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.

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