Thursday, November 08, 2007

Notes: T.I. - T.I. vs. T.I.P.

Maybe it made sense that my cultural rut would keep me from listening to this album for so long. Mr. Harris might be headed for the land of "Premature Ejaculation." Just as an eagerly anticipated movie in which he participated is about to be released, he gets arrested buying machine guns and silencers. After a year that included Grammy wins, hit collaborations, and his second consecutive #1 album, he ends it with this dumb move. What would push a man from Chevrolet commercials to the depths of stupidity?

This album might have been foreshadowing. He split himself into his dueling personas. T.i. represents the streetsmart businessman. T.I.P. is his more grizzled street persona, the trap loyalist he could not let go. The fact that he made a concept album where songs were done embodied in those personas was indicative of the thoughts of a troubled man.

Broken down in acts, T.I.P gets first crack. When I listened, I wondered why people thought this album wasn't that good. He dives into the lead single "Big Sh*t Poppin'" and the energy never lets up. Even on the repetitive "Dopeman", he still manages to engage. Jay-Z offers a rhyme and Busta Rhymes continues his streak of excellent guest appearances on two separate tracks that continue the fury T.I.P. offers as an argument.

But when T.I. gets his turn, he mainly fizzles. It starts off well enough with a Hammond touched beat by Just Blaze. Even here, he doesn't sound all that compelling. The rest really isn't much better. Wyclef labors over a track and Nelly (where has he been exactly?) offers explicit uninteresting tripe on another. The savior (as usual) is an appearance from Eminem on "Touchdown." He manages some sort of energy before the final act, which is the confrontation between the two.

T.I.P.'s reappearance is welcome, but it's not enough. By this time, it's all just a bit too tiring and not worth the effort. But still, in light of his recent actions, it makes sense that his T.I.P. leanings were the more inspired offerings. The intro track leads off with a string of soundbites about his life over the past year. The accolades are mentioned but quickly turn into a string of his misfortunes including his partner's miscarriage and his close friend's murder. At the end, we hear T.I. that he doesn't care about the business side any more. It all sounds like a silly tirade that even includes the names of label executives. But maybe it was all a bit too honest.

Too bad it might be a while till we hear the answer.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sliver: Joe - All The Things

There are some things that are not as good as they used to be. One of those is the well done syrupy R & B ballad, the ones that populate late night television commercials (and maybe the Soul Food reruns). The best embodied a couple of common threads. For one, there was a seductive voice that led you through the proceedings, which had to include loads of melismas. The music then had to have a soulful feel, even if it was electronic. It just needed to have some real earth to it. Finally, it had to have a certain lyrical element, one that vibed with even the lowest common denominator, but was still charmingly cheesy. Promises are made literally and figuratively, sometimes lewd, sometimes insane. But when all the gears are clicking, there is nothing more seductive. During this type of song, any lovemaking would be accentuated.

Joe plays the role of Lothario on this track, a classic from the 1990's that has all the parts. As he steers his tenor from quiet passion to smoldering rage, Joe hits all the points necessary. He derides the partner of the serenaded all while promising to "light up all the candles all around." He then proceeds to ask directions to Pleasure Town: "show me to the subway, I'll go down". Did I mention that he "heard he's got you on lockdown, but I got the master key"? And though I might not have included the cheesiest part, Joe sells it all. It may be his pure conviction. Maybe the bed of steady bass with occasional splatterings of acoustic guitar hypnotize into just wanting to be immersed in sexual satisfaction. Whatever. The appeal lies in the fact that sex is as basic as you can get. It might be complicated leading up to it, but the actual act is quite plain and straightforward. This song is stripped down to its basics.

Nowadays, the songs are either to explicit or they feel cold and soulless. Often they are both. But sometimes they succeed just because they speak the common vernacular. The classics were a bit more playful. I might miss the romanticism of those mainstays.

The song is good. You should take a listen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aisle 5: The Extremes of Identification

Check my page and you'll see that the most played track is Musiq Soulchild's "Betterman." Of course this is a skewed number. It simply means that the song I've listened to the most while the computer was sending information to the central server is "Betterman." But while its not the most played song, it is pretty up there overall just because I was so enamored with the words when I first heard it. And the worst part was that I had no one to share the very positive sentiment in the song. A woman between a lover and friend who consistently makes me want to do something with my life? I wish. But those are the breaks.

On the contrary, the oft mentioned Mario's "How Could You?" (I prefer the Storch remix) hits a little too close to home. Skipping over the repeated references to mastery of the ghetto kama sutra, when I first digested the lyrics after I learned that one of my relationships had really disintegrated to the point of no return, it was all a little too real. When he belts out "Sometimes I cant help but think that another man's gonna get the one made for me", I thought they used one of the precogs from Minority Report and then took the emotions I would eventually feel and channeled it into their song.

Why does it happen to us? The love songs and even the ones that glorify self actualizaion like Jill Scott's "Golden" are often written because the writer was inspired by a specific occurrence relating to the song. How come we never find them when we care about someone and might actually relate? And why do the ones that talk of the heartbreak and anguish stick with us and sting even deeper? The heartbreak songs have been so real for me that I have listened to some and understood why someone was so upset with me. Floetry's "If I Was A Bird" comes to mind.

Part of it must be that drama always translates better to the musical arena and the euphoria of love is hard to articulate. But maybe our pain makes us more open to commisseration. Maybe this a peculiar problem to myself, a boy with too much love to give. Regardless of the case, I know that more people will sing harder when they're listening to "Since U Been Gone" and stare dreamy eyed at the sound of "Hey There Delilah." Such is life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Premature Ejaculation: Ma$e

Mason Betha has had the life that seems possible only in America. A young black man with a hard scrabble childhood somehow pulls it together to get a basketball scholarship to a small New York school but pushes that to the side to become a wildly successful rapper only to push that to the side to find God but then come back to try and reclaim what he left behind.

Ma$e was in the right place at the right time. Bad Boy Records in the mid 1990s was as Puffy claimed - unstoppable. For a stretch each record they released garnered enough radio airplay to basically goad listeners into purchasing enough copies that most releases went gold, or at least flirted with the figure. Ma$e had the luxury of being the first real rap push after Biggie had bulldozed a whole in the market. Puffy's Hitmen jacked some Diana Ross to make a bubbly crossover hit for the affluent arrogant Clinton generation. It was Biggie's song, what would eventually prove to be an anthem in the days following his death, but Ma$e appeared and stole just enough shine to propel his star. By the time he appeared with his own solo, another modest hit with Puffy had solidified his reputation as the fun-loving mumbler.

