Thursday, June 30, 2011

Black Music Month: The New Jack Swing Era

To celebrate Black History month, throughout June check out a series of features on the influences of blacks in the music we listen to today.

In the late 1980's, R&B artists started to add hip-hop rhythms, samples, and production techniques to their sound and New Jack Swing was born.  Just like other previously created new sounds, older musical elements of jazz, funk, rap and pop influenced the New Jack Swing sound.  Its formula was to sing R&B vocals over a hip-hop/pop beat, beats created by a drum machine and samples.  The music described the urban music experience.

Legendary music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (former members of the 1980s group The Time) were the first to incorporate this unknown sound in the music they produced, one of which included Janet Jackson's 1986 album Control.  However, it received most of its mainstream popularity by the efforts of two men producer Teddy Riley and label executive Andre Harrell who make New Jack Swing a movement.

Before New Jack Swing, it was unheard of for rappers and singers to collaborate on a song.  It was like mixing water and oil together.  As a producer, Teddy Riley found a way to mix the two.  Riley called the sound "sophisticated bubble gum music" but it was officially labeled New Jack Swing by Barry Michael Cooper, a journalist of The Village Voice (also created the 1991 film New Jack City).  In 1987, Riley produced the first New Jack album, Keith Sweat's Make it Last Forever (1987).  Sweat's single I Want Her was the first major New Jack hit that peaked people's interested in the music.

That same year, Riley formed the group Guy with Aaron Hall and Timmy Gatling (later replaced by Hall's brother Damion) and the group became the pioneer of the New Jack Swing movement with their 1988 their self-titled album.  One of their major hits was Groove Me.


Also in 1987, Andre Harrell founded the New York based Uptown Records.  This was the first label to sign New Jack Swing artists which included Guy, Heavy D & the Boyz, and Al. B Sure. It quickly became the home of New Jack Swing with Teddy Riley as the label's Chief Producer.  Harrell had the ability and clout to market this new sound to other executives which allowed New Jack to become mainstream. 

New Jack Swing Facts

Bobby Brown's, also known as the King of New Jack Swing, album Don't Be Cruel (1988) produced New Jack hits like Don't Be Cruel and My Prerogative

The most successful New Jack swing album is Michael Jackson's 1991 Dangerous album, which sold 32 million copies worldwide.

Riley would then go on to form other New Jack groups like Wreckx n Effect and Blackstreet.  New Jack went on to influence many other artists/groups such as Jodeci, BBD, Mary J. Blige, New Kids on the Block, En Vogue, Tevin Campell, Mint Condition, Aaliyah. SWV, R.Kelly, and the list goes on.

Check out all of the Black Music Month features, click here.

SYTYCD Season 8 Top 16: ChinaBabe Edition

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) 

Last night the Top 16 dancers performed. In true SYTYCD form, every performance was amazing! Early in the season Nigel started to call the Top 10 females "The Beasts", which is a term of endearment! Now, the producers (which includes Nigel) have coined the phrase...and it's starting to get very old super fast!!! I'm already done with it and we are only at the Top 16...uggghhhh!

Back to the dance...Check out some of my favorite performances from last night!!!!

Contestants: Sasha and Alexander
Style: Jazz
Song: Belong by The Cary Brothers
Choreographer: Dee Caspary

Sasha is a dream, this girl is unique, strong, beautiful and graceful.  Sasha is everything and she's been everything from auditions to Vegas week!!! Honestly I think Alexander will go home before Sasha. *Fingers Crossed* I mean obviously he's a good dance, however, he's not strong enough to partner with Sasha...#imjustsaying

Contestants: Mitchell and Katelyn
Style: Ballroom - Samba
Song: Put It In A Love Song by Alicia Keys featuring Beyonce
Choreographer: Jean Marc Genereux 

I had to watch this performance 3 times...The first time I watched Mitchell's booty...I mean GOOD LAWD!!! *LMAO* Then, of course, I had to watch the dance and finally I had to watch Mitchell's booty again... I'm sorry... The dance was amazing and I'm not one for ballroom, but this was an awesome piece!

