Monday, October 31, 2011

Raheem DeVaughn Hosts LOVELIFE Concert Featuring Goapele in DC


By Guest MusicLife Blogger Steph


It all started on Twitter. . . on Sunday, October 23, DC's own Raheem DeVaughn tweeted "Fans of @Goapele in the DMV: DM me what u looking for in her next album? Secret event Wed."  Well of course MusicLife DMmed him and that very same day, got an invite to see Goapele at his exclusive event.

On Wednesday, October 26, he opened his studio, where the Radio Raheem Show also airs, to Goapele fans which included MusicLife Guest Blogger C and myself for a treat. . . a special performance by Goapele to promote her newly released album Break of Dawn.  She performed on the studio's stage that Raheem calls LoveLife and we were loving the life with her intimate performance.

Her remarkable band warmed us up with music from artists like Musiq Soulchild and D'Angelo and then Raheem DeVaughn came to the stage to introduce the lady of the hour.  Goapele stepped onto the stage with her flowing and free spirited soul and wasted no time as she began to sing First Love.  Then on to Play off of her new album….gotta hear it!  As Goapele performed another new hit, Tears On My Pillow, she informed us that this was the first blues song she wrote. The message in this song is something we can ALL relate to. Introducing her next song, Money, she gave a message that money isn’t everything.  The night was sealed with an all time favorite, Closer




The performance was followed by a meet and greet where Goapele met with fans and signed autographs. After the night’s performance, those who didn’t know, definitely knows now that Break of Dawn is a must have and Goapele delivered.



 


Break of Dawn available now!!!
Click image to purchase.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A.B.C. by Eric J: "I'm Dat Chick" - Kelly Rowland


A.B.C.:  Also known as "Another Bad Creation" from my cousin, Eric J (choreographer/dancer/instructor)



 WHO'S THAT CHICK???


Eric J Class Schedule

Mon. - Beg. 9-10:30pm
Tues. - Adv. Beg. 9-10:30pm
Thurs. - Adv. Beg. 9-10:30pm
Sat - Int. 7:30 - 9:30pm

For more info, visit: Broadway Dance Center

Wanna see more Eric J videos???  Visit his YouTube page and leave feedback!!


Follow Eric J on Twitter. . . @Ericj616

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Death of the Major Record Label?



For the past 10 years, ever since the rise of digital downloading and social media, the major record label has taken a huge hit.  Now, artists have acquired the power the label once had, relying less on the major record label.  Some are taking control of their own marketing efforts through the use of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, which requires less money out of their pockets.  Some are parting ways completing and going to the indie label or independent route.  Music consumers are getting their music in other ways digitally instead of buying physical albums.  As a result, major record labels are left somewhat powerless. 

It's said that in within the next 20 years, major record labels will become extinct like the dinosaurs or will have to go through major restructuring.  Call it Music Darwinism, only the strongest will survive!  We've seen it already where labels are forced to downsized their staff.  Just this September, Warner Music Group laid off a dozen staffers in their promotion department.  To make up for low album sales, labels are currently making new artists sign 360 deals. The deals allow record labels to get a percentage of money earned from shows, merchandising and film projects.

Earlier this month, music parent company RCA announced it was shutting down its sub labels Arista, Jive and J Records.  With this move, all of its associated artists (Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Outkast. . ) would now fold into the RCA roster.  According to RCA executives, the move was to support a refresh of RCA and make a stronger brand.  However, some are saying it may be the sign of deeper issues.


Are major record labels really in jeopardy?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Release Tuesday: 10/25/11


NRT TIP:  If you click on the actual image of the album below, it will take you directly to Amazon.com to buy.


So once again this NRT is not a true one since 2 were released yesterday.  However, still a great way to end the month of October.  What will you be getting?



 Boyz II Men - Twenty
Must Hear Track(s):  So Amazing, Put Some Music On, Refuse to Be the Reason

2 Cents:  Can't believe it's been 20 yrs and they still have the sound we all feel in love with all those years ago.  This double CD, anniversary album is a must for the B2M fan as it also includes some of their classic hits.



Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
(originally released on 10/24/11)
Must Hear Track(s):  Paradise, Charlie Brown, Hurts Like Heaven, Us Against the World

2 Cents:  The band calls this album a schizophrenic because of its different sounds.  I think it's another great album that captures the different moods we all go through.  Coldplay can do no wrong in my opinion!!



Goapele - Break of Dawn
(originally released on 10/24/11)
Must Hear Track(s):  Play, Break of Dawn, Milk & Honey

2 Cents:  This LONG awaited album brings back the same Goapele elements we are used as well as introducing some new sounds.  You won't be disappointed!



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

The Sing-Off Season 3: Week 6 Top 8

The Sing-Off

Last night on the Sing-Off, the Top 8 groups performed.  Each group was asked to select a Hip Hop song, and put their own spend on it.

Overall, last night went exactly like I thought it would...some groups embraced the challenge while others took the easy way out, which was sad for them.

Here are some top performances from last night...


Contestants: Pentatonix
Song: Love Locked Down
Original Artist: Kanye West

Easily the best performance of the night!!! I loved every moment of it!!! The emotion and pain of the song was felt. They emoted struggle...it was great.  I felt every moment was absolutely AHH-MAZING!!!!


Contestants: Darmouth Aires
Song: The Club Can't Handle Me
Original Artist: Flo Rida

As always the Darmouth Aires put on a fantastic show! The lead rapper, Henry, had swag...as judge, Shawn Stockman said, "Henry's shoulders were loose" LOL!!!! This performance was great.  I even loved the corny dance moves, that was fun!



