Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Artist Spotlight - Tony Collins

Other than maybe Kevin Cossum, I don't think I'm more excited about any other up and coming R&B artist more than I am Tony Collins. Kev Cossum has the backing of Danja, which cannot be understated, but this dude nicknamed "The Boy Wonder" (not to be confused with Boi -1da) is seemingly carving his own niche by himself.

Even better, he's only 21 and doin' his absolute best to hold down BK to the fullest. My only guess to why he is unsigned is that there is some kind of bidding war going on because I am already a firm believer after listening to just two tracks. Sadly, its damn near impossible to find info on him other than he started singing/songwriting at the age of 12.

The comparisons to Chris Brown are fair and mostly accurate voice wise, but I feel like what Chris Breezy has to offer with dancing, you counter with lyrics. Needless to say it's stupid that you only have like 35k total plays on your MySpace page because the upbeat synth beats you're sporting so far will cater to what the general populace is liking now...and that's not an insult, it's good news for you if you wanna make a name for yourself. For being unsigned you have a very refined sound and that is probably thanks to the time you've spent writing lyrics. Add it all up...the aforementioned lyrical experience, simple but catchy beats prod by C.F. and the very underrated Oak of Knightwritaz, your soulful voice, sprinkle in some occasional rapping, all in all you've got lots to offer Boy Wonder.

I know my modest opinion on this blog post won't do much to get your name out there, but rest assured you do have fans on both coasts because I will do my part to get your music to their ears with my Monthly Song List I send out.

Give these songs a listen, you'll feel ahead of the curve being a fan before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon:

Tony Collins - Get Into You (prod by C.F.) Hoooot Mid-Tempo Ballad!!!
Tony Collins - Fall in Love (prod by Oak) Addictive Slow Jam!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Locksmith Of My Heart...Top R&B Song of September

It really doesn't get much better than this when it comes to creating a great ballad. Start off with a simple beat set off with a soft piano vibe and then Alicia comes in with that angelic voice of hers.

The energy draws you in, the sorrow is palpable and better yet anyone whose ever loved and lost can relate to it.

Amen Alicia, don't ever lose that last name...

Alicia Keys - Doesn't Mean Anything
A+ Ballad!!!

Who out there misses Outkast?

I for one am a big fan of the out of this world concoctions that Daddy Fat Stacks and Sir Benjamin Andre put together and long for another soul filled, drum and gorilla style 808 bass infested compilation. But that'll have to wait until they both drop solo albums this year as Big Boi has been quoted as saying:

"After I drop Sir Luscious Left Foot and Andre puts out his solo record, we’re going to hit the fans with another Outkast album, so you might get all three next year (2009)"

Lot's too look forward to off top from Outkast in the next year and even though there is no definite release date for Big Boi's new album Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, here is the 3rd single from the album titled For Your Sorrows featuring Short Dog and George Clinton.

I'm huge fan of the stop and go drum and bass on this one...after lulling you to sleep with the dreamy George Clinton intro, Big Boi hits the gas before stopping on a dime as the beat goes from 0-60 teasing you thinking its gonna be one of those Ghettomusick style, off the coat rack, dare-you-to-catch-up-with-this beat type of 808 synth massacre. Man there's just sumthin' about that soothing Outkast bass that is relaxing to me...definitely try this one out in the trunk...

Check it out:
Big Boi feat Too Short & George Clinton - For Your Sorrows Hottttt!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dude Perfect....YouTube legends

Now these are the type of internet sensations I like to talk about. Who are Dude Perfect you may ask? Just six guys that knew each other from college who decided to creatively find ways to pull a basketball into a hoop. Has anyone else noticed that on a lot of ESPN shows they have been plugging people who do creative trick shots all the sudden?

Not sure if these guys inspired that movement, but I wouldn't doubt it. All the usual thoughts will pop into your head like is this real?, how many takes did it take to makes some of these shots?...all worthwhile questions, but needless to say, they are good at it and it is real. (It's on the internet is has to be right??? Seriously kidding for all of you who don't know my humor...haha)

This is the best compilation of shots I could find by them, check it out:

The craziest thing about all these shots are that the person watching the shots hardly ever react to the ball going in. The do play it like they just expect everything to work and the reactions from the person shooting going nuts adds to it too. Here's their newest video where they claim to have made the longest basketball shot ever:

The best part is they find a way to give back and aren't solely trying to do this to become famous or even rich off the idea...even though they should hopefully be getting compensated for this kind of creativity. They are donating some of their proceeds to Compassion International who sponsors disadvantaged kids around the globe.