Contestants: Melanie and Marko
Style: Lyrical Hip Hop
Song: I Got You by Leona Lewis
Choreographer: Napoleon and Tabitha D'Umo (NappyTabs)

This routine was great!!! I am not a fan of this "lyrical hip hop" nonsense, but fine...okay I get it.  I loved every moment of this dance. As I watched this routine, I began to understand why NappyTabs routines are so amazing...the choreographers speak the language of dance. I'll explain... when Nap and Tab have a trained contemporary dancer or a trained ballet dancer they are able to speak their dance language so that the dancer understands what is requested of them in a NappyTabs Hip Hop routine.  All I can say is that it's magical to watch!

What was your favorite performance?

Who is your favorite dancer?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Black Music Month: Doo-Wop, Music in Harmony

To celebrate Black History month, throughout June check out a series of features on the influences of blacks in the music we listen to today.

During the 1940s in urban communities of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles, a new form of R&B/pop music emerged called Doo-wop.  It became mainstream during the 1950s and early 1960s.  Doo-wop music didn't need instruments.  Instead, it was vocal-based, allowing groups to sing anywhere, from the street corner to the school hallway.

The music was created by a group of 4-6 members with a wide range of voices (lead, first tenor (falsetto), second tenor, and baritone bass) accompanied by simple music and lyrics.  Although it's unknown who exactly named this type of music, the name Doo-wop comes from the harmonic sound singers would make in the background as the lead singer would sing the lyrics.  Doo-wop groups were the original "boy band."  They usually were formed in high school where guys shared a common bond.  One of the main goals of singing this kind of music was to impress the girls.

Famous Doo-wop Groups
    The Ink Spots from Indianapolis, IN (1932) are considered to be the forerunners of the R&B Doo-wop movements.  They made the tenor and bass singers the most important members in a vocal group.

    The Orioles, also know as The Vibranaires, from Baltimore, MD (1947) are considered the first Doo-wop group. Naming themselves after the Maryland state bird, they started the bird name trend for other groups like The Swallows, The Flamingos, The Ravens.  Another popular trend was car names like The Cadillacs, The Fleetwoods, the Impalas.  Their famous song was It's Too Soon To Know.

    The Dells, originally know as El-Rays, from Harvey, IL (1952) are known as one of the longest-running vocal groups in rock and roll history.  Their song Oh What a Night (1956) is on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

    The Flamingos, from Chicago, IL (1952), are considered one of the greatest harmonizing vocal ensemble ever, is known for their cover song I Only Have Eyes for You (1959).

    The Penguins', from Los Angeles, CA (1953), song Earth Angel was one of the 1st R&B song to cross over to the pop charts.

    Shirley Gunter & The Queens, from Los Angeles, CA (1954), were the first all-female Doo-wop group and known for that hit Oop Shoop (1954)

    The Five Satins, from New Haven, CT (1954), are famous for their song In the Still of the Night (1956).

      Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, from Harlem, NY (1955), are known for their hit Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1956).

      Throughout the years, Doo-wop influenced many other groups like, 1960s groups Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and The Supremes as well as 1990s R&B group Boys II Men.  It even inspired Billy Joel to write the 1983 hit The Longest Time.

      Tuesday, June 28, 2011

      New Release Tuesday: 6/28/11

      NRT TIP:  mp3s purchased on can be transferred and played on iTunes

      Alicia Keys - Songs In A Minor (10th Anniversary Edition) (Deluxe Edition)
      Songs In A Minor (10th Anniversary Edition) (Deluxe Edition)
      2 Cents:  I can't believe it's been 10 yrs!!  I was never a fan of her 1st album but if you're a fan, you might wanna add to your music collection.

      Beyonce - 4
      4 [+digital booklet]
      Must Hear Track(s):  I Miss You, Start Over, I Was Here 
      2 Cents:  I commend her for trying to create a new sound to break up all this monotony we hear in the music today.  But there's nothing special about it.  Very disappointed in this album.  Didn't live up to the hype for me.  I'll probably just download the 3 okay tracks above and call it a day.

      Big Sean - Finally Famous: The Album  
      Finally Famous [Explicit]
       Must Hear Track(s):  My Last feat. Chris Brown
      2 Cents:  No track on this album jumped out on me and he sounds a lil too much like Drake.

      The Foreign Exchange - Dear Friends:  An Evening With The Foreign Exchange
      Dear Friends: An Evening With The Foreign Exchange
      2 Cents:  Great album to add to your location if you're an FE fan.  But if this is your 1st listen to the group, I would listen to their original tracks first before you listen to this.

      Note:  To purchase album, click on image above.   To preview "must hear" tracks, click on the link.

      Don't forget to visit the New Album Releases tab for the latest releases all year!

