Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rhythmic Recommendation: Jennie Laws

Its rare that im put up on an artist that I dont already know, that I like! But today that all changed (Thank ya kindly Aaron)...He presented me with my new song of the summer from an artist named Jennie Laws, that I will DEFINITELY be looking more into, and I certainly hope you guys do the same. Heres whats being said about this new gal on the block...

"With distinctive and dynamic vocal artistry, unique and original songwriting skills Jennie Laws has emerged as a beautiful and brilliantly talented new arrival on the cutting edge of today's music. With the release of her Debut EP featuring such Laws originals as "Heavenly," "I Just Wanna Be Close To You," "Do Deep" and "My Soul," she mixes contemporary urban grooves with folk-flavored nuances, bringing it all together in one accessible and appealing package."

ugh...WHERE...DO...I...SIGN!?!??!...for you guys itching to hear whats all the fuss...Click the link below to take a listen to Jennie's song "Heavenly"...enjoy and let me know, if you guys are feeling this....and if you are, show her some love on her Myspace by listening to a few other songs ("I Just Want to Be Close to You" is a MUST listen) and reading her Bio!...I seriously need to get my hands on that EP...I NEEDS IT IN MY LIFE!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back in RhythmicRotation: Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun

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This past weekend I decided to enjoy a drink and one of my favorite albums of all time, Erykah Badu's Mamas Gun. I've been an Erykah fan since I first heard the vintage bass of "On and On" bumping through the speakers of my mom's old entertainment set, and from that point on I was HOOKED. When I sat down and treated myself to the genius that was the entire Baduizm album, I thought that there was no way it could get any better. I was proven wrong 3 years later when Erykah dropped Mamas Gun to the masses in the fall of 2000.

Mama's Gun is probably one of the most creative, inspirational, amazing, and daring albums of the past decade, all without coming off as pretentious, trite and forced...which is a very hard thing to do when it comes to making an album that connects to listeners on all levels, those seeking lyrical satisfaction, to those seeking musical pleasure, and the few who are still yearning for substance and meaning all at the same time.

With contributions from James Poyser and the late J. Dilla, Mamas Gun was crafted to become one of the most organic and innovative works of that time, which is funny considering that Badu herself was perceived as anything BUT during this time. No longer being looked at as the deep soul siren, she was discovered as being some what a fraud with foax dreads and a background that was a far cry from the Philly movement that began to take place at the time, or at least began to come to prominence, she was a bit farther down south...try Texas. With all of the mumbo jumbo aside, the material spoke for itself, it spoke for Erykah and testified exactly how genius this woman was, regardless of how high her headwraps were and how many fist she threw in the air.

Much more eclectic and experimental than its predecessor Baduizm, this album explored different sounds to accommodate the different lyrical content that Erykah allowed her pen to venture in. From the typical relationship ups and downs, to the new territory of self-esteem and injustice within the African American community, when it came to the authorities, Mama's Gun cohesively and effectively takes you on a journey. I've always appreciated this album much more than Baduizm for the simple fact that its an album that's not forced to be anything but what it is. It would have been easy coming off her her multiple Grammy wins, for the Baduizm album, with something exactly the same, that consisted of soulful retro sounds and head nodding grooves. Instead of keeping the same formula, or breaking it completely, she added to the already rich and refreshing sound. If it ain't broke, why not make it make it better? From the first sounds of the rock influenced "Penitentiary Philosophy" to the jazzy album version of "Bag Lady" (which I prefer to the single version btw) this album effortlessly glided across genres and melodic moods, yet keeping you in the same mind frame to appreciate each track equally.

All of the material on the album arguably leads up to the dramatic and emotionally touching conclusion of the album, its pinnacle, the masterpiece "Green Eyes." The near 10 minute track is split into 3 sections, the first "Movement 1 (denial)," being more of a vintage sound with piano work from James Poyser, it has Erykah sounding as if she were a blues singer from the era when Ella and Billie reigned supreme. In the second part of the song, "acceptance," the song gets more of a heavier jazz backing and develops a stronger thump thanks to the brilliance that is ?uestlove on the drums. The third and final section of the song features Erykah at her most vulnerable and collected, after laying everything bare in the "acceptance" portion of the song, it shows the conflicting thoughts of someone going through a tumultuous relationship perfectly. The piano workings of James Poyser and hypnotic horns leaves you wondering why there aren't more albums like this one.