And it brought success. Everybody wanted to revel in their riches and Bad Boy provided the soundtrack. The videos popped with color and wealth was flaunted everywhere. Ma$e epitomized the ethos. Shiny suits, hot women, fast cars. But he was a trailblazer as well. On "Lookin' At Me," that is Ma$e taking a chance with the then unknown Neptunes. In addition, the guy wasn't so bad at rhyming. I'm not saying he should sign up for any freestyle battles. But take a good listen to some of his verses. Places like "24 Hours To Live," a New York should-be classic, you can hear what may have been the last remnants of the Murda Ma$e he submerged to get the mainstream success. There lies an introspection weaved with the clever wordplay that permeates most of his offerings.

Just as he was about to release a sophomore album to capitalize on the debut's success, he left it on the table for God. The album went gold with only one real single and video, which shows how popular he really was. His attempts to return were mostly derided and laughed at. His affiliation with G-Unit just served to make him more enigmatic and even less important since that wave has crested. But what might have happened had he continued. Would he have felt comfortable and let Murda back out? Would he have beat Cam to the finish line in terms of the eccentric New York MC throne? Who knows? It was fun while it lasted

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Extended Play: Who Says America Doesn't Have Common Sense?

My newest internet relationship, wait my only one, is with Doodlebug, who I met through She is lucky enough to be receiving Common at a festival in her native Poland, but asked for a playlist so she could be more familiar. In celebration of him having his first #1 album, I thought I would include my personalized liner notes. I really have too much time on my hands.

1) "I Used To Love H.E.R." (Resurrection) - Before he got all big with his more romantic offerings and Kanye productions, this was Common's most popular song. It still is regarded as one of the best hip-hop singles in history. This song came out in 1994 and is basically an opus over his love affair with hip-hop music. The laments he made about its state at that point actually ruffled a few feathers. Because of some misinterpretation he ended up in a beef with Ice Cube. It's a touchpoint for his career and he references the song in a couple of the other choices in this playlist

2) In My Own World (Check the Method) (Resurrection) - Resurrection didn't produce hits other than "H.E.R." It was mostly just a great cohesive album, maybe still his best. It served as justification for all the hype he received after he was mentioned in the Unsigned Hype column of the Source magazine, which at that point was a big deal. Biggie was also in that column. Common is probably the 2nd most popular name to come out of it. This track features No I.D. on the first verse and that was his producer for the first three albums and he was pretty decent by underground standards. You might recognize the sample cause Kanye references it in his first verse of "Jesus Walks"

3) Maintaining (Resurrection) - One of my favorites. I could have chose "Thisisme" but this one is more playful and we don't always have to be somber. Amazing wordplay . Just a young guy having fun.

4) De La Soul ft. Common - The Bizness - This was probably my first introduction to him because I got into De la due to the Tribe Called Quest. You can tell the whole song is just an exercise in emceeing but Common kind of steals the show just cause of his cadence and punchlines. This is one of the songs where he references #1: "I used to love her, but now I bone her"

5) Retrospective For Life ft. Lauryn Hill (One Day It'll All Make Sense) - This is a great album and randomly enough someone actually went through the trouble of making an alternative playlist for the album on a forum I was on years back. And the alternate playlist does make the album better. But this was his ploy to move off the momentum of Resurrrection. So he signed up Lauryn who was still in her Fugees days and still in the highest esteem. It's an excellent track that's a message to the child he aborted, based on a Stevie Wonder sample that Lauryn copped. Didi. Lauryn produced it as well.

6) Blackstar ft. Common - Respiration - You could not be a fan of underground hip-hop in the late 90s and not at least know this song, if not love it. Off of Blackstar's only album, this is a clinic in emceeing. Mos Def, Kweli, and Common all do their darndest with the city as the backdrop of their rhymes.

7) The Roots ft. Common - Act Too (Love Of My Life) - This is a track off the Roots breakthrough album Things Fall Apart. This serves as an unofficial sequel to "H.E.R ." where Common gives an update on the state of affairs he described in the original. The difference is that his skill has gotten better since this came out five years later. Also, he makes reference to those he takes issue with, but still in a respectful way. To dissect the many references he makes in the rhyme, to himself and others, could take another e-mail. But it just shows his versatility and creativity.

8) Common ft. Sadat X - 1-9-9-9 - This is the third of four straight songs of his free agent period. The Lauryn collabo did not bring in the sales his record company had hoped for and they severed ties. He made this song and it became an underground hit. Everyone thought he had signed to Rawkus, who released the single, and it made sense cause then Rawkus' phoenix was rising. It turned out it was just the lead single to their Soundbombing II compilation, a classic in its own right. But over the Hi-Tek track, we get more of the introspective and amazingly poetic Common. The metaphors and similes are in full display on this track. "Hold the mic like a memory"

9) Pharoahe Monch ft. Common & Talib Kweli - The Truth - The last of the free agent tracks before his own album on MCA. This was also a Rawkus release, part of a year long period that included the Soundbombing II compilation, Mos Def's first solo album, and Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek). Another introspective clinic this time based on their interpretations of the truth. On his verse, Common meditates on his own struggles, a lot based in religion. And he does it all so well jumping from word to word.

10) The Sixth Sense ft. Bilal (Like Water For Chocolate) - The first single from his major label debut. This is one of 3 tracks that Bilal appears on and the beginning of a reciprocity that continues to his latest release. Common also loves to have live singers for his hooks and on this album alone Bilal, Jill Scott, D'Angelo, and Cee-Lo appear. Since then he's had Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Macy Gray, Mya, John Legend, and even Lily Allen. This is the only track on the album that is not produced by the Soulquarian collective which included ?uestlove, D'Angelo, keyboardist James Poyser, and most importantly Jay Dee. Jay Dee carries most of the album but this DJ Premier track was a good choice to be a single for a breakthrough. It was a hard charging Common still being real but the beat was the most conventionally acceptable since Premier is respected in underground and commercial circles. I mean he has done Christina Aguilera. By the end you are agreeing with whatever he's saying because the mix of lyrics, beat, and Bilal's voice rouses something in your spirit.

11) The Light (Like Water For Chocolate) - This is his most soulful album and this song is the perfect example. As I said Jay Dee carried most of the album and this might be his legacy. The song is so deep that I wrote a whole blog about it. Simply put, he freaked an amazing Bobby Caldwell song and made the official b-boy love letter song. This might be the official hip-hop love anthem.