      Monday, June 27, 2011

      2011 BET Awards

      For those who missed the 2011 BET Awards night, here is your recap of the highlights from the J9 and ChinaBabe point of view. . .


      To view all performances, click here.

      Mary J. Blige Opens
      J9:  MJB took it back ok skool style!  I've definitely seen better from her but she was okay.  Loved Anita coming out to do "Rapture" w/ her to show ok skool and new skool together.

      ChinaBabe: Now, since you all don't know...I am a not a big fan of MJB! However, I love me some "What's the 411?" and "My Life" Mary, but this performance gave me hope for the new album. I love old skool Mary.

      Jill Scott
      J9:  Loved the story she told before she sang the song.  Jill looked great and who doesn't like to look at Idris Elba.

      ChinaBabe:  I think Jill is a cool breeze on a summer night! This performance was everything, it was vocals and storyline, it was amazing!

      Chris Brown
      ChinaBabe:  I'm sorry I love me some Chris Brown, but I expected so much more! I mean, who doesn't love Busta, but I just thought we could have gotten more performance from Mr. Brown.

      Alicia Keys
      J9:  Her performance was just okay and once again, I've seen better.  Loved the addition of Bruno Mars, but having Rick come out was random and unnecessary!!

      ChinaBabe:  I'm not sure, but I'm almost sure that this is the same performance from the awards last year, except she added Bruno Mars and Rick Ross.  I love me some Alicia, but I'm gonna need her not to perform Fallen or Secrets again, just like Usher can retire OMG...Thank you!

      Trey Songz/Kelly Rowland
      J9:  Not a Trey fan so don't have anything to say other than I see he's been working out more.  Ms. Kelly worked it.  Definitely see potential in her performances for future shows!!

      I've always described Trey Songz as your little cousin's best friend who has a crush on you and you don't pay them any attention because they try too hard...Well, last night I started to glance over at little Trey! He has grown in his performance and in his vocals.  Miss Kelly did her thing, I am beyond impressed with her stage presence!!! The verdict is still out as to whether or not she lip-sync or not, but if she didn't it was out of this world!!!

      Patti LaBelle Tribute
      J9: Only 3 people to sing songs.  I was left VERY disappointed and they could've done a way better job. SMH!!!  Shame on you BET.

      ChinaBabe: All I can say is where is FANTASIA? Huh? Where? So at BET. Yet, they can find Cee Lo.  I appreciate Cee Lo and everything that he is...but I wanted Ms Fantasia to kick off her heels and get Momma Patti running across the stage! Click here to see a real tribute, it gets real good after 2 minutes.

      Memorial Tribute
      J9: I loved the set up of this segment with the different stages for the artists.  Ledisi was amazing paying tribute to Teena Marie

      Beyonce Closes
      J9:  What's the point of having her close the show if she wasn't even there???  Doesn't make any sense at all.  So you having us see a damn concert performance??


      J9: Really, a tie between Willow and Jaden Smith for Young Star Award??? Come on now #conspiracy.  Still didn't make any sense that Trina wasn't included in the list for Female Hip Hop Artist category.  Of course Nicki was gonna win it and that's why people laughed when Nicki said she was surprised she won the award.

      I have to be honest here, I didn't really care about the winners.  Overall, the categories are boring and it seems like the same 4 out of 5 people keep getting nominated and the same 3 people win the award. Is this the state of Black Music or are out friends at BET just a little lazy when it comes to music and category selection...#Food4Thought

      To view all the winners, click here.

      Overall Show

      J9:  I thought Kevin was funny.. . .his entrance with his Kappa Phi Kevin crew was cute.  What an appropriately funny song to come out to Lil Wayne's 6 foot, 7 foot.  I loved The Real Husbands of Hollywood skit.  The audience lacked energy that's why I believe Kevin kept on telling the audience he was making sure there was energy.  There were no amazing moments. . . this show didn't even come close to top last year's.

      Attention Rick Ross, if you gonna perform a song that features other artists, make sure they going to be present and perform with you.  Was very awkward to have him up there for what seemed like forever doing his annoying grunting sounds while the track played Chrisette and Drake's part of Aston Martin.  And why was Lil Wayne rapping over a track??  Who does that? SMH!

      Last night was full of mistakes, from them not bleeping out the curses properly to announcing the wrong winner.  Come on BET. . . you've lost us here!!!

