illReview: “Aquarius” Tinashe

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Aquarius is the best Janet Jackson album not by Janet. And before you stans come for a writer’s throat, take a second to comprehend the former declaration.  There hasn’t been a chick in the game to covet Ms. Jackson’s spot since Ciara, and she lightly brushed the throne with The Evolution. (Beyonce while influenced by Janet isn’t in that lane musically). Tinashe not only exudes Damita Jo in her musical style, she’s almost replicated album construction as well as songs. In a good way though.

(If Janet is too harsh of a comparison, consider a Jhene Aiko and pairing it with the urban sensibility of Ciara.)

The 18-track LP coasts with six-plus minute tracks as well as thoughtful, intricate interludes. Boasting strong janet. and The Velvet Rope influences, Tinashe’s isn’t the strongest vocalist. But the production – lustful and encompassing – draws listeners. The moments created audibly are amazing.

The title track acts as an unofficial intro before rolling into the tribal echoes of “Bet.” A love song stretched beyond its nominal being with gargoyle-ish bellows. “Cold Sweat” sensually bleeds like recent Janet until the closing seconds takes a cue from Velvet Rope’s You.” And if this interpolation isn’t enough, Tinashe borrows Control’s sex siren for the Future-assisted “How Many Times.”

Hit single “2 On” with its club-ready melody seems a bit out of place, but it doesn’t distract from the collection. “All Hands on Deck” snaps with a Ms. Nasty attitude. And the ASAP Rocky featured “Pretend” is a beautifully-written ballad that follows an interlude that mimics Jackson’s “morning” and “racism”.

The rest of the album is balanced between atmospheric mid-tempo tracks (Far Side of the Moon, Wildfire) and current potential hits (Thug Cry, Feels like Vegas).

Tinashe will never be Janet, but something should be said for the risks taken and executing rather wonderfully. Aquarius is an interesting listen.

illNext: “Takin It No More/Shut It Down” Sharaya J, video

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Sharaya J, protege of Missy Elliott, first burst onto the scene with her eclectic “BANJI.” We also heard her spit alongside Elliott on Faith Evans’ new single “I Deserve It.” The singer/raptress has released a new video directed by none other than the Misdemeanor herself.

“Takin’ It No More” is a dancetastic spin on a spoiled relationship. The video is bright and fresh, much like Sharaya’s persona. Elliott’s influences are strong, even in the crazy “Take Away” sample. The second track feels more like a club record you and your posse may blast during pregaming. Can’t wait to see what more J has up her sleeve.

New New: “Never Catch Me” Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar, video

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Kendrick is on a roll as we await his nearing sophomore album. Off the tails of his soulfully-spirited first single “i” come the visuals from his collaboration with L.A. producer Flying Lotus. “Never Catch Me” dropped about a month ago. The song gets a rather joy-in-the-pain video as we see life doesn’t stop when the body does. Lotus’s You’re Dead comes to life October 7th.

New New : “Electric Lady” Janelle Monae, video

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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:

New New : Gabi Wilson “Proves” Her Music Should Matter

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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.

ill: “Options” Luke James ft. Rick Ross, video

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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.

illist : WHO’S NEXT: “Mortal Kombat X” Announcement trailer

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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.