12) The Questions ft. Mos Def (Like Water For Chocoate) - Often derided in the reviews, I think a lot of people over-thought this track. Common and Mos Def don't display lyrical gymnastics, but just simply ask silly and introspective questions in rhyme form. I mean "Why do I need ID to get ID/If I had ID I wouldn't need ID" aren't going down as their strongest ever but wasn't rap started with rhymes about running out and getting Kaopectate after a bad meal? Relax a little.

13) Bilal ft. Mos Def & Common - Reminisce - Here is the reciprocity I was talking about. Jay Dee helms this beat as well as the three artists take their turns reminiscing about some love now gone. Common always manages to share something about himself even when he is at his most clever. His character comes through somehow even as he tells a pretty coherent story

14) Common ft. Jill Scott - 8 Minutes To Sunrise - Another narrative song, this time more in line with its inclusion on the Wild Wild West soundtrack. Common puts down a lyrical storyboard. It might have been a more enjoyable experience than the movie. Yeah it is actually.

15) Common - Tekzilla - By now, he was known. had gone gold based largely on "The Light" which became a love anthem for the bohemian set. But the hard driving Common never disappears and he scratches his underground itch on this track. This track was originally intended for Hi-Tek's first solo offering but they never cleared the sample. It was replaced by the decent "The Sun God" which features Common and Vinia Mojica. But I would take the imposing Common found on this record over the brightness found on the "Sun." Another narrative, this time with no hook, as he drops an unending string of bars. The other itch he scratches is one that has confused some writers. This song involves Common getting violent kind of like "Sunrise." Like Water For ChocolateSense and Like Water both include tracks where Common is out getting himself in scuffles, though each case seems like an act of self defense and/or honor/

16) Come Close (Electric Circus) - This was the single where Common seemed to be pandering to commercialism the most. The hook is sung by labelmate Mary J. Blige. The Neptunes helmed the beat, in their rise to their temporary dominance of the charts. It is obviously an attempt to replicate the success of "The Light" but its so obvious it received a backlash. The whole album is an experiment. Prince and P.O.D. are among the guests. It did not do that well. But this song on its own merits isn't half bad. You just can't judge it against its past.

17) I Am Music ft. Jill Scott (Electric Circus) - A Jay Dee helmed beat that provides a festive atmosphere for Commons personification of music. Really just an appreciative track but Common uses his allegorical powers to the fullest. It's a fun track.

18) Common ft. Erykah Badu, Pharrell, & Q-Tip - Come Close (Jay Dee Remix) - A proper sequel to "The Light" since this one actually features a Jay Dee beat like the original. Pharrell shifts from the producer's chair to the mic and doesn't do too badly. His aspirations were more under the radar then. But the beat bumps. Common sounds more comfortable and charming.

19) Erykah Badu ft. Common - Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop) - This might be the end of the "H.E.R." suite. Off the soundtrack for the movie Brown Sugar, his verse sounds like he's come to peace with hip-hop, a restless item he loves but will never match his ideals. It sounds like true love, recognizing the inherent deficiencies but appreciating the total package more fully. From "I used to.." to "Love of my life." Yeah I know it's not that deep.

20) Kanye West ft. Talib Kweli & Common - Get Em High - Will this single be the official beginning of Common's Kanye period when we look back historically. Most likely. He has the last position, but in track relays your strongest runner goes last. Common steals it.

21) The Corner (BE) - The love song as single, or at least the first one, was history. This album marked the changed. Jay Dee was now limited to two songs. Kanye took over the rest. And Common does well. He sounds his most fresh throughout the rest. And though the lyrics are still there, a little something is missing. The hunger and frenzy of his youth is diminished. But it's still phenomenal music cause he makes up for it with how much he has garnered over that span.

22) Go (BE) - With maturity, the love song moves down its natural progression. On Electric Circus the Prince & Cee-Lo collabo is more sexual in nature. With "Go", he calls on John Mayer to give him the version with allusions for the aware and clean enough for the radio.

23) Testify (BE) - The narrative that has been established firmly in his artillery, now updated Kanye style. I think this is the one song that surprised me the most. Kanye does an amazing beat and in the shortest period we hear a full story that was a pretty captivating video. Hell it could have been a movie. You always wish that he extrapolated the story cause its so short. But its probably perfect as is.

24) The People ft. Dwele (Finding Forever) - This is the first album where Jay Dee has not been alive. He still finds a production on here but it was something that was pieced together, a lot after he died. Kanye though, has reverence for Jay Dee and in interviews said that he tried to produce this album with his spirit. This track, down to the inclusion of Dilla fave Dwele, is the closest approximation someone could have come up with originally. It is really an amazing song and once again the get up and go Common that everybody loves.

25) The Game (Finding Forever) - Kanye does a more brooding track here and Common trades the light introspection with a hint of passion on this track. It sounds reminiscent of a 80s hip-hop track, like Run DMC or Schooly D would rock. The whole 80s thing kind of makes sense looking at how Kanye might be trying to bring back New Wave singlehandedly. It's a hot track though.

Bonus Track - A Tribe Called Quest ft. Common - The Remedy - This is from the Get On The Bus Soundtrack, a movie based on the Million Man March. Since it was such a black empowerment affair, the music buys into that spirit. Common gets his most passionate when he's talking about his family, his hometown, and his people. When I got his autograph, a white kid went in front of me. The white kid got a quick handshake and a signature. I got a more elaborate handshake, where he clasped my hand and my signature also had a two word message. I think he's accepted white people listen to him and he's even cool with them. But he's all about the black stuff. This is some of his manifesto.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Bluetooth Here: Survey Says

Even though the Devil is the master behind MySpace, sadly I have recently reawakened it as a huilty pleasure. The most delightful experience of my subservient decadence is reading the surveys various people post as bulletins. As crazy as it may seem, I love learning people's stories. It's why I am a sucker for cheesy sports profiles and captivating documentaries. I can actually watch PBS. Sometimes though, the really clever ones inspire me, sparking a desire to be clever and witty. I know most of the audience doesn't get my stuff. Sometimes I realize only I enjoy it. But I don't want to be on MySpace right now. So I'll do the survey right here.