Contestants: Afro Blue
Song: Killing Me Softly with His Song
Original Artist: Roberta Flack (1971) & The Fugees (1996)

This performance was great, according to the judges.  They loved the arrangement... I didn't care too much for it, but apparently it was good. Personally, I thought they should have stayed truer to the original song...either version.  To me, it was a decent performance.


The Battle
I'm not sure if this segment of the show is new this season or if it will be added but I thought it was interesting.


Contestants: The Collective and The YellowJackets
Song: It Was Just A Dream
Original Artist: Nelly

This battle was clearly won by the YellowJackets.  Even though Delilah should have been in the bottom with The Collective...but whatever...I'm so happy the YellowJackets step up for their performance.


Swan Song
For those of you who may not be familiar with The Sing Off, each eliminated group is asked to prepare a Swan Song and this song becomes the exiting song as the group leaves the stage for the final time.

Contestants: The Collective (Eliminated)
Song: Knocking On Heaven's Door
Original Artist: Bob Dylan

It's always sad to see any group go home, but it was time for The Collective...





What do you like about the Sing Off?


Who is your favorite group?

Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 For Sister's Only DC Artist Line Up Revealed




For Sisters Only is an upscale direct marketing event designed to attract Washington’s African-American females and their families. This one-day expo focuses on the needs, issues and lifestyles of today’s Women of Color.

Consumers enjoy a jam-packed day with health screenings, seminars, business opportunities, product demonstrations, and shopping for the most up-to-date clothing, accessories, art, cosmetics, financial services, automobiles, celebrities, and of course MUSICAL PERFORMANCES!!


This year's FSO takes place on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Washington Convention Center.  Artists to perform include:
  • Wale
  • Bell Biv Devoe
  • Estelle
  • Eric Benet
  • Johnny Gill

To purchase tickets, click here.


Stay tuned for more confirmed artists!

Analyze This: "We Found Love" by Rihanna

Analyze This:  An in depth look at the lyrical content of a song to provide insight



Yellow diamonds in the light
And we're standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive

It's the way I’m feeling I just can't deny
But I've gotta let it go

Chorus:
We found love in a hopeless place (4x)

Shine a light through an open door
Love and life I will divide
Turn away cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind

It's the way I'm feeling I just can't deny
But I’ve gotta let it go

Chorus:
We found love in a hopeless place (4x)

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we're standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine...

Chorus:
We found love in a hopeless place (4x)

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place


ChinaBabe's Analysis: At first listen, this song is just simple lyrics and hot beats.  The simplicity of the lyrics have opened a pathway for an incredibility complicated video.  From a Chris Brown look alike to a drug induced romance...this video has it all!!!!

*Oh, this is just in case you didn't believe me*

Chris Brown (left) and Dudley O'Shaughnessy (right)


Although, I believe the world is with me when I say, 'I'm so over this whole Chris and Rihanna thing it's not even funny...' But this video is so absolutely fantastic!!! It has just the right amount of love and affection mixed with a heavy dose of rage and pain...the perfect visual for any dysfunctional relationship.

The most powerful line in this song is We found love in a hopeless place. This one line speaks volumes.  It is so personal and so sad.  To know that you found love, but it's a hopeless kind of love.  The hopeless kind of love that you know as no chance of working simply because it's destructive.  Rihanna found a way to make a catchy pop/dance track, deep and dark...this video displays destructive love. It's almost too personal to watch.  This video feels like Rihanna finally showing the world her side of the story, in her own words... which I respect. It takes the abilty to go to a very dark place to pull out a video like this... I love it!!!!






We Found Love is the first single off Rihanna's sixth album
Talk that Talk, which drops
November 21 2011.

Friday, October 21, 2011

J.Cole Performs For Sold-Out Crowd on MD Leg of Cole World Tour

October, 19, 2011 - The Fillmore - Silver Spring, MD

My girl C, her friend, and I got there at 7:00pm and the line was wrapped around the block!  I waited on line for about 20 mins until I got in.  Kudos to the venue's staff because their logistics were on point as the line went pretty fast.  Very diverse crowd which I later found out was made mostly of 18 and over college students.

Before I begin my concert review, I let me talk about The Filmore.  This standing room only venue is definitely going to give other venues like 9:30 Club competition!  Free and ample parking within in distance of the venue and the decor inside is really nice.  For those seating in the limited seating/dining area, they even have digital menus that light up making it easy to read without light.  How cool is that?

At 9:00pm, J.Cole's DJ, DJ Dummy hit the stage spinning the tables as the opening act.  Not sure how I feel about that but I'd rather have had a lesser known rapper.  He did play the usual suspects, Kanye, Jay, Rick Ross, Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki, and DJ Khaled. . .C said it best "I played the radio."  Then of course he had to represent the DMV area so he mixed in some UCB's Sexy Lady and some Wale.

Around 9:30, it was COLE WORLD TIME!!!  You would've thought Jay-Z stepped out on the stage by how the crowd went wild and sang every freakin word to every song J.Cole sang. The energy in that room was crazy.  Seeing Cole live, confirms he's a cutie.  Even though, he's from Fayetteville, NC, the NYC swagga he got from his time there has rubbed off making him even more sexy to me.  During his performance, I did notice some Drake-esque qualities (I hate to even compare them).  Sidenote:  I wish Work Out came out when I was in college, cause that song is perfect for the club and/or party!