This album was rare, being a sophomore effort that showed the epitome of growth on every front from the artist (something that's unseen now a days). Everyone knows my feelings on Erykah's Latest effort and I feel the way I do so strongly because I know what shes done, and what shes capable of doing. This is arguably one of the BEST albums of the past decade, and if I have to wait until 2010 for Erykah to rise back onto her mix of retro soul and funk thrown, than so be it. Settling for anything else from a woman that's displayed perfection would be less than civalized.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Me Likey...

Heres the Pussycat Dolls performing their first single "When I Grow Up" produced by Darkchild. Now normally I wouldn't give 2 dirty cotton swabs about these broads, but im too damn busy dancing to this song to worry about alla that...I LOVE this track! Darkchild has definately did the damn thing with this production, its absolutely sickening. The girls have definately stepped it up (as if they had anywhere else but up to go) judging from the extensive choreography and live vocals...but how PRECIOUS is it that they ALL have mics? knowin damn well only 1 is turned on...too cute

Head on over to Rap-UP to listen to the song in HQ in its entirety.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rhythmic Review: Usher - Here I Stand

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Do yourself a solid and buy the Al Green album.


that is all.

I give Here I Stand a THANKS BUT NO THANKS

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rhythmic Review: Al Green - Lay It Down

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Three years since his last LP, Soul music veteran Al Green has a new release upon the horizon, the return to form opus, Lay It Down. Being an undeniable legend, respect is automatically given to him, and many that have paved the way like he has, but unlike many others, Mr. Green is no longer coasting on memories of hits that have been, he's trying to make you remember WHY he is a legend, by making music that is reminiscent of his legendary sound.

Coming to prominence in a time that saw other Soul Mavens like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Curtis Mayfield, Al always had a sound that was very clockable as his own, a heavily soul rooted sound with gospel influences that would provide a transcendent feel to anyone listening, plus the heavenly voice that seemed to glide over every harmony and melody effortlessly, always helped.

Unlike many artist that experienced a surge of success in the 60s and 70s that try and make a print in the fickled, fluctuating music market now, Al decides to stick to what he knows best, and that's soul. Nothing from concentrate or particularly geared toward the sound of today can be heard on this album, and that's a GOOD thing. Nothing hurts my soul more than a legendary singer collaborating with an artist out now because its "cool" or because its "what the kids are doing" It diminishes their credibility, confuses hardcore fans, makes them look ridiculous, and is just plain SAD (The Isley Brothers, anyone?)

This time around, Al bravely chose to collaborate with the drummer/producer/mastermind of the world famous The Roots band, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, and rightfully so. The production genius has found his way, more so lately, behind the sound board for other artist outside of the Roots camp and has captured eras and sounds from the past effortlessly. On his reworked Pharrell Out My Mind album, he turns the production upside down and captures the sounds of 80's Michael Jackson and Prince as if he were in the studio with them during those golden years. Other recent notables from ?uest have been his work with Common, D'Angelo and most recently with Erykah Badu on the apex of her Amerykahn Promise album with "Telephone". ?uest didn't disappoint when it came to working with Al; Lay It Down jogs the memory of classic Al G-reen recordings, yet breathes new life into a sound that has desperately been needed in today's music.

The title track "Lay It Down" opens up the album and foreshadows the raw and pure soul that will be displayed in tracks to come with help from the gritty gospel voiced Anthony Hamilton doing background. This duo shows up again on the song "You've got the love I need" and showcases the beautiful juxtaposition between Al's angelical voice and Anthony's unapologetic textured coos. The light and breezy "Just for me" lays smack dab between both 'Lay' and 'You've got' so it provides a nice cool down before your forced to catch a groove with the latter's bass egging you on to get out of your seat. The beautiful horns in "Take your time" featuring Corrine Bailey Rae is reason enough to give this man an Grammy, the back and forth between Rae and Green is so smooth and effortless it takes you back to a time when Male and Female collaborations were common and refreshing with the Marvins and Tammies and Roberta and Donnys. The shining moment, more so than the countless others, on this album has to be the John Legend collabo on "Stay with Me (By the Sea)," the track gives the genius sound of earlier Al works a rejuvenation of sorts and shows how a person's signature sound of the past can be modified to the now, Stevie and Aretha take notes.

