Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vid Pick: Kelly Rowland "Commander"

Ms. Kelly continues to blaze her own trail post-Destiny's Child with the video for "Commander." As previously stated the track is fiyah and the video makes it even hotter. I love it. Its like Battle Star Galactica-meets-Rhythm Nation with a big dose of overall fabulousness. Can't wait to hear the full album. Check out the video below:

Only Kanye...

Ye' stopped by the offices of Rolling Stone to talk about his new album, Twitter, his diet and his creative process. West also played tracks from the upcoming album and jumped on a table for an impromptu concert. Read the full article here and watch the video below:

Artist Profile: Ladi6

While the world speculates if Lauryn Hill is on the verge of a comeback (fingers crossed:) with the release of track named "Repercussions" another singer/MC has slowly been making her mark around the world. New Zealand-born Ladi6 got her start as part of the all-female rap group Sheelahroc in 2003 before going off her own. While she hasn't blown up over here in the States just yet, she has toured constantly through Europe and opened for hip hop heavyweights such as 50 Cent, The Roots and De La Soul. Her album Time is Not Much Now is a bubbling cauldron of musical diversity. The playful "Call You Out" featuring the rapper Scribe features fat brass riffs, drums, guitar licks reminiscient of Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good," while first single "Walk Right Up" gives off a laidback reggae vibe. Ladi6 delves into a deep funk groove on the sultry"Dark Brown," while the ballad "Question" finds her in a contemplative mood, questioning the promises of love. Listen to a few tracks and watch the video for "Walk Right Up" below, and learn more about Ladi6 at her official website.

Call You Out feat. Scribe by Ladi6

Walk Right Up by Ladi6

Dark Brown by Ladi6

Question by Ladi6

Friday, July 30, 2010

Remix Of The Week: Robin Skouteris Queen Of Pop Megamix

I know this megamix has been out for a minute but its still a beast. In honor of Madonna's greatest hits album Celebration DJ and music producer Robin Skouteris did this mash-up of The Material Girl's greatest hits. Get into the video below, and download the megamix here.

Kelly Roland: "Commander"

It looks like Ms. Kelly has found her voice in dance music. Her latest track "Commander," with producer David Guetta is pure fiyah. The pair last collaborated on "When Love Takes Over," another dance track. Hopefully her new album will get the promotion it deserves when it's released later in the year. Download the track for free here, and watch a live performance below:

Kelly Rowland Performs "Commander" at Winter Music Conference from Rod McCullom on Vimeo.

Classic Album Battle: What's The 411 Vs. My Life

Oh yeah, I went there. Most Mary J. fans(including myself) and general R&B lovers alike consider What's The 411? and My Life to be her best music. However, which one is better?

What's The 411?

Let's start with What's The 411? the album that begat Mary's career and her reign as The Queen of Hip Hop Soul. But first, a little history. When Mary's debut dropped in '92, it signaled a new direction in female R&B, in both sound and image.
At the time the top songstresses (Whitney, Mariah, En Vogue, Anita, Patti) made slick, polished R&B and wore glamorous evening gowns onstage. Mary on the other hand, rocked combat boots, baseball caps, jerseys and a nose ring (check out the "Reminisce" video if you don't believe:).

And her music, while smooth and soulful, also had the grittiness and hard edge a generation raised on hip hop had come to expect from their music. True there were other artists who had blended hip hop and R&B before her (Nehneh Cherry and TLC come to mind) but without a doubt Blige made the most impact.

For me the first album, while featuring undeniable classics such as "Real Love," "Reminisce," "You Remind Me," "Love No Limit," and a cover of Chaka Khan and Rufus' "Sweet Thing," is a little uneven. While album tracks like "I Don't Wanna Do Anything Else" and "My Love" are great, the other songs-"Changes I've Been Going Through" and "Slow Down," while fine, just don't grab me.

And the interludes, which were kind of unique when the album was released (Lawd knows only Janet was doing it at the time, lol) haven't really stood the test of time, and I find myself skipping them just to get to music. In my view they really don't tie the songs together, but feel like an intrusion.

My Life

To me, this is Mary's masterpiece. Maybe it was because she was going through some thangs at the time(which we know all too well about now) or because she had more of a hand in the songwriting process, but My Life is arguably one of the best R&B albums ever. Both the music, which this time features a less obvious hip hop influence but is still beat heavy, and lyrics fit together.

Every song works together to create a seamless stream of music, from the remakes of "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" and "I'm Goin' Down" to the Barry White sampling "You Bring Me Joy" and "Be Happy." The title track, which samples Roy Ayer's "Sunshine" just touches some deep place inside me whenever I hear it. Some people complained that Puffy and Mary relied a little too much on the samples, but to me they give the whole album a cohesivenesss that What's The 411? lacked.

The track placement of the album is also fits its themes of love, longing and drama. While the album starts off on kind of an upbeat party vibe with "All Night Long" and "You Bring Me Joy" it slowly spirals down into Mary's depression and heartbreak with "My Life," "You Gotta Believe," "Never Wanna Live Without You," "I'm Goin' Down" before ending in wishful melancholy with "Be Happy."