      ChinaBabe: Who does that J9, the same people who think rapping from a blackberry is a freestyle...#imjustsayin and I digressed...Back to the Awards!!!!

      Kevin Hart was an awesome host!!! I agree with J9 The Real Husbands of Hollywood skits were great!!!! I'm not sure if KHart was the best host ever, but he was one of very few great host.

      I had a couple questions that I would like to pose to the good folks at BET regarding this award show...First, if an artist is featured on your song and they are sitting in the audience, isn't it just rude for them not to perform? Next, can someone write in to Rick Ross' contract that he must remain clothed throughout the entire performance? I understand that mistakes happen, however BET we have got to get better...Chris Brown should have received his Viewers Choice Award, don't have a category if you are not prepared to present it properly.

      What were your thoughts on this year's show?
      Which performance was your favorite?

      Friday, June 24, 2011

      Black Music Month: The Birth of Bebop, A New Style of Jazz

      To celebrate Black History month, throughout June check out a series of features on the influences of blacks in the music we listen to today.

      Bebop, also known as bop, was the first modern jazz style developed from Swing in the early to mid 1940s during the WWII era.  The war caused big bands to downsize and commercialize, making them all sound the same.  Bebop was then created to bring life back into music again.  In big bands, musicians were often restricted with how they could play and their solos were very short.  Bebop allowed artists to have more creative freedom to express themselves. 

      Bebop music introduced African rhythms and incorporated blues.  It contained more complex melodies, chord progressions and irregular patterns.  Some say that Bebop was jazz for intellectuals because musicians weren't playing for dancing audiences but for those who wanted to listen.  Swing music could sound the same in concert and in the recordings.  However, Bebop was based on improvisation so a musician could never play a piece the same twice.  This made it difficult for the general public to warm up to it.

      Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and Alto Saxophonist Charlie Parker are considered to be the founders of Bebop.  They played along with pianist Thelonious Monk and drummer Kenny Clarke in the New York City Jazz club Minton's Playhouse, which is named the birthplace of Bebop.

      Legendary jazz tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was one of the few jazz musicians of the golden jazz age in the 20s to shift to Bebop in the 40s.  He also helped introduce Bebop and held the first Bebop recording session on February 16, 1944 with Dizzy Gillepie.   

      Famous Bebop Recordings 
      Billie's Bounce by Charlie Parker (1945)
      Charlie Parker (alto sax), Miles Davis (trumpet), Dizzy Gillespie (piano), Curly Russell (bass), Max Roach (drums).

      Groovin' High by Dizzy Gillespie (1945)
      Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Charlie Parker (alto sax), Clyde Hart (piano), Remo Palmieri (guitar), Slam Stewart (bass), Cozy Cole (drums).

      A Night In Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie & Frank Paparelli (1946)
      Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Don Byas (tenor sax), Milt Jackson (vibes), Al Haig (piano), Ray Brown (bass), J.C. Heard (drums), Bill De Arango (guitar)

      Misterioso by Thelonious Monk (1958)
      Thelonious Monk (piano), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass), Roy Haynes (drums)

      Throughout the years, Bebop has influenced the development of other forms of jazz like cool jazz and West Coast jazz as well as rock n roll.  It has also influenced hip-hop artists like A Tribe Called Quest and Guru who have said Bebop shaped their rapping and rhythmic style.

      This post is dedicated to my uncle, the late Dr. Hill W. Brindle who had a strong appreciation for jazz music and always educated me on this amazing art form.

      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Concert Review: Sade Live Tour

      I don't have many regrets in life but one is not going to see Sade in 2001 for the Lover's Rock Tour.  I will forever beat myself up for that and my cousin Lisa has never found it difficult to tell me how great it was, lol.  After that, I made a vow to myself that if she ever went on tour again I would be there NO MATTER WHAT.  And after waiting 10 years, on June 16, 2011, I finally got my opportunity!!!  Rirai, C, my sister, and I went to the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore, MD (the first stop on her North American Tour) to see Sade. . LIVE!!

      Before I begin my concert review, I must first give you some background as to why I love Sade.  Anybody who knows me, knows Sade is my favorite music artist in the entire world!.  But I've never really told anyone the extend of my love and why she holds a special place in my life and heart.  I grew up listening to her ever since Smooth Operator.  However, it wasn't until 1997 when my mother was battling cancer did I really get into her music.  I found refuge in the music as I tired to cope with my mom being sick.  I can vividly remember being in the hospital, praying to God while repeatedly playing Sweetest Taboo and Cherish the Day on my Walkman as I looked outside the window.  Her music is what got me through the worst time in my life.  It was on that day my love for Sade began, but mostly on the surface level for how the music made me feel.

