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Wednesday, 29 December 2010


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 21: Ronnie Vannucci Jr (L), Brandon Flowers (C) and Mark Stoerme of The Killers perform on stage at the Melbourne leg of the Good Vibrations music festival at Flemington Racecourse on February 21, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

5/5. As Flowers looked to grow as a solo artist all he needed was a Killer song. The Las Vegas bands frontman has a penchant for writing catchy, big hits and caught between no band and his reputation Flowers shot out with 'Crossfire'. This big hit was one of Brandon's most memorable and best records to date. Although it was a shame to see him without 'The Killers' it was great to see him alive on his own. The uplifting song also had a made for the movies, big video, with Hollywood starlet Charlize Theron kicking ass and saving Brandon's. This hit took a lot of beating however, lyrically and vocally tough from every verse to the last epic hook. Between grand guitar and supreme singing, 'Crossfire' shot down all doubt and competition. It was also a damn good song, making it 'AMP's & 808's' song of the year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01: Singer/songwriters B.o.B (L) and Bruno Mars perform onstage during the GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live at Club Nokia on December 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

5/5. With a sizzling, Summer sensation, the single 'Nothin' On You' made everything out of nobodies, B.O.B and Bruno Mars. Now isn't that something? This instantly catchy number hit big in more ways then one. First it claimed the top of the charts, then it claimed Bobby Rays place in the pop and rap game. The duo didn't waste anybodies time with a song loved by beautiful girls, all over the world. It also made everyones Summer playlist and Bruno Mars a sought after feature artist that everbody wanted on their song. With a great original video this first single made a number one impression. B.O.B became a pop and rap star and Bruno Mars a 'Billionaire'. 'Nothin' On You' gave us everything, a great rap and R&B crossover with plenty of guitar and pop sensibilities. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01:  Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley performs on stage at the Gold Coast stop of the first Australian V Festival, at the Avica Resort on April 1, 2007 on the Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images)

5/5. Forget the radio version, but then again the airplay of one of the biggest hits this year allowed this soul sensation to be loved by young and old. Even the flashback video took us back with classic images of American Diner's through the ages. Cee-Lo took a gamble with 'F*** You' but it paid off in sales and record plays. Taking you back to his youth and old soul, Mr. Gnarls Barkley took the Bruno Mars penned lyrics and turned it into one the years most catchiest song putting a middle finger up at the competition. Pure pop, with a twist soul. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 31: (L-R) Rappers Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne perform onstage during the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on January 31, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

5/5. "I'm alive again/more alive than I've ever been in my whole life", EM's opening lyrics say it all. 'Not Afraid' started it off and everyone loved the top selling, big Rhianna duet 'Love The Way You Lie' (as did we) but Eminem's best moment in his 'Recovery' came when he gave 'No Love' with Lil' Wayne. After the two most individual, dynamic rappers around hit big on Waynes 'Drop The World' they teamed up again before Eminem's record release and Weezy's imprisonment. With Wayne facing a year behind bars and Em' relapsing both M.C.s had their backs against the wall. Still the competition, haters and the charts forgot that these rappers also had something else in common, that this is when their at their best. With two great verses the pair reclaimed their pride and position all at the same time. Wayne set it off perfectly and Em' ended it all with perfect execution so good that Wayne even got his Diddy on, ad-libbing along like the perfect fan. The song even took a Haddaway sample, that is synonymous with a famous, hilarious Will Ferrell 'Saturday Night Live' skit and still everything worked perfectly. 'What Is Love'? Two top M.C.'s on the top of their game. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Rapper Drake poses in the press room during The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live! at the Club Nokia on December 2, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

5/5. Drake arguably has had one of the best influences on the urban music scene over the last few years. From great mixtapes to awesome guest spots and limitless hype, Drizzy Drakes anticipation was huge. All he needed now was that one hit single to fulfil all the promise. With an album full of hot records he had a lot of choice. 'Over' was a nice street single but the M.C. from Toronto needed that one song that would cross him over to the pop mainstream. That was discovered with 'Find Your Love' a catchy love song with underground and chart potential. Behind Kanye's freshly, raw beat Drake displayed his singing talents but didn't compromise with a hip-hop esque flow. Drake's second single helped him achieve a first place status. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


Kanye West performs Power during the opening of the 2010 BET Awards in Los Angeles on June 27, 2010. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

5/5. This guy had so many classics on his album, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' and his free 'G.O.O.D Friday' giveaways that he could fill t is list twice over. Still however because there have been so many great records here the rule is one record per artist. So our choice for Kanye is 'Monster', possibly the greatest...and strangest posse cuts of recent years. I mean folk singer Bon Iver is on it, but he holds his own, as does everybody else... and boy do they. Rick Ross provides the perfect intro, leaving you fiending for more bars. Then Kanye and Jay-Z give them to you, as they don't disappoint with their brilliant verses. Still even they pale in comparison to Nicki Minaj, the guest artist and guest rap of the year. This may as well be her song as she owns it with her incredibly retarded, kinetic, shockingly superior verse. The lines, "Pull up in the monster/Automobile gangster/With a bad b**** that came from Sri Lanka/Yeah I’m in that Tonka, colour of Willy Wonka/You could be the King but watch the Queen conquer/Ok first things first I’ll eat your brains/Then I’mma start rocking gold teeth and fangs", is just the tip of the coldest, iceberg flow ever. Truly a creature on a different level, truly a monster. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


NEW YORK - AUGUST 15:  Singer R. Kelly attends the premiere of Chapters 13-22 of 'Trapped In The Closet' at the IFC Center, August 15, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

5/5. No longer a flirt in love with a stripper or his hair braider the R. Matured and went back to his hits of old and even further back to the good ol'days of soul. With the classic 'When A Woman Loves', Kelz dropped his best in years and one of his finest classics. From the big intro to the bravado vocals at the end this was an epic song with a difference. 'When A Woman Loves' was a traditional, soul love song that in the days of Gaga's and auto tunes isn't really commercially viable. Still it sold and hit big, even for a man who's popularity and sales weren't at his best. Kelz is back on the top proving his power and his legend but most of all the fact that good music is still appreciated by the new generation. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TOP SONGS OF 2010:#8 USHER: O.M.G. Featuring

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Singer Usher accepts the Soul/Rhythm & Blues Music - Favorite Male Artist award onstage during the 2010 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 21, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for DCP)

5/5. I have a confession to make it was hard to pick this one. With a great comeback Usher dropped more hits than '8701' in 2010. From the nice 'More' and 'Papers' to the big 'There Goes My Baby' and 'Lil' Freak' with Nicki Minaj. Still when Ush teamed up with Black Eyed Pea it was like 'Yeah' all over again. With lasers and great dancing in the video and provocative lyrics and chants 'O.M.G.' was huge. Now call that a comeback. brought his new club ready sound that made 'Gotta' Feeling' and his group huge again. His production and rap were great but it was Mr. Raymond that ushered in the cool and charisma that made this text speak volumes on the charts. He even got away with lyrics like..."Honey got a booty like pow, pow, pow/honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow".GOSH! TIM DAVID HARVEY.


ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 15: Nelly performs during the VEVO GO show presented by Vitamin Water at Blueberry Hill on October 15, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images for VEVO)

5/5. Just when people thought he was done, Flo ridden out of town and out of hits, Nelly wrote another. Never count a man like this out. Nelly practically wrote the book on rap/pop crossover hits, fathering the trend that has become diluted today. The charts needed something refreshing and new so their old friend came back with 'Just A Dream'. With 'Dream' Nelly woke up the charts with a sweet little number that brought critics back to reality. The guy is still relevant and the sales and spins testify to that. Just like fellow late 90's/early new millennium, big star Usher, Nelly enjoyed a big comeback. 'Just A Dream' was a trademark mix of Nelly singing and rapping that was mainstream and hip-hop accessible. The versatile M.C. showed the fickle pop scene that it was time to stop sleeping. Good music is good music. That's Nelly for ya. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


The Black Eyed Peas,,, Fergie and Taboo (L-R) arrive at the 2010 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 21, 2010. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

5/5. The Black Eyed Peas 'Gotta Feelin' once again with another club gem with a catchy hook (Dirty Bit). Once again the former backpack rappers lit up the night life with a kinetic produced, foot stomping, chanting anthem, (Dirty Bit). The group took a classic 'Dirty Dancing' sample and had the Swayze of their life on an uplifting record (Dirty Bit). All the Peas looked rejuvanated after 'The E.N.D.' with a brilliant opener to 'The Beginning', (Dirty Bit). Once again pop raps greatest reigned supreme from the night scene to the mainstream, (Dirty Bit). Proving that this year, it's still the Black Eyed Peas time, (Dirty Bit).

