Newark remembers James Mtume, Grammy award-winning musician, activist

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James Mtume’s musical journey took him a lot of places during his life, from his African roots, through Jazz, R&B and Soul, and into his own heady blend of music that he liked to call “Sophistifunk.” As a percussionist, he supplied the conga beats to Miles Davis’ electro-funk in the early 1970s. As a keyboardist, he co-wrote the silky R&B ballad, “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” for Stephanie Mills that won a Grammy in 1981. And as a songwriter, he gave us “Juicy Fruit,” the tune that became a hip hop staple after The Notorious B.I.G. sampled it in 1994. The South Orange resident, who died …

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