Janelle brings the latest visual from 2013’s critically-acclaimed The Electric Lady. The title track receives a fun, college atmosphere down in the GA as Janelle and her fellow sisters of Electro Phi Beta meet up for a house party. I’m so happy to see Monae evolve as an artist and still maintain her message of individuality and creativity. Peep the video below:
Yesterday’s telecast of the 2014 BET Awards left me fearing the future of black music in America. The days of abundant talent and showmanship beyond the limits of the studio seem to be no more. But for every three Jhene Aiko’s there’s a Gabi Wilson, an astonishingly talented 17 year old who’s 15 seconds of fame last night took me directly to iTunes this morning. The five-instrument playing songstress is one of BET’s newest Music Matters artists. Those gifted tenth who we see every Soul Train and Centric Award time.
Her Isley’s sampling “Something to Prove” evokes a 1990s cool comparable to Groove Theory. Signed to Nick Cannon’s record label (who knew?), I pray Wilson continues to grow and is soon performing on the main stage at the
Grammys BET Awards next year.
R&B’s rising star Luke James is finally preparing to release his official debut “Made to Love” sometime this year. After the Grammy-nominated “I Want You” and a plethora of appearances at your favorite black award shows, James gives us “Options.” The single is a stirring tale of lovers at a crossroads and a fragile decision. The video intensifies this sentiment as Luke emotes an array of feelings. Ross’ appearance is merely for sale purposes. Stay tuned for more from the Def Jam Island/Roc Nation artist.
Ed Boon, creator of the Mortal Kombat franchise, hinted at fresh blood from the fighting game series a few weeks ago. Then surprisingly a poster image was twitted last week. Just in preparation for E3 2014, Boon and Warner Bros. released the announcement trailer for the next installment of one of the industry’s most storied fighting games.
Mortal Kombat X will drop in 2015 for current and next gen systems. From the looks of video, we can expect some new additions to gameplay, as well as familiar tweaks.
I began this review last year and never got around to finishing it. Here it is. Better late than never.
Two week ago today, I and most of #Blacktwitter were preparing our souls for 2013’s final episode of Tiwtter-juggernaut Scandal. After being dismantled by Mama Pope’s White House strut of a vengeance, I began to recoup for a good night’s rest. Usually this involves countless scrolling on tumblr, twitter and other after dark sites – but I digress. Just as I set to close my laptop, someone posted an image of grand curiosity. The iTunes dashboard splattered with images of Beyonce and the words “visual album.” As this is Tumblr and Photoshop is a couch potato’s Rembrandt, I was highly skeptical. But to my surprise, the Creole one did the unimaginable and released an album unbeknownst to most existence like a thief in the night. Without hesitation I clicked “purchase,” relinquished my 15.99 and caught a second wind as sleep became an afterthought.
Fourteen songs, seventeen videos and a week later, the world is just now catching up with the experience that is BEYONCE. Her fifth straight studio album to debut at #1 is a declaration of grown womanhood. Like the janet. album, Mrs. Carter relinquishes inhibitions in love, sex and social commentary, whether the masses agree or not. It’s a stretch of pure and unadulterated growth from her previous works. While 4 aimed to be a collage of sounds and feelings, it never seemed focused. The self-titled LP feels nuanced in honesty and auth enticity. This is Beyonce’s strongest effort to date.
Each song possesses a strength, a hint at Bey behind the carefully crafted veil she manufactures for the public eye. The opening track “Pretty Hurts” is a vulnerable ballad examining the price people pay in the pursuit of so called happiness. A pageant child herself, Beyonce exudes the complexity of beauty in society beautifully in the accompanying video, claiming that it’s the “soul that needs the surgery.” “Hurts” is followed by the dramatically produced “Haunted,” a dance track of scary love from one being to another.
This love can be felt in the Jay-Z-assisted “Drunk in Love.” As one of the first singles, Bey coos of her inebriation over a hypnotizing Indian-themed beat. This romp leads to the 70-inspired Pharrell/Timbaland gem “Blow.” Dripping in innuendo Ms. Knowles begins unzipping that shroud of innocence she wore. We saw a hint of it on “Video Phone” and could feel her intentions on “Kitty Kat” but she never went all the way. She plows all expectations when the beat changes and she blatantly demands for him to “tear that cheery out.”
This is only foreplay for what comes packaged in the “Yonce” interlude and the seething voyeurism of “Partition.” Masking themselves from the paparazzi, Bey and her him indulge in some mobile fellatio. With lines like “He Monica Lewisnky’d all on my blouse” listeners get a ear shot of what two happily married individuals partake in when no one is looking. The naughty song is only matched with the beautifully-sensual “Rocket.” Penned by Miguel Beyonce sets her assets all on a intricately-woven Prince-esque instrumentation. “Rocket” is a baby maker.
The next set of songs, to me, is the most perfect run of the album. “Mine” is a beautifully written song featuring Drake and production from Noah “40” Shebib. The balance between the serene ballad and Drizzy’s cadenced-hook is mesmerizing. It gives strong 808s & Heartbreak vibes. This abstract love song is followed by the moving aura that is “XO.” Clearly Coldplay-inspired, Beyonce soars on cascades of synths and bleeps that are so rich I swear you can see the sound. The song is commercial ready, if that makes sense.
After our waltz down love’s lane, Bey regulates on the fantastic femme anthem “***Flawless.” Starting with her Star Search footage, the song tells a tale different from what many perceived from “Bow Down” months ago. Midway the song goes left with audio from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Excerpts from her TEDtalk evoke questions on how girls are orchestrated to aspire for marriage over everything: success, ambition. The song is a clear ringing of Beyonce’s own feminist views, whether we want to define her as one or not.
Her semi-activist theme continues on the strongly-written “Superpower.” Featuring Frank Ocean the Pharrell-produced track feels like nothing else on the album. It’s authentically soulful, yet feels completely refreshing. With its message of unflappable love, it’s wholly an anthem of unbridled grit against the odds.
“Heaven” is a sorrowful song of loss that opens up for the beautifully poignant tribute aptly-titled “Blue.” No other song embodies Bey’s joy of motherhood more perfectly. One can’t help but smile when hearing Blue Ivy’s cooing.
Beyoncé – the entire experience – is a transition in Ms. Knowles Carter’s life and career. Recently helmed as the highest-earning black artist of all time, Beyoncé has reached a peak in music history only shared by two Jacksons and a Prince. She’s cultivated a legacy that will be remembered years from now. Despite the rumors and detractors, one cannot deny her influence and the sheer labor it required to be lovingly crowned Queen B.
Mariah Carey has molded the current pop music scene for the last 2 decades. Her monumental debut and unprecedented subsequent dominance in the 90s – transitioning from pop to urban R&B – declared her as one of the greatest female vocalists of our time. Her to-the-heavens octave range declared her as an one-of-a-kind talent. Her one-named diva license has long been signed and sealed. While that certification can never be vanquished, it can be in need of renewal.
CThe last few efforts from Mimi, including the few singles in preparation for her 14th studio LP, had been unworthy of her majesty. If it wasn’t a tired attempt to attract the current crowd of religious radio listeners, it was vacant vocal muscle leaving fans wanting more. Mariah promised a new era for the Lambs, and from ” Triumphant” to “You’re Mine (Eternal)” many were skeptical. Would The Elusive Chanteuse reignite the way Emancipation restored faith? Or has Carey reached her zenith?
Five albums in and folks still sleeping on the King Remembered In Time? Fuck em then. That’s the sentiment Meridian, Mississippi’s own delivers with Kanye “Power” vibrato on his first single for Cadillactica. Honestly one of the best tracks out right now. Period.