Friday, May 29, 2015

The Recap Report: 5/29/15

The Recap Report:  A feature post that highlights interesting music news collected from the music streets you might have missed

Beyoncé's Dancing Has Become The Funniest Meme To Hit Twitter In Ages - The memes are freakin HILARIOUS!

Zoe Saldana's Nina Simone Biopic Set for Release Later This Year - Will you watch this musical biopic?

Chris Brown's Biggest Beefs: A Brief History - An interesting rundown that clearly makes a point that Breezy needs to have several seats.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Secret Oral-History Project -  Rock legends come together to record conversations about the history of Rock and Roll.

The Most Powerful Women in Entertainment - Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Shakira make the list.

Interpreter does an amazing job translating 'Lose Yourself' by Eminem to ASL . . . 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New R&B Gem Kehlani Embarks on First Headlining Tour

New R&B artist Kehlani is creating a lot of buzz lately.  If you don't know about her, read the MusicLife Keep an Ear feature on her here.  With the recent release of her second mixtape You Should Be Here, she's doing a summer tour to promote it.  This will be a great opportunity for people to get to know her better as an artist and familiarize themselves with her music catalog. New Orleans rapper Pell will be her opening act.

Tour Schedule

July 7 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
July 8 – Detroit, MI – Shelter
July 10 – Toronto, ON – Mod Club
July 12 – New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
July 14 – Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
July 15 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
July 17 – Atlanta, GA – Vinyl
July 19 – San Antonio, TX – Alamo City Music Hall (ACMH)
July 20 – Dallas, TX – Trees
July 21 – Houston, TX – Studio @ Warehouse Live
July 25 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
July 27 – San Francisco – Slim’s
July 29 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
July 31 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Aug. 1 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
Aug. 2 – Vancouver, BC – The Alexander
Aug. 5 – Orange County, CA – Constellation Room
Aug. 6 – Phoenix, AZ – Monarch Theatre
Aug. 13 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
Aug. 20 – Honolulu, HI – Republik

Click here for ticket info

Keep an Ear: Kehlani

Keep an Ear: A feature post that presents up and coming artists you should keep an ear out for.

Kehlani (pronounced Kay-Lani) was another Twitter find.  At first listen, I immediately heard the breezy and carefree vibe of Jhene Aiko and the gangsta demeanor of Teedra Moses and Keyshia Cole.  She doesn't fit the typical mold of an R&B singer with her tats and tomboy dress and attitude.  And she's comfortable with that saying she wants to show girls they don't have to fit a certain image.

At the end of the day, it's her incredible rich voice and ability to emote passion through her lyrical skill that matters and stands out the most. Writing all of her material, Kehlani doesn't hide the fact that she's 'bisexual' (a label she doesn't use, just says she's dated all types of people) as some of her songs address that topic.

Kehlani had a rough upbringing as her father died when she was very young and her mother was on drugs.  Raised by her aunt, who introduced her to neo-soul, she's considered an old musical soul.  Kehlani's influences are Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, India Arie, Stever Wonder and Musiq.  Originally studying ballet at modern at Oakland School for the Arts she switched to singing after a knee injury.  At 16, Kehlani was a part of the group PopLyfe.  You might remember their 2011 appearance on Season 6 America's Got Talent.  The judges kept telling her she'd be better off solo and eventually Kehlani took that advice.  Nick Cannon quickly saw her potential and became her mentor.  Along with being a solo artist, she's the first female member of the hip hop music crew Heartbreak Gang or HBK Gang.

She already has a list of accomplishment under her belt.  Kehlani has been lucky enough to shared the staged with great talents like Tony! Toni! Toné!, Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, and Sheila E.  Last year, she released her first mixtape CLOUD 19, which was named one of the best albums of that year by Complex magazine and just recently dropped another You Should Be Here.

Record Label:  Tsunami Mob label in partnership with Atlantic Records
Origin: Oakland, LA
Debut Album: CLOUD 19 Mixtape
Genre: R&B, soul
Similar Sound/If You Like: Jhene Aiko, Tinashe, Keysha Cole, Teedra Moses

Check out all of her songs on SoundCloud and follow her via social media: Facebook and Twitter.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MusicLife's Best 10 in 30 R&B Guy Groups

Back in March, I reflected on the best 10 girl groups of the last 30 years (click here) due to the big void in successful R&B girl groups today.  Well the void exists for guy groups as well.  Let's reflect on the best 10 guy groups of the last 30 years.  The groups below were chosen more on chemistry, vocal ability, and versatility than just album sales and popularity.

(not in any particular order)

1.  New Edition
Although this list isn't ranked, this group is #1.  Following the formula of ol skool R&B groups, NE sang traditional R&B sound accompanied by in-synced choreo.  They led the boy band movement of the 80s, paving the way for later acts like New Kids of the Block, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, and N'SYNC.

2.  Jodeci
A quartet with a great combination of K-Ci and JoJo's strong, edgy yet soulful vocals and DeVante and Mr. Dalvin's production and instrumental contributions.

3.  Guy
A trio that was one of musical product of the New Jack Swing music era.

4.  Tony! Toni! Toné!
A trio with a carefree and relaxing vibe to their sound.

5.  112
A quartet, the guy equivalent to the girl group Total on Bad Boy Records, that provided a R&B sound with hip-hop flare.