I say Amen brothers keep doin' your thing, I hope you keep it up because I am definitely a fan. They actually have a YouTube channel if you want to check that out too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Album Review: Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon: The End of Day...Certified Classic

Let me first apologize. I owe you one Scotty. I made a callous, uninformed judgment when I jumped to the conclusion that Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album would trump yours because truth be told Jigga did work from track 1 all the way to climactic ending with Young Forever. At that time I had not given a complete sit down, full listen to your album and even when I first tried to give it a full listen, it was in more of a party setting, which resulted in me skipping to the songs I knew.

That all changed after I watched you perform live. Similar to when I watched Drake perform November 18th in Houston, I was hooked. Seeing you in your element performing with the orchestra backdrop and how the audience was drawn you every note, vibing out mimicking your every move and clap…I was in awe and moved. Block out 19 mins of your life to be inspired and thoroughly entertained:

Needless to say I went straight back to your album and put the first track you performed in that video, Cudi Zone on non-stop repeat. Soon after, I felt an overwhelming guilt for not taking the time to actually listen to every track and soak it in. After soaking it in, here’s how I felt.

The first thing you need to understand is that Kid Cudi or Scott Mescudi as people in the Cleveland, Shaker Heights area know him as, is a very very complex dude. His album Man on the Moon: The End of the Day is very intricately pieced together, sort of following a play or movie as the songs have been pre-organized as one huge dream with the Acts portraying different emotions that he has experienced and is now choosing to put in display as he takes us on a journey into the depths of his subconscious.

The first track, In my Dreams, begins Act 1: The End of Days. It’s more of a dreamy interlude that could very well put you to sleep and give the wrong impression of his album if you were looking for something more “Hip Hop”. Looking back it does a good job of throwing up a huge caution flag to everyone listening letting them know that the journey he’s about to take you on is not going to be your typical Hip Hop, skin deep type of music. Additionally, Common’s first monologue at the end of the first track beginning with “Long before we know ourselves, our path are already set in stone, some may never figure out there purpose in life and some will…” does a good job of foreshadowing what is to come from Cudi. He plays the narrator to Cudi’s story warning us that the following is a story of struggle where a young kid from Cleveland found his way and did it in way that no one else has done before.

As Common fades…you hear the dreamily eerie guitar riff fade in with the beginning to Soundtrack to My Life. I’ve already touched on how moving this song was when I ranked it as the best track in a month where we saw so many amazing Hip Hop singles. What you should take away from this track is Cudi’s ability to draw you into his story. I’ve always maintained that what sets apart quality Hip Hip from the average overproduced crap that ends up getting on the radio is the artist’s ability to show the audience they genuinely care and buy into the story they are selling. Just like anything in life, you can tell when people are motivated by extrinsic (outside) things like money or fame because their story isn’t very personal or moving in any way. The song Soundtrack to My Life exhibits the exact opposite of that by showing Cudi’s intrinsic motivation to benefit and move people emotionally by telling his story and holding nothing back when he lets you in about extremely personal struggles he’s went through...like his father’s dead at age 11 and the subsequent struggle his mom then went through supporting his family, which furthered his constant personal struggle for happiness. I think this line sums it up his martyrdom most eloquently:
“I try to think about myself as a sacrifice, just to show the kids they ain’t the only ones who up at night"
Moving on to the third track Simple As…which continues his trippy, out of this world dreamy vibe, except in a more upbeat, matter of fact way. The track has a more happy go luckily tone and Scotty jumps all over the place mentally attempting to simplify life with things you’d think just walking down the street to yourself. Pretty short track, but provides an adequate contrast to the previous song, preventing listeners from getting to bogged down in his at times rugged tale.

From here Common continues the journey into Act 2: Rise of the Night Terrors, which venture into the more negative, lonely, insecurity laden side of his subconscious. The first track of the Act, Solo Dolo , is a very underrated song that sets the stage with an ominous, disturbing, clockwork sounding horror beat. It’s really is alarmingly dark, but that’s what he was going for so it fits the song. I know when I’m feeling like the worlds abandoned me and I’ve gotta be on my Solo Dolo for a while, I have the same overly analytical, downright depressing vibe that this song gives. His flow is intentionally choppy and insane sounding and that effect pulled me in, especially in the last verse:
"My world turns
Flippin' the bird
To the ones who figure, me
Outkast no not the duo
Back at Shaker heights
When they knew
Though little brother was a strange one
Boo hoo
Cry me a river
Hey the look who
Try without an igloo
Cold cold world wasn't fit for me at, all"
Overall eerie track that will surely strike a chord with your inner craziness. Again though, a depressing song is followed by the epitome of inspiration with the track Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music). Here Cudi emanates sheer courage looking his issues and insecurities in the face and ultimately putting them to rest through a volley of positive energy and bravado through his “No one can stop me” tone. Very upbeat and encouraging anthem that preaches no matter how depressing your last thought (or song in this case) was, at the end of the day you should be walking with a Heart of a Lion.