Setlist


1.  Looking for Trouble
2.  Cole World
4.  It Won't Be Long
6.  Higher
7.  Daddy's Girl
9.  Rise and Shine
10. Mr. Nice Watch

11.  Work Out
13.  Enchanted
14.  Lights Please
15.  In the Morning
16.  Can't Get Enough
17.  Who Dat
18.  Blow Up
19.  I Get Up
20.  Nobody's Perfect


Cole performed for 1 1/2 hrs.  I was a little disappointed he didn't do my favorite song Losing My Balance (off The Warm Up mixtape) and surprised he didn't perform any of his Lion King inspired "Simba" songs.  However, apparently he's did my fav Grown Simba during some other shows.  Sidenote:  I know Cole has compared himself to being the Simba in the rap game but I found an interesting breakdown of the films characters representing Cole and others in the industry, which makes sense:

Simba = J. Cole, Obviously
Mufasa = 2pac, Was along with Nas J. Cole's Favorite rapper
Rafiki = Jay-Z, Called J. Cole the "Heir to the throne" by signing him to Roc Nation
Timon and Pumbaa = Wale And Drake, Helped him grow as an artist, collabed with both of them (beautiful bliss and in the morning) and Toured with them
Shenzi, Banzai,Ed (Hyenas) = Soulja Boy, Wacka Flocka Flame, Lil B and all the other Generic Rappers rapping about the same stuff
Scar = Record Labels and Mainstream Artists

For his first ever solo tour, J.Cole put on a great show.  A star was definitely been born and the concert was evidence of that!  There were times you could hear him straining his voice.  But that' can be corrected with experience and training.  J.Cole embodies what it means to make your own success through mixtapes.  From writing and producing his albums to having a #1 debut album. . . he's accomplished so much, which is rare in this industry.  But overall, J.Cole showed great potential and I can't wait to see him in a few years to witness  how much he's grown.  COLE WORLD!!!






Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Book "Hip Hop Hooray" Celebrates 30 Years of Rap Music

Content taken from blacknews.com


The new book Hip Hop Hooray: Celebrating 30 Years of Rap Music by Sean XLG Mitchell celebrates and highlights outstanding events and achievements in rap music over the last 30 years. Kool Rock Ski of the legendary rap group the Fat Boys pens the introduction as the book details the success of mainstream artists such as Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Eminem, and Jay Z to legends like Run-DMC, Grand Master Flash, NWA, and Public Enemy. From hit films like Krush Groove to Hustle & Flow, every era is explored and documented.

Using over 30 years of experience in rap music, Sean LG Mitchell chronicles events from the past and present and adds shine with exclusive interviews with hip-hop icons to include Dana Dane, Kurtis Blow, Grand Master Mele Mel, The Fat Boys, Queen Pen, Arrested Development, and more! Sean XLG reveals a vast array of feats, from the extraordinary and outrageous to the noble and obscure that is both informative and fascinating. 


If you're a fan of hip hop, this might be a book you should pick up!  To read more and find out how to get the book, click here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Sing-Off Season 3: Week 5 Top 10

The Sing-Off

Last night on the Sing-Off, the Top 10 groups performed all in 1 night, WOOOO HOOOO!!! Each group was asked to select a "guilty pleasure" song, which had fun written all over it, but some groups took this challenge too seriously.

Overall, last night really showed who the weaker groups were but there were some great performances.  Take a look at some of the great ones...


Contestants: Afro Blue
Song: I Wanna Dance with Somebody
Original Artist: Whitney Houston

This performance was so great!!! I loved how Afro Blue was able to put their own spin on this classic song and keep it still true to the original song.  I loved how each female in the group was able to shine...even though the white girl was a little flat...I still loved her!!!


Contestants: Pentatonix
Song: Video Killed the Radio Star
Original Artist: The Buggles

As I've said week after week, Pentatonix is unique and so very, very special.  This 80's electro-techno vibe fit perfectly with their futuristic sound.  I LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT!!!!


Contestants: Urban Method
Song: Poison
Original Artist: Bell Biv Devoe

This performance started off shaky, but it definitely picked up in the middle of the performance! I really love Urban Method and with a solid groove and an amazing lead male vocalist, this group will be in the competition for a long, long time!!!!


Contestants: YellowJackets
Song: Wanna Be
Original Artist: Spice Girls

I love the YellowJackets!!! Even though, I don't think they will win...this performance was fun and extremely entertaining...I especially loved the part where the one singer goes off in his fake British accent!!!! 
"Do you follow?" (insert accent here)


Contestants: Dartmouth Aires
Song: Jessie's Girl
Original Artist: Rick Springfield


Dartmouth Aires brings a very refreshing voice to a cappella.  Usually I am unfamiliar with their song selections but I love how they make all of the songs fun and friendly.  I love the diversity within this group and they are all together in the name of music!!! It's fantastic!!!






Swan Song
For those of you who may not be familiar with The Sing Off, each eliminated group is asked to prepare a Swan Song and this song becomes the exiting song as the group leaves the stage for the final time.

Contestants: North Shore (Eliminated)
Song: Goodnight Sweetheart
Original Artist: The Spaniels, R&B Group (1954) Re-recorded by The McGuire Sisters (1954)

I really liked this group of feisty yet fun loving older gentlemen, they were fantastic!!!! I loved the fact that old school a cappella was able to have a format like the Sing Off. Even though the Delilah should have been sent home instead of North Shore....

