I'm late. I'll be the first to admit that. I'm very late. But I stumbled across this song, and I DIG it. And the video, it's like watching "Charlie's Angels" meets "The Six Million Dollar Man" meets "Hart to Hart." In other words, GREATEST VIDEO EVER.

Okay, okay, that may be a bit of overkill. But I dig the song, and I really dig the video. I mean, I woke up singing this song this morning. Which led me to scour youtube for other songs and Amazon for the CD (which I'm still yet to find).

It also motivated this post. Thanks Flight Faclities. I'm tweeting ...

Published in Reviews
Thursday, 24 July 2014 22:13

Arika Kane

Arika Kane is an artist on the verge! She has charted on Billboard, her music has been played in heavy rotation on VH1, and she has performed on the stage with artists like Babyface. Now she is busy promoting her very popular (and very hot) new single. But she took time out of her busy schedule to get "Up Close and Personal."

Ten Questions w/Arika Kane

1. Your sound is decidedly R&B. Are there other blue-eyed soul singers (Teena
Marie, Lisa Stansfied, Annie Lennox, for example) that have influenced you? And
what is it about R&B that moves you?

Singers like Mariah Carey, Aaliyah, Alicia Keys were strong influences on me growing up. I was also influenced by the greats like Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer. I am moved most by R&B because it combines rhythm & blues and always equates to a feeling in your soul that we can all relate to.

2. If you could duet with any singer, who would it be?

Alicia Keys. I feel her soul, luv her!

3. What is something that your fans would find surprising about you?

That I love sports, and I'm a competitive person. I grew up with an older brother so I had
no choice but to hold my own. Lol

4. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Staying true to who I am, my beliefs and my music is my most proud accomplishment ;-)

5. Ifyou had your choice between a career of 10 Grammys but no Gold or Platinum recordings or 10 Gold and Platinum recordings but no Grammys, which would you choose? And why?

Both would be nice! Lol. I would say 10 Gold & Platinum records
because that means the Fans love and actually bought my music. The Grammy
Awards aren't based on sales. But again, both would be nice! ;-)

6. How old were you when you first stood in front of an audience and sang? Were you nervous then and do you ever get nervous now?

I was in 6th grade, it was my school talent show called "pops night" Yes I was nervous the whole time and cried after. Yes I still always get butterflies right before I hit the stage. Though the difference now is that I don't let it overwhelm me. After the 1st few notes, I just relax & enjoy my time on the stage ;-) ...feeeeew

7. Male artists have groupies. Do female artists have groupies as well? (Or in the words of TLC, do they just have "Scrubs?")

Lol!! That was funny. Well I would say the scrubs are the guys around the way you just bump into when your out & about & don't really care who you are. The other level would be theportion of actual respectful male fans. And then of course there is the total
opposite of that where you run into the scary ones! lol

8. Singing is your first choice. But if you had to do something else, what would it be?

Probablydesigning clothes, building brands that support & encourage women. However,
My music career will be a good bridge to still also fulfill those dreams!
Looking forward to the future..

9. Twitter has a 140 character limitation. Does that make it the best place for a "battle" because words have to be selected carefully and to the point? Or is it theworst place because that's not enough characters for a full thought?

Oh it is the best! Being simple & selective is right up my alley, so it's perfect
and also helps me to respond/interact with more of my fans. It also seems more
personal when it's shorter.

10. Tell us about your latest project: Favorite song? Inspiration? Where available?


"It's There" is my latest Single. One of my favorite projects to date. It is
featuring the talented Brian McKnight. The inspiration for the lyrics came from
the strings & the pianos. It's a magical, motion picture ready duet that
speaks to any soulful partnership that has overcome life's obstacles. It's
available now on Itunes, Amazon, Google Play.

Published in Interviews
Saturday, 17 May 2014 15:53

"Sunny Day" - Christopher Blake

Christopher Blake released his album and we had the opportunity to listen to 2 cuts: "Falling Into Your Arms" and the lead single "Sunny Day."

"Falling in Your Arms" shows a smoky and tender side of Christopher Blake. It holds the eerie, nostalgic reality that we all face when once sweet love turns sour – or, at least, stale. The concept alluded to in "Falling" is that of a song being a retaliation weapon or an artful touche to an old lover. As such, the song and its theme are compelling. Christopher does a responsible job in marrying the lyric, vocal delivery, and musical arrangement in a way that helps one feel his pain, longing, and (oh so subtle) revenge.