JUST MISSED THE CUT: The Far East Movement debuted strong, giving it to us 'Like A G6'...The Gaslight Anthem taught us all 'American Slang' this Summer...while Diddy Dirty Money, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Bruno Mars and Maroon 5 brought us a wide variety of hits...Jamie Foxx dropped 'Fall For Your Type' with Drake...Rumer just missed the top 10 with her syrupy, soulful 'Slow' did Ne-Yo with his 'One In A Million' track. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010



To close out the fall we call on one of urban souls greatest voices.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28: Singer Keyshia Cole performs onstage during the 2009 BET Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on June 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It all seems like yesterday Keyshia Cole exploded onto the R&B scene armed with a refreshing, attitude and confidence that hadn't been seen in female soul singers since a certain lady named Mary J. Blige lit the streets. So it comes as hard to believe that with 'Calling All Hearts', Keyshia is dropping her fourth album.

Still in a career that has previously seen a trio of great albums, Cole remains consistent and doesn't disappoint with her latest offering. The best young female artist in the game links up with the greatest female MC to open the playlist and single releases on this album. On 'I Ain't Thru' Cole drops some cold lyrics alongside sought after feature artist, Nicki Minaj's always ravishing rhymes. On this track both ladies show they aren't to be messed with. Keyshia kills it with lyrics like "So ain't nobody iller than me/And I ain't being cocky I'm just saying/It's time for me to do me/Time for me to live my life". While Minaj buries it with her lines, "Tell her quack quack, she a m************ duck, goose/She a saturday night live, spoof/One thing the coupe never got, roof!/Yeah I took the spot she gone, poof!".

Keyshia does not play around with the rest of 'Calling All Hearts' collaborations either. On the Timbaland manned 'Last Hangover' Keyshia Cole awakens Timbo's fresh beat, proving that collaborating with the best in the game is no headache. You can drink to that and take in the Faith Evans duet 'If I Fall In Love Again'. The veteran and young talent perfectly compliment each other on a track that rightly sample Faith's late husband The Notorious B.I.G's 'Warning'. Be advised this is one of the best tracks of the album.

As is 'Tired Of Doing Me' where Cole links up with R&B man of the moment Tank. On this duet Tank starts the song off perfectly before Keyshia finishes it off making the song hers. Speaking of Faith Evans this Tank/Cole track is as good as her duet 'Can't Believe' with Carl Thomas. In fact this may just be the greatest male/female R&B duet in years.

Her most touching duet is the personal, poignant collaboration with foster mother, Dr. Yvonne Cole. On the track 'Thank You' Keyshia shows how truly grateful she is with the songs beauty. Cole keeps it on the up and up with the albums second single 'Long Way Down'. She adds another stellar track worthy of standing next to her biggest hits like 'I've Changed My Mind' and 'Last Night'.

Keyshia Cole may as well expect another platinum plaque, as she strikes soul gold with production from Kanye West and Alicia Keys producer Krucial Keys. Still even when singing over beats from the industries best Keyshia's talent stays in front of the production and not shadowed behind the beats. That is the sign of a true artist as are the tracks 'So Impossible' and 'Better Me', where Cole defies any hardship while bettering herself and her status that much more.

The Mrs. Daniel Gibson to be proves she's a real cavalier talent with tracks like 'Sometimes' and 'What You Do To Me'. While on 'Take Me Away' the talent goes even further as Miss Cole shows even more development in her singing and songwriting. Keyshia has always been wise beyond her years but on this album she shows a maturity that may take her from one of the stars to one of the greatest. Keyshia sneaks in one of the best albums this fall right before the last week of 2010 and just in time for Christmas. Until the new year releases march in during the first quarter of 2011, 'Calling All Hearts' is going to make it a real Cole winter. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 19 December 2010



On his 'Best Night' Mr. Foxx looks to make the biggest album of his life.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 30: Singer Jamie Foxx performs onstage during the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Salute To Icons Honoring Doug Morris held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 30, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

Jamie Foxx may just be the most versatile man in show business. The Oscar and Grammy winner has many awards on the shelf and hit movies and albums under his belt. From 'Peep This' to 'Ray' this star has shined bright over the years, even earning himself floor space on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. The triple threat is also a hilarious stand up comedian. Now two years after the release of his hit album 'Intuition' (which featured the massive song 'Blame It' ) Foxx proves he can do it again and hit big.

This guy is no one trick pony, or one hit wonder. With 'Best Night Of My Life' (originally titled 'Body') Jamie comes out of the Foxxhole with a mound of hits. From R&B slow jams to hip-hop soul club records. 'Best Night Of My Life' has something for everyone this evening, with a brilliant body of work.

Jamie begins the night fooling around and showing his vocal talents on the intro 'This Will Be' and from there you know it's going to be a fun album and a great night. The title track 'Best Night of My Life' is a great opener, with Foxx bringing back his trademark smooth R&B flow. That perfectly mixes early 90's, Babyface esque, rhythm and blues with R&B of the new millennium.

The singles are amongst J. Foxx's strongest ever two. 'Winner' featuring Justin Timberlake and T.I. is a song that still champions even though it was released back in April and on 'Living Better Now' with Rick Ross, Foxx exhibits a new style of flow, sampling one of The Notorious B.I.G.'s best, most memorable lines for a great track you wont forget soon.

Jamie gets smoother still on the Drake assisted 'Fall For Your Type'. As the two versatile talents offer up a slower jam that's fresher than the rest. In fact this deeper cut will not get lost in the fodder of samey R&B breakup songs. With this track Foxx progresses, releasing one of his best records yet. Featuring introspective lyrics like, "Can I, can I save you from you/cause you know there’s something missing'and that champagne you’ve been sippin’s/not supposed to make you different all the time" offering up a new perception for the mainstream.

On the current single, 'Yep Dat's Me' Jamie again infuses R&B with hip-hop, but where a lot of other artists have failed, Jamie succeeds. Once again enlisting Ludacris for an unpredictable verse, which is the ATL rappers best in years with super rhymes like, "yeah you know I’m flexin’/yeah I’m coming suited and booted/like I’m the x-men/night crawling Luda/cruisin’ in that Maybach/or coming down the street up in a Kawasaki 1400/looking like cyclops/ice man chain/white ice man whips".

The production on this album is valued with beats for the club and for the home. On the kinetic 'Freak' Foxx breaks out another new flow as everything runs smoothly. Plus on diverse joints like 'Hit It Like This', 'Let Me Get You on Your Toes' and 'Sleeping Pill' Jamie proves he has something for the ladies, whichever way they want it.

'Best Night Of My Life' picks up where the success of 'Intuition' left off. Although the album showcases more versatile record from the multi talented musician the album follows the same structure. It starts off with the big, bass, collabo records tailor made for any party and then ends with the slower, solo jams designed for more intimate moments. When Foxx gets his Luther Vandross on he houses records like '15 Minutes' and 'All Said & Done' proving his music is welcome in any home. The real stand out however is 'Rejoice', where Foxx and his piano play one of the best records of his career.