The Deltones were also eliminated, click here to view their Swan Song.  Their original performance was so uninspiring I sat through their performance and completely forgot about it.  


What do you like about the Sing Off?


Who is your favorite group?

New Release Tuesday: 10/18/11


NRT TIP:  Follow Amazon mp3 on Facebook or Twitter (@amazonmp3) to find out about their music promos like daily deals and free song of the days.


Joe - The Good, the Bad, the Sexy
 Must Hear Track(s):  Losing, Almost There, Circles, Dear Joe, Lose Control

2 Cents:  Gotta love some Joe and if you're a fan, you will not be disappointed in this album.  Delivering the same Joe vibe, this album definitely lives up to its title.



 Lalah Hathaway - Where it All Begins
 Must Hear Track(s):  This Could Be Love, You Were Meant for Me, I'm Coming Back

2 Cents:  For the classic R&B lover, you might dig the sounds on this album.



The Original 7 - Condensate
Must Hear Track(s):  #Trending, If I Was Yo Man

2 Cents:  The group formally known as The Time (because as my girl Kelz said "Prince needs to work on his sharing & caring. LoL...wouldn't let them use the orig band name") is back.  Too much new school incorporated in the sound which loses The Time flavor I'm used to.  Check it out for your self.




Note:  To purchase album, click on album image above.

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ya'll Ready for This? Sport Anthem Songs

There's nothing like the vibe and energy you get from going to a sports game from hanging out with friends, drinking beer and food to of course the music!  Music and sports go way back like babies and pacifiers.  It's an important element of the game.  It's been used to announce the entrance of a team/player, support a good play, hype up the crowd, especially when the team and/or player is doing well, or strike fear in the opposing team. At my alta mater, University of Maryland, we would chant "Hey, you suck" to Rock & Roll, Pt. 2 (also know as the "Hey Song") by Gary Glitter whenever we played against our rivals Duke. 

In November 2010, Usher released the song More as a promotional single for his sixth album Raymond v. Raymond.  It was later used to promote that year's NBA All-Star game.  You might have seen the commercial that does a great job in capturing the energy of the game.




In September 2010, Wiz Khalifa released his debut single Black and Yellow, which was written to represent his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and all its home teams.  The song's release had perfect timing, during football season when the Pittsburgh Steelers were heading to the Super Bowl.  Black and Yellow quickly became associated with the team that season.


Do you remember hearing any of these songs during a sport outing?

We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, and Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
Cha Cha Slide by DJ Casper
Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones
Jump Around by House Of Pain
Let’s Get It Started by Black Eyed Peas
Eye of The Tiger by Survivor
This is How We Do it by Montell Jordan
Who Let the Dogs Out by Baha Men
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C & C Music Factory
Get The Party Started by Pink
The Way You Move by OutKast
     

Meshell Ndegeocello Announces Tour Dates


Starting next month, Meshell Ndegiocello will hit the east coast for some concert dates and then in January visit other cities.  These efforts will be to support her ninth studio album Weather


Tour Schedule

2011
Nov 14 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
Nov 15 - Alexandria, VA @ Birchmere
Nov 16 - New York, NY @ Hiro Ballroom

2012
Jan 5 - San Diego, CA @ Anthology
Jan 6 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theater
Jan 7 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
Jan 18 - Chicago, IL @ Harris Theater
Jan 19 - Chicago, IL @ Harris Theater
Jan 20 - Chicago, IL @ Harris Theater
Jan 22 - Minneapolis, MN @ The Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
Jan 23 - Minneapolis, MN @ The Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

Click here for 2011 show tickets.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

MusicLife Interview w/ R&B Singer/Songwriter Avant


October 7, 2011 - The Park at Fourteenth - Washington, DC


Avant (real name Myron Avant) is best known for his chart topping hits like Separated, Making Good Love, Read Your Mind, as well as his beautiful ballad duets My First Love and Nothing in This World with R&B singer KeKe Wyatt.  It's hard to believe that this Cleveland, OH native has been in the game for 10 years.  In December, he released his sixth album The Letter, which holds the same smooth R&B vibe he is known for and contains many songs he co-wrote and co-produced.  I sat down with Avant to talk about his career, music, of course the new album, and discover his MusicLife.

One-on-one w/ Avant


MusicLife:  You're about to give DC a live performance to show them what you're all about.  Now I know for me, a live performance is the epitome of getting to know the artist and their style.  If you can name an artist or group that you've seen in concert, who puts on the best live performance?

Avant:  There's a lot.  I respect the ol' skool so an O'Jays concert, The Isley Brothers, my man Charlie Wilson, New Edition, R. Kelly.  There's a lot people that love music and it's about loving music to me.  Some people get up there just to get paid, but some people really love the music and that's what I'm into.


MusicLife:  You've done amazing duets and everybody knows you for the ones you've done with KeKe Wyatt with Nothing in This World and My First Love.  If you could name another artist that you would do a memorable duet with, who would it be?

Avant:  It used to be my man Michael Jackson.  I've been blessed to work with a lot of different artists.  If you got that true flavor and are about the music, it's about the voice so you have to have an amazing voice to pull off a true duet.  So, it would be Beyonce.  You know what, but I would say Kelly [Rowland] cause I did a song with her too so I'd do another one with Kelly.


MusicLife:  You know the sound of music is always evolving.  And you see sometimes artists that can't keep up with the times and they fall off.  Then you have some artists who feel they need to change their sound completely and be totally different.  In your musical career, have you ever struggled with that?