6.  Boyz II Men
A quartet (now trio) vocal group who provided romantic ballads and amazing a cappella harmonies. Billboard named them the 4th most successful musical group of the 1990s.

7.  Dru Hill
A quartet who sang what many label as hip-hop soul with a bit of gospel elements.

8. Jagged Edge
Another quartet known for its hip hop soulful ballads.

9.  Blackstreet
A quartet group from the New Jack Swing music era who sang a mix of soul, funk, and R&B.

10. Shai
This is another vocal quartet of the 1990s who had a more urban vibe to their R&B delivery and produced great harmonies.

Compared to the best 10 of 30 girls groups, the guys were more diverse in the fact that most played instruments as well as contributed vocals whereas the girls were more diverse in numbers having trios, duos, etc.

Did your favorite group make the list?  What group was left out?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keep an Ear: Lion Babe

Keep an Ear: A feature post that presents up and coming artists you should keep an ear out for.

For a while now, I've been hearing people talk about Lion Babe.  The group, most have labeled an experimental soul duo, is comprised of singer/songwriter Jillian Hervey (daughter of Vanessa Williams) and producer and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Goodman, both in their mid/late 20s.  Lion Babe provides a nice combination of performance art and music. They have fashioned their duo after Blondie, which was not just front woman Debbie Harry but a band, a collective unit.  The origin of their name represents Luca's zodiac sign, Leo, and Jillian's wild hair.  It also takes on the symbolic meaning of a lion representing confidence, pride, and independence, as well as embracing your uniqueness.

Prior to forming Lion Babe, Jillian was studying dance at The New School and Goodman was studying music at Northwestern.  Goodman soon left to move back to New York City.  They met at a college party and immediately noticed their musical chemistry.  After graduating from college, they decided to concentrate on music full-time.  Jillian's exposure to music came from her parents listening to Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan, and Al Green.  Lucas was influenced by great producer talents like J Dilla, Flying Lotus, and Timbaland.  As a duo, they've drawn from Sly & Family Stone, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and A Tribe Called Quest.  But of course you can't help but to hear a strong Erykah Badu influence in Jillian's vocal delivery as well.

They've actually been active as a group since 2012 when they release their single Treat Me Like Fire. After opening for Childish Gambino, by his request, at SXSW, they were immediately signed to a label.  Now working on their debut album, they've already collaborated with Pharrell Williams (Wonder Woman), Childish Gambino, Q-Tip, and Mark Ronson.

Record Label:  Outsider Music (London)/Interscope Records (U.S.)
Origin: New York City
Debut Album: LION BABE EP
Genre: soul, funk, R&B
Similar Sound/If You Like: Erkyah Badu, Solange

Check out all of their songs on SoundCloud or on YouTube or follow them via their social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Recap Report: 5/22/15

The Recap Report:  A feature post that highlights interesting music news collected from the music streets you might have missed

2016 candidates show up in a surprising number of hip-hop lyrics - takes a look at how often rappers mention politicians in lyrics.

A New Study Reveals Chris Brown, Kanye West, and Beyoncé's Lyrics Are Below a Third Grade Reading Level - Does it really matter the reading level of a song?

One Of The Greatest Music Mysteries Has Just Been Solved - Find out the real words to a lyric in MJB's Family Affair.

Spotify Wants to Fill an Entertainment Gap That Isn’t There - Spotify reveals new features to compete with the other streaming services.

Check out this SICK choreo to RiRi's Bitch, Better Have My Money . . . 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

State of Emergency: Sheila E. Calls Out Artists for Lip-Syncing During Billboard Awards

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

During this Sunday's Billboard Awards, Shelia E. took a play from the Kendrick Lamar playbook and instead of doing through verse on a song, she used Twitter to indirectly call folks out for lip-syncing during the live show.  Shelia told them they needed to step up their game.

She continued to tweet about the issue and dared someone to check her. . .basically saying "who's gonna check me boo?"  But how can you check a legend, especially when a valid point is made? Seriously, what's the point of seeing a live show if it's not 100% live?  You might as well just record a music video and release it on VEVO or Tidal, lol.  In my review of the awards (read here), I called out Chris Brown for lip-syncing (an act he does frequently), which was especially unnecessary since he wasn't even doing any of his signature, high energy choreo.  Now don't get me wrong, doing choreo is no excuse to lip-sync either *cough* Britney Spears (another frequent syncer) *cough.* Look at Beyonce, she consistently throws down high octane, non-stop choreo and still kills it live on the mic (ok, she did commit a major violation during Obama's 2nd inaugural. Read here.)

Are today's artists just lazy?  Do they take the performance as a craft seriously?  Do they even have have the ability to sing and dance at the same time?  If it's the latter, then that's a problem!  Do the fans need to take some blame for allowing this practice to be deemed as acceptable?  I mean if we accept this practice then why should they put in any effort to change?  You don't see ol skool artists like Sheila E or Patti LaBelle lip-syncing?  If so, best believe fans would be boycotting!  They understand the importance of a quality live show, which was something that they learned was priority back then.  People don't pay to hear a backing track.  If we wanted to hear that, we could keep our coin and just listen at our leisure through any of the music mediums.

Just like Kendrick's verse on Control, maybe Sheila's Twitter rant will spark a fire underneath these artists who rely too much on backing tracking and lip-syncing and some serious vocal training will be done. . . or something!


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