With fads coming and going, manufactured artist rising to dominance, and vocadors replacing live instruments, soul has been desperately needed to water the dehydrated music industry. If Al gets his way, he won't only quench the thirst of real music lovers, but will drown out all the crap while he's at it. The result of an amazing and timeless talent with genius production, suitable collaborations and the need to make GOOD music, rather than the need to make NOW music, is one of the most soulful albums in recent years and definately the best this year so far.

I give Lay it Down an A+

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Janet wants to 'Rock Witchu' this fall

So this is supposedy the new promo art I snatchedgot from ToyasWorld for the upcoming Janet Jackson 'Rock With U' tour, that kicks off on September 11th.
I know alot of you janet fans are giving this whole tour hooplah the BIG side eye, since she was supposed to go out for the 20 y.o album but never did, but this time I think its all legit.

Tickets go on sale June 7th and lawd knows im gonna get mines, especially if shes gonna be looking as fierce as she does in this promo pic. (I love janet, lawd KNOWS I DO, but if i have to see her dance in one more pair of parachute pants and bug stomping boots, im gonna fucking SCREAM I swear) You dont know WHEN this heffa goin back out on the road again so make you guys get the tickets while theyre hot!

Now enjoy a clip of Janet on Ellen the other day cuttin a rug to Rhythm Nation.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Should the Neptunes be added to..."The List"

Now im sure you guys all remember the list I made up not to long ago (and recently made an addition to) regarding producers and their lack of creativity. Welp heres a new contender that I've been going back and forth with; something ive been on the fence about for awhile now. To write, or not to write, off The Neptunes? that has been the question I've posed by myself for the past few years.

I've been a fan of the Neptunes work for literally years, ever since I first heard "When This Feeling" by Swv, I knew this sound was new to me, I knew I wanted to hear more of it and I knew I LOVED it. The neptunes worked through out the early to mid 90s with artist like Swv and Blackstreet, but it wasn't until 1998 when the song "Superthug" by N.O.R.E dropped that everyone flocked to that sound, a sound that would later be coined the "Neptune sound." A spacey, futuristic, synthesized, slightly weird, and at times heavily percussed, sound bombarded the air waves in the summer of 98 and more notably the following year with the debut of 99's most buzzworthy artist, Kelis. With the hype around their sound grew, the bar and level of creativity was raised imensly as more high profiled acts sought out for the neptune sound, Jay-Z and Mystikal all experienced great success with first singles created by Chad and Pharrel, soon EVERYONE sought them out, hell even the Backstreet boys and Sade had them a neptune remix!

As years went by, it seemed that the Neptunes began to pigeon hole themselves, producing repetitive and uninspired tunes that seemed to serve only one purpose, to give the artist seeking them out that "Neptunes sound," a sound that peaked in 2002, and nothing more. I guess my beef with the boys is that they have moments of genius (Kelis' first 2 albums along with all of the N*E*R*D recordings and things of that nature) and other times it just seems like they dont give a shit, and that aslong as its a Neptunes beat its gold!.

If a song has a clear purpose and executes that purpose well, its a cool with me. "Hot In Herre" was nothing more than a club banger intended to get chicks dancing on random objects as if there were snakes on their backs...mission accomplished...high five to them, while on the other hand certain songs actually stirred up actual emotions, like 702's "I still love you" and Mary's "Steal Away," but when theres just a song thats worthless and really serves no purpose on an album other than giving the artist bragging rights as having a neptune track, thats where my gears get grinded, and thats how its been the last few years.

