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Saturday, 29 January 2011



With 'Gutter Rainbows' Kweli colours the streets.

Talib Kweli is easily one of Brooklyn's best M.C.'s, if not New York's and if not raps. From super, studded 'Black Star' days with the mighty Mos Def, to his eternal reflections with kinetic producer Hi-Tek, Talib has touched classics. In his solo work especially he's given us 'Quality', while banging on our 'Eardrum' and showing us 'The Beautiful Struggle'. The diverse talent has also stepped onto the dance floor with talents Res and Graph Nobel for the envelope pushing Idle Warship and liberated the industry with maverick producer Madlib. He also runs his own record label, 'Blacksmith' that features the group Strong Arm Steady and the best female rapper today, Jean Grae. With this impressive resume it's no wonder Kweli commands the respect of the greatest the music industry has to offer from Jay-Z all the way to Norah Jones.

Hot off the heels of 2010's Reflection Eternals 'Revolutions Per Minute' album and a Blacksmith mixtape which saw Kweli getting in touch with 'The Community' the B.K. M.C. Starts 2011 with a bang with his 'Gutter Rainbows' set. Talib goes it alone on his first independent record since 'Right About Now' and as of right now thanks to Internet trends and great socially conscious hip-hop, this digital release is a smash on many an electronic device. Time to get in sync.

The album opens with the title-track 'Gutter Rainbows'. On a grimy but glowing track Kweli shows us the beautiful struggle once again in all it's hard fought, picturesque nature. He also references the hit album and states his M.O., "this aint fashion rap/I'm bringing the passion back", Kweli spits, showing that the mission statement of this independent release is to stand alone and be proud.

Kweli gets laid back and soulfully flowful on 'So Low' , reaching for higher things while rapping "I always speak for the struggle, my people still hurting, I'm a name brand, a product but still a real person". Then on 'Palookas' he hooks up with Sean Price for an expensive sounding track that is still a great account of Talib's skills. This diverse range also comes with the Nigel Hall assisted 'Mr. International', where Kweli finds a home outside his comfort zone.

The beats, rhymes and life gets harder on The Beastie Boys sampling, 'I'm On One' and the even darker 'Tater Tot', where the hip-hop legend shows us why he stands toe to toe with the boys and icons like A Tribe Called Quest. Then on his quest to find a hit, Talib pours one out over piano on the showering single 'Cold Rain', an introspective and conscious but commercially viable number.

Kweli plays the waiting game on 'Wait For You' and 'Aint Waiting', where he shows he can rap about anything from the everyday goings on of everyone to love. On this album the rapper gives us all something we can relate to especially on the nostalgic, story-rap, life recount 'Friends & Family'.

As the album comes to a close Talib brings out more guests for a welcome couple of home-bred cuts before he shows us the door. From 'How You Love Me' to 'Self Saviour' the heart and appreciation keeps pumping through the beats and the breaks as this student of the game masters his craft. It's when Kweli teams-up with label-mate, protegee Jean Grae that things get real super-powered. From the lyrically sharp 'Uh Oh' to the bonus cut, 'Go Now', your left hoping the next Kweli collabo album is with his female counterpart. 'Socially Conscious Of The Throne' anybody?

Overall with 'Gutter Rainbows' Talib pulls us out the early year slum of no releases while adding some real colour to those January blues. Providing the rain and the shine, the top M.C. doesn't forget where he's come from and doesn't neglect his greatest gift, being able to traverse the plains between the hopeful and the hopeless, the highs and the lows and the positivity and the negativity. These are the hallmarks of not just a great rapper, but a true song-writer and as Kweli acknowledges everything, he can be appreciated by everyone. Time to get your ear out the gutter and look up to some real hip-hop. It's a wrap for January. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


In 2011 R&B is about to get real grown.

By Tim David Harvey

Rhythm and blues music is all about heart, devotion and soul. It's all about 'Sex, Love & Pain', 'The Life' and powerful music like '2000 Watts'. It isn't about, auto-tunes, disrespecting women or basic things like clubbing and drinking. It's about the finer things in life. It's about those intimate moments with that special person. It's all about love. It's about partnership.