I can play this whole album through without wanting to skip a single track. Even the interludes don't interrupt the flow, but just take you deeper into Mary's world. Over 15 years after its release, it still slaughters almost every R&B album out right now. I love both albums, but if I had to choose between them, I'd pick My Life. So which do you think is better?
Get into videos from both albums below:

Pink "Funhouse" Review

"So what/ I am a rock star/I got my rock moves/And I don't need you tonight," Pink roars in "So What," a classic mix of the singer's trademark sarcasm and smart-ass attitude. Newly single, it would seem that Pink would be ready to mingle, and while Funhouse offers up her usual bravado ("So What" and "Bad Influence"), lyrically the album consistently turns inward.

"I don't wanna be the girl that has to feel the silence/The quiet scares me/Cause it screams the truth," she sings over booming drums, atmospheric backing vocals, strings and sparse electric guitar on "Sober," one of several tracks hinting that while she and ex-husband Corey Hart are back together now, it was a hell of a journey from divorce court to video cameos.

"I Don't Believe You" mines similar introspective territory. "Looks like/You've given up/You've had enough/But I want more/No I won't stop," Pink sings somberly, suggesting that it wasn't easy for her to throw in the towel. In "Mean" she gets more explicit: "The shower it reminds me you'd undress me with your eyes/ And now you never touch me and you tell me that you're tired."

Musically, the album is a mix of straightforward pop/rock("Please Don't Leave Me"), acoustic jams ("Crystal Ball") and hip hop/dance/rock mashups ("It's All Your Fault," "Funhouse"). My only compliaint is that the album could've have used one more "So What"-style anthem to balance out the ballads. Whatever genre she chooses to play with however, it's clear that Pink hasn't let the mirrors in her funhouse distort her true emotions, and delivers an honest, if less upbeat, album.


Kanye West: 808's And Heartbreak

To the average rap fan, it looks like Kanye West has lost his mind. After spending three albums establishing himself as a credible MC (although he's still no Rakim or Andre 3000 on the mic), Ye' ditched rhyming for singing, picked up an Auto-Tune, the current scourge of rap, and abandoned his College Dropout theme(for the uninitiated, this album was supposed to be Good Ass Job). Top all that off with his current Half-Pint glasses wearing, knatty suit and Captain Ahab beard look, and you have a recipe for a falling off of epic proportions.

If first single "Love Lockdown" was any indication, Late Registration this ain't. 808's and Heartbreak more than lives up to its title, as booming basslines collide with other-wordly samples and strings to provide a fresh canvas for West to spin tales of love drama and regret.

"My friend showed me pictures of his kids/And all I could show him were pictures of my cribs/ He said his daughter got a brand-new report card/And all I got was a brand-new sportscar," West sings in "Welcome To Heartbreak." No longer the fame-hungry new kid on the block, West now seems all too aware of the downsides of stardom. "Do you think I sacrificed a real life/For all the fame and flashing lights," Wests asks in "Pinocchio Story" the live freestyle that closes the album. Now in his early 30's the Louis Vitton Don seems to looking inward, questioning if it was all worth it. Bragging and ego-trips are few and far between.

Heartbreak, both romantic and otherwise, is another recurring theme. "Didn't you know i was waiting on you/Waiting on a dream that'll never come true," West sings in "Bad News" one of several tracks detailing the dark side of love. "Tell every one that you know/That i dont love you no more," he growls on "See You in My Nightmares," while in "Robocop," West fires off sardonic lines at a neurotic girlfriend hell bent on knowing his every move.

Undoubtedly the death of West's mother Donda West influenced the album's subject matter, and serves as inspiration for "Coldest Winter." Backed by sparse instrumentation and tribal drumbeats, West questions whether he can ever love again and ponders past actions. "If spring can take the snow away/Can it melt it away all our mistakes."

While the album's emotional honesty makes it a compelling listen, West could've done more with the tracks. Some come across as too flat and don't match West's dynamic delivery. Other tracks, such as "Say You Will" lumber on for too long and disrupt the album's flow. And does Lil' Wayne have to be on everyone's album this year. I mean did 'Ye really pay $75,000 for that verse? Also it wouldn't have hurt to have dropped at least a couple of 16's.

These complaints aside, with 808's and Heartbreak, West drops the bravado and endless boasting to deliver his most personal and revealing work.


Allow Me To Introduce Myself...

I thought for my first post I'd say little bit about me and what my vision is for this site. My name is Kevin and I'm a musacholic. (Hi Kevin from other music addicts:). Okay I know that was kinda chessy. But seriously I love music and it is a huge part of my life. I've been playing piano since I was 9, and guitar since I was 17. I'm also a freelance writer. I love pretty much every type of music and am always on the look out for some new band or singer to listen to. This blog will basically be me talking about new groups I discovered online or heard about from friends(or hopefully readers in the near future), reviewing albums, posting videos, songs etc. While I'll sometimes talk about mainstream/major label artists, the focus will be on independent and artists. As time goes on, I also hope to interview bands or singers and post the interviews/articles on the blog. Stay tuned:).
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