This LP is a perfect mix even though it's a shame that the street single 'Speak French' didn't translate to the final track listing or none of those brilliant Tank collaborations made the final set. From the upbeat beginning to the slow climax 'Best Night Of My Life' is the perfect evening. It starts loud but it doesn't outstay it's welcome, calming down the right way in it's conclusion. Sure the Grammy winning, chart topping 'Unpredictable' may still be Jamie's best album but on his latest he still reaches for the greatest, further cementing his status as one of the best in R&B and one of the best all round talents in show business. Now that's entertainment, in live and living color. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Bruno Mars and Travie McCoy perform during Z100's Jingle Ball 2010 at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

With all the top acts at the top of their game in music this year are we out of our mind to give it to Mars? No! The out of this world talent had a stellar year with his hands on more hits than anybody. Bruno penned the massive Cee-Lo hit 'F*** You' and also ignited the start of B.O.B and Travie MCoy's solo careers. Bruno provided guitar, vocals and lyrics to two of the biggest Summer hits this year with 'Nothin' On You' and 'Billionaire'. This was even without releasing any of his own material, but when he did he gave us a great EP ('It's Better If You Don't Understand') followed by an even better LP ('Doo Wop's & Hooligans'). The album is the perfect ecletic, feel good record from the non genre specific star. The album featured greats like 'Grenade' and 'Count On Me' and a massive hit for Mars himself ('The Way You Are'). Mars hasn't even taken a break in the fall, contributing writing to the impressive Far* East Movement. With all these achievments this kid with the fedora and acoustic guitar was revered by the industry for just the way he is. Stylish, genuine and talented we loved every stroke from 'AMP's & 808's' 'Artist Of The Years' brush. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Singer Drake arrives at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

GQ's man of the year just missed the top spot on 'AMP's & 808's', 'Artist Of The Year' countdown. Not only did Toronto MC put Canadian rap on the map he put himself higher than the CN tower in hip-hops elite. The Young Money star cashed in on Lil' Waynes investment showing he was more than just buzz. After a series of mixtapes and EP's and a highly anticipated, long delayed debut album Drake showed he was worth the wait. We were grateful for 'Thank Me Later' one of the all round best hip-hop albums in years. Like T.I., Jay-Z and his own swagger rolled into one Drake gave us big record ('Up All Night') after big record ('Show Me A Good Time'), style ('Fancy') and substance ('Find Your Love'). On a flawless, classic Drake rapped and sang his way to the top. Plus he also became the most sought after, prolific guest artist of the year featuring on records from everyone like his mentor Lil' Wayne and most recentely Tank. Drake this year armed himself with a wide artillery of tracks from 'The Resistance' to '9AM In Dallas' and with a concept mixtape and another album in the works Drake aint playing. He's far from 'Over'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 25: Rapper Kanye West rides the Big Apple float through the streets during the 84th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Now that's how you rebound. Chi-towns finest MC Kanye West took the ball like Dennis Rodman and the game like Mike Jordan. Not that his last album '808's & Heartbreak' was bad (it was great in fact) but after his darkest days and hate from the nation over country star Taylor Swift Kanye had a lot of work to do. So he got to it. They say nothing comes for free but Kanye unloaded and uploaded a free download for fans every week until the release of his album. Kanye called it G.O.O.D Fridays and they where more than that. With an A list of hip-hop talent each week Kanye made the most if superfriends new and old from Jay-Z to Pusha T. 'Ye dropped great tracks like 'The Joy' and 'Lord, Lord, Lord', which are better than most artists album tracks. Still the anticipation and controversy for 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' was enormous and the album itself? Bigger than that, from a 'Gorgeous' first impression to a 'Monster' collaboration Kanye gave us beautiful reality with every twist. With more beats and lyrics from the vault Kanye gave us another classic for the record books. West has even given us a Christmas present with the Dipset, collabo download 'Christmas In Harlem'. The straight fire track is a real Winter warmer from the hottest act of the year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: (NO ARCHIVES/EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rapper Eminem performs onstage during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on September 12, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Don't call it a comeback but after hip-hops most revolutionary talent since LL relapsed it was time for a 'Recovery' and with that Eminem may have given us one of his best, most honest records to date. Em' also made everyone big new artists like B.O.B. and Drake more welcome on the charts with various feature spots that have been sorely missed over the years from him. Marshall Mathers finest moment was his redemptive return however. He swung big with his back against the wall on 'I'm Not Afraid'. He created a dark deep classic on an unlikely collaboration with Rihanna on 'Love The Way You Lie'. Plus with 'No Love' he even made a bizarre Hadaway sample work, once again hitting big with Lil' Wayne the only rapper that matches Em's individuality. It didn't stop there however as Em' turned a suspect Ozzy Osbourne samples into a song with great depth as he went through changes. From 'Cinderella Man' to 'Cold Wind Blow's' Em stepped up in the face of turbulent times and took off like in the video of his first single. Slim came out of the shade to put his dark demons behind him and light up the charts. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 21: Brandon Flowers of The Killers performs on stage at the Melbourne leg of the Good Vibrations music festival at Flemington Racecourse on February 21, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

How do you have one killer year without your band? Release a classic album like 'Flamingo' that's how. Brandon Flowers took a break from his band The Killers to release a much more personal album. Brandon was caught in the 'Crossfire' of big hits and deep album cuts ('Playin' With Fire'). As a result Flowers bloomed in a way like never seen before. The Nevada star released his first album that really identified with his Las Vegas home. 'Flamingo' was named after where Flowers grew up, worked and met his wife. From 'Welcome To Las Vegas' to 'On The Floor' the album was epic. It also featured great numbers like 'Only The Young' and 'Right Behind You'. What resulted was an album showcasing great depth to this artist. An album that will pay off for the frontman with more mainstream love. Brandon took a gamble on this one but played a strong hand. The future is now decked in his favour. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TOP 10 ARTISTS OF 2010: #6 B.O.B.

47197, MADRID, SPAIN - Sunday November 7, 2010. B.O.B performs onstage during the MTV Europe Awards 2010 at the La Caja Magica in Madrid.  Photograph:  Max Powell,

There's nothing new these days even with space age, Star Trek geek, backpack rappers. We all love Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi. Still Atlanta's B.O.B. provided us with something different with his 'Adventures Of Bobby Ray'. The skillful rhymer trekked away from hip-hop for three massive collaborations and hits. First he played guitar alongside other versatile, new talent Bruno Mars for 'Nothin' For You'. One of the biggest hits of the Summer and the year. The feel good song even had a brilliant stop motion video reminiscent of classic hip-hop and Michael Jackson's 'Black Or White'. Then Bobby Ray reached out to Hayley Williams of Paramore for 'Airplanes' as his star status took off even further. B.O.B has more than arrived and has got his wish right now. Still that hasn't stopped him from producing 'Magic' with Weezers Rivers Cuomo and a host of great album tracks including, 'Past My Shades' with Lupe and the brilliant 'Ghost In The Machine'. With all this spirit the young ATLien took over the world and invaded the charts. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


Rap artist Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2010 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 21, 2010. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

It's not a mans world in hip-hop anymore. Following legends Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim darling Nicki's time is now. Lil' Wanye's second Young Money sound investment really paid off. The Bossy Lady really will cost you a lot now as the rap worlds guest spots main feature presentation has blessed everyones tracks from Trey Songz to Kanye West with her monster, kinetic, retardally versatile flow. The alluring MC with attitude has skill and sex appeal to boot. She was one of the elite with just one mixtape and countless feature spots but once 'Pink Friday' hit she cemented her claimed place. From the start she proclaimed, 'I'm The Best' and then scored her own hit with 'Your Love'. She also made the most and brought out the best of collaborations with Eminem, Rihanna, Drake, Kanye West and Even going it alone on tracks Nicki proved she could stand up for herself. Making her not only one of the best artists of the year but the best new solo acts as well. With her Young Money group, guest spots and solo career this triple threat provided the perfect menage. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


MIAMI - AUGUST 28:  Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards at the American Airlines Arena on August 28, 2005 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