The point of the survey is to go and put your music player on shuffle and see what happens. Now it is not specific. Should I shuffle my entire library? Or is it the item I am currently playing? Do I get to pick a playlist? I'm choosing the most latter. My whole library might yield answers like "1844 Overture" and my current playlist too narrowly themed to yield consistent answers. The playlist is the Ultimate Playlist, a collection of five star songs.

1. How are you feeling today?
Midnight (
A Tribe Called Quest )
Umm does it count that I'm starting this at 23:47 Eastern Daylight Time?

2. Will you get far in life?
4 Ever (Lil' Mo)
Okay it could mean that I'll go far forever or it could mean the farthest I get is marriage, which I admit would be kind of nice to be in.

3. How do your friends see you?
No I Ain't Gangsta (
Loon ft. Jamie Foxx)
So appropriate.

4. Will you get married?
Ante Up (Remix) (
M.O.P. ft. Busta Rhymes, Remy Martin, & Teflon)
Is this a reference to a phrase I'll hear from future wife, children, and various invoicing agents?

5. What is your life's theme song?
Back Up Offa Me
(Talib Kweli)
Yeah. What he said.

6. What is the story of your life?
The Rhyme (Jay Dee Remix) (
Keith Murray)
I'm just as confused as you

7. What was/is high school like?
Open Your Eyes (Bobby Caldwell)

8. How can you get ahead in life?
Losing My Way (Justin Timberlake)
Maybe I should go on a trip. Maybe I should be a travel writer.

9. What is tomorrow going to be like?
Star (The Roots)
Sounds promising.

10. What is the best thing about your friends?
Water (The Roots_
I guess this could mean they are essential and without them I would die.

11. What is in store for the next weekend?
Give In (
4Hero ft. Darien Brockington & Phonte)
I am so into giving into a weekend

12. What song best describes you?
If Its Lovin That U Want (Rihanna ft. Corey Gunz)
That is so on point except lets replace "boy" for everytime Rihanna says "girl"

13. How is your life going?
Stay With Me (Platinum Pied Pipers ft. Tiombe Lockhart)
Uhh yeah well the song is kind of fast paced and bubbly

14. What song will play at your funeral?
Number One (John Legend)
A playful song about cheating but I'd like to focus on the title

15. How does the world see you?
All N My Grill (Missy Elliott ft. Nicole Wray & Big Boi or MC Solaar, depending on jurisdiction)
Am I really that confrontational? And here I thought I needed to turn up the aggressivenees.

16. Will you have a happy life?
What You Want (The Roots ft. Jaguar)
I guess since it is what I want I will have it

17. What do your friends really think of you?
Chanel No. Fever (De La Soul)
I think this is meant to mean that I am hot. I have smart friends. Though I remain humble.

18. What song describes the person you're attracted to?
Soul Rebels (Reflection Eternal ft. De la Soul)
Rebels to the system that love themselves. Sounds earthy and backpacky to me. And yes I am kind of attracted to that type. Such a prescient shuffle.

19. What message would you like to tell the next generation?
I Can Love You (Mary J. Blige ft. Lil' Kim)
Yes. Yes I can.

20. Do you have a deep dark secret?
Funky For You (Common ft. Bilal & Jill Scott)
Exactly. I mean, What?

21. How can I make myself happy?
Hot Damn (Clipse ft. Ab-Liva, Pharrell, Roscoe P. Coldchain)

22. Will I ever have children?
Thisisme (Common Sense)
It is in me to bear and raise children. The shuffle has spoken!

23. What's some good advice for me?
Push Up Ya Lighter (The Roots ft. Bahamadia)
God strike me down if I manipulated the shuffle. I mean after some of the other answers don't you think I would have done that already.

24. How will I be remembered?
Heard 'Em Say (Kanye West ft. Adam Levine)
My wise words might actually be remembered. Or my wit. Or just maybe I will continually derided for overwrought stories and unnecessary dramatics. Or just my superfluous style of writing.

25. What is my signature dance song?
60 Bar Dash Freestyle (Sean Price)
Well it makes no sense. But if you listen it's got a good tempo and he speaks of a world I could my id would reside if it were actually a person.

That was a little fun. I need a life.
Now playing: Thicke - I'm A Be Alright

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

No Bluetooth Here: Modern One Named Divas

(You ever think someone was walking down the street talking to themselves till you realized that they had on a bluetooth earpiece? Okay right now imagine there is no earpiece. So then I am talking to myself. Get the idea? Really random ideas that come to my head for no reason whatsoever. Maybe if I write them down they will stop plaguing me.)

Banana was especially active in her musical choices on the way home. Usually she is content to listen to whatever CD was in the last time she was in the car. Or she just changes to the radio. Tonight though. She changed the CD, not once, but twice during our ride home. Initially she realized the Alicia Keys she put in was not the Unplugged version, but rather her rather good second album. Though she was feeling "You Don't Know My Name" she still switched because it was "Unbreakable" she was craving. Then it was the live version of "Diary" that was moving us. And just as Common and Mos joined her on stage, Banana abruptly said that she had the perfect closing song for our journey. Though we were only two turns from home, she said we had to listen to it until it was complete.

The song was actually "Real Compared To What", a track originally commissioned for a Coca-Cola ad campaign. A Soulquarian rework of a jazz classic, ?uestlove & James Poyser set up a rollicking affair for Mya & Common to vibe over. It's really energetic, maybe one of the best not heard songs ever that people might have actually wanted you to hear. If that made any sense.

It occurred to me though that Mya along with many of her compatriots in the R& B field have owe much homage and gratitude to one individual: Aaliyah. When Missy and Timbaland used to shout her out in every track they touched in that year or so after her death, I thought they were overdoing it. Even me, whose eyes got wet when I read the account of her death and developed a mini-sermon based on the tragedy for a worship I once ran, regarded the tributes as tedious after some time. But now it seems we have easily forgotten.

Since rhythm & blues has been recognized as a genre of popular music, the diva has been an important figure in its development and representation. Arguably, it is the most translatable figure from the genre. To some degree, there is universal recognition of the power of the R & B diva. The vocal stylings translate even to the background singers of aging rock groups like the Rolling Stones and the Police. Historically, a diva earned the right to only be called by one name after so many years of consistent performance coupled with an amazing voice. Aretha. Tina. Whitney. Even Mariah has joined that echelon.

But in the 1990s, as hip-hop started to spread its reach and incorporated itself more and more into other genres, R & B was affected the most. The simpler production methods found their way to the singers and so the music was less creative. The producer grew more prominent and the voice of the artist just became another element of his or her aural landscape. Aaliyah was the epitome of this blueprint.