While I enjoyed "Falling," I didn't enjoy "Sunny Day" quite as much. "Sunny Day" attempts to leverage the good feelings of carefree living. It underscores a hope that the world-at-large should experience such good feelings. And while the musical score – the bouncy track – (guest rap intact) succeed at conveying happiness, I wanted more from Christopher. I was hoping for a better display of his vocal chops – more range, more clarity, more expression. Unfortunately, they aren't there. Consequently the song sounds more like an attempt to score a hit than an expression of Chris's soul.

Had it been up to me, "Falling" would've been Chris's lead single. It shines far longer than his "Sunny Day."

Special Contribution by Tony Johnson

Published in Reviews
Thursday, 01 May 2014 14:14

"Why Did You Leave" - DaLYC

I was sifting through recent Twitter followers and came across "Why Did You Leave" by DaLYC. It's a trio driven, mid-tempo groove, bereft with enough runs for an Olympic track. It also has a 90's throwback feel; it sounds a bit like something Shai or Jagged Edge would've done. I mean that as a compliment. They exhibit range and vocal talent: Listen to "Sick and Tired" and you'll find it to be both dramatic and soulful. 

While all the vocalists on the track are credible artists, it's the voice of the tenor/baritone (starts in second stanza) that adds the soul to this R&B ditty. The background vocals give the song more depth and layers as well, and, the emotional crescendo at the end is greatly appreciated.

My final comment is that this is "grown folks" music; it's R&B adult contemporary. And that's a refreshing change from most of the overly sexual lyrics (and techniques) provided by most youthful R&B artists nowadays.

 

Published in Reviews
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 23:17

"Stay with Me" Sam Smith

Blue-eyed soul - it's a term that's used to describe white artists who embody the rich spirit of R&B vocals. And many have appropriately been given the moniker over the years - Teena Marie (RIP), Lisa Stansfield, Annie Lennox, and Hall & Oates, to name but a few. More recently Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and Ed Sheeran have all shown their ability to master the soulful sounds of rhythm and blues. Add to that list Sam Smith.

The way Sam Smith weaves in and out of falsetto is impressive. Perhaps even more impressive is that he seems to have the same amount of power in his higher and lower register. His voice is rich, colorful, but not showy. He breathes life into his songs.

"Stay with Me" is nothing short of beautiful sadness. It's a poignant song about needing love from someone, even when the love isn't returned. The song is gospel - choir in tact - and the arrangement is plush ... and moving. The song is a emotional knockout.

I've been waiting for a full length album from Sam Smith since I heard his vocals on Disclosure's UK hit "Latch." Sounds like the wait is almost over, and based on what I've heard so far, the product will be well worth it. 

Published in Reviews
Saturday, 22 March 2014 03:03

Last Kings - IAMNAYAH

I'm not sure how Nayah does it. The girl is in school full time, she recently released a video directed by Dallas video auteur Jeff Adair,  she's endeavoring to make a name for herself in the music scene, and now she's finished another song: Last Kings.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nayah has a vocal quality akin to Rihanna. And her sister - Nayah's not Rihanna's - wisely writes songs that feature and compliment Nayah's voice and vocal style extremely well. Kudos to both of them for creating songs so radio-friendly. 

In this love song, Nayah proclaims, "If you put me on a pedastal, please, promise you'll never let me go."

A word to the wise: Having the object of your affection put you on a pedastal can feel damn good. But it hurts like hell, if they ever take you off that pedestal. But hey! I'm jaded and I'm not going to spoil the fun here. LOL

The song is nice addition to Nayah's growing repetoire of songs, and along with "BLVD" is one of my personal favorites from her.

Nayah is searching for her Last King on this song. When she finds him, I'm sure he'll claim her as his Last Queen.

(See ... I do have a romantic side in this old soul!)

Published in Reviews
Saturday, 08 March 2014 13:08

Rhythm & Bloop - Professor Shyguy

Chiptunes: a form of music derived from using the sound chips of old 80's electronics: nintendo, arcade games, and video consoles. Think remixing "Donkey Kong" into an electronica song. Up until this point, all the chiptunes I've heard have fallen squarely into the "house/electronica" groove.

Enter Professor Shyguy. He has combined chiptunes with some 90's classics (Blackstreet, En Vogue, Aaliyah, and TLC, to name a few) for a decidedly fresh take on R&B and chiptunes. Don't get me wrong, it's still electronica. But the songs are R&B.