Avant: Nah, once you get a true fan base like me, I've been blessed to have over 12 hit records so for me to switch up and go all the way left, I would lose all of my fan base.  Now, if you're an artist that has been in the game and hasn't established a true base, then I understand you trying to figure things out.  But once you get a true base, you really gotta give 'em what they want.  You can do a few different things but you gotta basically stay with the base.


MusicLife:  At the end of last year, you released your sixth album, The Letter.  And you said that was like a testimony, a letter to your fans to tell them what you've been going through.  If you could tell your fans what you would want them to get out of the album, what would it be?

Avant:  It would be to just have fun. Know that your life is in part of this album.  I know the people that listen to my music.  That's why I try to really strategically sit back and plan the album.  I wanted to deal with the issues that my people go through.  So if you listen to it, just know that I wrote it directly for you.  I have a song called Wake Up on the album and if you've been in a relationship, you know exactly what that song means.  So that's what I try to do, I try to feed into what the fans really want to hear. 


MusicLife:  In a lot of your music, you put a lot of emotion and feelings in it.  People say men aren't suppose to do that, women are suppose to do that.  So as a man, do you feel that sometimes you worry about putting yourself out there and being too vulnerable at times?

Avant:  No, not at all.  Look, I have songs like Don't Take Your Love Away and it's just being real. . .'Yea, I was a knucklehead. I was out there getting live or whatever.' But I have to be sorry at one point, like 'yo, that was a little extra'.  I don't really try to go too soft like I'm trying to kill myself, that's not the situation.  I believe you can be soft too, don't get me wrong, but it's okay to be apologetic at times.


MusicLife:  Music is definitely a part of your life.  So define your music life.  What does it mean to you?

Avant:  Music is everything for me.  I've been blessed like I said, I'm on my sixth album, working on my seventh album right now.  I mean I bleed for music.  I have an 8-year-old son so whenever he needs something I can go out there and get it because of music.  So for me to explain what music is, it's everything.  It's God and then music for me.  


MusicLife:  With your son, what do you feel you need to instill in him in terms of the music industry?  You have a lot of music out there that's not appropriate for an 8-year-old.  How do you kind of steer him in the right direction?

Avant:  My whole thing is before I get into music, I want him to be true to himself.  When you're true to yourself, there's just certain things you're just not going to do period.  So it's all about being true to who you are and then you take life from that step on.



When I met Avant, I was kinda taken back by his physique (these pictures don't actually capture the in person visuals).  Not sure where I've been but he isn't the same small-framed guy I remember from years ago.  Brother has definitely been in the gym or something.

During his performance, he sang a few cuts off the new album but it was his older hits like My First Love, Sailing, Don't Take Your Love Away, Separated, Read Your Mind, and Don't Say No, Just Say Yes that got the whole crowd singing.  Avant sounded just like on his albums, so good my girl Keisha and I swore he was singing off a track but it was all him.  The quality of his voice was perfect and smooth.

While watching him perform, I was finally able to figure out what makes him so attractive. . . his amazing smile and dimples :)  . . such a cutie!  He has this way making you feel like he's singing the song just for you.  I guess this adds to the R. Kelly-esque aura you couldn't help but feel at times.  This of course is no surprise since he's always been compared to Kelly.  Makes a girl wanna drop her panties. . #imjustsayin.

I'm not going to lie, I was never the biggest Avant fan but have liked many of his songs.  After meeting and seeing him perform, I've become a bigger fan.  I love when a live performance can change your whole musical outlook on an artist.    I didn't have his album before but that has changed since I just ordered it! 



To purchase The Letter, click on the album image to buy on Amazon.com.  Also available on iTunes.





Thanks to Mercy and Beny Blaq Entertainment for the interview opporutnity!! 




If you're in the DMV area, make sure to check out The Park Unplugged on Fridays at The Park at Fourteenth in Washington, DC and hear music from the hottest artists out there.  Past artists include Common, Musiq, Estelle, Melanie Fiona, Goapele, and Joe to name only a few.  To find out the latest events, visit their website here or follow them on Twitter @BBE_Events.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 BET Hip Hop Awards

The 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards

Last night was the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards.  There were highs and lows...we had everything from rapping R&B singers to parolees!!! Oh, let's not forget Mike Epps, shuckin' and jivin' and DJ Khaled screaming "We Da Baddest" behind everything. It was a fun-filled, action-packed night!!!


The Performances
(Please click on the name of the performance to view)

I really wish each and every performance was worth being posted on MusicLife...However, the majority of the performances last night are really not worth your time #ImJustBeingHonest  Here are a couple of good performances from last night...


Artist: DMX featuring Swizz Beats
Song: Ruff Ryder Medley

This performance was so surprising, well to me... It was great to see DMX doing his thing, keeping it live and street!!! It was great to see DMX rapping the correct words to the correct songs!!! All with Swizz Beats by his side, the world's most expensive hype man...Oh, how I miss the Ruff Ryder family!!!! It was awesome to see them together again!


Rebel Without Pause
Artist: Lupe Fiasco featuring Erykah Badu
Song: Word I Never Said

This performance stirred up a lot of discussion.  Mother Badu in a burka sounding like Alanis Morrisette...This entire performance need a disclosure statement.  I get the message and I loved the rock feel, but I just had one question...Was Lupe rockin' the Iranian flag? #Food4Thought

And I'm done...
The ATLiens Live performances, featuring Young Jezzy and T.I. was decent. However, I wanted more!!!!
Also, for a fun time, you can check out the Return of Mr. Big Stuff performance from Heavy D featuring Tyrese.