For every In Search Of theres an The Neptunes Presents...Clones, and I get it, there has to be a balance, not everyone can have a good day all the time, especially when your in high demand. Theres always gonna be a big chance that out of all 4563463456 tracks produced that theres gonna be a few duds. I much rather they pace themselves and pick their collaborations wisely, because much like my friend QH over at the QHblend stated, its all about the quality rather than the quantity. I much rather hear 1 AMAZING neptune produced track on every other artist's album instead of hearing an ok to mediocre neptune track every 8th track of EVERY urban album. With that said I leave it up to you guys, what do you think? Should the Neptunes be given the permanent side eye? or has recent production for Kenna, Madonna and the new N*E*R*D "Everybody Nose" remix restored a little faith in the dynamic duo?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I think im finally buying what this broad is selling...

Maroon 5 Featuring Rihanna - If I Never See your Face Again

Now this song was originally featured on Maroon 5's sophomore album Soon Before Long and Being a big fan of Adam and the gang, I liked it, much like the album as a whole. Did I love the song? not really, did I love the follow up to their amazing debut Songs About Jane as much as the SAJ album itself? not so much... but did I like both, the song and the album A LOT, u bet ya...But now that the song has been reworked with, everyones favorite light skinned gal of the moment, Rihanna (since theres 1 every few years or so) The song is slated to be featured on not only Maroon 5's re release but also the rerelease for Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad . I must say this extra kick and sass is JUST what i think the song lacked, like many of the songs from SBL, they were all great but at times often felt like they fell flat and made u wonder what else could have been added to the song to really make them POP. The video is amazing the new embellishments are genius in my opinion, and dare I say it..this makes me like Rihanna and actually buy what she's peddling, now am I going as far to say that shes a credible artist that exudes creativity and is anything special? no..but will I roll my eyes slightly less when I hear her on the radio, sure.

but ALLLLLLLL I kno! is that on the Maroon 5 rerelease, their Mark Ronson remix to "Wake Up Call" featuring Mary J Blige BETTER be on that bitch...thats all I KNO....ugh how amazing would that video been? Mary rockin out, bouncin up and down, wig flyin to and fro...ugh I need a glass of water just thinkin of that hotness.


The funny boys over at The REAL are at it again...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rhythmic Artist of the Month

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For May's artist im going with the up and coming soul siren Duffy. My lovely sister in blogging Tha Connoisseur initially asked me about my thoughts on this artist a few weeks ago, so this month I decided to bring back my thoughs regarding the Rhythmic Artist of the month. Hailing from Wales, this singer-songwriter is considered one of the Amy-ish new comers storming onto the scene from the U.K, with her heavily soul influenced sound and a big voice that shes not afraid to use. I initially became aware of Duffy over a month ago when a friend of mine linked me her "Mercy" video when she was MSN's artist of the week, and not too long later I listened to "Warwick Avenue" after that it was a WRAP. The voice, the style, the production, all of it screamed throw back 60's to me, when genres weren't so clearly defined and artist intentions for a sound were more organic and less contrived to be so this or that, and I loved every minute of it. After listening to her entire album, she had me sold on what she was selling and I believe she has a great future ahead of her.

Now before the comparisons come into play and people begin to make up their minds about her for all the wrong reasons, give her a thorough listen! without taking into account all of the static and praise surrounding her from the Mtv's and the Vh1's of America (because its become so fun to hate on the "next best thing" hasn't it?) and unfair comparisons (not to Amy Winehouse or Estelle, but to a more logical yet lazy Dusty Springfield comparison) One of the things I hate when it comes to a new TALENTED artist is when people say "I don't like him/her because he/she isn't nowhere near as good as _____". Now...I always think..."Who the fuck asked that?" but I digress, Duffy is a talent that should be given a try and if after a good listen she still doesn't float your boat, so be it.

Now check out Duffys video for "Mercy" and then head over to to get better acquainted.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Christina Aguilera SHANT be victimized on upcoming album

According to Hollyscoop, one of my favorite white girls, Christina Aguilera, has a new album in the works and is refusing to follow trends going on in music today. She says that the upcoming album will be "very different" from 2006's Back To Basics and that it will be "very very interesting," she also goes on to say that shes working with "a lot of different people" this time around to help her production wise. One thing that Christina said that tickled my fancy was this...