The boy Kelz has done it again. The R. has returned to his trademark R&B after a couple of keys in the ignition party albums. Feeling like the great that was 'Born In The 90's' R. Kelly once again has pushed the soul envelope and the charts versatility with 'When A Woman Loves'. This song reminiscent of the classics from decades gone by really showcases Kelly's new style and vocal ability (just check his performance on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon'). Kelly even headed back to 'Remix City' with a classic uptempo remix of 'Woman Loves' that also harked back to old soul, just in very different ways. On the album 'Love Letter' , R. Kelly gave us a versatile range of velvty soul from the title track to the bonus track (a touching, poignant cover of Michael Jackson's 'You Are Not Alone' (which R. Kelly actually originally wrote)). With some more great guest spots and an 'Epic' sounding complimation release the Zodiac went hard in 2010. Still it wasn't until the fall where Robert rose back up. As he proved that in this cold winter, his warm love songs reign supreme like shining Motown greats. The soul singer furthered his own legend with his 'Love Letter' scribes. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Vocalist Tariq 'Black Thought' Trotter and band 'The Roots' perform onstage during the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on March 2, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Even though this usual tour heavy band stayed at home becoming Jimmy Fallon's 'Late Night' house band don't sleep. From 'Wake Up' with John Legend to their own album 'How I Got Over' and J Dilla tribute tape 'Dilla Joint's' the band put in work, seriously hard work. With relentless records and powerful performances the legendary Roots crew furthered theirs. After an instrumental dedication to late producer J. Dilla The Roots released yet another strong album to their collection with hip-hop, soul band tracks like 'Doin' It Again' and 'The Fire' featuring John Legend. Also on 'Wake Up' with Legend, the legendary crew awoke old soul records, covering a lot of ground on a classic, collaborative effort. From 'Compared To What' to 'Hard Times' the two acts easily hit unparalled greatness together. John deserves recognition as one of the best this year as well. It was The Roots performances on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon', backing every musical guest from Kid Cudi to Elvis Costello that helped them break barriers and showcase their versatile, never ending talent. Check their incredible performances with R. Kelly and on 'Because The Night' with Bruce Springsteen (or anybody in fact) to show just how great they really are. This year The Roots worked late into the night but became even more fresher for it. TIM DAVID HARVEY


LAFAYETTE, LA - JANUARY 08: Lil Wayne performs at the Cajundome on January 8, 2010 in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

To end last year Wayne shook the charts with 'Bedrock' showcasing his Young Money crew on a better than most group project. To start the year he also released his rock inspired album, 'Rebirth', which featured the Eminem assisted smash 'Drop The World' and believe me the album was not what the critics said. 'Rebirth' was fresh, inventive, original and still at the same time very much Weezy. During 2010 the rapper had a lot on his plate being incarcerated for most of it. Still his two Young Money, Cash Money Baby projects only just became the leading man and woman in hip-hop. Drake and Nicki Minaj hit the big time huge and even if that was the only thing Wayne did this year he still deserves to be on the list. It wasn't though as Wayne still was a more than welcome guest spot on many great records, even recording verses from prison. Tha Carter even released his own record before he was let out of prison as the out this world 'I Am Not A Human Being' went from an EP to an LP. With stand alone tracks like 'I'm Single' and infectious cuts like 'Gonorrhea' Wayne released yet another one of his better albums. Sure he may have not released 'Tha Carter IV' like expected when he was free but a homecoming concert was more than good enough. Plus with a new single '6, 7' to end the year that stands taller than the rest when The Carter goes fourth he expects to own 2011, like he has 2010 and 2009, etc, etc.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: Ben Harper of Fistful of Mercy performs at the 2010 UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 30, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for UNICEF)

JUST MISSED THE CUT: Respect due to the artists that just missed the countdown but still had a top year. Ben Harper had a great year Relentlessly touring with Pearl Jam and his new band, while forming another supergroup himself in Fistful Of Mercy. Harper also brilliantly covered INXS' 'Never Tear Us Apart' and backed Ringo Starr on some 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart'. Prince also had a big year, releasing '20TEN' one of his best albums for free through English paper The Mirror. Bruce Springsteen showed great 'Promise' unlocking some 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town' sessions for a 2 disc classic. Corrine Bailey Rae also had a great year coming back with the beautifully brave 'The Sea'. Rumer had it in regards to British soul however with a strong debut. Ne-Yo gave us the real Michael Jackson tribute album. While Usher and Nelly made strong comebacks. Cee-Lo Green hit big with the worlds most offensive popular single and a great album. John Legend furthered his legend, soulfully with The Roots. Mos Def had an 'Ecstatic' year releasing one of his best albums and a hip-hop classic. He also overcame label pains, becoming a sought after free agent that Kanye West picked up. Mos' Black Star partner in rhyme, Talib Kweli also released another great Reflection Eternal album with Hi-Tek. Diddy's Dirty Money also paid off in soul infused dance music dividends. While the Kings Of Leon came around good once again with their 'Sundown' album. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010



With a 'Supreme' offering this Christmas, the Ghost take us back to years past.

NEW YORK - MARCH 05: Ghostface Killah of The Wu-Tang Clan performs in HOT 97's Metro PCS 5 Boro Takeover Tour: Wu Massacre at the Nokia Theatre on March 5, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Sequel albums aren't a new trend in hip-hop, they've been here for years as LL would say. Still however since the release of Raekwon's 'Only Built For Cuban Linx 2' (a classic sequel to a classic), everyone from Kid Cudi to Fat Joe has taken a leaf out of the chef's cookbook. One man who is clearly inspired is fellow Wu-Tang Shaolin master Ghostface Killah. The guy should know a little something about this sequel piece since he collaborated so much on both 'Cuban Linx' LP's it should have been a group effort (although he does get the album featuring nod). Ghost is set to release 'Supreme Clientele Part II' a sequel to his own classic next year in a busy schedule that also sees him release 'Blue & Cream' and as a yet untitled group project with Sheek Louch of D-Block. Oh and he has an album out this week as well.

This 'Killah' schedule is nothing new for Mr. Dennis Coles. Since the release of 'Supreme Clientele' in 2001, 'Face has released 8 albums this decade. The man also released three brilliant albums in the space of one year and last year dropped the more soulful, 'Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City' and all of his albums have been of a high quality as well. These testaments to his hard work don't stop here as his Wu-Tang albums and Method Man and Ghostface collabo 'Meth.Ghost.Rae' are no diluted efforts either as they are as strong and potent as the rest. This guy may just be the hardest working man in hip-hop.

Following, 'Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City' Ghostface once again rhymes through the concepts. Right before the release of 'Supreme 2' Ghostface gives us 'Apollo Kids' (his 9Th album) for the holidays. The album is named after a track off 'Clientele' and could be a precursor of things to come. This is because despite releasing quality album, after quality album this is Ghostface's best in years. Almost as classic sounding as 'Clientele', 'Apollo Kids' is more than just a Christmas stocking filler before the new year work begins.

The album starts with the ever Killah soulful but raw 'Purified Thoughts'. The sample on the record says "Am I a good man" and Ghost proves he's more than that with great lyrical skill. With GZA & Killah Priest in tow Ghost brings that classic 90's, Wu rap back making it as relevant as the first time it hit the hip-hop scene. He also displays that raw, trademark swagger as he opens with the lyrics, "Take my hands out my pockets you can see my thumbs/both of them turned green from counting the ones". If hip-hop classics begin to sell as well as their reputation than Coles will have more than ones to count after this.

The Ghost takes us to years past even further on 'Superstar' where he rhymes over a beat that sounds like it was lifted from an old 70's, Blaxpoitation, detective show. Ghost gets real flashy, shafting the competition over some samples that will never go out of fashion. Busta Rhymes also delivers a great guest spot, sounding great in the second wind of his career. The Game also breaks out his more gravely flow (maybe he has a cold), as he drops his best set of bars in years (and he always goes hard) on 'Drama' which features another classic, timeless beat and always brilliant Killah lyrics.

Ghostface takes us back even further on 'Black Tequila'. A track where the sample feels so old you can hear the scratches. It's a track that harks back to somewhere between the wild west and Old Mexico and it works as well. Ghost even asks "Where's my horse" as the track begins, shouting Mexican phrases so much it sounds like he's ordering carpets. Ghostface floors it though on a track so good it sounds like classic hip-hop as well. The legend is at home here in the fall.

Ghostface shows no sign of slowing down on '2getha Baby' a track of two parts. A beautiful soulful sampling chorus as per Ghostface's reputation. Still this type of sample doesn't ever get old for this artist as Dennis Coles crates are as deep as his discography. Plus the Wu warrior balances this out with his incredible flow as a sinisterly classic beat from producer Yakub offsets the songs hook.

On 'Starkology' Ghostface Killah goes scientific, furthering his legend on what will be a fan favourite track. Scram Jones' production makes it sound like Ghostfae is rhyming next to R2D2 as Staten Island's finest strikes gold going to war with the stars. Ghost harks back to the roots of classic hip-hop even further with bandsman Black Thought on the grimy, classic Frank Dukes production (he contributes 3 of the best beats on this album) of 'In Tha Park'. As both lyricists reference old school legends and classic lines. The Wu Tang legend even gets diplomatic with Jim Jones on the Pete Rock, Asian and 70's sounding 'Handcuffin' Them Hoes', a nice track despite the ungentlemanly like title.