      Then many years later, as I got older I began to listen to the lyrical content of the songs and like anybody who has ever been in a relationship, I found songs I connected with.  Her songs were among the few that were able to accurately capture the intense emotions I was feeling about certain relationships I experienced in my life.  One in particular was in college, when I fell in love with a guy who I gave my all to and I felt that he took advantage of my love for him.  I immediately connected with Sade's No Ordinary Love. .

      I gave you all the love I got
      I gave you more than I could give
      I gave you love
      I gave you all that I have inside
      And you took my love
      You took my love

      Now for the review. . .

      Before  the show started, it was great to talk the people around me and hear their Sade stories and share favorite songs.  That night we were all family about to witness the return of a legend.

      7:45pm - Have you ever seen a place packed in time for the opening act?  Yes, if the act is John Legend!  He started his set singing an acapella version Adele's Rolling in the Deep that was great and set the tone.

      John along with his 8 piece band and 3 background singers did an amazing 45 minute performance of non-stop hits that left the crowd thoroughly entertained.

      I've seen him many times before and I think this was probably one of his best performances. John can never do wrong, he never disappoints.

      John Legend Setlist

      1.  Rolling in the Deep (Adele Cover)
      2.  Hard Times
      4.  Again
      6.  Wake Up
      7.  Slow Dance
      8.  Unknown Cover song
      9.  Good Morning
      10. Save Room
      11. PDA
      12. I Can Change
      15. So High

      9:30pm - The moment I've been waiting 10 years for arrives as Sade comes from beneath the stage to Solider of Love (check it out in the clip below).  The crowd went wild!!  This is also the exact moment where my heart probably stopped and tears started rolling down my face. 

      Sade made it worth the wait.  It will forever be my #1 concert ever and the "must see" concert of the year.  From the dramatic light direction, amazing set design and special effects to the minimal yet smooth choreo and an unbelievably talented band, this was truly the ultimate concert experience.  I believe the tour is going to be made into a DVD that of course I'll add with the others ;)

      At the age of 52, Sade has proven that she can come back after 10 years and still not miss a beat as she traveled across the stage with sophisticated grace. Her voice was smooth and fluid like a cool breeze giving me goosebumps and chills.

      The band did an amazing job solidifying this musical masterpiece of a concert. It really shows how talented they are and the chemistry they have is definitely apparent, which explains why Sade so successful.  They embody what it means to create music.  During All About Our Love, a montage of Sade (many may not be aware that Sade is also the name of the band) through the years played in the background.  As each picture appeared, it really put things in perspective of how far they've come and grown. 

      So many times I wanted to just close my eyes to feel the music but I was scared I would miss something.  My eyes had to be on stage at all times.  Sade performed for 2 hours and ended the concert with an encore of Cherish the Day as Sade was lifted up on a pillar.

      Sade Setlist

      2. Your Love is King
      3.  Skin
      5.  Love is Found
      8.  Jezebel
      9.  Bring Me Home
      10. Is it a Crime
      11. Still in Love With You
      12. All About Our Love
      14. Nothing Can Come Between Us
      19. Pearls

      I don't even think any words can truly describe my experience.  As I left the arena, I tweeted "As I wipe the tears from my face, Sade has left me speechless."  Sade was truly amazing in every way.  Even looking back at the video footage, I find myself reliving that moment and getting emotional.  My co-worker Bells asked if she sang Love is Stronger Than Pride which she didn't.  It's hard to get all the great ones into one concert and you can list many others great ones (Never as Good as the First Time, Somebody Already Broke My Heart).  With an artist like Sade, it's hard to fit all of the good ones in a concert.  So I feel the ones she picked were perfect.

      If you viewed the By Your Side clip above, you will see that confetti dropped. . .well you know afterwards I had to get some ;) gotta have a souvenir to commensurate the moment!

      Big shout out to all the members of Sade:
      Sade - Vocals
      Andrew Hale - Keyboards (used to have a crush on him back in the day)
      Stuart Matthewman - Guitar and Sax
      Paul S. Deman - bass

      Along with the other members of the band!!!!

