I’m a little late on this one, but I think I just discovered one of my favorite albums of the year.

At 62 years old, Charles Bradley just debuted his first full length album. His life story reads like a fiction novel about the struggles of growing up poor in America. Charles was born in 1948 in Florida and raised in Brooklyn. He spent much of his childhood in the streets, and was inspired to start making music when his sister took him to see James Brown at The Apollo. The problem is, this music thing has never really worked out for him.

Throughout his adult life, Charles made a living working as a chef and a handyman wherever he could find a job. He’s worked all over the country, faced countless setbacks, and even lost his brother, who was shot and killed by his nephew while they were all living in his mother’s house. His whole life he’s been doing music on the side, but one thing or another has kept him from actually making a career out of it. Until now.

He’s got the soul of James Brown, but instead of flash and funk you get the heartache and pain of a man who has been close to the breaking point his entire life. His album, No Time For Dreaming, is full of the kind of stuff you can’t fake. The musical backdrop is provided by the Menahan Street Band, a group sampled by Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, 50 Cent, and Frank Ramz’ Make The Road By Walking. Check out a couple songs below, and buy the album here.

Charles Bradley – “Why Is It So Hard”

Charles Bradley – “How Long”