Just how Maxwell leaves the ladies (and gentlemen) dreamy and floaty, his comeback single “Pretty Wings” is simply muphorically sound. I’m particularly looking forward to the forthcoming album, Blacksummer’s Night, scheduled to hit July 7th. From this first single, we may be in for a Embrya kind of treat. Enjoy!
Revive Da Live was founded back in 2006 by show promoter, producer, and musican Meghan Stabile, to remind us of how important jazz is to popular music – it’s not only for academic consumption. The last event was at Le Poisson Rouge and was a journey through “Hip Hop: 1942,” which featured the Revive Da Live Jazz ensemble and guest emcees, with band and participants fully clad in 1940s regalia in remembrance of the classy era. Past artists have included Bilal, AG from Showbiz and AG, Guru, Jeru da Damaja, Large Professor, to name a few.
If you’re in the New York area, the second installment of Revive Da Live is tomorrow night, again at Le Poisson Rouge. This concert is entitled, “Hip Hop 1953″ and will highlight jazz standards through 1953 through 1970. The roster is big! Paying homage to one of hip hop’s greatest producers/DJs, Pete Rock, and featuring emcees Akrobatik, J-Live, Stimulus, and female rapper, Eagle Nebula. The show’s goal is to remind us of our jazz history which inspired some of our legendary Hip Hop anthems.
Any artist given the opportunity to be affiliated with P. Diddy and be signed to his Bad Boy Entertainment label, would think his muscle would be a sure symbol of success. I was skeptical of this Bad Boy/Janelle Monáe union as major labels generally don’t know what to do with eclectic artists and this woman cannot, nor would we want her to be tamed. And that is exactly what happened with Janelle Monáe; her Metropolis: The Chase Suite received moderate sales leading her to pursue other options to continue her musical endeavors.
Despite this, Monáe won hearts through her tireless schedule of performances throughout the country. I’m now constantly checking her website for updates on new releases. She recently performed at the My Coke Fest earlier this month and from that event, collaborated on the pop single “Open Happiness,” with a few artists who also performed at the Fest (Cee-Lo, Brendon from Panic At the Disco, and Travis from Gym Class Heroes).
Now working independently through her Wondaland Arts Society label, where their plans are to release material quarterly, like serialized programs, due to the changed face of music distribution and consumers having the ability to buy single songs at a time or get free downloads.
If, by some strange fluke, you do not own Metropolis: The Chase Suite, do get it. I’ve got a strong feeling some noodles will hit by summer.
Hearing K-os first on “Supersstar Pt.1″ from his debut back in 2003, I knew he was someone to watch. Now with his 4th studio album Yes!, I truly enjoy hearing an artist who has grown into being. K-os manages to draw all of his influences into one project, without it sounding in the least bit contrite. Taking from rap, soul, rock, reggae, electronica, and pop and apparently less politically charged than his previous albums, Yes! is more of a fun album to make you laugh, dance, or just chill and listen. Wearing all hats in the production of Yes!, flowing between rapping strong verses and singing melodic hooks, we are never left wishing he’d return to one format over the other. It just works.
With two platinum selling albums (Atlantis and Joyful Rebellion), recipient of two Juno Awards in 2003 and 2005, and the Source Award for Best International Hip Hop Artist in 2003, Yes! is somewhat of a rebirth for K-os – on a new label, Nettwerk/Universal, the now Vancouver-based upstart label. Teaming again with Metric‘s Emily Haines and The Dear’s Murry Lightburn, these Canadian maestros create the funk rock “Uptown Girl,” my favorite on the album. Yes! can be purchased on Amazon and on K-os‘s website via iTunes.
“Uptown Girl” from Yes!
“Astronaut” from Yes!
I’m always on the watch for hot rap beats accompanied by rappers with a sick flow, but in recent years have shied away from rap due to its current mundane and manufactured formula not worthy of my attention. However, in the past two years, I’ve seen a resurgence of artists who are changing the face of rap and bringing me back to love again. Diamond District are making my love grow a bit stronger.
Oddisee, the founder of Diamond District is no stranger to the game, having worked with Talib Kweli, Muhsinah, Jazzy Jeff, Buckshot, Saigon, to name a few; his production skills are serious. Group members, who are also solo artists, include X.O. and yU and together they create that lost rap sound we crave. And they do it effortlessly in In The Ruff and the latest solo release by yU with Before Taxes. All three members are from DC, the murder capitol of America yet home of America’s most powerful and wealthiest. This reality is the source of their material where they portray their life experiences, struggles and observations, while offering solace for people in America. Diamond District has brought back the dirty east coast grime our fathers in rap would be proud of.
Although Eryka Badu started B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non-Profit Development), a Dallas based non-profit organization to create community-based programs for inner city youth in 1997, it’s beginning to gain more exposure with its current venture with visual artist Steve Lopez, who created the “Amerykahn Promise” painting of Erkya above. Maybe it’s her complexity, randomness, and uniqueness, which make her such an arresting subject, causing artists to galvanize her in such incredibly ways. “Amerykahn Promise” is truly captivating. Using the Giclée (pronounced “zhee-clay”) technique of printing, only 100 repros have been made for this auction, each is personally signed by Erkya with a portion of all proceeds going to the B.L.I.N.D. organization. Watch the video below to hear more about the project.