With the group TGT, you have the perfect partnership. R&B's big three like the Miami Heat in basketball. Instead of LeBron James, Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh however we have Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank, three grown men, moving units and females hearts. Three of the realest singer/songwriters and even producers of their generation. Sure label pains have made the birth of this supergroups debut more than overdue, but that hasn't stopped these hard workers grind. From Slim Thug features to remixes and unreleased gems these solo acts have kept it moving and as for their own projects, it only gets better.

Tank dropped his latest, greatest, 'Now Or Never' just this last fall. While 'Elgin' is coming out around Valentines. In-between films, Tyrese isn't being left out either as his 'Open Invitation' will make it an open season for classic R&B this year. 2011 is about to button up, shape up and look real grown. So if your sick of all this watered down, throwaway pop, R&B that dominates the charts, take three of these and call the request line in the morning.

T is for Tank. Once underrated, now celebrated like his big collabo with Drake. From penning and producing hits from everyone from Marques Houston to Jamie Foxx, it was about time that this unselfish talent was given the Hollywood treatment. He really is a a good way. When 'Sex, Love & Pain' was released the industry was blessed with an R&B album that covered every aspect from 'I Love You' to 'I Hate You'. Tank really brought a battalion of hits. He should have got the Grammy. He heated up with 'Coldest' and married himself to pushing the concept envelope with his incredible 'Wedding Song'. If R&B was missing a true voice, dun, dun, dah, it arrived. The man with the superman physique, became an R&B hero to marvel at.

Tank followed his classic with another great album to close out last year. 'Now or Never' is still heating up the R&B and mainstream charts like it's single 'Emergency'. Once again Durrell Babbs resuscitated R&B from it's state of alert with an album to save those late night playlists. Now the acclaim comes as Tank and R&B are far away from situation critical. Writing, singing and producing, Tank is involved in the whole process of his work. Now with that degree of study to music, how could you deny and not dedicate your time to this guy? Now the songs keep coming and Tank's phone keeps ringing. He went for his with a 'Now & Never' outlook and this is his moment. Don't forget it.

G is for Ginuwine. The genuine article when it comes to R&B singers. He's a legend. He brought the dancing before Ne-Yo, before Chris Brown, before even Usher. FACT! A superfriend years before LeBron took his talents to South Beach. With his family of Missy Elliott, Timbaland, the legendary Static Major (R.I.P.) and Aaliyah (Rest in peace and happy birthday baby girl), G made some of urban music's most classic and timeless records. Music hasn't been the same since. Sorry Nelly Furtado but 'Pony' is Timbo's most original, freshest song, still to this day and it's all G. Sorry Justin but nothing sounds as good as 'Tha Bachelor'. Even after G has given '100%' and so many classic L.P's, as 'The Senior' in the game he still remains one of the most underrated talents in music.

One thing that is certain, is that he is one of the best. Sure the Timbaland collaborations may be getting as slimmer as the producer himself these days (but who knows what will come over the next few 'Thursdays') but Elgin Lumpkin's style and substance have evolved and matured even more over his career. Just check out the tracks 'Love You More' or 'I'm Still In Love' to see his devotion. Ever since 'The Senior', Ginuwine has gone 'Back To The Basics' and showed every true, real aspect of 'A Man's Thoughts' with countless quality numbers over the last decade. G looks to continue his run of hits and rich, deep album tracks, getting real personal on Valentines Day with 'Elgin'. Expect the undeniable talent to provide the perfect soundtrack for the most devoted holiday of the year and provide a disc full of 21 and older, love songs like the 'Heaven' sent first single. 'Elgin' is about to add another classic to the catalogue.

