Friday, 13 December 2013 02:45

"The New Groove" - Ivan the Paynter

Ivan the Paynter told me to check out his new track. It's called "The New Groove." But he admits in the opening lyrics it's an "old school song." Think Digital Underground, think a Tribe Called Quest. It's got keyboard; it's got horns. Think funky rap. 

Here's why I say that some of the best music isn't being played on the radio. Indie music allows for retro, renaissance, and creativity. And when the artists isn't chasing fame, it allows them to step out of the box and create - or recreate - infinite grooves. Even Ivan states that sometimes modern music chokes. And I'm tempted to agree with him.

"The New Groove" isn't for those who like their rap hardcore. Ivan the Paynter says that if you're "sick of the radio, then this is the cure."  I'd add that if you like your rap with a groove, if you like your rap with a bit of funk, then let Paynter paint you his picture.

(Paynter paint you a picture. Was that a bad line? Nah ... I don't think so. LOL)


Published in Reviews
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 23:52

"The Famous Nile Earls" - Imhotepshakur

"The Famous Nile Earls" is both melodic and retro. The vibe is percussion and guitar, and the sound is beguiling. The music could easily be the background for a Shaft lovemaking scene or an intimate dinner with friends. It's a dreamy song that should be accompanied with a glass of wine or heard on a solo-road trip while one reflects on the meaning of life. It's serene, it's sexy, it's scintillating. The song well illustrates the power of the instrumental. 

Published in Reviews
Friday, 06 December 2013 20:55

"Show 'em What You Got" - Bobby Electric

On "Show Em What You Got" Bobby Electric promises that this is your chance to "get up and do your dance." 

To encourage that feat, Electric provides a serious "hip hop" sound intended to make move. And he hits the spot seemingly effortlessly. The beat is ... well ... it's electric, and the chant of the chorus (and other portions of the song) propel the song forward.

"You got one chance," he repeats. Thanks Bobby for providing this chance. Ya don't wanna miss it. Do what you want. Do it freestyle, Do ya thang. Whateva it is, make sure ya dance. 


Published in Reviews
Friday, 29 November 2013 23:05

"Success" - Young Rado ft. L Hussle

Young Rado tweeted "Listen to my song." So I listened. I mean, that's what I do. I listen to music. 

I'm glad he tweeted me. "Success" featuring L. Hussle is a refreshing change from much of the rap that fills my mailbox. Rather than bragging about success; the artists are encouraging others to be successful.

"Stay focused, and get motivated. Hang around people that's gettin' elevated." I gotta say, that's some damn good advice.

Above and beyond the positive lyrics, the production is tight and the artists exchange lead smoothly. 

In a genre that rife with self-congratulatory songs, it's nice to hear an artist who's content to stay humble and uplift others.

Published in Reviews
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 14:58

RC & The Gritz

It isn’t often that artists experience success on their first commercial venture, and when they do, it’s even less often that they stay humble and accessible. But RC Williams, of RC and the Gritz, has managed to do both.

At the age of 19, RC was part of God’s Property, the backup band for Kirk Franklin, best known for their rousing hit “Stomp.” That song led to a “BET” video, a performance on Jay Leno, the Soul Train Awards, and meeting stars like Puff Daddy, Snoop, and Whitney Houston.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and RC has become an established artist of his own.

He and the Gritz are Erykah Badu’s backup band, and his work on her album, “Worldwide Underground,” resulted in a Grammy nomination.

He has toured with Snoop Lion, written for Raheem Devaughn, and worked with artists from Prince to Jill Scott. Each month his star power brings artists such as Bilal, Stokely, and Eric Roberson to the funky Deep Ellum joint on Elm Street called “The Prophet Bar.”

With those accomplishments and that influence under his belt, some might expect RC to be trippin’ over his own ego. Rest assured, he is not. For all his talent in writing, producing, and playing, for all his travels – Europe, Asia, and coast to coast – RC remains humble.

Perhaps it’s due to his beginnings. RC is a Dallas native. Born and raised. Like many musicians, his roots are in Gospel, and he will readily adds that, at one point, his mother’s spirituality was so strong that she didn’t want him playing secular music.

But as they both journeyed down the path he was destined to travel, they learned that music is music. And, more importantly, that music calls RC to play.

As you sit back and talk to RC, you can’t help but wonder how he has continued to maintain success in an industry where success can be fleeting. He credits it to “creating relationships.” RC believes that creating relationships and then building on them is fundamental to success.

“You don’t have to get out of Dallas to succeed. Relationships … making good relationships is the key.” Build good strong relationships and be willing to help each other out. Do “friendship trades.” Appreciate the talent that surrounds you.

Those relationships, that talent, and those friendship trades have all culminated in what’s next for RC and the Gritz: the release of their first album entitled “Pay Your Tab.”

The title is inspired by a Prophet Bar waiter requesting that RC tell the patrons to “close their tab,” and RC describes the album as “groovy, emotional, and catchy.” The funky disc features performances from Raheem, Snoop, and, of course, Erykah Badu.

Interestingly, the Gritz weren’t formed to create an album; they were formed to play some gigs around Dallas in their downtime. But somewhere along the way, something organic happened: People asked, the songs came, the writing began, and it was a natural process.

This isn’t to say the album came easy. RC admits that “doing it the first time was a real learning experience.” But when you love your work, it rarely seems like work at all. What’s clear is that RC loves his work.