The Cyphers

This is the only reason I tune in to the BET awards each and every year!!!! Every year someone seems to have a break out performance that gets them national shine on Hip Hop's main stage, at the BET Hip Hop Awards.  These sets, in recent years, have given us everyone from Nicki Minaj to Diggy Simmons to Yelawolf...


Yelawolf, Slaughter House (Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Royce 5'9") and Eminem

The best cypher of the night by far!!! This was so good, it was almost offensive for it to be on the damn BET Hip Hop Awards. All I'm saying is Eminem IS Hip Hop in it's purest form! Joe Buddens IS Hip Hop!!! This whole set gave me chills...#ByeRihanna


Reek da Villian (NY), 2Chainz (GA), Busta Rhymes (NY) and Ludacris (GA)

I loved everything about this cypher...Busta should just always have a mic, a beat and a stage!!! Luda always has a sexual reference or two in this flow...it's just FANTASTIC!!!! I absolutely loved the two underground artist as well.


Kendrick Lamar, Machine Gun Kelly, B.O.B., Tech N9Ne and Big Krit



This cypher was unexpected for me...I love everything about Machine Gun Kelly (or maybe I'm a sucker for a white boy with lyrical skills *cough* Eminem).  Kendrick Lamar and Tech N9Ne are the future of the game...just you wait and see!!!!


Chris Brown and Friends Cypher 
('cause no one came up with a better name)
Ace Hood, Kevin McCall, Tyga and Chris Brown

I'm a little mad with BET for naming this cypher Chris Brown and Friends, no one at BET is more creative than that?  So I'll name it, 'The Future'.  If this is what the future of Hip Hop looks like, I'm okay with that.  Each artist brings his own flavor to the cypher.  Best line, 'I told her to use her head, I didn't want her to think' -- Chris Brown



International Flow Cypher
Nitty Scott (NY), Lacrea (TX), Soprano (France) and Estelle (United Kingdom)

This cypher had two things I never expected to see at the BET Hip Hop Awards. One, never in all my life did I expect to see subtitles on the Hip Hop Awards, but there it was...Soprano was fierce with his delivery in French!!! Dope!!! Next, who knew Estelle could drop bars? Not me!!! I loved her swagger!!!!


The Winners

Before the show, I told J9 I was not interested in watching the Lil Wayne show, since he was nominated for 18 awards. However, it was more like the Chris Brown show starring Busta Rhymes #ThankYouSweetBabyJesus. Chris Brown is still out on the F.A.M.E. Tour.

To view the complete list of winners please click here.


The Overall Show

As usual, the Hip Hop Awards is still missing something and was a disappointment.  There is just something in the lack of performance that most of these artist have today.  I'm not going to point at people, but you know who you are *cough* Rick Ross.

In usual BET Hip Hop Awards fashion, we had an honoree, LL Cool J and no performance tribute.  Mr. Smith's acceptance speech was pure and true Hip Hop!!! It had a flow with a bit of truth and a lot of thought.  However, I felt like the majority of it was lost of the ignorance of the audience. The most powerful line, in my opinion was 'it took us 400 years to raise the debt ceiling' #LearnYourHistoryPEOPLE

When will we, as consumers, stop allowing hot beats to be considered quality in Hip Hop? It is not! Where are all the Lyrical Hip Hop artist?  Oh, I know Eminem has them ALL signed under Slaughter House... 

#JumpsDownOffMySoapBox




What was your favorite cypher?

What was your favorite performance?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Release Tuesday: 10/11/11


NRT TIP:  If you click on the actual image of the album below, it will take you directly to Amazon.com to buy.


Not too much going on this week.  Here's something for those that want a lil Rock in their lives. . . .



 Evanescence - Evanescence

Must Hear Track(s):  Made of Stone, Lost in Paradise

2 Cents:  Break-ups, to make-ups. . after a 5 year break, the group is together again.  Verdict is still on on whether it will live up to their previous records, but they still bring the same powerful sound!



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

The Sing-Off Season 3: Week 4

The Sing-Off

Last night on the Sing-Off, the second group of six remaining a cappella groups performed twice. One Top 40 hit and one hit from the 1960s. Overall, this group of a cappella performances were not as good as the group from last week.  However, there were some stand out performances, take a look at a few...


Contestants: North Shore
Song: Lazy Song
Original Artist: Bruno Mars

This performance was smooth and fun!!! It showcased North Shore's "Street-Corner" Doo Whoop sound in a great way.  I was a little worried about the Old School group doing a new style, but they made it work with an amazing sound and great personality.

North Shore also performed of Unchained Melody, which is the perfect song from their style and it was absolutely magical!!!! I loved it!



Contestants: Dartmouth Aires
Song: Animal
Original Artist: Neon Trees

This performance was exciting and energetic!!! There was so much showmanship in this performance.  Each of the members of Dartmouth Aires made this performance everything that it was...which was fantastic!

For their 1960s classic they performed Pinball Wizard which was amazing!!! I thought this performance was strong and exciting...It was great!



Contestants: Penatonix
Song: Piece of My Heart
Original Artist: Janis Joplin

I really love Penatonix, they are original and unique. I just appreciate what they do!!! I love how they make everything their own and the reggae swag they put on this song was pure perfection!

The also performed Your Love Is My Drug which was very unique and exciting.  I really liked the odd arrangement with these futuristic beats that are becoming Penatonix signature style.