T is for Tyrese. Ever since the kid with the big smile and an even bigger voice stepped on the bus and sang about a soft drink the hard work and thirst for success hasn't stopped. From his self-titled debut to his big hit movie with Snoop Dogg, this 'Baby Boy' has really grown. He's a bonafide actor and singer whether with his 'Four Brothers' or the other two letters that make his music group. Ty really advanced far with 'I Wanna Go There', and the smash hits, 'How You Gonna Act Like That' and 'You Don't Give A Damn About Me' that opened the album. Still it was the double disc, rap and R&B set 'Alter Ego' which really displayed this mans multiple talents. With his rap personality Black-Ty, Tyrese moulded himself into a legit rapper and confirmed himself as a real triple threat. As for the R&B, Black-Ty still got down, making some of his best music with 'Come Back To Me Shawty', 'Gotta Get You' and the standout single, 'One'.

Even Lady Gaga and Beyonce can't stop this man. Pick up the telephone and go tell somebody about this guys inspirational characters on Twitter and his great book, 'How To Get Out Of Your Own Way'. Tyrese is crafting himself another career as an incredible motivational speaker. Still he hasn't forgot about music, even in-between his further, great support of the awesome 'Fast & Furious' and 'Transformer' franchises. Between chrome and robotics you'll see Mr. Gibson line the silver screen this Summer but a new albums coming two. Thanks to his fans tweets you'll receive an 'Open Invitation' to what Ty's got in store from the studio. If his latest work is anything to go by. It's going to be fast, furious and it's going to transform the game.

It's no coincidence that these three men joined forces a couple years back. Thanks to their versatile and focused talents they are on a real hot streak in their own respective works. As if their careers weren't great enough already, coming off their greatest albums the big three are about to add more perfect projects to the resume. All that's left now is for their record companies to get it together and release this group out of music, politics purgatory, because with the legend Ginuwine, Hollywood's Tyrese and music's master Tank, TGT have every ingredient of real R&B. Now isn't that a recipe for success? Time to say bye, bye to fast food R&B and rewind and take it back to some classic talent. Get your tape decks ready and let 'em play.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

LIVE BABY LIVE: In Memory Of Michael Hutchence

(Also Published On 'MUSIC FEEDS' )

Remembering One of the Last True Rock Stars.

“Put the pieces back together/every moment back together/In your quiet moments/Looking back in tears/Can I count the nights you’ve lived/That you’d live again”. Michael Hutchence: Put The Pieces Back Together.

Icons don't come around everyday, believe that. Don't be fooled by the who's who of today. Some stars today are merely 'role models' and their not doing a very good job at that either. Sure there are icons still around, but sometimes the phrase 'iconic' is thrown around all too much. Michael Hutchence, however was iconic. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 14 years since he was found hanging in a Sydney hotel room on November 22ND, 1997. This coming weekend, (Saturday, January 22ND) he would have turned 51, so let’s look back and celebrate the man.

Celebrate and not speculate because when Hutchence burst on to the scene with his band INXS back in 1979 it was this mans personality and not his personal life or troubles that people were attracted to. His energetic, magnetic and sensual persona is what gave him a presence on the world’s biggest stages. A presence that extended from the small pubs and hotels INXS played coming up in 1977 to the sold out stadiums they made it to when they truly broke out. His enigmatic personality, coupled with his good looks and his confidence, matched with the blueprint of a true rock star persona made sure all eyes where on him. Then the lyrics he wrote, cultivated with the way he sang and the ways he moved about the stage did the rest. A true star that sang some of the best songs and made some of musics most memorable moments became an icon. A guy that just like AC/DC before him and Heath Ledger after him was iconic not just in his native Australia but all around the world.

INXS first commercially hit in the 80's with their self-titled debut. 'Just Keep Walking' was their first hit. Their success came from their own hard work. They played sold out shows almost every day of the week. As attention grew people wanted a piece of this band even before the press got wind. The bands hard work was rewarded with a gold plaque for their debut and more importantly their name on everyone’s lips. INXS were playing 300 shows across Australia during the release of their sophomore album 'Underneath the Colours'. When their third album 'Shabooh, Shoobah' hit they broke America, making the billboard charts behind great music and the dynamic, provocative personality of Hutchence.