Her biggest talent was probably the desire to perform. She worked her family connections, her sweet face, and great dance moves into a pretty lucrative career, though too short. Her voice was always light, but she was always able to wring enough emotion out of her notes, but she never over did it. Instead of the song weighing totally on vocal merits, now all she had to do was not mess up. The pressure to make something of the production was off the singer now.

She worked it perfectly. Here first Svengali was one R. Kelly who penned the ominously foreboding "Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number" and "Back & Forth." She achieved pretty good success, this girl in gangsta gear who never showed her left eye. When she really hit it big, it was with Timbaland and Missy, who were then unknown. In Timbaland's intricate jungle of sound, Aaliyah's voice was a merely a bird humming a melody against the digital crickets, baby cries, waterfalls that were just as prevalent. Her voice was perfect to capture the wisdom and honesty of Missy's sweet hearted melodies and simplistic yet magnetic lyrics. And she used that beauty to her advantage, growing into an astute steward of her sexuality, giving just enough and never seeming trashy.

With success, duplication is always attempted and rarely achieved. Over time, we have been given a plethora of artists following her blueprint. Brandy achieved some success. Mya did well there for a bit. Amerie. Now Rihanna and Ciara keep the baton going. And as much as I respect her entertaining drive, Beyonce too. Each of these artists possess attractive enough bodies and faces, display loads of energy when necessary, and won't really be remembered for their voices (Yeah and kids just cause Beyonce likes to do runs doesn't mean she can sing. Melismas do not make the the singer alone. Hers aren't even that phenomenal).

Notice the ones that actually have some sort of vocal talent actually come out with both names. Its almost like they dare you to look them up in later years while the Mondis (Modern One Named Divas) hope to get lost in the milieu later when their hits have run dry. Mary J. Blige. Faith Evans. Lauryn Hill. Christina Aguliera. Keyshia Cole. And I'm not saying they all have reached or will reach that echelon (Mary's in; Christina has a shot and I'm pulling for Keyshia) but at least they have a little more going for them. (And I did not include the more soul end of the spectrum like Jill Scott but I was thinking of the more conventional more mainstream R & B as opposed to the more soulful versions. She still has two names though. And so does Angie Stone and Erykah Badu and Amel Larrieux)

Funny correlation right. I know there are exceptions. Monica had talent and squandered it somewhere. And there is no way that Britney Spears is close to having a voice. If you made Aaliyah white, gave her breast implants, and gave her questionable decision making skills, you would receive Ms. Spears. I also want to make it clear that I still like their music. When I first heard "Oh" I played it 7 times in a row. Just pointing something out.

Okay. Now I do my best to induce slumber and stop scaring myself.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sliver: Common - The Light

In my efforts to make myself more motivated to make moves with this manuscript (did you appreciate the alliteration), I keep coming up with crazy concepts for my blog as if someone actually read it. The better to serve my ego. And maybe interest someone in Acccra. Inspired by a Jeopardy answer (or rather question), I intend Sliver to be a series that extrapolates on a single piece of a greater whole. I thought of using the name Exegesis, because that is what theologians do in reference to the Bible. But that is more about finding the true meaning behind scriptures. I'm not exactly trying to find meaning, just pointing out why something is hot on a bunch of levels. Whether it is a track off an album or a scene from a movie, it will be an in depth thing that's very small. The longest I can see it being is a suite of songs, maybe 4 or 5 if they're related somehoww. No more than that though.

For the first installment, I offer a study of The Light by Common. I know of three official versions to commercially available by at least vinyl: the original from the album Like Water For Chocolate, the remix featuring Erykah Badu, and the live version recorded with Erykah Badu and Bilal at Dave Chappelle's Block Party. The original and remix were produced by the late J Dilla then still rolling with the moniker of Jay Dee. The remix was a more slowed down adult contemporary version that was good in its own rights. The live version was a festive affair that turns into a funk jam with Bilal expertly wailing all over the scales with an expert band led by ?uestlove and James Poyser.

But the original is the launching pad for it all. Actually the second single from the album, it was the song that vaulted the Chicago bred emcee into gold selling status for the first time in his career. He was always known amongst the hip-hop cognoscenti as one of the best, but until this song, it had not translated into commercial success. But a respectful and playful love ballad proved to be his ticket. After a slight departure in Electric Circus, he has linked up with Kanye and is now platinum. The Light is still his most popular song. It's evident at each concert when the crowd loses its mind. Even the thug can spit those words and feel good about them, without feeling like the sappy cornball he really is.

Like most of Common's lyrics, they are as thoughtful as they are clever as he lets us in on a letter to his beloved. In his intonations and even word choices ("ticky ta ticky ta ticky ta ta ta") we are in tune with the letter as the pen hits the ink. Another big appeal for this song was the adult content that Common deals with in a respectful and honest way. He lays out his hopes and ideas about love, while also acknowledging the sexual tension that naturally develops. Yet, he is never crude in all his honesty of their passion. He also evokes a need for a work ethic and faith in Divinity ("Close to the Most High"). Throughout, his rhythm is so good, you could nod your head to his flow alone.

However, it must have been influenced by the amazing beat laid down by Dilla. As always an amazing driving bass lines and unbelievable alive snares accompany a piano based sample of Bobby Caldwell's Open Your Eyes. The true beauty comes when you listen to the Caldwell. The hook in Common's version is really a spliced up version of the second verse. When Common rocks his verses, he is actually rocking over the original version's driving piano hook. Most producers leave the hook from the original and make that the hook in the sample but the reversal is so subtly clever. Also in the original's hook, Caldwell sings "let me show you the light." In this way, since this piece is actually the foundation for each verse, you also realize the light is being shown in each verse. And to conclude, he somehow makes a coherent signature with the remaining unused parts of the second verse he uses for Common's hook. It really is magnificent.

