage briefly, only to come back on stage with his famous blue and yellow jumpsuit. That is when we knew that things were about to get extra funky. While still showing off the new album’s worldly tunes here and there, TPA dove back deep into his glitch days, which many of his original fans came to love him for. Heavily sampled hip-hop vocals over 8-bit beats got the people going. However, the space escalade had to come to an early stop at midnight as the Jumpsuit Squad encouraged fans to get a good night’s sleep for the permaculture event they would be hosting in Philadelphia the next day- as they have in every city on this tour.
Through his music- under the name The Polish Ambassador- Sugalski has been successful in promoting his vision of a world where people are more in tune with the earth, thus having more respect toward it as well as toward each other. Some fans of his music might not share the same beliefs, or may have been put off by the minimized amount of music on this tour due to the permaculture action; but, this may be the direction in which many events are headed. The overriding majority, however, were in support of the cause, and as one patron described at the end of the night, “Polish was amazing- that energy was the purest energy I’ve felt since Colorado.” So thanks TPA, for spreading those good vibes our way.