The end of the second act is more of a slowed down, monologue longing for that “I made it and I’m successful” moment with the track My World. He goes back to all of the experiences that have led up to this now exciting point of his life where he can sit back and admire all the day to day adversity he had to go through to get out of this depressing Night Terror faze.

Now onto his stoner section of the album with Act 3: Taking a Trip. Obviously everyone is familiar with Day n Nite by now as this was the first song that got Cudi on the map. I found it incredibly cool how he came up with the concept and explained in the video above how he first came up with the melody and even gave a beatbox sample. The whole aura of this track really appeals to the inner loner in everyone that seeks to free their mind at night to get away from the world by letting go detaching themselves from the world to keep their sanity. Very well conceived melody….

Which leads to the next single Sky Might Fall, which was produced around the time Kanye was going through his depressing state that led to the dark sound of his album 808s and Heartbreak. The beat fit perfectly with the concept of Kanye’s album and also fits well with the detached from reality feel of Cudi’s album. I personally liked it a lot because despite the somewhat depressing lyrics, it finds a way to be positive and inspirational through Cudi’s delivery. It offers such a contrast because the tone of the verses are somber, but as he gets closer to the chorus he builds strength and gains positivity, serving to brush off and overcome those sad feelings holding him down. The song preaches a great way to life live because the sky might just fall tomorrow as fate would have it, but going around thinking about that is nothing but a waste of time. This one will always be one of my favorites and always hits the spot after a depressing day. Personally I thought the song fit really well into promoting Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and was a little upset it wasn't in the movie and they only used it for the trailer.

The final track of Act 3, Enter Galactic (Love Connection 1) serves as the ice to cut the previous two lyrically deep 100 proof songs. Again, a place holder track to keep the roller coaster dream from getting to high or low. Common ends the act prefacing a different turn in the dream away from the psychedelics and onto the positive inspirational section of his imagination.

Act 4: Stuck is without question my favorite section of the album and there is absolutely no way I would have said that two days ago (would have been Act 3). A developing favorite of mine and probably my favorite beat on the whole album, Alive (Nightmare), has an addictive rolling drum beat that is set off in a unique way by the synth-aided guitar riff, which creates a head nodding concoction of sound. The real shining point on this album as a lyricist comes on the third verse of this track where Cudi completely goes to another level with his flow, rounding into 6th gear, parallel parking on the track if you will with:
"I watch the sun collapse
and took up in the clizzoud
I am the lone wolf
go where I wanna
Let the moon shine be the guide to the lizzight
even when I stray away the light never left me, uh
I learn to follow my instinct
Talk about the light,
rather that than the evil
Fill another place in a room full of people
Try and be the same b*tch you know you're not a sequel"
That verse is so badass words don’t do it justice. Not necessarily through the creativity of his lyrics, but by his sheer audacious delivery and stone cold diction. He relies heavily on his poetic stop-and-go, rolling, syllabic elocution as he hops from word to word impeccably winding his way through the measured claps of the beat. It’s awe inspiring and every time I get to that part of the track I rewind it out of instinct. That verse furthers the notion that he is the Moon Man because stylistically he’s able to reach a creativity plateau through a combination of delivery mixed with beat and rhyme that’s so strikingly different both from much of what Hip Hop has to offer, it’s simply exciting.

Moving on to my now second favorite song on the whole album titled Cudi Zone. Again if you skipped the video above, I’ll forgive you, but at this point you may as well scroll back up and watch the first 4 mins and 18 sec of the video. I’m serious, I’d rather you watch that more than read any word on this whole review. He does more in the performance of Cudi Zone that my words could never measure up to experiencing it firsthand as concrete evidence. Needless to say the track can best be described as an orchestrated outpouring of melody. Emile (the producer of the song) did an excellent job of creating a dramatic, upbeat, energetic violin laced beat that sets the tone for Cudi to march through the track emphasizing that out of body feeling of euphoria when you’re in the zone. Everyone strives to find that peace up mentally and this song erupts with such raw emotion that you can’t help but be inspired to feel good about life and FORGET ABOUT IT ALL. On a person level, I for one have had many moments this past year where I’ve struggled to find that peace up there and get in that zone to just get away from it all…this song takes me up there, it takes me to that place where I feel like "oooooohhh", where you’re zoned and are able to regain perspective and just be happy with life. Daps for this one Cudi, your outpouring of emotion has had a very real effect on at least one of your listeners.