The album is shorter than most Ghost albums and the guy starts strong. Still as the album reaches it's 12 track conclusion Ghostface doesn't fade in his finish, nor does he go quietly into the night. He saves the hardest for last. First he pushes other rappers in the lockers with 'Street Bullies'. As Killah and the other Ghost's rhyme partner Sheek Louch show us what we've got to look forward to. Then after 10 Ghost reunites the rhyming with Raekwon for the last two album cuts. Fans fear not as both swordsman are lyrically sharp on 'Ghetto' and on point on 'Troublemakers', where they are joined by a smoking hot Method Man and Redman as the legends check and pass the rhyme.

Even with no RZA production and little free time on his hands this rapper produces some of his greatest work to date this week. On 'Apollo Kids' he shows Wu-Tang really is for the children...if these children are experts on old school hip-hop that is. Ghostface Killah once again murders the rap game, showing no mercy in the holiday season. Despite another great year for hip-hop albums (especially commercially), Ghostface releases one of the best, right on time before the year is out. Sure this album may be respected more on the underground than the billboards, but hey isn't that where hip-hop started? On 'Apollo Kids' Ghostface finishes it, along with the competition as he shows that no matter how good you are, to be the best you have to go through New York, the Wu-Tang and most dangerously... him. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 11 December 2010



The music lives on as Michael gets the 2Pac treatment.

American singer Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009) in concert in Bremen during the HIStory World Tour, 1997. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

It's been more than a year. Can you believe that? Gone but through his music never forgotten and believe me the people ready to cash in will make sure of that. Still negativity aside it's good to hear some newish music from the King Of Pop who was prepping a new album ('7') and much more before he tragically died. So just like 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G. and all modern day fallen icons the endless posthumous release schedule begins. Thanks to some unfinished vocals and songs producers and some artists have got their hand on some Jackson remnants for 'Michael'. The first new material released since the epic 'This Is It' and the first full length album since the singer's last 'Invincible'.

'Michael' is not a bad album as feared, as a matter of fact it's a lot better than expected for a piece that will either be loved or hated. It's great to hear what could of been but just like Tammi and Marvin said 'Aint Nothing Like The Real Thing'. Michael was a talent from Motown to the mainstream that will never be matched, rehashed or duplicated. Still even if the die hard's, and the Jackson estate don't like it (with good reason) the new album is here for the holidays. Plus at least M.J.'s uplifting music will help us through the harsh Winter nights in any form. At least the man's charisma will outshine the projects controversy which has stirred up all sorts of problems from it's artwork and Prince related rumors.

The 'new' album begins with 'Hold My Hand' a duet with Akon that Michael actually was working on in 2007 in Las Vegas. It's a sweet number that shows us what Michael's new material could of sounded like. As good as this sounds there's nothing like classic, vintage M.J. From the Jackson 5 to Quincy Jones and then Teddy Riley, M.J. may have changed sounds but he always maintained a genuine, trademark style like no other. A style that is more evident and welcome on tracks like 'Hollywood Tonight' (produced by Riley in fact) and 'Breaking News' (even if the vocals authenticity have come into question) where Michael shows us his introspection and fight respectively that amongst everything else he never fully got credit and respect for. This underrated quality is underlined perfectly by production that could of sat in the 'Bad' and 'Dangerous' era perfectly. Thank God for Teddy.

This album is more refreshing as most posthumous pieces focus on trying to update an artist to the modern day, which usually is a method that doesn't even work if an artist is still alive. The Akon duet maybe certified but there are still other guest appearances that could come into question. The Lenny Kravitz duet '(I Can't Make It) Another Day' isn't one of these however. It was recorded by both parties together during the 'Invincible' sessions and Kravitz's guitar feels as at home with M.J. as Slash's did. It's the 'Monster' 50 Cent collaboration that raises a few doubts. The track isn't' bad but it isn't 'Bad' either, if you get me. The two were always rumored to collaborate together but it would have been better to have heard something that was the real product of studio time. Authenticity has been the subject of much controversy with this album and it's better to be safe than sorry. Sorry 50.

Back to the M.J. music at hand however the track 'Keep Your Head Up' is another great uplifting track from Michael. Much in the same vain as 'Cry' or latter M.J. underrated classics of that nature the song is trademark Mike, going from sorrow to solidarity. The man who scraped the lyrical sky of 'Human Nature' again cleverly crafts stories for this ballad with beautifully poignant lines like, "She's looking for a job and a finer place to stay/She's looking for the hope and the empty promises/She's working two jobs, keeping alive/She works in a restaurant during day/She waits her life away/She wipes her tears away".

The 'Thriller' era songs 'Behind the Mask' (a brilliant cover) and 'Much Too Soon' (a gentle guitar cut) show that even on his outtakes the man was as outstanding as he was thrilling. Still these are outtakes that are being used for an album that is not billed as that and this is the problem. Even the previously released 'The Way You Love Me' has been given a polish it didn't need and changed to "(I Like) The Way You Love Me". The song was good on it's own but now re-worked like most of this project it feels less like the work of the man himself. If it aint broke, don't fix it may be a cliche but someone should of offered it up in the studio.

The M.J. gem 'Best Of Joy' was one of the last songs Jackson recorded but by the time you listen to it and take it in it's lost in a sea of tracks that's origins are unknown. When you don't know which way is up with this piece it's hard to really appreciate what's actually this artists until you close your eyes, forget about everything and listen to the man himself. That's what shines through here, the incredible lyrics and vocals but that's thanks to Michael Jackson not 'Michael'.

Overall this album will go down in as much history as it will controversy. As controversial as the enigmatic talent himself, because this album is not 'History', nor is it 'Bad', and for sure it's no 'Thriller'. After all is said and done and heard it may be nice to hear more of the work from the tireless, greatest ever but when the job is finished by someone else it just reaffirms one thing. There is nothing quite like Michael. TIM DAVID HARVEY.



With his time now Tank brings an army of strong slow jams.

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 10: Recording Artist Tank performs at the 2010 Soul Train Awards at the Cobb Energy Center on November 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images)

As he has fought his way through some career highs and lows Durrell Babbs, a.k.a. Tank has forged himself a high status amongst the greats in R&B music today. From successful co-writing and producing (Missy Elliott's 'One Minute Man', Jamie Foxx, Monica, Donell Jones, etc) to label grounded supergoups with R&B best men Ginuwine and Tyrese (TGT), Tank has contributed a lot to the industry. Now the industry is paying him back after his Grammy nominated, classic 'Sex, Love, Pain' Tank is now a major player in the mainstream. Tank was expected to add 'Sex Love & Pain II: The All Night Experience' to sequel his real original last record but then that changed to 'All Night'(...jeez he really is a machine!) and finally 'Now Or Never' an apt record title in more ways than one.

As an album itself 'Now Or Never' may not be as diverse as the singers last piece but it's more direct. It may not bring the 'Love & Pain' but it brings plenty of 'Sex Music' as the energetic show stopper is the perfect album entry after the big intro 'Showtime'. This emphatic start may not match the tone of the rest of the album but it shows that Tank has arrived, barreling through to start the show.

The 'Celebration' continues with Drake as the pair get cool over a smoothed out, fresh beat. Tank still puts in work all whilst toasting the holidays singing, "you dont wanna miss this it feels like it’s Christmas/like ohh, ohhhhhhhhh/yeah its a holiday but I’m open for business". Toronto's finest Drake also gets down this winter rhyming, "And my free days are just for you, but I don’t get many/Its like every time we spend time, it feels like the first time/Cause we never spend enough time, you catch me at the worst time/It ain’t like your not worth time, just I don’t control it/But tonight I made it happen just to celebrate the moment/Give it up one time."

On the next track and single 'Emergency' Tank keeps the soul sirens blaring. With a slow and meaningful into and song the singer drops lyrics of deep desperation over heart beat monitor production. Tank feels for the ladies as he flows through concepts "Got a lady on the line, screaming/I’m what she need, oh/I done got this call a thousand times/I’m leaving, rushing to see, oh/I got the sirens on, (I’m running every light)/She said she’s home alone, (and need it in her life)/Until I get there just, stay on the line". These desperate measures are recorded even higher on the next track 'Scream' where Tank goes from state to state, matching the tight piano production with some fitting vocals.

