Friday, February 5, 2016

New Release Friday: 2/5/16


Preview album here

Rihanna - Anti
Anti [Edited][Deluxe Edition]

Preview album here 

SWV - Still

Preview album here

See what upcoming albums will drop on our New Album Releases page

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

State of Emergency: The Death of the Concert Start Time

State of Emergency:  A featured post that sheds a light on offensive acts, all in the name of music.

A few weeks ago, I was watching The Wendy Williams Show and during her Hot Topics segment she talked about how Madonna was hours late for her show in Miami.  This was after she was more than 2 hrs late for her Nashville show.  She was 3 hours late in Atlanta which caused many people to leave early to catch the last public trans home.  It's gotten to a point where this is common practice for Madonna as she's done it for previous tours.  I understand things happen but for it to be a consistent practice is unacceptable and disrespectful to the fans who fit a show into their schedules and paid money for it to begin at a certain time.

Ms. Lauryn Hill is another artist who has faithfully committed this offense which is the reason I refuse to see her in concert.  Back in 2010, I attended the Rock the Bells concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in MD where Lauryn was one of the acts.  After waiting for 2 freaking hours, we were told she had arrived but wouldn't be coming out to perform.  We then had to wait another 30 minutes for them to break down her set and get the stage ready for A Tribe Called Quest to come on.  Once Tribe performed, my crew was threw and we left before the last acts performed.  After we left, I discovered eventually Lauryn showed her face but her performance wasn't great at all.

I understand being a bit fashionable late like 15-20mins to get the crowd all hyped and ready with anticipation but what's the excuse for leaving your paying fans waiting for hours?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Black History Month: The Nicholas Brothers, the "Flash Dancing" Tap Legends

As always, to celebrate Black History month, throughout February check out a series of features acknowledging parts of black history as it relates to music.

Fayard (1914) and Harold Nicholas (1921) were raised by college-educated musicians, a mom that was a classically trained pianist and a father who was a drummer.  They performed in pit orchestras for black vaudeville shows throughout the 1910s to the early 1930s. When Harold was born, the family settled in Philadelphia where they led the orchestra at the Standard Theater, one of the city’s largest and most prestigious black vaudeville houses.

Being raised in this entertainment environment exposed Fayard to many famous black vaudeville acts.  He began teaching himself how to dance, sing, and perform by imitating the performers. He then taught Harold and his younger sister Dorothy.  At first, Fayard performed with Dorothy and Harold as the Nicholas Kids and later on Dorothy left and the group was renamed the Nicholas Brothers.

In 1932 when Fayard was 18 and Harold was 11, they got their first break performing as a featured act at Harlem's Cotton Club alongside legends such as Duke Ellingston, Ethel Waters, Cab Calloway, and Bill Robinson.  They amazed the mostly white audiences and were the only black acts allowed to mingle with the white attendees.  The Nicholas Brothers' type of dance was very unique, combining tap, ballet, and acrobatics, which some called "flash dancing."  One of their signature moves was to leapfrog down a long, broad flight of stairs, while completing each step with a split.  This routine was performed in the movie Stormy Weather and according to dance great Fred Astaire, was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen.

They made their Broadway debut in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 alongside singer Fanny Brice, the comedian Bob Hope, the actress Eve Arden, and the dancer Josephine Baker.  While touring England for the production of Blackbirds, the brothers were exposed to several great European Ballet companies.  They soon incorporated those ballet techniques into their jazz routines.

Later on, the Nicholas Brothers taught master classes in tap dance as teachers-in-residence at Harvard University and Radcliffe.  Some of their students include Debbie Allen, Janet Jackson, and Michael Jackson.  For those fans of the 1990 movie The Five Heartbeats, you might remember seeing Harold Nicholas as the group's feisty choreographer.

  • Danced for nine different presidents of the United States.
  • Made over 30 films
  • Received an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University
  • Gave a royal command performance for King George VI at the London Palladium (1948)
  • Performed in Vietnam for the troops (1965)
  • Fayard won a Tony Award for his choreography in the musical Black and Blue (1989)
  • Received The Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement presented by President George Bush (1991)
  • Have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1994)

Friday, January 29, 2016

MusicLife's Top 15 J. Lo Hits

Last week, Jennifer Lopez started her Vegas music regency.  So far, she's received nothing but glowing reviews.  I wouldn't put her on my list of favorite female singers but I am a fan of some great hits in her catelog.  To celebrate her success, below are the MusicLife Top 10 J. Lo hits.

(in no particular order)
  1. If You Had My Love Original and Remix - On the 6
  2. Could This Be Love - On the 6
  3. Waiting For Tonight - On the 6
  4. I'm Real Original and Remix ft. Ja Rule - J. Lo
  5. I'm Glad - This is Me... Then
  6. Jenny From the Block ft. Styles P & Jadakiss - This is Me... Then
  7. Get Right - Rebirth
  8. I, Love - Rebirth
  9. He'll Be Back - Rebirth
  10. Stay Together - Brave
  11. Do it Well - Brave
  12. Hold it Don't Drop It - Brave
  13. Gotta Be There - Brave
  14. Forever - Brave
  15. First Love - A.K.A.