Make Her Say (Poker Face) doesn’t need much of an intro or explanation, it’s a creative sample of Lady Gaga’s radio hit. Despite it’s dancy, fun upbeat feel, its probably one of my least listened to tracks on the album. I really do like Common’s verse though, solid collabo, lot's of real Hip Hop talent on this one.

Moving on to my third favorite track on the whole album and evidently the next single to be released, Pursuit of Happiness. I’m a big fan of MGMT and even though their contribution is fairly subtle through the chorus, the track has an extremely calming feel to it. Love the background with the piano and like an actor on stage Cudi does an excellent job at giving just the right amount of vulnerability to make us feel his inner emotional war between positivity and completely losing his grip on sanity. Despite the sound focusing on the comfort of happiness with the poetically apropos line of:
"I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold I'll be fine once I get it....I'll be good"
The verses paint a tragic, hard headed, myopic, I’ll be fine on my own, leave me alone, I’m a loner, no one understands me picture. Alternatively, the message in the chorus is very fitting and I think I like this song so much right now because of the parallels I can draw to it with my own personal life. It’s all about expectation, as long as you can remain initially skeptical that whats shining isn’t really gold, you’ll eventually find gold and be good. It’s the times you believe without a doubt that once you see the shine, you immediately assume its gold before examining it where you get in trouble. Someone once told me I like to over analyze things…don’t act like that little snack didn’t provide you with some food for thought…haha.

Rounding out the album, Act 5: A New Beginning starts with Hyyerr, which showcases as traditional of Hip Hop verses as you’ll find on Man on the Moon. Real smooth laid back beat to ride out to. Pretty solid, soothing, down to earth track that serves as a landing to the outer space emotionally schizophrenic journey Scotty just took us on. Continuing that vibe is Up, Up, and Away (The Wake and Bake Song) track serving as an sing-a-long happy ending to the album. Common again narrates the conclusion to Cudi’s epic, providing us with a cliffhanger, almost saying to the audience, you’ve heard the story now, but you’re just getting to know him. And truth be told he’s just becoming known to everyone, so you never know where the next novel or play or crazy dream that Cudi will take us on next because his life is going to change as he gains notoriety and success through this album.

Numbers are in for first week sales of this album and he came in #4 on the charts in the US and sold 104,294 copies of Man On The Moon. That’s no simple task pushing that much weight with a first album and Cudi, word is bond, I’m gonna throw a party when you’re platinum because you deserve the 5 star classic, 5 headphone rating in my eyes. I didn’t think anyone could give Drake a run for best album of the year, but you have done it and sadly, it is going to be damn near impossible for you to top this first effort. I hope you use that as motivation to prove me wrong.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ryan Tedder = Underrated and Underappreciated

Sometimes artists don't get the credit they deserve. They work for years to get noticed and even then, a lot of the time they don't gain the notoriety they deserve when their work is done behind the scenes.

Which is a great segway to Ryan Tedder's introduction. Long story short, in 2001 soon after he graduated from Oral Roberts he caught Timbaland's eye via an MTV talent contest. See him below performing one of my favorite unreleased songs titled The Look in 2000 on MTV.

Yea for all of you at home, that means he's been creepin' on a come up for damn near a decade. I love that Brian McKnight openly gave him props on the performance right afterward too...was very fitting. Pretty good for a kid who learned how to play the piano at the age of 3 using the Suzuki method, which basically means he learned how to play by ear instead of through learning notes...oh yea and if you watched the video he also learned how to play guitar by listening to Dave Matthews in college...hah must be nice!

Needless to say you probably know his voice as being the lead singer of the band One Republic and providing you the lead vocals to their songsApologize and Stop and Stare. He started the group One Republic in 2002 with his high school friend Zack Filkins and since 2004 have been a Myspace product, getting over 30 million plays since 2004.

That's the side of him you know, so now that you have a little familiarity with who he is, I'm going to get you all learned on what he does behind the scenes...you know where real artists work to produce that great finished product you end up hearing.

If you want a longer list of his production and writing credits go here, but his highlight reel includes writing the tracks Apologize by One Republic (obviously), Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis, Halo by Beyonce, Long Gone by Chris Cornell (favorite of mine) more recently Battlefield by Jordin Sparks. Must be why he was up for two Grammys in 2008.

Personally my underground favorites of his writing include Damn Thing by Josh Hoge, Please Don't Stop the Rain by James Morrison and Break Anotha by Blake Lewis...again just my opinion...but on the real quit sleepin' on these!