Maybe it’s her layered style of singing or what appears to be her inherent fascination with the complexities of the mathematics she applies to her voice, why you are drawn to Muhsinah with a gravitational force. She defies neo-soul to what is now aptly classified as “progressive future soul.” With a bunch of EP’s released over the past five years and having completed a 25-city tour with Common last year, this singer and producer is a force to be reckoned with. She’s about to rise from under the radar and shine brightly. If you haven’t listened to Muhsinah, you need to wrap your ears around her! Her new album The Oscillations: Triangle is due to release early next month. So pique your ears below or check out the downloads she has available on her website.
If you’re in the New York area, she will be performing at Raw Fusion’s party at APT on Tuesday, April 28th.
“From Here” from the forthcoming album The Oscillations: Triangle
“Discovery” from Day.Break 2.0
The life of Terry Callier is a redemptive tale of the constant push and pull between responsibility and doing the thing you love and believe in. He gained moderate success in the 70s and early 80s, recording and writing for notable artists such as The Dells, Jerry Butler, and Curtis Mayfield. But after gaining full-custody of his daughter in 80s, he walked away from his musical career.
He reemerged when British DJ’s in the late 80s discovered his music and began to fuse it with their underground sound of the time, Acid Jazz. By the early 90s, UK label This Is Acid Jazz contacted him regarding the remix of one of his songs, which lead to Callier traveling back and forth to Europe for music festivals and concerts, working on various labels such as Verve and the now defunct Talking Loud.
Although his foot was half only half way through door, Callier has over 16 albums under his belt and has worked with Massive Attack, 4Hero, and Koop. His new album, Hidden Conversations, which comes out later this month, is a journey through political struggles, love loss, with moody, yet melodic vocals, over atmospheric arrangements, stretching Callier’s artistry to new heights in a way that flows naturally. The song “Wings” below was co-written with Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, who co-wrote and produced three songs on the album. Mmm, I wonder what Horace Andy is doing these days…
“Wings” from Hidden Conversations
Imagine sitting on a beach, looking out at the ocean, hearing the roaring yet calming waves, while the sun gently kisses your skin as you contemplate your past, future, present. A wonderful feeling, right? That’s exactly how you are left feeling as you listen to the opening song, “Miss Out On You” featuring the lush vocals of Michelle Amador on Yellowtail‘s Grand & Putnam compilation on Bagpak Records. Grand & Putnam features a great mix of artists who assist Yellowtail in showcasing his versatility as a producer, from jazz infusion, inspirational soul to aggressive bruk beats and hip hop sounds.
I’ve noticed a definite pattern in female artists. It’s not so much the look, but more a thing of the female singer taking from the past and putting their own spin on it. The ladies below take from the 70s and 80s and deliver songs that are fresh, sexy, funky, and playful. Their talent shows us why we need to pay attention.
Raye 6 – Compared to a Prince protege, this woman exudes sexuality with a non-conformist, independent attitude that the Purple One’s counterparts lacked. Seeing Raye 6 live with her Bubble girls in tow, is a visual treat. Her in-your-face posturing is a sure turn-on for all onlookers as her shows are sexually charged in a kinky burlesque way. Raye 6′s new mix tape L.I.P.S – Love Is Powerfully Sexy (produced by Raye 6 & guided by Dj Victorious) is available for free download, where she pays homage to her musical influences from the 80s adding her own voice and interpretations. Remixes on L.I.P.S – Love Is Powerfully Sexy includes Prince, Eurythmics, Nas, Kanye and others. The following video provides a look into the world of Raye 6. Definitely a woman to watch!
Now this young woman, Purple St. James formerly ZahZarah, has been here for quite some time. A former backing singer for Eryka Badu, with a ridiculous vocal range, and the ability to morph into different musical styles effortlessly; it’s no doubt that this woman has worked with some of the best in entertainment, including Prince, Chaka Khan, R.Kelly, Bilal, The Roots, Talib Kweli, and J*Davey. Now as Purple St. James, her style has evolved into more experimental territories. In her live performances, she’s able to channel the sweet innocence of Minnie Ripperton, the fierce diva of Nona Hendrix, and the vibrant energy of Chaka Khan. This woman can SING! Her last project was the EP The Prelude, which was an introduction to her alter ego, Purple St. James, a super heroine, gearing people for her soon to be released, The Ballad of Purple St. James. Be sure to go to her MySpace page to listen to more by this funky little lady.
MAdisonFlow of Belle – this Louisiana born, singer, songwriter, and producer, now residing in New York City, has been in the entertainment business for quite sometime. As a stylist, MAdisonFlow is able to fuse her own personal style and pair it to her musical tastes, which is pure Minneapolis, 80s pop, rock, and hip hop infused R&B. The song below, “More Than Enuf” combines MAdisonFlow’s bubbly and fun personality over a punk 80s groove, and sprinkled with sexy, highlighting her diverse musical qualities. To hear more MAdisonFlow, also check out her MySpace page.
“More Than Enuff” by MAdisonFlow
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