If you don't enjoy electronica, then you probably won't enjoy chiptunes. But if you do enjoy chiptunes, then this album is very much worth the listen. I was expecting a humorous take on these songs. But this is serious music: from the falsetto ala Justin Timberlake to the variety of talented guest stars. 

For those who aren't old enough to appreciate the 90's, there are a couple of more current remakes including "Tightrope" and "Wrecking Ball."

In his own words, he's mixed "classics into another classic." 

My favorites: "Are You That Somebody." "Poison", and "Heartbreaker."

 

Published in Reviews
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:12

Celebration - Malice and Mario Sweet

So this duo hit me up on twitter, followed me, and asked me to review their song. But by the time I was able to respond, they had unfollowed me. What can ya do? I try to respond to everyone in some way, form, or fashion. And seriously, I'm not that popular. My turn around time isn't much more than three or four days. But I digress. They asked me to listen, and as you know, I listen. Or, in this case, I gave it to my special correspondent to review.

His thoughts:

Celebration: the song has potential. It's a nice groove and the vocalists appear to be good vocalists. But the vocals in themselves are average. As for the lyrics, they are okay. Although they do get better the longer the track plays. 

While I appreciate the group's attempt to reference the past, at times they seemed to be copying it. And this theme - past musical references - seemed to run throughout the four or five songs I heard on this album.  Instead of etching out their own sound, the group's identity is lost admist the sounds of the 70's, 80's, and 90's. To channel the past can be appropriate and honorable. But to be sure, it requires a contemporary twist.

There is potential here. They just need to mine it.

 

Published in Reviews
Saturday, 15 February 2014 04:54

"Baby Luv" - Jade

I have a soft spot in my heart for 80's and 90's R&B. Those two decades were rife with big voices, smooth soul, and a bevy of beautiful and talented female groups: En Vogue, SWV, Xscape, TLC, and Jade.

In the early 90's, Jade racked up their fair share of Gold and Platinum, while appearing in movies, on talk shows, and television. As a matter-of-fact, they own the sole distinction of being the only artist to release a BET "Listening Party" album - an album that garnered them rave reviews.

Alas as it happens far too often to beautiful girl groups, (need I reference the list above again?), Jade's reign on the charts ended too soon admist rumours of internal turmoil.

Fast forward twenty years later and Jade returns to the music scene with a new song called "Baby Luv."

The question for artists who have been away from the music scene for a while is: How do you say true to yourself while still sounding relevant and current? How do you step back into a genre you've led?

Jade has chosen to do it by offering the bouncy "Baby Luv" that is a current as it is retro. Profoundly in "girl group" form, this song is fun and frolic.  It's an ode to Martha and the Vandellas; it's reminiscient of yesterday but completely today. 

So here's to hoping the song will get the airplay it deserves. In the meantime, welcome back, Jade!

Published in Reviews
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 03:51

15 Greatest Hooks of Hip Hop

Marty A. Johnson – talk show host – and I have known each other for a long time, and music is a shared passion. While we agree on most things musically, we don't agree on everything. So when we decided to compile a list of the greatest hip hop hooks, it only took a matter of minutes to realize that we were going to have to complete two list – if our friendship was to remain intact!

Check out the lists below. Let us know what you think. Who did we miss? Who would you add? What are your thoughts? Have we selected the GREATEST HOOKS of HIP HOP?

What Marty said:

1. Biggie and Faith, "One More Chance." Biggie Smalls was and still is one of the greatest rappers of our time. His music speaks for itself.

2. Method Man f/ Mary J, "All I Need." Mary J and Method Man won a Grammy for this one.

3. 2 Pac f/ KC and Jo Jo, "How You Want it." This joint is timeless and always get the club jumping.

4. Snoop and Dre, "Aint Nothing But a G Thing." It doesn't matter where you are, as soon as you hear Snoop, you are going to throw your hands up.

5. Jay Z and Mary, "Can't Knock The Hustle." This is one of my personal favorites joints of ALL TIMES. It's Mary and Jay – Z enough said.

6. LL and Boyz II Men, "Hey Love." LL COOL J is the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T and Boy II Men is the biggest selling male R&B group of all time. Both had HUGE crossover appeal. They were an unlikely pair to collab. But "Hey Love" reached all audiences.