Over some sick guitar licks that Donell Jones would be proud of Tank is where he want's to be 'Keeping it 100'. He then indulges in some 'Foreplay' with Chris Brown (...erm) which results in more songs that strengthen this album. Tank keeps the filler fresh on 'Can I' and 'Amazing' but he saves the epic, best for last. Over some trademark Tank piano, Babbs goes to a new level of deep, devotion on 'You Mean That Much'. The singer drops soulful, sentiment with lyrics like "I’ll stand of the front line, take a bullet that’s not mine/I’ll leave it lay down by … cause you mean that much to me".

On the albums closer 'I Can't Make You Love Me' Tank gives us his vintage piano driven, well written ballads which has helped make singer like Dave Hollister and Marques Houston famous (because of Tank's production too) and continues to break this artist further into chart consciousness. With signature lyrics like "Turn down the lights/Turn down the bed/Turn down this voices/Inside my head/Lie down with me/Tell me no lies/Just to be close/Don’t patronize" Tank signs off perfectly. If this record probably sounds familiar it's probably because this artists magic, Midas touch has been on other peoples records for decades.

Still even though Tank's ivory and vocal touch has helped other artists paint with his brush it's more than about time that this singer's canvas was appreciated by the industry. Even with his success and notoriety this star is sinfully underrated. Just as talented as his fellow R&B renaissance leading, TGT men Durrell Babbs is one hell of an artist. With another great album to add to the set and more credits coming for the workaholic singer/songwriter/producer, triple threat it's never too late to appreciate one of the best...NOW! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 10 December 2010



Diddy's 'Last Train To Paris' make it just in time for the holidays.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: (EDITORS NOTE: Mandatory Credit: Getty Images for MTV Crashes Glasgow) P Diddy, Kaleena and Dawn Richard of Diddy-Dirty Money perform during 'MTV Crashes Glasgow - headlined by Diddy-Dirty Money' at The Old Fruit Market on September 29, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for MTV)

Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Sean Combs aka Diddy's last album was meant to be the last time the rapper pressed play on a solo release. Technically it was. The music mogul has got his Diana Ross on enlisting two Supreme talents to form his group 'Diddy Dirty Money'. Seah John has fashioned a good looking dance/rap outfit consisting of him and singers Dawn Richard of Danity Kane and Kaleena Harper. These three finally deliver Diddy's 'Last Train To Paris'. A much delayed album that has missed many a due date and yet again has been given the 'last album' tag.

Still after listening to this great set deliver a versatile disc of digital dance music hopefully it isn't the last they have to offer. Although throughout the 'Last Trains' journey Diddy gives up seats in the carriages to some A star talent (his albums are always ensemble pieces). It's him and his group, not just his famous friends that keep this gunning on the right track. Even the 'Intro' of this album is just the ticket and with production from Swizz Beatz, Darkchild and Danja this machine has the right people behind it motoring it along.

Throughout this piece Diddy and his 'Dirty Money' ladies work and look good together like Beyonce's 'Single Ladies'. They put a decent ring on it with their energetic, catchy, get up and go motivational singles. From The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z 'Where Your From' sampling 'Angels' with Rick Ross to the T.I. featured 'Hello, Good Morning' which sounds as glittery as the glossy, Los Angeles downtown, epileptics beware music video looks. Rick Ross even adds more shine on the remix to this single.

Ross isn't the only frequent flier on this trip. Chris Brown also breezes through on the cool, crisp tracks 'Yesterday' and 'I Know'. It's Lil' Wayne that makes the most of his miles however, looking flashy on 'Strobe Lights' and even cooler on 'Shades'. Lowering his glasses for some awesome poetry with Diddy, Justin Timberlake, James Fauntleroy and the "OOOOOOOOH" so good Bilal.

Mr. Combs guest list is longer than most honor rolls as he brings out some crazy legends. On the albums opener 'Yeah Yeah You Would' Grace Jones comes back like a 'Hurricane' as she and Dirty Money are a slave to Swizz Beatz rhythm. From his spoken word intro, you know your in for something big and Diddy's divas even hold their own next to one of the most iconic of them ever. Swizz Beatz delivers even more dance worthy shaking beats with 'A** On The Floor' and believe me yours will be as well.

After growing up with him and needing a girl with him, Diddy once again brings out the real best in Usher with 'Looking For Love', but surely these guys aren't still looking. Diddy is at his best however saving 'Your Love' with Trey Songz, the heir to Usher's R&B throne. When the love gets old however Diddy Dirty Money and Drake get as cold as ice on the last single 'Loving You No More' and this ice is as cool as they come. The groups current single 'Coming Home' with Skylar Gray really does feel right there amongst the other big bass tracks. The group may not stray away from their comfort zone but they do build an energetic, uplifting single that makes this Winter feel like a Summers day as hot as this track.

Even when the group go it alone they still feel as welcome as 'Paris'' featuring guest spots. From the first piano key of 'I Hate That You Love Me', your with Diddy, turning up the music. While 'Someone to Love Me' samples the best of what the Diddy dubbed "futuristic soul" has to offer. 'Hate You Now' may sound like the Diddy assisted Nas classic, but instead it's a great study of relationships (like this whole album) where Diddy shows a lot of character.

This album may not be the most lyrical but Diddy's always been a catchy cat that writes cheques not rhymes. This rap, R&B, dance fused album is different and fresh just like Diddy's house infused, 'Last Train To Paris Mixtape' as Lectro Black with Felix Da Housecat (a sound which would have been good to hear more of here as well). 'Last Train To Paris' is a great ride from start to finish. Plus if you travel first class and order the deluxe edition you'll get some more cool tracks including Diddy's 'Last Night (Part 2)', a sequel to his and Keyshia Cole's classic. All you need will be provided on this musical trip even if the impressive, Jay-Z, "Show ‘em how to move in a room full of vultures,” sampling 'Love Come Down' doesn't make the final journey. From start to finish your attention and enjoyment will be maintained. So sit back and relax, because the man that's produced so many classic hits over the decades will be your driver for this evening. Daddy's back. Let's hope he isn't ready for his departure just yet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010



With 'Love Letter' the R writes some of his best songs yet.

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 03: Performer R. Kelly performs his version of the national anthem before the Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor undisputed world middleweight championship fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on December 3, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

OK so this 'Zodiac' may not be delivering on the promise of three solo albums this year but that doesn't matter right now. After an 'Epic' release ( Chicago Urban Soul legend R. Kelly writes us a 'Love Letter' just in time for the holidays. Lucky for those fans who don't name 'Untitled' as one of there favourite Kelz albums (a title that still deserves credit by the way) the R. in R&B is not doubling up on his club jams. Instead Kelly makes way for the slow jams with an album that is one part 'Happy People' and the other 'Loveland'. The perfect warm album for this frosty fall. Even from the 60's esque cover the singer looks like Ray Charles. Once again showing he's about to channel the greats from Marvin to Sammy as he furthers his discography and legendary status.

After a 'Love Letter (Prelude)' that again showcases the singers falsetto talent R. Kelly pens the albums title 'Love Letter'. This track is vintage Kelz and classic R&B from the first signature, soul harmonies. With uplifting lyrics in every verse including, "Sunny days, smiling face/Spirit filled, heaven praise /Memories in my mind/Reminiscing of good times/Miracles, so amazed". The singer gives more with 'A Love Letter Christmas',an extended wrapped up bonus which really is a gift that will get the steppers back on the floor.

The albums lead single 'When A Woman Loves' is the pick of this list however. A song that is as classic as 'When A Woman's Fed Up' but in many different ways. From the epic intro this is a big record that breaks Kelly back into the charts, just in a very different way. Kelly continues the love with three more tracks. With K. Michelle R. K draws a delightful duet on 'Love Is'. While the happy track 'Lost In Your Love' is uplifting to say the least, while the sad song 'Not Feelin The Love' is a great exercise in relationship analysis. Trademark Robert.

On the other wrong end of a bad breakup Kelz sounds honest and real with the poignant 'How Do I Tell Her'. This is another timeless R. Kelly ballad for the catalogue, as is 'Just Like That'. A song just as good as the also named 'Just Like That' off Kelly's classic 'TP-2. Com' album. After contributing to the 'Ali' motion picture soundtrack the king of R&B channels 'The Worlds Greatest' as he steals Muhammad's charming, charismatic, chat up line, crooning, "OK rest of me let's go". What results is a knockout track.