Contestants: The Collective
Song: Hold On, I'm Coming
Original Artist: Sam and Dave

This performance was great! I love the gospel feel and the high note was EVERYTHING!!!!

They also performed Rocketeer and their lead singer, Rachel, was very reminiscent of Teena Marie...it was surprisingly awesome!



Swan Song
For those of you who may not be familiar with The Sing Off, each eliminated group is asked to prepare a Swan Song and this song becomes the exiting song as the group leaves the stage for the final time.

Contestants: Sonos (Eliminated)
Song: It's So Hard to Say Good-Bye
Original Artist: Boys II Men

The arrangement of this song was an interesting choice for Sonos.  Shawn Stockman seemed visibly affected by this song.  If they were smarter, they would have used this as their 1960s song, since it was originally recorded for the movie Cooley High...AHAHAHA!!! Cooley High was released in 1975, that was a joke...
No? Too soon?


Dear Producers of the Sing-Off 
I appreciate you being innovative, and all, with your two brackets of 8 a cappella groups which equal 16 total groups.  However, is it possible we don't need 16 groups to start with? I think it's a bit of over kill!  Don't cha think? 'Cause, at the end of the day, we are only looking for one group to sign that contract with Sony, right?

Sidenote: Did I just say "at the end of the day"? 
*I digressed*

What I'm trying to say is, it's been two weeks since I last saw these decent a cappella groups and I don't remember them! I love music and I want to remember them...but really it's just too many groups!
SO, next season instead of having two brackets with 65 groups that perform twice in a night...How about we just have 14 groups that perform ONCE until Top 10...Let's try that *UmmmKay*
Sincerely, ChinaBabe


What do you like about the Sing Off?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eric Roberson, Goapele, and VV Brown Hit the Road to Promote New Albums

Get your calendars out. . . Eric Roberson, Goapele, and VV Brown are hitting the road to promote their upcoming albums.  See if they're stopping at a city near you. 


Eric Roberson

Oct 22 - Howard Homecoming - Washington, DC  Tickets
Nov 8 - Highline Ballroom - New York, NY  Tickets
Nov 18 - Royal Oak Music Theatre - Detroit, MI w/ Ledisi  Tickets




Goapele
Oct 24 - B.B. King Blues Club and Grill - New York, NY  
Oct 25 - Baltimore Soundstage - Baltimore, MD
Oct 27 - Birchmere - Alexandria, VA  
Nov 8 - Key Club - West Hollywood, CA  
Nov 10-13 - Dimitriou's Jazz Alley - Seattle, WA  
Nov 17-21 - Yoshi's Oakland - Oakland, CA



VV Brown
Nov 1 - Knitting Factory - Brooklyn, NY
Nov 2 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
Nov 4 - DC9 - Washington, DC
Nov 7 - Bardot - Los Angeles, CA
Nov 8 - Rickshaw Shop - San Francisco, CA
Nov 9 - Hotel Cafe - Los Angeles, CA
Nov 10 - Nectar Lounge - Seattle, WA 

Analyze This: "Sayido" by Musiq

Analyze This:  An in depth look at the lyrical content of a song to provide insight


"Sayido"

Click here for audio.

I'm your canvas to your paintbrush
Paint me a picture of you
So when you're broken
I can reference that my affection be true

Chorus:
So let me put it all together
It's been good let's make it better
And now forever if it's alright with you
And say I do, I do, I do
This is my vow to you
Say I do

So if we were famous
Or just nameless
Girl it won't matter to me
And if it's the ghetto or the good life
Hollywood or the hood
Girl it's whatever you see

Chorus

See now with one feet down on the pavement
I pray to God that you will agree
To what I'm saying
I got my arms outstretched to the sky
With a shiny new ring in my hand and a beating in my chest
That's getting heavier with every second passing
Cause I'm asking for the perfect gift

Chorus


J9's Analysis: Musiq has always found a way to capture the essence of real love told from the male perspective in songs like Sobeautiful, Dontchange, and now Sayido off his new album MUSIQINTHEMAGIC.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up the in insignificant things that we tend to lose sight on what really matters in a relationship.  In Sayido, Musiq brings us back to the basics of real love and commitment.  My favorite part of the song is in the beginning, when he symbolically assumes the role of a canvas and directs his girl to paint him a picture to make a lasting impression of the good times so that when times get rough, he can be that living and visual reminder of the happiness they share.  Are you visualizing yet???  Are you getting the picture? (no pun intended). 

Musiq then goes on to explain that a true relationship isn't based on material things.  So it doesn't matter if they're rich or poor, as long as their love is strong, they can build whatever kind of life that is meant for them together.  This definitely gives you a visual meaning of "through thick and thin."  The chorus reinforces the messages presented in the verses and touches on the fact that relationships take work and must be nurtured to grow.  The words at the end then sums it all up making it the perfect wedding song!  Can you see it?


Sayido appears on Musiq's newly released album, MUSIQINTHEMAGIQ.  Click on the image to purchase on Amazon.com. To purchase on iTunes, click here.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Artists Lend Their Expertise in the Classroom

More and more artists are being asked to step in the role as teacher and educate students about their first hand experience in the music industry.  According to a census conducted by the Hip Hop Archive, in respect to the hip-hop genre, more than 85 courses were being taught in American universities during the 2005-2006 academic year.  Here are a couple of artists who hold the additional title of Professor.


Ryan Leslie (Songwriter/Artist/Producer)
Last week, it was announced that R Les would be the first Artist in Residence at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Art for the 2011-2012 academic year.  In this program, one-on-one sessions, group lectures, songwriting critiques, and mentoring will be offered to students.


