The Urban Renewal Project is a Los Angeles-based band that plays an original mix of jazz, soul and hip hop featuring singer Alex Nester, rapper Elmer Demond and a huge horn section. Since 2010, the thirteen-piece ensemble has teamed up with vocalists from across the spectrum to blend the hip-shaking grooves and deep pocket of pop music with face-melting horn lines and fiery improvisation from big band jazz. In the past few years, their signature sound has blown away audiences from SFJAZZ to the Midpoint Music Festival and beyond.
Born from a high school talent show act assembled by saxophonist and bandleader R.W. Enoch, The Urban Renewal Project began in earnest when he met rapper Elmer Demond in Los Angeles several years later. After experimenting with different musical approaches and configurations which can be heard on earlier releases Local Legend (2014) and Go Big or Go Home (2012), they settled on their current set-up: a big band performing a mix of soul, hiphop and jazz music with guest vocalists from each genre—every song incorporating the polish and drive of contemporary pop records with the vibrant energy of live ensemble performance.
Their latest album 21st Century Ghost (2017) is an object lesson in this concept—a genre-bending meditation on isolation in the era of hyperconnectivity with 9 features that run the gamut from legendary Bronx rap duo Camp Lo to California indie-pop princess Gavin Turek. The release has been met with critical acclaim and nationwide radio play, reaching #126 on the NACC 200 charts. LA Weekly called The Urban Renewal Project “L.A.’s biggest hip-hop band”; HiphopDX described Don't Ask Y ft. Camp Lo as "deep funk beats and powerful brass”; and BuzzbandsLA said Hide ft. Elmer Demond was "cool as the other side of the pillow." In support of the release, they lined up a string of nationwide performances, with stops in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Carson City, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Denver, DeKalb, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and more to come.