Oh yea and you knew I'd save the best for last. His writing, singing and performing all showcase his incredible talent, but my question is have you heard him demo some of these tracks?? You wanna talk about a bad decision, having him demo a track, then you try and do it better. So far, Jordin Sparks was the only one to barely escape that trap because she absolutely killed Battlefield in her own right.

Here are my four current demo favorites plus a bonus in hopes of me finally getting you to develop an appreciation for this insanely talented singer, songwriter, and MegaTron of a musical act.

1. Ryan Tedder - Everything (Demo for Leona Lewis) No Way She Does it Better!!!

1. Ryan Tedder - Gravity (Demo for Jordin Sparks) Again, No Way She Does it Better!!!

3. Ryan Tedder - Battlefield (Demo for Jordin Sparks) Great Demo!!

4. Ryan Tedder - History (Demo for Menudo) New Demo!

Oh so you also heard One Republic has a new album coming out in November? That must mean you have heard their new single All the Right Moves?? Betcha can't guess who wrote and produced this one??


One Republic - All the Right Moves Hoootttttttt New Single!!!

Bonus x2: You know I couldn't leave ya hanging on the first track that got him on the map too.

Ryan Tedder - The Look CLASSIC!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Album Review: Jay-Z Blueprint 3...potential classic?

With such hype and expectations surrounding his new Blueprint 3 album release, Jay-Z can officially sit back, relax and watch as his thirteenth album will eminently go platinum. I can say that with absolute conviction based on these two facts: 1) All twelve of his studio albums, from Reasonable Doubt to American Gangster have went platium 2) His album sales first week got him almost half way there at 476,000 copies sold.

As far as the content of the album, the best I can describe it is a more grown and sexy, sort of adult contemporary Hip Hop. Not too heavy on the language, lots more live instruments, great collaborations and a solid mix of theme based tracks and Hip Hop anthems.

Starting from the first track, What We Talkin Bout where Jigga just jumps in and goes bar after bar over a rolling, upbeat, synth laced instrumental. Like a pro he mixes up his flow masterfully while telling a coherent story, more or less about what's on his mind. Thank You is about as filler of a track you're going to find on the album, but continues a more live band sound of the album.

Then the album moves onto the singles portion, with D.O.A., a track that I've respected more than actually liked, sound wise. The lyrics banning Autotune have legitimately had an impact on Hip Hop today, the second this track got out, every rapper has thought twice about using it as a crutch for a hit. Moving on to everyone's new favorite anthem, Run This Town. I can't even hate on this as a single choice one bit as Ye absolutely dropped a pristine verse and killed it on Shawn's own track. The beat can be described as methodical, providing a backdrop for an a fun, inspirational, night out on the town anthem. In years, Run This Town will continue to be respected as the song that set this whole album off as one of Jay's best efforts.

From then on you'd expect to get a dose of filler tracks, but instead hidden gems are unearthed. From the NY anthem that will instill pride from the City every time it is played. Definitely will pop up on some sort of movie, I'm sure. Real As It Gets is respectable, but average, but the next track On To the Next One featuring Swizz Beats goes hard. I've always been lukewarm on Swizz because his sound can be a little monotonous, but he came correct on this beat. Definitely a party track that should be considered a future single due to the imminent club appeal.

Off That continues the futuristic trend setting vibe of the album well with help from Drizzy and Timbo. I especially enjoy all of the Republican jabbing with the Bill O'Rielly and Rush Limbaugh barbs. Real upbeat fast paced track, hard not to like although I still am holding out for a slower paced track with Jigga and Drake. Maybe on Thank Me Later??

The chorus of A Star is Born has that timeless sample feel to it. It really feels like through the creative process of creating this album Hov wanted to make an album with tracks that could appeal to a wide range of accessible emotions. For example, this track can be played for so many occasions to celebrate any sort of prodigy. Venus vs Mars has a real dark, sexy vibe to it. It's difficult to deny the sex appeal of a track whose chorus is "Shorty get it in, Daddy go hard". Really like the feel of the back and forth flow with the yin and yang sort of banter.

Already Home and Hate are both decent tracks but don't particularly move me. The beat on Hate is pretty awesome, hats off to you on that one Kanye. But the album finishes with such a flurry of great tracks, its tempting to consider this release as a 5 headphone album. Reminder may be the hottest beat on the whole disc, with the bangin bass and violin-esque synthesizers. Timbo deserves a few daps for doin it, not to mention how hard it goes in the trunk. Another reason why I like this track so much, you can play it loud and the bass doesn't take away from sound of the track. Real hard to do that on a track where turning the bass up all the way doesn't dominate the track, both can coexist in harmony, nam sayin??