So with Grammy nominations, TV performances, and worldwide tours under his belt, is there much left for RC and his Gritz?

According to RC, the answer is yes.

“I feel like this is a beginning. My plan is to build an empire down here and to take the initiative to build artists from the city of Dallas. I’m blessed to be where I am. But I’m not stopping here.”

RC and the Gritz are blessed to be here and Dallas is blessed to have him as a native son.

RC and the Gritz is composed of RC Williams, Braylon Lacy, Cleon Edwards, Claudia Melton, Jah Born, Taron Lockett, and Evan Knight.

“Pay Your Tab” by RC and The Gritz is available via iTunes, CDBaby, and other digital outlets. It should be available at retail stores the first week in December.

Published in Interviews
Friday, 22 November 2013 00:14

"Hush" - RC and the Gritz

RC and the Gritz.

Grits because they are the epitome of soul food? Or grits because the word implies the need for grit, for strength, for resilience? Perhaps their name - RC and the Gritz - is a fusion of both ideas. Because fusion is what RC and the Gritz have stirred up in their gumbo called "Hush."

The lyrics themselves are simple: "I'm about to lose my cool. Girl, you need to hush."

And just as good soul food starts with simple ingredients and then is layered with all types of spicy, sugary, and salty goodness, so it this song. This song is a boiling pot of soul and hip hop. It's a sprinking of jazz, pinch of funk, and sauteed in R&B.

The song is not meant to be an appetizer, it's the main course. It's a delicious bowl of grits. Give it a listen and eat up. While you're doing that, sit back and enjoy the video. I gotta say, I keep seeing great videos by Dallas' artist; and I keep seeing Jeff Adair's named attached to them ... 

Published in Reviews
Friday, 15 November 2013 01:42

"Gettin' It" - the Bodega Brovas

I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, the video to the Bodega Brovas' song "Gettin' It" or the song itself. And I mean that as a compliment.

"Gettin It" is about getting respect, attention, and an audience. And if this song is a measure, then the trio deserves all three. Armed with some witty word play and more than a few cultural references, the Bodega Brovas aren't afraid to make their feelings known. 'Like a 30 year old virgin, they are tired of getting jerked ...' so it's time for action, they wont' be held down anymore, they are ready to carry the torch. 

The song is an anthem for any group that's toiled underground and has been trying fiercely to get it. Get on. Get noticed. Get Paid.

All this against the backdrop of a tongue-in-cheek highly spirited and humorous video. That's artistry - taking yourself seriously but not too seriously. The Bodega Brovas are "Gettin' It," and you should too ...

Published in Reviews
Monday, 11 November 2013 22:03

"Crazy Love" - Klass Money ft. Leila Capri

They say that men give love to have sex and women give sex to get love. The line between those two ideas are blended and blurred on Klass Money's sex-driven "Crazy Love."

What could've descended into another song about a rapper's sexual prowess - those songs are a dime a dozen - melts into a song where the making love leads to falling in love. 

Songs like this don't work without a strong hook and a pretty voice to sing it. Fortunately, "Crazy Love" has both. Featured artist Leila Capri rises to the occasion and serenades (sounding a bit like Amerie). 

The production values are strong and the rhymes are nice.

 Lots of songs like this come my way. This one is one of my favorites.


Published in Reviews
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 03:37

"How I Feel" - Flo Rida

Flo Rida, the sample king, is back with his latest song "How I Feel." And like most of his ditties, it contains an interpolation of someone else's song. Yes, he has done it again.  He has remixed Nina Simone and her classic "Feeling Good" with a song of his own. I gotta say, I was immediately irritated. The sample seems to desecrate the song. Nina's song is about freedom, hope, liberty. Flo's song is about excess, cash, and bling. Geez! Times like this I wonder, is sampling a display of creativity or a lack of it? But that's another blog. 

Regardless of how I feel about Flo Rida's endless samples, he has managed to turn them into hits. He sampled Brenda Russell in "I Cry," he sampled Dead of Alive in "Right Round," and Etta James in "Good Feeling." All those songs went multi-platinum. So maybe Flo's motto is, "if it ain't broke, why fix it?

As for me, I was gritting my teeth through most of "How I Feel." But I have to admit that the beat was somewhat ingratiating and by the time I got over the sacrilege of  including Nina in this song, I began to tap my foot to the tune. I'm guessing that was somewhere around the 2.17 mark of a 2.50 minute song ...

Published in Reviews
Friday, 25 October 2013 21:37

“Give it 2 U” - Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke has always been the poor man's Justin Timberlake. Both are shining examples of blue-eyed soul; Robin just hadn't created a formula to reach the top of the charts. That changed this year with “Blurred Lines,” retro-soul at its finest, it topped the charts before finally descending into tedious overplay. Can't blame Robin for that. More plays = more money. He has since released his follow up. It's called “Give it 2 U.” While the disc isn't retro-soul, it is souful. Unfortunately, tt's also not nearly as playful as “Blurred Lines” and 2Chainz (the guest rapper this time) isn't TI.

It's not that I don't like “Give It 2 U.” It's actually not bad. I just wish he had given it to us without the rap. Or maybe he needs to get back to Justin's roadmap. You won't hear Justin partnering with 2Chainz. He got's the “Holy Grail” and Jay-Z in his camp.

The quality of a song can be measured in lots of way – writing, production, vocals. Or sometimes it's just bad rapping that kills it.

Published in Reviews
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