      SYTYCD Season 8 Top 20 Again!!! ChinaBabe Edition

      So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) is back for it's 8th Season!!!

      The Changes

      Judges: This season joining Nigel behind the table...Mary Murphy is back, instead of my favorite judge ever, Mia Michaels. However, this season a special "celebrity" guest judge will join them on the panel. Lady GaGa has already been confirmed as a judge for sometime this season!!!!

      Show Format: This year the producers decided to go with the Top 20 performers, from the audition rounds, 10 male dancers and 10 female dancers.  Each week, 1 male and 1 female dancer will be eliminated until we have a Top 10.  Once the Top 10 dancers have been decided, the SYTYCD Season 8 All-Stars will become a part of the performance episodes. The good folks at SYTYCD thought that this would make all of the fans happy because it will allow us to see the contestants perform with each other earlier in the competition and we still get to see our All-Stars.

      However, the Top 20 dancers have been paired up in male/female couples and America has to vote for couples NOT individual dancers. I know this is the way things have been done in the past, remember TwitchIngton, Season 4's power couple Twitch and Kherington (Just a reminder Krump and Contemporary by TwitchIngton)***I digressed*** Either way, I just don't like voting for couples instead of individuals...

      Your Top 20

      Contestants: Top 20 Dancers
      Style: Jazz
      Song: XR2 by M.I.A.
      Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh

      The Top 20 dancers are fantastic and extremely versatile. I would go as far as saying this is the most versatile group of performers in SYTYCD history!  

      Contestants: Top 10 Male Dancers
      Style: Hip Hop
      Song: Velocity by Nathan Lanier
      Choreographer: Christopher Scott

      The performance was POWERFUL and strong. I loved every moment.  If you don't know who Christopher Scott, I'll give you a brief summary.  He's a part of the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (LXD), along side Lil C and what they are known for is combining different dance styles.  The concept is to put together different types of dance styles and making them seamless on stage.  In this performance I believe he achieves more than that!!!

      Contestants: Top 10 Female Dancers
      Style: Jazz
      Song: Pop, Drop & Roll by Chonique Sneed and Lizette Bustamante
      Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh

      This performance was EVERYTHING for me!!! The movements were so particular and peculiar all at the same time.  Clean and unique, this performance showcased just how talented all of Season 8 female contestants are. I'm not exactly sure what goes on in Sonya head to finds this amazing ability to create pictures of moving art.

      The Rumors

      The good folks at SYTYCD have been very tight-lipped about who the All-Stars will be but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from turning and assuming.

      Robert (S7): He has been spotted at rehearsals and has stepped in for an injured contestant.
      Billy (S7): It has been discussed that Billy will come in as a choreograph once we get to the Top 10.
      Twitch (S4): It has been said that there are no guarantees that Twitch will return as an All-Star.
      Hok (S3): There have been whispers of Hok returning as an All-Star however, this seems very unlikely...

      Then this picture became a hot button topic

      Seen here: Benji Schwimmer (S2), Sabra Johnson (S3), Caitlin Kinney(S5), Mollee Gray (S6), Evan Kasprzak (S5), Randi Evans(S5), Ellenore Scott (S6),Legacy Perez (S6), Brandon Bryant (S5) and Kupono Aweau(S5)

      Now, if we keep to previous standards we all know that Benji and Sabra being that they both were the winners of their respective seasons would not be asked back as All-Stars. However, we all know that the producers of SYTYCD like to shake things up every now and then.

      : No Legacy...please please please not Legacy.

      According to Nigel, the All-Stars will not be selected until they see who the Top 10 dancers are, in order to ensure the All-Stars will compliment the remaining that I say 'YEAH RIGHT!!!'

      Do you like the new format with Top 20 instead of Top 10?

      Who would you like to see as a Season 8 All-Star?

      Tuesday, June 21, 2011

      New Release Tuesday: 6/21/11

      NRT TIP:  The best time to buy a new released album is the week it drops.  Most stores and iTunes will have them for less than $11 during that week.

      Jill Scott - The Light of the Sun
      The Light Of The Sun
      2 Cents:  Jill fans will not be disappointed.  She took it back to the "Who's Jill Scott?" days.

      Jagged Edge - The Remedy
      The Remedy [+digital booklet]
      Must Hear Track(s):  Lay You Down
      2 Cents:  They were always the group where I only liked 1 or 2 songs off an album and this one is no different.