Another producer I've gone a little lukewarm on, Pharrell, stepped it up on So Ambitious. It has such a layed back likable vibe to it that's set off by the swag infused hook by Pharrell. Just a fun track all around, I wouldn't be mad if it were single also.

Finishing an album with a bang to make a lasting impression is how you start to talk about an albums ability to have longevity and be considered as one of the best. Blueprint 3 is attempting to reach that because of the track Young Forever. I was not surprised when I heard Kanye produced the track and in my opinion, the whole track did the original sample by Alphaville nothing but justice. I can't stress how perfectly Mr. Hudson fit this track and brought those same feelings that were generated by the original track. In fact, I was happy to see this performance of his rendition of the song at a small concert...

With such a picturesque finish to a developing classic, I emphatically gave this album a 4.5 out of 5. I would have been tempted to give it a 5 headphone rating if Ghetto Techno was included on the album, but nonetheless, its deserving of its lofty rating. It's way too early to respect it as one of his best albums, but I feel like it will be seen as that over time. Way too many well produced tracks and crafty lyrics to sleep on this one. You know a Hip Hop album is special when even your parents can respect and legitimately enjoy at least half the tracks on the album. Congrats Hovie, you done well man...a couple more of these and you'll be up there with these Brits now that you've passed Elvis will 11 Billboard #1 albums.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who Rocked it Better? RaVaughn or Madonna - Revolver

Finally we get the finished version of one of the most hyped collabos in recent years with Madonna hooking up with Lil Weezy for a pop anthem.

Other than the obvious interest generated by two of the biggest music names getting together on a track, you may wonder why so much hype been built with this track...

The answer lies in the attention grabbing demo done by demo/background singer RaVaughn. Needless to say girl has got a voice on her and you may someday soon know her name, mostly because of doing reference tracks like this.

So who rocked it better?

RaVaughn feat Lil Wayne - Revolver Hot Demo!!

Madonna feat Lil Wayne - Revolver Pop Anthem!!

GWDJ verdict: Tough call on this one, almost to a point of a coin flip. Will the Madonna one get 100 times more radio play? Yes, but there's something to be said for the "original" sound of a song and when I hear this track initially I really like the R&B sound it had with RaVaughn's vocals over it. It just fits better adds more energy to the track. When I heard the Madonna version, it sounded more mellow and less in your face. In my opinion, when you're talking about you love being a revolver and your sexy bein a killer you better be bringin some energy and swag to the track. As a result, I give the nod to the demo version done by RaVaughn, but Madonna feel free to make mad money off this very radio friendly anthem with Weezy F cause you rocked it well too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kanye West...Great Artist...Terrible Ego

Reluctantly I'll join the populace in giving my 2 pennies on Kanye's VMA outburst. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out:

First of all, everyone but Kanye and including President Obama handled this situation well. In all fairness, I will concede that Kanye wasn't off base by saying Beyonce should have won. Her Single Ladies video was and forever will be an iconic video with memorable choreography.

BUT...for Kanye to think that he had the right to ruin a lil country girl's moment because he had the audacity and sense of entitlement to think that he had the right to voice his opinion at that moment is mind boggling.

For most people there is a common sense timing mechanism between good and bad timing that no ego should be able to penetrate...ya know that "Man I really wanna let my opinion be known but it would be really inappropriate to do it now" type of self control.

Dude just wait until after the show to go off in an interview, incite a damn protest afterward, do whatever to make your opinion heard, just don't ruin it for the person who actually won. I mean it probably would have been a paperweight to Beyonce, but to Taylor Swift it probably meant the world.

Stick to the music 'Ye, you have the ability to produce inspirational and positive Hip Hop, don't get away from that, go back to putting your opinion on wax where you can verbally go wild if you want. Also, Beyonce, you truly did show your class in giving Taylor back the limelight she so violently got taken away from your friend, Kanye.

Oh and as for the Pres, Obama deserves some love for keepin' it 100. Might I add that both Kanye and Obama hail from the Chi and share a close relationship with Jigga. Well, despite the comment being "off the record", very tongue-in-cheek and inappropriately released via Twitter, I applaud him for his outspoken honesty.

While most Presidents would have usually ran away from the question, even off record, he went out of his way to let them know what's up...and Kanye can't even be mad because as he admitted later, he was waaay outta line. I am more impressed with Kanye's apology than Serena Williams half-hearted attempt at an apology for her outburst, but that's neither here nor there.

Here's the actual audio on Obama calling Kanye a Jackass...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did They Do the Sample Justice? Chamillionaire - Good Morning vs Tom Petty - Free Fallin

Interesting use of the classic guitar riff from Tom Petty's Free Fallin. This is supposedly the first single off Chamillionaire's third studio album titled Good Morning.