Swizz Beatz (Rapper/Songwriter/Producer)
He was the first Producer in Residence at NYU's Clive Davis Dept of Recorded Music for the 2010-2011 academic year.






John Forte (Rapper)
In 2009, he taught a 12-week class called "Music Therapy" at the City College of New York. In this class, Forte taught at-risk students how to deal with their emotions and hardships through music.


Method Man (Rapper)
In 2010, Meth lectured a 1-day course called "The Laws of Success" at NYC The Learning Annex.  His class focused on dubbing, demos, and publishing while staying true to your artistic vision.


Esperanza Spalding (Singer/Musician)
At the age of 20, Esperanza became one of the youngest professors at the Berklee College of Music History.  Also, she is developing several courses at Berklee, including one that focuses "on transcribing as a tool for learning harmony and theory".  In 2010, she became the Artist in Residence at Michigan State University's College of Music where she gave a master class offering constructive critiques of various student jazz groups as they performed.


Jim Jones (Rapper)
Teaming up with the non-profit group Entertainers 4 Education, Jim taught a 6-week course at Grand Street Campus High School in NYC called "Music Business 101."  Topics include the fundamentals and business practices of the music industry, creative content, artist management, music operations, music business threats, opportunities and networking, intellectual property issues, production and distribution models and potential entrepreneur opportunities.  He also taught a similar course at Fordham University. 


Christopher "Play" Martin of Kid-N-Play (Rapper)
In 2005, he taught Hip-Hop History at North Carolina Central University in the school’s music industry program.  Play also was the Producer in Residence at Healthy Start Academy in Durham, NC where he taught students how to use positive Hip-Hop media for educational success.


9th Wonder (Producer)
Play got Wonder on board as an Assistant Professor teaching Hip-Hop History at NCCU, a school he attended.  He also assisted Professor Mark Anthony Neal of Duke University in an African-American Studies course called "Sampling Soul."


Bun B (Rapper)
As a Distinguished Lecturer, Bun currently teaches "Religious Studies 331: Religion and Hip-Hop Culture" at Rice University in Houston along with Religious Studies professor Dr. Anthony Pinn.  The class discusses how Hip-Hop as a culture addresses the real questions in people’s lives and how that relates to one’s spiritual or religious quest in life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

100 Most Influential Hip-Hop Albums of All Time



Content taken from VladTV.com



VladTV, a video website known to many as The TMZ of Hip-Hop, just released their list of 100 Most Influential Hip Hop Albums of All Time.  Below is just a sample of the albums that made the list.  See which albums you have in your music collection. . . .


99) Watch the Throne - Jay-Z & Kanye West
97) The Documentary - The Game
96)  Trap Muzik - T.I.
93)  Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star - Black Star
88)  Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde - The Pharcyde
85)  Mecca and the Soul Brother - Pete Rock & CL Smooth
84)  Country Grammar - Nelly
83)  It Was Written - Nas
74)  The Carnival - Wyclef Jean
72)  So Addictive - Missy Elliott
68)  Speakerboxxx/TheLoveBelow - Outkast
67)  Things Fall Apart - The Roots
64)  Life After Death - Notorious B.I.G.
56)  Capital Punishment - Big Pun
54)  Creepin on ah Come Up - Bone Thugs N' Harmony
53)  Lyte as a Rock - MC Lyte
51)  Radio - LL Cool J
50)  College Dropout - Kanye West
49)  The Carter III - Lil Wayne
48)  Hard Core - Lil Kim
47)  400 Degreez - Juvenile
44)  The Blueprint - Jay-Z
43)  The Chronic 2001 - Dr. Dre
38)  Midnight Marauders - A Tribe Called Quest
35)  Paid in Full - Eric B & Rakim
34)  License to Ill - Beastie Boys
29)  It's Dark and Hell is Hot - DMX
27)  Get Rich or Die Tryin' - 50 Cent
26)  The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem
23)  The Great Adventures of Slick Rick - Slick Rick
22)  The Score - The Fugees
21)  3 Feet High and Rising - De La Soul
20)  Me Against the World - 2Pac
17)  Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - Wu Tang Clan
15)  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill
11)  Long Live the King - Big Daddy Kane
10)  Doggystyle - Snoop Doggy Dog
8)  It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy


After reviewing the entire list, I made a couple of observations:
  • 1988 and 1998 were the best years for hip-hop albums
  • The 1990s was the period where most of the top albums dropped
  • The East Coast definitely dominated
  • 1 rapper was not American: Slick Rick, hailing from London
  • 6 female rappers/groups made the list: MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt N' Peppa, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, and Lauryn Hill
  • 4 rappers/groups that are other than black made the list (Eminem, Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, and 3rd Bass)
  • The following rappers/groups appeared twice on the list:  Jay-Z, Kanye, Gangstarr, Boogie Down Productions, Wu Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Scarface, Cypress Hill, Run DMC, Biggie, Outkast, Bone Thugs N' Harmony, and Eric B & Rakim
  • 2 Pac was the only rapper to appear 3 times
  • Raekwon, Method Man, Lil Wayne, Mos Def, Wyclef, Lauryn Hill, Eazy E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube, who came from bigger groups that appeared on the list, had solo albums that appeared on the list as well.

To see the Top 5 and what album made it to #1 click here to read the entire list.


Do you agree with the list?
What album(s) should've made the list but didn't?  

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