      Note:  To purchase album, click on image above.   To preview "must hear" tracks, click on the link.

      Don't forget to visit the New Album Releases tab for the latest releases all year!

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      Concert Review: Katy Perry, California Dreams Tour

      On June 15, 2011, Rirai and I went to the sold out Katy Perry concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.  I wasn't surprised but there were a lot of grade school teenie boopers with their parents.  Many wearing either homemade shirts paying homage to Katy, her signature blue wig or tutus. 

      Cali DJ Skeet Skeet got the party started by playing a mix of pop tunes from artists like Ke$ha, Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Far East Movement for about a half an hour.  I felt like I was at a club for "international night."  Someone could have easily busted out the glow sticks, lol.

      8:00pm - Swedish artist Robyn opened the show.  She was like a little energizer bunny up there with her whimsical style of dancing.  At one point she ate a banana on stage and threw the peel in the audience. . .maybe she needed a boost of potassium.

      Towards the end of her set, Robyn was joined on stage by Baltimore native, rapper Rye Rye who performed her new single Never Will Be Mine that features Robyn (based on Robyn's song Be Mine).  Rye Rye had good stage presence but really didn't offer anything new as her style was very Lil Kim/Nicki Minaj-sque.

      Overall, I enjoyed Robyn's 45 min performance.  I do think some of the crowd was a bit too young or just unfamiliar with her music to appreciate it.  I was a tiny bit disappointed that she didn't sing one of my favs, Like You but I still love you Robyn :).

      Robyn Setlist

      1.  Fembot
      2.  Bad Gal
      3.  Corbastyle
      5.  We Danced to the Beat
      7.  Never Will Be Mine
      8.  Call Your Girlfriend
      9.  Hang With Me

      You could tell this crowd was filled with very amateur concert goers.  Right after Robyn left the stage, they began to chant Katy's name not realizing it would be another 30 something minutes before she would come out because they had to change over the stage.  Yea, I know I've become a concert snob, lol. #whatyougonnadoboutit

      9:00pm - Katy Perry time!!!  Her Candy Land themed set was just AMAZING!!  It was so vivid and colorful along with her many costumes (I lost count after 10) that complemented each scene well.  Katy can sure entertain a crowd and gave it her all for thousands of screaming fans.  This girl is talented and tonight she made that VERY clear.  No auto-tune or lip syncing here.

      From the moment she hit the stage singing Teenage Dream, Katy exuded this electric and bubbly energy that spread throughout the audience.  You couldn't help but to stand on your feet and join the fun.  I don't know where she gets all that energy but she worked every bit of that stage with her dancers and even had a little catwalk extended out to the crowd.

      The day before the concert, my boy Big G had told me Katy was going to do this changing clothes magic trick she had learned from this couple.  And sure enough, she incorporated the trick during her Hot & Cold performance, which went well with the lyrics of the song.  She really made my night singing all my favs, like Circle the Drain and Who Am I Living For?

      Katy Perry Setlist

      2.  Hummingbird Heartbeat
      3.  Waking Up in Vegas
      4.  Ur So Gay
      5.  Peacock
      6.  I Kissed a Girl
      8.  E.T.
      10. Pearl
      11. Not Like the Movies
      12. Cover Medley
            -  Only Girl in the World (Rihanna)
            -  Big Pimpin’ (Jay-Z)
            -  Friday (Jessica Black)
            - Whip My Hair (Willow Smith)
      13. Thinking of You
      15. Last Friday Night
      16. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
      18. California Girls (Encore)

      Even though Katy did an amazing job, I don't think these parents did their homework.  From singing about kissing girls and losing your virginity to pretending to hallucinate after eat a brownie and imitating oral sex during her Peacock performance, Katy's music is filled with adult content and innuendos.  How is that appropriate for kids?

      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      New Release Tuesday: 6/14/11

      The first NRT of June gives us. . . .

      Ledisi - Pieces of Me
      Pieces Of Me
      2 Cents:  If you're looking for a nice R&B album, this is the one to get!  I hope this give her the increased visibility she deserves.

      KeKe Wyatt - Unbelievable!
      2 Cents:  The album had me right up until I heard the several covers that she just didn't do justice.  To me, it just wasn't necessary to include.

      Note:  To purchase album, click on image above.   To preview "must hear" tracks, click on the link.

      Don't forget to visit the New Album Releases tab for the latest releases all year!


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