So I know that was a raving mess, but man that's what that song can do, especially when you see how deep Dilla freaked it. I hoped you enjoyed the first installment. I'm sure I'll go raving mad on another song in like two minutes.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Extended Play: Holiday Postponed

So in my ongoing series of new features, I decided to celebrate my shiftlessness by leaving my iTunes playing all day. I listen to music all the time but I don't feel my truly reflects my obsession. So I will jump from playlist to playlist today and let the shuffle work it out. You get to see the resulting playlist. Enjoy! (Parentheses indicate the playlist I was playing at that time)

(Good Morning Sugar)
Busta Rhymes & Eminem - I'll Hurt You (Interesting beginning. I wish Eminem would just rap sometimes and not make beats. He really is nasty. And so is Busta
Da Bush Babees ft. Mos Def - S.O.S.
Mariah Carey - Always Be My Baby
Little Brother - Feelin' Alright
Justin Timberlake - Cry Me A River
SWV - Rain
Earth, Wind & Fire ft. Raphael Saadiq - Show Me The Way
Tony Toni Tone - Anniversary (I think the shuffle is feeling Mr. Saadiq. And is choosing the longest songs too)
Noreaga - Oh No (Now that's a change)
Faith Evans - Love Like This (This is the first time I've heard it without Fatman Scoop all over it in a while)
Rakim – It’s Been A Long Time
Ali Shaheed Muhammad ft. Stokely Williams – Banga (Like a progressive 90s black music reunion. The former Tribe Called Quest DJ/Producer called up the former front man and studio drummer for the R & B group Mint Condition. Thank you VH1 Soul for reminding me this existed.)
Talib Kweli ft. Black Thought & Pharoahe Monch – Guerilla Monsoon Rap (Before Kanye was a household name, he did produce beats for the lesser people.)
Black Moon – Two Turntables & A Mic (Buckshot has an unmistakable charisma and Evil Dee was always underrated.

1528 – Pause for reading break

1543 (Ultimate)
Donny Hathaway – Love, Love, Love (A discovery I made way too late. His voice was amazing)
The Perceptionists – Love Letters (Now the question is if the next song will include the word love)
Craig David ft. Mos Def – Seven Days (DJ Premier Remix) (I think I jinxed it)
Fantasia – Surround U (That Swizz Beatz can sure make some soulful music. Fantasia always reminds me of Mary J’s passion and style but with Macy Gray’s voice.)
Common (Sense) – Thisisme
Teairra Mari – Make Her Feel Good (Why did Roc-A-Fella sign her and Rihanna at the same time? Tragedy. She had promise. I actually liked her more than Rihanna at the time. Dirty young mouth though. And now Rihanna is the good girl gone bad. What’s up with that?)
De La Soul ft. Common – The Bizness
Mos Def ft. Faith Evans – Brown Sugar (Extra Sweet)
Erykah Badu ft. Lenny Kravitz – Back In The Day (Puff) (I have a very crazy dream. I think that there should be a supergroup to include these children of awesome musicians: Erykah & Andre 3000’s son Seven, Common’s daughter Omoye, Angie Stone & D’Angelo’s son Michael, and Lenny Kravitz’s daughter. That would be the best soul group ever. At least potential wise)
The Creators ft. Consequence – In And Out (What a brash young man. Some clever rhyme schemes though)
Original Cast of Rent & Stevie Wonder – Seasons of Love (An amazing song with an added quality with a Wonderful presence. He’s like the Magic Johnson of music. I swear he makes people around him better. There’s more of a reaching, a passion in this rendition.)

(Random Whims – Not a real title)
Consequence – Don’t You Forget ‘Em

De La Soul – Do The Damn Thing
Kindred The Family Soul – As Of Yet
Mos Def – Very Well Rokness
Thicke – The Stupid Things (I came across a review of his first album the other day and they said it was pure bunk. True it may not have translated to the mainstream but this whole album was a banger. Some people need to relax and not expect the second coming of the Beatles)
Common (Sense) – In My Own World
John Legend – Each Day Gets Better
Loon ft. Jamie Foxx – No I Ain’t Gangsta (Jamie Foxx is the funniest crooner ever. Not that his singing is bad; actually he’s pretty good. His ad libs are just silly)
Common – Testify (Shuffle is loving some Common today)
Mario – Let Me Love You
Bahamadia – One-4-Teen (J Dilla Remix)
Erick Sermon ft. Keith Murray & Redman – Music (Remix) (Man where is Def Squad?!?!?!)
D’Angelo – She’s Always In My Hair (The mic on my computer does not want to cooperate)
Clipse – Hot Damn (Remix)
Mary J. Blige – So Lady (Shuffle must like Raphael too)
The Roots ft. Mos Def – Double Trouble
Common ft. Bilal & Jill Scott – Funky For You
Erick Sermon & Slick Rick – Why Not? (Okay this was during the O’Nasis period for Sermon for whatever reason)

1800 – Around the time I stopped paying attention to the stupid mic

Colombia beating America was on. We suck but at least we make chances now. Too bad we don’t convert them. Anyway back to the music since I finally showered and it is 9:00 in the evening. Though Argentina – Paraguay is enticing.

2100 (Ultimate)
Little Brother & Pete Rock – Give It To Ya

(Recently Added)
Sa-Ra – Tracy (ft. Rozzy Daime) (The 80s are back and hard! Whoa what a trip)
Yo La Tengo – Did I Tell You (Folky love songs sometimes are appropriate. I’m really not sure I typed that. I’m questioning my position in life right now.)
Bobby Valentino – Can’t Wait ‘Til Later (Nobody leaves a Bobby Valentino enlightened, but you will have worked up a sweat in some way. He really knows how to rock the mid-tempo club hit)
Sa-Ra – White! (On The Floor) (These guys are on something really special)
Laura Greene – Moonlight, Music, & You (Amazing how early rock is so funky. That’s probably why everyone is in love with Maroon 5. It’s toe-tappy)
Dave Matthews Band – Crash Into Me (Oh the days of my youth. Takes me back to my counselor days at summer camp.)
Yo La Tengo – Night Falls On Hoboken (These guys were made for the soundtracks of Gen XY coming of age films)
Dave Matthews Band – Too Much (I really just had to)

(100 Greatest R & B Songs of the 1990s)
Mariah Carey – Emotions (Nostalgia made me take it back)
Shanice – I Love Your Smile (She really sang “Free to paint my toes all day”)
Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing) (Why did this girl disappear)
R. Kelly – Gotham City (Whatever you may think of the man’s character, he is a musical genius. He made a compelling song about a fictional place. I mean I swear the cat grew up and Batman was his damn hero. Like he chills at the club with Bruce Wayne.)
D’Angelo – Lady
Wyclef Jean – Gone ‘Til November (Why does everyone in the world know this song?)

2232 – I feel like reading so I will end here. Hopefully when I view it later, my profile will be a bit more to my liking.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Plea Deal: Rell - If That's My Baby

There are many guilty pleasures in life. And I am tired of pleading ignorance and denying the things I love that might not be so highly ragarded by the cognoscenti. And so for the guilty pleasures I offer these Plea Deals. I will continue to enjoy them. And I will not be ashamed.