Seems nowadays no classic single regardless of genre is untouchable when it comes to creating a sample for a Hip Hop beat. Which begs the question, did King Koopa do this sample justice??

GWDJ Verdict: Although I do enjoy the beat and to be fair, he didn't really ruin the sample by trying to do anything crazy different with it and in general it's lighthearted, likeable track...buuuut...to make it a sing along rap song dedicated to haters doesn't sit well with me when keeping in mind the original song. Yea, I get it, sarcastic tone sayin Good Morning to the haters and all...just little too "over-done" and manufactured, seeking to gain as much radio-play as possible in my opinion. As a result, I will continue rocking Tom Petty's version because Cham did not do the sample justice.

You be the judge:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Entourage: Who Will E End Up With? Sloan or Ashley?

The Love Triangle...How will it end for E?

Will there be a rekindling of the fire with Sloan?
or has she played with his mind too long and he's destined for Ashley?
Now that we know that 83% of you find Sloan more attractive than Ashley, here's your chance to voice your opinion on which you think he would be better off ending up with at the end of Season 6 on October 4th.

Friday, September 11, 2009

50 Cent feat Ne-Yo - Baby By Me (prod by Polow da Don)

We've officially got a pulse on 50 cent's career and it's in the form of this comeback, radio friendly single Baby By Me. Luckily for him, he smartened up a bit and put together some coherent lyrics and let Polow and Ne-Yo do the leg work.

This one is destined for radio waves, better get to liking it soon before you hate it.

50 Cent feat Ne-Yo - Baby by Me (prod by Polow Da Don)
New Single Hot!

Rhymefest - Make Love in Binary Code = Nerdy Creative Hip Hop

As a self proclaimed nerd and full time Hip Hop fan I enjoy lyrics that are a little out there, cryptic and are such that not everyone understands them. Better yet I enjoy the fact that Hip Hop is recognizing its ever evolving fan base that has morphed into a genre that is increasingly catering to technology savvy bloggers who serve as the thunder before the storm in the Hip Hop world, letting you know what's coming before it hits. And how is Hip Hop responding?

Partly with songs like Rhymefest's Binary Code that, aside from the abbreviation soup that any texter can understand, finds a way to make Hip Hop even more entertaining and relevant to a growing demographic. The sheer fact that he could include so many abbreviations coherently, while maintaining his flow over the beat and mentioning so many pop culture tech references gets my respect.

Notable Quotables:

"If you like me, don't take it lightly, hit me on the nightly, later you can skype me"

"Real foxy mama, you a BBW (big beautiful woman), she sent a Lol, I'm chillin at my hotel"

"You might as well, slide through how could you say no, she sent a semi colon parenthesis LMAO, she sent a brb, I'm like ttyl, she said OMG, WTF how could you gon make me sweat?"

For the record the 1011100 in the chorus doesn't even translate out to anything because binary is translated in segments of 8 numbers (octets) and the chorus only has 7 consecutive 1s and 0s, which means it is lacking that last digit.

Check it out though:

Rhymefest feat Ladybug Mecca - Binary Code prod by BKS

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flo-Rida rip off?? Mike Bless - Do it Like This

Mike Bless Rides tha Flo on Do it Like This

I'm not really sure if there is any part of Mike Bless's Do it Like This song that could be considered original when you compare it to Flo-Rida's hit single Low.

Bout as cookie cutter of a single as you can get and ya know what it might just conjure up some of those memories we had when listenin' to one of the most well known Hip Pop songs of the past few years.

What do you guys think? Is he guilty of swagger jacking or no?

Mike Bless - Do It Like This (If I Was a Stripper)

Monday, September 07, 2009

"I've got...99 problems...and they all..."

Kid Cudi - Soundtrack to My Life

Kid Cudi is one complex dude. Initially, I had always kind of wondered since his lyrics go way more than skin deep, but based on the limited amount of tracks I had heard from him, I still didn't quite understand where he was coming from.

That all changed after I heard his new song Soundtrack to My Life.

Let me first preface my reaction to this song by saying this has got to be the Christmas off all months in 2009 so far with all of the quality Hip Hop that is being released this month (Sean Carter, Pitbull, Cudi, Kingston, Raekwon...just to name a few).

First came the players anthem by Baby with Drake in Money to Blow, followed by the ultimate collabo in Forever, then Jigga hit us with some Ghetto Techno and Young Forever and now this...

For all those listeners out there who can appreciate true expression, this one will suit you...matter of fact Cudi's whole album will suit your needs. The album review of Man on the Moon: The End of Day will come later, but this song is as raw as it gets when it comes to someone emptying their soul lyrically.

