Saturday, July 31, 2010
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
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.
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.
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."
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.