Kelly keeps the positive vibe going with slow songs to listen to while your in love. On 'Just Can't Get Enough' R. again proves he's Chi-towns finest after M.J. and on 'You Are Not Alone' R. Kelly pays tribute to another M.J., with a great cover of Michael Jackson's hit. The song that was orginally written by Robert for Michael feels even more poignant now with Kelly's lyrics about rembering lost loved ones (check his heartfelt intro). The R. also shadows another eccentric king of pop and R&B as 'Taxi Cab' catches Prince's classic themes of finding love (in any forms) in between the yellow and the meter. With great lyrics Kelz does not spare us the details, "Looking at the rear view she said to me let go and be free/Then she told the driver mind his business and then ... me/Then I told her/which is 15 minutes from my home/But she didn't stop, she kept saying it feels so incredible wrong". Once again this Christmas R. Kelly is naughty but nice.

Kelz aims for more chart success with the top notch, single worthy 'Number One Hit'. Than the legend goes double or nothing with 'Radio Message', preaching that he wants to bring love back to the radio and proving that this modern day basic R&B sound (one that he briefly adopted) has been getting old already. Through all the love devoted however Kelly still looks back to his first with 'Music Must Be My Lady'. A song as attractive as the beautiful women he sings about. The perfect lament, to expression, song-writing and the development of music. Captured perfectly in song.

Kelly's 'Love Letter' will be so well received it's almost a classic. Still post 'R' and 'Chocolate Factory' it's just a few tracks away from being one of the singers best scribes. With that being said however this is still one of the best choices of R. Kelly's catalogue. Critics may have started to write this man off but with 'Love Letter' the King of R&B makes a declaration that puts him back on the throne. TIM DAVID HARVEY.



Ryan reunites with his old band going double or nothing.

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Ryan Adams performs live on the Garden Stage on the third day of ''The End Of The Road Festival'' on September 17, 2006 near Salisbury, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

He's known as a wild man but he's married to a pop star. People still confuse him with Bryan Adams but he really is his own man. Ryan Adams name doest get lumped in with some of the greats but still the man has amassed an amazing, cohesive catalogue. Simply put Adams is one of the best singer/songwriters around today. From Whiskeytown to 'Cardinology'. The work speaks for itself.

After going solo for a limited edition and time with the great, heavy metal piece 'Orion'. Ryan reunites (sort of) with The Cardinals, for a dual, double disc effort entitled 'III/IV'. This may not actually be the reunion we think. This 21 track effort is a collection of records from the 'Easy Tiger' sessions. A Cardinals album that was billed as solo and definitely wasn't an album where the collective took it easy roaring with classics like 'Two Hearts', 'Off Broadway', 'Goodnight Rose' and 'Nobody Listens To Silence'.

These outtakes and B-sides are strong also proving these where A star sessions. It all begins with 'Breakdown Into The Resolve' an epic, trademark classic from the band showing us that we've missed Ryan Adams and The Cardinals. Deep lyrics like "Like a shadow in the light, stand up and be counted/I was born to be betrayed, its cleared that I'm clearly afraid of" delve into the singers soul. 'Dear Candy' follows and this sweet number could be a single. Another track where Ryan gets his teeth into relationship stories.

The uplifting and building track 'Ultraviolet Light' is as bright and epic as this albums artwork with Adams proving yet another catchy chant. There are pop friendly tracks like 'Kisses Start Wars' and 'Stop Playing With My Heart' which are so versatile that if they weren't so rock and roll Mandy Moore could sing them.

We've not even moved on to the second disc and there's genuinely good honest tracks like 'Wasteland' and 'Lovely And Blue'. You can also light a candle for the sickly sweet, but nice 'Happy Birthday', with it's corny but celebratory lyrics, "Happy Birthday, I'm Your Birthday Cake". In fact even if this album was just one disc, these b-sides would act as the perfect holiday gift, as 'III' feels like an album of it's own.

As does 'IV' the second disc. It only gets better from here. Is that true you ask? Well listen to the brilliant, upbeat, guitar twanging 'No' and try and say anything but yes. With the fast paced, kinetic 'Numbers' the singer and his band prove that with quality like this, over two discs they really can play the numerical game. Just like their previous double effort 'Cold Roses' the vast set feels so cohesive as one album spread over to two discs and twenty tracks. It's not over indulgence but underrated greatness. A true sign of greatness is how all whilst maintaining their signature sound the group are incredibly versatile as this rock and roll goes from Ryan's heavier side ('Icebreaker') to his more country roots ('Gracie').

Even when the songs get too dark like, 'Sewers At The Bottom Of The Wishing Well' or 'Death and Rats' the poignant depth is as potent as the moonlight. The band may sound like similar classic rock and roll but there not to be 'Typecast', just like the slower, deeper song of the same name. Plus the album cut 'Star Wars' feels like something that inspired this years L.P. 'Orion'. As 'III' and the two disc set comes to a close we hear 'My Favourite Song' and a 'P.S' but still the collectives collection really do save the best for last. The six minute, 'Kill The Lights' is an epic, city slicking classic. With a great four minute guitar solo to finish you can not deny the talents of The Cardinals or Ryan Adams. Truly brilliant.

As Ryan Adams and his Cardinals give us a body of great work it's hoped this release reunion isn't just one for the catalogues. 'III/IV' proves this group has strength in depth and a volume of great records that can stretch across several CD's. These sessions struck some brilliant sounds but it's now time we heard even more, new stories from those 'Jacksonville City Nights'. It would be a sin not to see some new music from this act. TIM DAVID HARVEY.



While revisiting his classic catalogue Q proves he's timeless.

Wyclef Jean (L) and Quincy Jones attend the 26th annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards held in Los Angeles on April 22, 2009. (UPI Photo/ Phil McCarten) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Quincy Jones has been around for a long time. For sure that's an understatement. He's made some classic records of his own and produced even more gems for others. From Frank Sinatra to Ray Charles and from 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air' to 'Thriller'. This legendary producers catalogue is so extensive you may forget, or in some cases not even realise what he's done. For example did you know Q scored 'The Italian Job'? Producing a song that has become a terrace favourite in English football stadiums. Q branched over to soccer before ESPN did and wrote a song so perfectly English you'd never believe it was him until you read the credits. Good work.

So in the second decade of the new millennium Q revisits more tracks that made him a legend of the last century on his latest album, 'Q: Soul Bossa Nostra'. For help Quincy enlists the talents of some of his old and new friends from the urban music scene. From Amy Winehouse to Bebe Winans these stars help keep these timeless classics eternal.

This set opens with the 'Ironside' theme, updated and assisted by legendary, B.K. M.C. Talib Kweli. The sharp lyricist keeps his rhymes cutting edge as Jones provides a backing beat that most big name hip-hop producers would kill to have. From the first evoking siren this track is more than a sample. It feels like your back listening to one of your fathers records from the late 70's complete with it's scratches.

The impressive re-inventions continue with the sweet 'Strawberry Letter 23', where Akon adds his trademark instantly catchy hooks to a classic that was always a crowd creator in the clubs. The best this album has to offer however comes with the help of Hollywood leading man Jamie Foxx and the Quincy dubbed "genius", who Jones believes will be "artistically and socially significant as Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder", John Legend. Foxx reinvigorates the George Benson classic 'Give Me The Night' live in living colour, while Legend furthers his and Q's status with a great present day update of yesteryear's 'Tomorrow'.

Mr. Jones once again teams up with several rappers to show that he can get down with any genre, just like he did back in the 80's. On the album title cut 'Soul Bossa Nostra' Q and Ludacris once again revisit the 'Austin Powers' theme for yet more groovily funny one liners. What results is trademark Ludacris rhyming and Quincy Jones reputation for having fun. The pair hit the 'Number One Spot' yet again. Fellow ATL rappers T.I and B.O.B. close this album well with 'Sanford & Son' while who better to update 'Get Da Funk Out Of My Face' than the godfather of G-Funk himself, Snoop Dogg?