I personally love it because I'm also one of those jaded people who can appreciate vulnerability and see music as nothing more than someone's effort to try and relate to someone else...making it in essence a soundtrack or audio portrayal of the life you are living.

While some may find this song a little depressing if you pay close attention to the lyrics, he delivers them with such energy and conviction that you can tell it's therapeutic for him to put it on wax. Sort of what Joe Budden did on Whatever it Takes (one of my favorite Hip Hop tracks of all time), he proclaims:

And all of these emotions are pouring out of me
I bring them to the light for you
Its only right
This is the soundtrack to my life

Artists that can make such negative internal thoughts inspirational deserve more credit than they get. I agree Cudi, if I were you I'd probably be a jackass because of the bloggers too. Too many times we find it so easy to judge when someone is just trying to keep it 100 and talk about real life in their verses.

Gotta give credit when credit is deserved and this is me giving out Daps and Pounds because your song Soundtrack to My Life is the best track this month and the irony of you mentioning Shawn Carter in the first verse is appropriate because while The Blueprint 3 may be a classic in the making, I personally thought your track deserved the number 1 spot.

Check it...

Kid Cudi - Soundtrack to My Life Song of the Month!!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Did They Do the Sample Justice? Jay-Z feat Mr. Hudson - Young Forever

Jay-Z feat Mr. Hudson - Young Forever
Alphaville - Forever Young

So I get to the end of the soon-to-be-released extremely impressive release by Young Hov and I find myself in awe of the last song. Ya know when you get that nostalgic feeling when you hear a track and it immediately takes you back to a great memory or a time when you were living in the moment?

Sort of like a mental bookmark that you associate with a song because it takes you back to that fond memory. That's exactly the feeling I got when hearing this track.

What moves me about the track is that the same reflective feeling I'm getting listening to the track, I feel like Jay way trying to convey through his verses. Like in the second verse:

"causes all we have to do is hit rewind
so lets just stay in the moment, smoke some weed,
drink some wine,
reminisce, talk some sh*t, forever young is in your mind
leave a mark that can never erase me, neither space, nor time
so when the director yells cut,
I’ll be fine,
I’m forever young…"

In general, the song is sort of a play on words since he has always referred to himself as "Young" throughout the years on tracks. He takes us from his bottle poppin' younger years to now where he can look back and revel in the fact that 11 albums later he's still the same Young, talented rapper. So in a way, he's saying he'll forever be himself when he says:

"and I ain’t waiting for closure, I will never forfeit,
less than four bars,
Guru bring the chorus in,
did you get the picture yet,
I’m painting you a portrait of...young

It's pretty cool the original group Alphaville, a German, 80s electro-pop group, released this song 25 years ago, just before I was born. Other than the verses and a little heavier beat, there isn't much difference at all from the original song. I'm very happy Kanye didn't change much on the beat, all he did was add a Hip Hop twist by augmenting the track with his familiar extremely subtle, raspy beat.

But...you have gotta give credit where credit is due and I will compliment Jay-Z for being resourceful in using Mr. Hudson on this track. Mr. Hudson, armed with his British accent sounds identical to Marian Gold (the lead singer of Alphaville). After hearing this I'm about to start a conspiracy theory that Jay had Kanye recruit someone who could do this sample to a T.

The Sample:
Alphaville - Forever Young Classic!

The Remake:
Jay-Z feat Mr. Hudson - Young Forever (prod by Kanye West) Top Song of August!

GWDJ Verdict: This is the type of timeless track that you have to do right if you're going to sample it. All things considered I don't think it could have been sampled any better and Jay-Z has definitely created an equally timeless version of an age old track. My hat is off to you Hov, take a bow, you made it your own by adding three lyrically introspective verses, while still maintaining the feel of the original song. In my mind Hov and Kanye, you absolutely did the song justice .

What do you think?

Did Jay-Z and Kanye do Alphaville's sample of Forever Young justice?

View Results

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September 1 R&B

Might as well start the month off right with some new Colby O & Lloyd to set it off.

Lots goin' on this week with the best Song List sent out this year highlighting the abundance of high caliber tracks that August has now became known for.

Gave Blueprint 3 a first listen today & have yet to gain an appreciation for the non-Timbo produced tracks, but still know they are going to grow on me because they definitely showcase a more refined, grown up style of music that is a lot more actual music than Rap...know what I'm sayin? Probably not yet, but you'll see....

Colby O'Donis - Talkin Bout Us (prod by Darkchild)
Top 5 R&B AUG!!

Lloyd feat Juelz Santana - Pusha (prod by the Runners) AHHHH Hot!!!

TC - Where She's At Very Underrated Song!!

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