Looking back on some of the songs that have accompanying videos, Jennifer definitely provided great creative visuals!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Questlove Lends His Talents to the Art of Storytelling

Last week, I get this message from my girl Kelz (one of my music soulmates) to check out this YouTube clip of Questlove telling a story about how he got dissed by Prince.  What I saw was so freaking hilarious!!!  Then last night, I came across another Questlove clip on a friend's FB of Quest and his beef with Patti LaBelle.  These stories came about back in 2014 when Okayplayer (a music site launched by Quest in 1999) wanted to treat their fans to something for the holidays and came up with these stories by Quest, known for his great storytelling abilities.  The end result were these short cartoon-based installments structured like masterpiece theatre where cartoon Questlove recalls his experiences as the story is visually retold.

It's great because I can just imagine the amount of stories Quest has around his encounters with other artists.  I love the way he tells the story as it gives you a chance to live vicariously through Quest's musical life.  It also shows that even though Quest is like this famous person in the industry, he still is a typical music fan like you and me. . .of course just with more access.  I hope they continue this series.

Plot:  Quest runs into Patti LaBelle who promises to make him some of her famous soul food.  She then plays him and never follows through and Quest finds out she's done this to others.  Soon he begins a quest (pun intented) to broke deals with people associated with Patti to get his food.

Plot:  Prince requests Quest's DJ services at a VIP party.  During the gig, Prince then tells Quest to stop DJing and instead put in a DVD of Finding Nemo.  It so reminded me of the Dave Chappelle Prince skit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MusicLife Revisits Toni Braxton's Catelog for Top 20 Favorite Hits

With the Lifetime premiere of Toni's biopic this weekend, it made me revisit her music catelog. Initially classified by LA and Babyface as as artist to "sell pain," Toni definitely accomplished this task.  Some of her songs I used as musical therapy to deal with my own pain.  It's funny because when I was little, I remember my teenage sister turning to Anita Baker for her therapy and looking back, you could say Toni was one of my Anita Bakers.

It started as early as 1992, I was around 12 years old in the 6th grade and I remember playing Another Sad Love Song on repeat to deal with me crushing on this kid.  Although, I wasn't old enough to experience my older sister's level of pain and my situation didn't really relate to the lyrical content of the song, Toni's emotional delivery still spoke to me.  Fast forward to 1996 when Un-Break My Heart was released and I was now a teenager going through actual heartbreak.  Toni is one of those artists who's included in my life's soundtrack so I decided to list my Top 20 favorite Toni songs.

(in no particular order)
  1. Seven Whole Nights - Toni Braxton
  2. Another Sad Love Song - Toni Braxton
  3. How Many Ways - Toni Braxton
  4. You're Making Me High - Secrets
  5. I Love Me Some Him - Secrets
  6. Un-break My Heart - Secrets
  7. Let it Flow - Secrets
  8. Maybe - The Heat
  9. Spanish Guitar - The Heat
  10. He Wasn't Man Enough For Me - The Heat
  11. Better Man - More Than a Woman
  12. Hit the Freeway ft. Loon - More Than a Woman
  13. Lies, Lies, Lies - More Than a Woman
  14. Rock Me, Roll Me - More Than a Woman
  15. Do You Remember When - More Than a Woman
  16. Take This Ring - Libra
  17. Please - Libra
  18. Hands Tied - Pulse
  19. Why Won't You Love Me - Pulse
  20. Looking at Me - Pulse

Monday, January 25, 2016

Toni Braxton Lifetime Biopic Shares Career Start, Struggle, and Triumph

Last weekend, Lifetime premiered the Toni Braxton: Un-Break My Heart movie based on Toni's 2015 memoir of the same name.  The film captured her rise to fame and visited her professional and personal struggles, which included financial troubles, illness, and divorce.  What made this different from the other Lifetime biopics was it was authorized by Toni who also executive produced and guest started in it.

Overall, it wasn't the best but come on, it's Lifetime and you get what you get.  At some points if felt a bit rushed but with a life like Toni's, it's hard to put everything in 60 mins.  If you're a Toni fan and loyal watcher of her reality series with her family Braxton Family Values on WE, most of what was presented in the movie wasn't a big surprise.  However, for those who don't watch, the movie supplied some great insight:

  • The Braxton family's original plan was to have Toni and her sisters signed but LA and Babyface only wanted Toni.  This started Toni's years of guilt and the big responsibility of ensuring that one day she help out the family she left behind.
  • During the beginning of her career, it showed how expenses were charged to her "artist budget" but nobody fully explained to Toni how that really worked. 
  • Love Shoulda Brought You Home, the song that would catapult her career, was supposed to be sung by Anita Baker.  However, she passed on the opportunity and thought Toni's version was great.
  • There was one scene where Toni reveals to her family she got a breast job.  Her mom told Toni she allowed the label to change her and her body.  "They bring you out here and tell you how much they love you.  Then all they do is try to change you.  You let them cut on your body..."
  • She was given this face cream to clear up ache but was warned not to take if she was planning on having kids because the strong ingredients would cause birth defects.  Later on, Toni unexpectedly gets pregnant and makes the painful decision to abort it.
  • Toni won the contract lawsuit against her label LaFace Records and received $20 million, which included money withheld from her.  However, she wasn't allowed to discuss the suit and disclose the information for 20 years.  Babyface played a part in winning her case by stating Toni's record contract in fact wasn't good.  This also would prove the main cause of Toni filing for bankruptcy was this situation and not so much reckless spending on Toni's behalf.


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