7. NAS and Lauryn Hill, "If I Rule The World." When Lauryn was at the top of her game she ruled the charts. Too bad she will NEVER reclaim her glory. At least she will go down in the history books as one of first female artists to win multiple Grammys in one night.

8. Ja Rule and Lil Mo, "Put it On Me." In the late 90's and early 2000's Lil Mo and Ja Rule were the go-to people if you needed a dope hook or a featured rapper on your record. Why not put the two together and create magic?

9. 50 and The Game, "Hate it or Love it." A perfect combination of East Coast meeting West Coast, these two proved unity does exists between both coasts

10. Fat Joe and Terror Squad, "Lean Back." At the time when people thought Fat Joe's career was done, he came back strong with "Lean Back" - a street anthem with a catchy hook that we all loved.

11. The Roots and Eryka, "You Got Me." The Roots are one of the most talented and unrated groups around. "You Got Me" earned them a Grammy and the recognition they deserve.

12. Biggie and R Kelly, "Fucking You Tonight." Though never released as an official signal, "Fucking You Tonight" always get the clubs jumping and the girls in bed! Lol. This is one of those records that is timeless!!!

13. Lil Kim and Puff, "No Time." From Lil Kim's debut album "Hard Core," she reigned high as the "Queen Bee." In the 90's Puffy and Kim were the Bonnie and Clyde of Hip Hop.

14. Kanye f/ Jamie Fox, "Gold Digger." This 2005 release from Kanye made a huge impact and proved Kanye has pure talent.

15. Big Pun f/ Joe, "Don't Want To Be A Player." Big Pun was the first Spanish artist to go platinum on the R&B charts, and he had a MAJOR cross over hit. The smooth R&B sound from Joe gave it that extra flavor.

I said:

1. Biggie and Faith, "One More Chance." Few would argue that Biggie is one of the greatest hip hop artists that we've seen. This song is one of his many classics. But as much as it's about Biggie and his ability to "mac," it's about Faith and her willingness to give him "one more chance."

2. Kurtis Blow and Alyson Williams, "Basketball." Many don't even know who sung the hook on this ol skool classic. But it was Alyson Williams – the first lady of Def Jam – who's sultry contralto makes playing basketball sound sexy.

3. Method Man and Mary J Blige, "All I Need." Mary won a Grammy for this performance; and she should have.

4. Ja Rule and Ashanti, "Always On Time." Love 'em or hate 'em, it's hard to ignore a hook that helped make Ashanti a force to be reckoned with on the R&B charts.

5. Lil Kim and Biggie Smalls, "Crush On You." Uncredited on the album cover but as clear as a bell was Biggie Smalls rapping, "I know you heard me on the radio ..."

6. Lauryn Hill, "Lost One." Before Lauryn Hill divorced music (and some might say her senses as well) she was a profound singer and lyricist. Here she proves both.

7. Kanye and Jamie Fox and Ray Charles, "Gold Digger." - Jamie proved his was worthy to sing AND play Ray Charles.

8. The Roots and Erykah Badu, "You Got Me." - Long distance love affairs are hard and Erykah emoted the difficulty, the pain, and the love every time she took the mic here.

9. Rick Ross and Chrisette Michelle, "Aston Martin Music." Chrisette is a delicious blend of R&B and neo-soul,her voice made you wanna rent your own two-seater and call ya girl ...

10. Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey, "I Know What You Want." It was an understated performance in which Mariah didn't break glass until the song faded. Even Busta noticed, it was an amazing touch that heightened the song while never taking it away from Busta.

11. B.O.B and Bruno Mars,  "Nothin' On You." Too obvious? Perhaps. But the hook is so strong that you think this is a song featuring a rapper, not a rap featuring a singer. And that says a lot.

12. Ghostface Killah and Madame Majestic, "Cherchez La Ghostface." One word: Memorable.

13. Wale and Tiara Thomas, "Bad." There's a reason this song went platinum: Tiara Thomas. She's not bragging about being bad. She's pained by it. The vocals are raw and real.

14. Biggie Smalls and Kelly Price, "Mo Money Mo Problems." Kelly Price channeled Diana Ross and she was on point.

15. Talib Kwel, "I Try." I'm not sure if there's a more underplayed or more talented rapper than Talib Kweli. He blends socially conscious rhymes with beats designed to make you move. And in the middle of this is Mary J, she's trying. But it's effortless. 

Published in Interviews
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