Wyclef Jean pays homage on 'Many Rains Ago (Oluwa)' as perfectly as he paid tribute to Luther Vandross on his dedication album. The ever versatile 'Clef produces yet another standout. Mary J. Blige and Q-Tip also provide magic on a long overdue collaboration. With 'Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me' the two Q's are on point with a little bit of Mary Jane.

Quincy Jones is renowned for spotting great talent and he gives the floor twice to rising soul star Robin Thicke. With T-Pain, Thicke does a decent job covering the Rocky Robin, Michael Jackson's 'P. Y. T. (Pretty Young Thing)' but it's on 'Secret Garden' where the singer really blooms. On a big collaboration with R&B hit men Usher and Tyrese, Tevin Campbell, rap legend LL Cool J (who Quincy Jones III produced) and some posthumous Barry White vocals Q enlists the best of the best to bring out exactly that.

Overall Quincy Jones latest is a nice, solid effort that pays homage to some of his finest work. A lot of musical ground is covered here. Still at times it feels like a bit if an outside tribute album and for a man who was known to produce anything it's a bit genre specific. With that being said however it's still a great album which leaves us Jonsing for more new Q. Whether for albums or soundtrack the world misses a touch of Q. The legend lives on through this CD proving he really is the greatest. As we look forward to what Quincy is going to come up with next however we realise that there's always nothing like the original. The timeless, classic legend keeps going. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010



Even caged the king still reigns.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Rapper T.I. performs during the 51st Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It all seems like yesterday when the 'Rubberband Man' Clifford 'Tip' Harris expanded his reach from the music hotbed ATL to the charts hot 100. Still seven albums and several prison bids later T.I. has risen beyond the ranks of the 'King of the South' to reign over the entire hip-hop industry. Even in prison T.I. still displays that Jay-Z/Drake esque swagger with the release of his latest album. Originally planned to be a release party in more ways than one 'King Uncaged' avoided irony by changing it's name to 'No Mercy' and with a more sombre, reflective black and white album cover the rapper delves deep into his bag of tricks and hits. For the imprisoned Tip the merciless are the bars he spits and the competition on the outside.

T.I.'s back against the wall, tunnel vision, take no prisoners approach begins with 'Welcome To The World'. A new classic for the rapper assisted by two special K's, Kanye West and his protegee Kid Cudi. Over one of Kanye's best beats and raps of the year (there's been a lot of good stuff from 'ye too) it's T.I. that steps it up with each stuttering, swaggering verse. His 'I'm Serious' rapping is perfectly complimented by a great, focused chorus and bridge by West and Cudi respectively. Again as this album starts you can clearly hear that T.I's personal problems haven't finished him off as he steps up his rap game rhyming, "It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the World of/fast money/flashy cars/big guns/undone/threw away for the love of the game/I don't need a chain or the fame/still shine/spend time with the girls of fake smiles/broken hearts trying hard in the club looking for her real love/you won’t find it here". His swaggers at a 100, thousand million now hey Kanye?

Kanye isn't the only super producer who offers up some of his best work for the ATL's finest. Pharrell and The Neptunes give their long time collaborator one of their best choices with the instantly addictive 'Amazing'. The beat and Pharrell's hook are ridiculously radical, while T.I.'s supreme swagger ensures that even when this song reaches the five minute mark it's still addictive, itching to be rapped along too.

Another standout is the flossy 'Poppin' Bottles' with Drake. From the first second the best is as cool as a cold Toronto night as these two city slickers head to heat up the club. A place where this song is guaranteed to be dropped for awhile. As the needle hits the record you can't tell which is better, this or the Tip assisted Drake track 'Fancy'. Both are exactly that. Oh they fancy huh?

T.I. also heads back to the studio for more time with Eminem. With the dark 'That's All She Wrote' the pair murder their verses like Angela Landsbury was on the case. They aim to take off even higher than their last impressive 'Touchdown' in 2007. Speaking of collabos T.I. crosses over to the pop mainstream yet again. After his 'Dead & Gone' hit with Justin Timberlake T.I. bridges his 'Castle Walls' with J.T's old flame Christina Aguilera. What results is an even deeper more introspective cut. A collaboration gamble that will pay off in yet even more record sales.

The rest of the albums guest spots are on point too. T.I. furthers his depth with the albums title track, awaking the senses with The-Dream. The trap star brings more quality 'muzik' with Chris Brown. The two troubled stars rebound with 'Get Back Up' and redemption has never sounded so cool. On 'How Life Changed' T.I. finally gets together with his mentor Scarface and the two kings play their best hands for a royal flush.

Even when T.I. goes it alone he sees the 'Big Picture' the next bid DJ Toomp collaboration (See 'Look What I Got', 'No Matter What' etc, etc). With big numbers like this and the roll call 'Salute' and on 'Everything On Me' the rapper goes all in, everything or nothing and he comes up big. Apart from some perhaps reaching references to Tupac and Princess Diana Tip's lyrics make a point. Even with six albums prior T.I.s seventh seal is a set of fresh, inventive bangers. 'Lay Me Down' with Rico Love is a real foot mover with kinetic, off beat Jim Jonsin production. The backing track and T.I.s flow are reminiscent of his early days.

Still in the present with his future uncertain T.I. raps like there is no tomorrow. This album is great but amongst T.I's best ('Trap Muzik', 'T.I vs. T.I.P' and 'King') it lies somewhere just underneath, filed alongside his 'Paper Trail'. Still this king sounds as regal as ever whilst his 'Urban Legend' is continued to be wrote. TIM DAVID HARVEY.



On her second wind Duffy displays an endless breeze of soul.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Singer Duffy performs on stage at the Sydney Opera House on March 26, 2009 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Duffy lit up the U.K. soul scene and the worldwide mainstream when she rolled out her debut 'Rockferry', now in these dark days and long nights Duffy looks to continue soothing the soul with 'Endlessly', her second album.

It's undoubtedly really hard to follow a classic like 'Rockferry'. The high selling, timeless piece which really awoke old soul for a new generation. Still however Duffy looks to best her greatest work with the help of some new friends, love letter esque songs and a desire to push the envelope.

This album was kicked off and picked up by the single, 'Well, Well, Well'. A more upbeat song that sees Duffy taking a different direction backed by the U.S. hip-hop band The Roots. After providing John Legend with some classic soul the Philadelphia drum and bass guitar group help Duffy maintain her stay in the mainstream. The song also has some great, investigative lyrics on Duffy's quest for chart success she sings, "Highly suspicious, where was I last night/Seek and you shall find/And it goes in my mind, you make me draw the line/I didn’t commit any crime".

'Endlessly' opens with 'My Boy'. A tempting number which takes some getting used to but man is it a grower. See if your a fan of the sound of Duffy's first album you may not like the different direction that is taken on some of this sets tracks. Duffy's sound isn't broke so she doesn't need fixing. Still fear not there is only minor re tweaking on this album as that familiar, traditional Duffy sound still makes an acquaintance on this new disc. With new classics like the testament to the throwback, 'Too Hurt To Dance' and the atmospheric 'Don't Forsake Me' Duffy reinvigorates her debuts success all whilst looking for a new way to aim big.

With 'Keeping My Baby' Duffy stays on the up and up with another joy filled, upbeat, uprising song. Whereas this albums title track is a beautiful, acoustic gem, as vintage and as classic sounding as the accompanying record scratches. Their put in for effect, but the cause of this classic is the syrupy bass line and the sweet as honey vocals and lyrics. This slow but serene tranquility transpires over to the following track 'Breath Away', which gives this album it's second wind. There are guitar licks in the chorus which leave you with a taste of James Bond feeling music for a woman who would be just perfect for singing the next 007 theme.

The Friday night beat driven 'Lovestruck' sounds very different, almost new Katie Melua esque, but still it works. As does the whistle driven 'Girl' which may be more suited for singing in the shower once those more happier summer days come around. The more easy on the ears, 'Hard For The Heart' closes the album, a track so good and fresh it could of found it's way onto Duffy's debut classic. From the first 'Do, do, do' your drawn right into the song and it's bluesy subject matter. Duffy shows that even with the emergence of the great new British singer Rumer she still has something to say, something that's worth us talking about.

So after the sensational success of her first release Duffy stretches her soul to avoid a sophomore slump. With yet another memorable short but sweet 10 track effort Duffy proves she's at one with the classics with great ease. Moving towards top tier status in perfect, timeless timing. TIM DAVID HARVEY.