"I love Timbaland's music for example but I would never work with people like that because everyone else is doing it already."

And I know thats right! FINALLY, someone that gets it!..following whats hot right now WILL NOT work for you in the long run. Getting a particular producer or artist on your record simply because there's hype surrounding him/her doesn't always mean it will work for you! Lord knows Maroon 5 activated my side eye somethin TERRIBLE throwin Rihanna on one of their songs for their upcoming rerelease, all I could think about was the robot from Lost in Space when I heard that news, DANGER!!. I think its safe to say that there will be no T-Pain, Akon, Justin Timberlake or Neptunes collaborations coming up on the new Christina Aguilera album, and for that i say AMEN! now if only Christina could have tapped Mariah on the shoulder and put her ass up on some game.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rhythmic Review: Estelle - Shine

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U.K. phenomenon Estelle Swaray, better known simply as Estelle, has debuted on this side of the pond with her American debut album Shine. Initially, she wasn't on my radar and at first listen I counted the first single "American Boy" off as nothing more than just a cute song featuring every ones go to boy of the moment, Kanye West. Being backed by John Legend and signed to his Home School Records imprint didn't have me signing on the dotted line to buy whatever she was selling, although, After further listening to the track and reading some interesting words this little lady had for her fellow U.K. acts, I realized exactly how amazing the song was and how promising Estelle's sophomore album might be. I thought I deserved it to myself and to her to give her music a fair listen, and how glad I am that I did.

With an All Star cast of producers and collaborators that include John Legend,, Wyclef Jean, Swizz Beatz, Kanye West and Cee—Lo Whats the result? Arguably the best R&B/HipHop album of the year so far. While Estelle is aided with a bevy of popular producers you can still tell that the essence of who she is as an artist is still apparent in the music. The Mark Ronson produced "Magnificent," featuring Kardinal Offishall, doesn't sound like anything left on the cutting room floor from a Amy Winehouse or a Lily Allen session, it has, what i can only assume to be Estelle, written all over it. The track has a refreshingly Reggae flavor to it, which one can only assume Mariah Carey tried to attempt on her song "Cruise Control" but ended up failing miserably.

While the comparisons to Lauryn Hill have been made (simply because both are black females that are talented vocalist as well as lyricist) Estelle makes a name all her own, doing things musically that have been lacking in the R&b genre for awhile, which is, STAYING TRUE TO THE GENRE! On songs like the remarkably soulful throwback "Pretty Please (love me)," and the Aretha Franklin sampled "More than Friends" she reminds everyone why the term Rhythm and Blues was coined for the genre in the first place. At the same time shes effortlessly able to take outside influences and make it work to her advantage (instead of merely doing it for the sake of being different) like on the smooth Caribbean tinged "Come Over."

Estelles skills as an MC are just as good as her ability with the harmonies. Her lyrical flair shines (no pun intended) on the feisty "Wait a Minute," which cleverly samples "I Put a Spell on you" and allows Estelle to dish about how she simply wants to keep company with a man for his..talents... and that anything else he can keep to himself by saying "You say I aint right but you keep comin back cuz this girl is tight,You aint spendin the night, uh uh after were done here its back to the wife." On the Wyclef produced "So Much Out the Way"she perfectly balances both the gritty rhyme spitting Estelle during the verses while the delicate songbird Estelle comes out during the chorus in a perfect music cohabitational kind of way.

With the recent onslaught of successful female U.K. acts, one can only think how Estelle will compare with the other ladies. To be quite fair and honest, Estelle is unlike any artist to recently rise from the U.K. musical rise, or any artist in America for that matter. She effortlessly marries the sweet softness of R&B/soul with HipHop and provides a vivid juxtaposition between the genres that makes you fall in love with them all over again; when was the last time you can say an artist did that? and no, the shit Tpain does DOESN'T quality. If this album is any indication of what Estelle is capable of, given the right support behind her, she will be one import that will be around for quite awhile and I will gladly take her with open arms.

I give Shine an A

Agree with me? let me know! if u absolutely disagree and think im on something? let me kno that too! hit up the comment section and share!!!!...remember, sharing is caring!