Now for my first installment, I offer If That's My Baby by Rell. At his height he was the go-to hook singer for the Roc-A-Fella record label appearing on records for each of the label's more prominent rapper stable. This track was his shot in the dark to capitalize on the minimal name recognition he did have. In the male R & B crop, the field is mediocre and there is no stand out. It is too easy to just fall to the way side because everybody pretty much sounds the same. A small scrawny black kid with a gritty church-honed tenor doesn't exactly wow the masses. He disappeared after this track but reappeared on a Young Gunz single. After that, I haven't heard much.

But I remember seeing the video to this song one time on a Saturday night video show on BET. I believe I was at my former institution in Connecticut probably recovering from a hang over or just experiencing general malaise on an autumn night. I heard the song and it was just so comically honest, I jumped on my ethernet connection and found that song. I remember I was one of like 7 users who had it, but I bumped that joint.

There is no amazing musical achievement exhibited in this song. The lyrics aren't exactly awe inspiring. But I aways feel that rhythm and blues was the best music for telling a story. Even though the current crop of artisans in ths particular field are wanting, still the tracks have the ability to evoke a soap opera right in front of your eyes. R. Kelly's "Trapped In A Closet" is an extreme example. But good ol' R & B can put some drama in you. It can just not only move you physically but entertain you as well. This is something it had to inherit from its ancestors like slave songs to gospel and blues.

Rell offers a simple taste. Simple story known across genres: cheating dog gets caught. But in this twist Rell is speaking to the mistress, the homewrecker who claims she carries his child. And with ease we are drawn into his thoughts and side of the hypothetical conversation as he explains his anguish and expectations. Like the lyrics, the music is straightforward and simple, held together by a solid bass line and a reoccurring electronic organ to evoke a churchy feel to the proceedings.

To add even more pleasure to the whole party, I am a sucker for the use of natural vernacular in song form. By the end, our boy has ad-libbed that the child's name and facial features better be reminiscent of him if indeed he is the father. It's not even four minutes, but every time the shuffle delivers it to me, I smile. Ignorant unnecessary drama at its best.

Aisle 5: Just A Little Bit

So in my ongoing efforts to waste my (imaginary) bit of burgeoning creativity on this little blog, I came up with a new title for my editorials which is, you guessed it, Aisle 5. Why that moniker. Well basically all I do on here is get on a soapbox and rant about whatever comes to my busy head. So I had to think of a clever name involving soapboxes but all I could come up with was corny names regarding the word clean. And that's just stupid. Then I thought of the box aspect and tried to think of a universal aisle number for cleaning supplies. Realizing the concept of some universal conglomerate of supermarket chains coming together to arbitrarily determine a set aisle number for cleaning supplies somewhat bizarre and convoluted, I chose 5 after I realized a strange coincidence regarding the two addresses I call home (2+3+0= 5, NY; 2+6+7 = 15, MA). Yeah way too much time on my hands.

Anyway, this first installment centers around songs that become staples of one's musical palette only because of one piece of the song. Sometimes its a lyric. Maybe its just a well timed musical device. But you endure listening to that one song just to hear that one element. Or once you hear it, you can move on to the next song. Or you just replay that five second interval. But it exists and kind of justifies why you listen to music anyway.

In Mario's "How Could You (Remix)" there is the bridge which has lyrics and a melodic line that is the perfect end to a smoldering passion that Mario attempts to cultivate throughout the song. The Spinners seminal hit "I'll Be Around" contains a bass riff that leads the hook back to the verse and I go bananas each time I hear it. And countless songs contain some amazing harmonic element that appears only for a brief section, but makes the whole song worth listening to. Half of the joy is derived from the anticipation of the hallowed event.

I used to feel guilty about leaving the rest of these songs for dead. With the Spinners, I usually listen to the first verse and the first recitation of the hook. Right after that bass line, and a brief four second pause to savor it, the next song is chosen. If recorded my songs each time a quarter of them was played, I'd have 2,000 more songs played easily. But you get over the fact that the main draw of music is the ability to feel a connection with it, whether its the lyrics or the beat or just these little tidbits. And maybe it's silly that I can pinpoint the exact time Mos Def slips into Jamaican patois in the middle of his verse on a Macy Gray remix ("I've Committed Murder (DJ Premier Remix)"), but it's why we play the songs.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Premature Ejaculation: Whitney Houston

It's not what you think.

I'm just a clever little monkey. My mind is an interesting roller coaster and one day I was listening to a bit of Whitney and revelling in her voice. Then I thought of her recent troubles and got really sad super quick. I started to ponder what would have happened if she just made some different decisions along her life's path. What could she have created? And then I thought of other's like new jack style rhythm and blues or the macarena, whuich was probably a merciful death that came too late. So thus came Premature Ejaculation, a new feature to highlight the deaths of cultural phenomena and trends. What would have happened if they had a bit more stamina, practiced tantra? Sometimes it will have a regretful tone, others thankful but I hope its at least entertaining or thought provoking or treasure laden. At the very least it should be a somewhat productive avenue for the endless minutiae my mind processes.

But back to dear old Whitney. An ingenue when she burst on the scene in 1985, she quickly took the world by storm with her powerful voice and mid-tempo dance numbers. In the crack-addled 80s, Whitney was one of the bright spots. She had a powerful voice with an amazing range that coupled with an effervescent smile and a charming personality. She scored hits getting people to dance (I Wanna Dance With Somebody), commisserating with the lonely (Where Do Broken Hearts Go?), and also uplifting (Greatest Love of All). At her height, she even sold 500,000 copies of her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Of course, there is the benchmark single "I Will Always Love You" which just spent 14 weeks at the top of the charts and changed people's lives it would seem. With only a handful of albums and a couple of soundtracks, she is the 6th best selling female of all time. And her movies even did well.

So what happened?

Some say fame too quickly. Some say Bobby Brown. It's probably a combination of both but whatever the reason it is sad. Her last album was barely a blip on the landscape, barely clearing gold. She's looked emaciated and her voice is nowhere near the caliber it once possessed. So while there were loads of young starlets once angling to be called the next Whitney (Monica, Faith Evans, Shanna), now she is just a cruel joke and a non-factor with today's American Idol crowd. The voice that once made people quiver in their seats and had even Mariah Carey ducking a duet for a while now sits in oblivion addled by drug problems, marital issues, and a foreclosed house.

There are rumors a return is imminent. Maybe even in 2007. At 75%, it will still be better than 90% of the voices out there and with the right team of writers and producers, she could be amazing. We'll have to wait and see. Hopefully her career has been taking supplements so that it can recover quickly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Exempli Gratia: VH1 Soul

Once upon a time, I ingested most of my music in video form. Well maybe not all of it, but definitely 90% of my introduction to it was video based. From there, if I was motivated enough, I did more digging. But since I have been sans television for a significant period, that has changed. I read a lot more and listen for myself without being influenced by flash and color. But I always enjoyed the music video in the artistic sense. The ability to create and convey a visual message to accompany a song is special, especially when you consider the limited time frame to get that message across.

The video has fallen out of the limelight. As MTV and even BET have reduced the blocks allotted for just videos, it has moved to mostly the internet where a powerful base still exists. Also, for the fortunate digital cable and satellite subscribers, it's available on demand and in the form of specialized channels. My favorite of these is VH1 Soul. It plays a perfect blend of soul and soul-tinged hip-hop to perfecct effect. They are not scared to throw in the occasional live TV performance or recorded studio session either. It's truly great. Today I randomly clicked the channel and it worked. This is surprising cause all the channels around it said that we weren't eligible. I went back and it still worked. Hooray for me.

Here are some of the videos I caught while I was flipping between NFL Draft coverage.

Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One, Rakim - Classic (Better Than I Ever Been) (DJ Premier Remix) This song was created in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Nike Air Force One (I can't believe I'm as old as the Air Force One. I haven't decided if that's good or bad yet). Whatever the reason, I'm just glad they made it. Premier comes hard like he's got something to prove. And he might. Coming off of producing a good chunk of the recent Christina Aguilera, some have called the producer soft. What I heard I thought was inspired, but I sure do appreciate his return to his hip-hop roots.

Lil' Wayne featuring Robin Thicke - Oh Shooter A guilty pleasure rapper from the South plus one of the more unconventional artists in recent popular music equals engaging stuff. They actually just lifted the song from Mr. Thicke's first album, but Weezy does well over it. It was a mixtape hit and then released to coincide with the upswing of Mr. Thicke himself. Glad he's getting some recognition.

Missy Elliott featuring Nicole Wray and Big Boi - All In My Grill It's crazy that this video came on a day after I was frantically searching for "Da Real World" album that it was taken from. This was off of Missy's second album which kind of disappeared quickly but I love Nicole Wray and this was one of the first Big Boi sans Andre appearances on a grand stage, in the midst of the "Aquemini" period. It's a fun song. (Even the version with French rapper MC Solaar)

Tyrese - Lately For a brief moment in the late 90's, Tyrese looked poised to become the Brian McKnight of his generation. Good pipes, not too flashy, and just made good songs. Plus Ty had more going for him (better looks, actual personality once the music stopped). The songs however have been uneven over the years and he got into acting as well (Please for the love of all things avoid "Waist Deep"). I still am very intrigued by him. He sings with passion even on the hooks he rocks (see Chingy's "Pulling Me Back", an official guilty pleasure track simply because of the hook). This is when he got all the panties dropping.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Exempli Gratia: Beyonce Saturation Continues

September 4, 2006. A day that will live forever in infamy.

A simple day that should be like any other was twisted into the turning point in the flow of American culture. A day before she turned the quarter century mark, Beyonce Knowles released the album B'Day, her first album completely free of the shackles of Destiny's Child. She headed off the critics early by explaining the short length and uptempo song choice on the album. Since Dreamgirls was forthcoming, the ballads and Beyonce fire they craved would be satiated in due time. Reception was initially lukewarm after the release of her regular Jay-Z duet "Deja Vu" didn't exactly recapture the intrigue created on "Crazy In Love." She still came out #1 though and Beyonce's power was so strong that even my little boys at work could be heard singing "To the left, to the left" as if they were "Irreplaceable."

Then the promise of Dreamgirls came true. Even though her co-star Jennifer Hudson received most of the accolades and eventually the Oscar, it was still Beyonce who had the first single and video from the movie in the form of "Listen". But now, Oscar season is over and it has been seven months since the release of B'Day. Surely now we can be spared of the behemoth that we've created.

"No," says Beyonce
"Excuse me, what," says a cowering public hoping for peace.
"I don't think you've had enough of me yet," she coolly states.
"But how much is there? You had four singles off your album and another single off one of the highest grossing films of the year, which you starred in," the public replies, hoping its logic can persuade the power-hungry diva.
"You are correct. But to solidify my grasp upon this land I must inundate you with more of myself so that you may not forget your true path."

Alright so I lost it there towards the end but you get my drift. You may be wondering how Beyonce has decided to smother us in her presence even further. Television? Another movie? Pray tell, what will it be?

"Well first, let me add this track with Shakira to my original album. Yo you know what, let's just do like seven songs in Spanish. Nah really. I mean they got cash too. but they ain't got hot beats. Como se dice 'To the left' en espanol?"
"Cool one more video and a deluxe re-release of the album. I'm not sure about all that Spanish but whatever works. That should be good."
"Nah dude. I want to do more."
"Girl there is nothing else. Take a break for a little. You need to rest up for the world tour this summer."
"Let's see I can't act but I want people to see me. What can I do?"
"I'm gonna go get something to eat. You want anything while I'm up?"
"I can shoot a video for every video I didn't release and come out with a DVD album. That's it"
"I hope that boy didn't eat my ribs and .... What the hell you just say?"

That's right. It seems she did eight videos in two weeks just to make sure it would be on shelves along with that deluxe re-release. She's crazy. I fear the trappings of fame have twisted her little mind. And I also feel that she's too willing to sacrifice herself for some confused idea of success. But ever since the "No, No, No Part 2" video there was something especially different about her, and that's when she couldn't dance. The voice isn't really all that, but the girl has charisma out the wazoo and the shape don't hurt either.

I offer two examples from the DVD album. The first is my favorite track off the album, though I have to re-evaluate it based purely on this girl's work ethic. "Suga Mama" is just funky and mentions Jolly Ranchers. The second is "Freakum Dress" which is the video my boy Black Of All Trades pointed me to originally. Colorfully executed concept.

I hate to contribute to the developing hegemony but credit is due. Even if you hate her, you still have to witness it just for the sheer extravagance.