INXS first number 1 in Australia was 'Original Sin'. 'Sin' had lots of rhythm with fast paced drum rolls, quirky saxophone and even stranger ad-libs from Michael. The great lyrics from Hutchence completed the song perfectly and the hometown heroes took seven Australian Countdown awards and a double platinum plaque for the songs album 'The Swing’. The first three albums established the band, but with this swinging success Michael, Garry, Andrew, Jon, Tim & Kirk truly planted their feet.

With their feet firmly in place it was time for INXS to break new ground. They did this in the mid-80's with the release of two albums, one definite and one definitive. By 1985 INXS were in the mid-90's of degrees of hotness. The bands first million seller in the States came with 'Listen Like Thieves'. The albums title also spawned a hit single and more radio play was garnered with the funky hit 'What You Need'. A song so funky that the artist always known as funk, Prince covered it back in 2007, during his legendary, 21 dates in London.

The album 'Listen Like Thieves' featured memorable hooks and intriguing lyrics. Like many rock greats before him, Michael was a master at writing love songs. Michael indulged a lot in his life but it seemed like love was really his biggest motivator. INXS songs were the type of catchy tunes that only after a few listens on the radio listeners would know word for word. Michael's passion for writing about love was fuelled with his lyrics. Even if the songs were about loss they still had an element of positivity to them. Songs like 'This Time' >("We are hoping/yes we are praying/this time will be the last time/that we will fight like this") and 'Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)' ("Playing in the dirt/we find the seeds of doubt/don't water them with your tears/don't think about all the years/you'd rather be without") epitomize the beauty in the hope and belief of love. Michael was able to translate this into song seemingly effortlessly with the help of writing partner Andrew Farriss.

INXS biggest selling album propelled them even higher. 'Kick' in 1987 expanded their already wide and diverse fan base even further. Millions of copies were sold and 5 MTV Awards and a Grammy nomination came. Some of the bands biggest singles, 'Mystify', 'Need You Tonight', 'Never Tear Us Apart' and 'New Sensation' helped make this album a rock and roll classic. From the success of this album came a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement and even more touring around the world.

The singles themselves became classics around the world. 'Never Tear Us Apart' showcased Michael's ever improving writing ability. At his worst Hutchence was honest, at his best he was poetic. INXS may have recorded their best love song with lines like, 'We could live for a thousand years/but if I hurt you I'd make wine from your tears". Lines that are so soulful, just check out modern day legend, Ben Harper's take on them. The jam 'New Sensation' seems to be a motivating, mainstay at sporting events and 'Need You Tonight' was another provocative hit that helped Hutchence become a hit with the housewives. The video for this song furthered this. Striking black and white images and Michael’s colourful personality helped this become yet another classic visual for a band that was becoming known for their unique music videos. The camera loved Michael and Michael loved the camera-sometimes maybe a little bit too much- not that the housewives minded.

The video of 'Need You Tonight' also blended in seamlessly to the track 'Mediate' which furthered the display of Hutchence's lyrical ability. Michael effortlessly rapped cohesive words and sentences that rhymed with the word 'Mediate'. Not many rock singers had done this before him and again this was an example of Hutchence’s self-assured swagger, which is why he appealed to so many people. Confidence is one of the most attractive features and whether on the microphone, the screen or the stage Michael had it by the bucket load. Even performing for Jools Holland, sprawled across a piano, with shaggy hair, workman jeans and baggy clothing he was still the perfect man for those housewives tuning in on a Friday night.

This hot streaked continued for Hutchence and INXS as their follow up 'X' was no slouch. The album spawning hits such as 'Suicide Blonde', 'Bitter Tears' & 'Disappear', which helped INXS leave their successful decade on the 80's on a high note coming into the 90's. Although the last decade saw fewer releases and tragedy for the band and its lead singer, the 90's still had high notes for INXS. In 1991 the band headlined Wembley Stadium in London with Michael's magnetic on stage persona attracting a crowd of 74,000 excited fans, more than half of them probably female.

With the release of 'Welcome To Wherever You Are' INXS pushed the envelope further both musically and visually with their second, definitive album. The band included an orchestra on the hit 'Baby Don't Cry' offering appreciation to other forms of music. They also however received heat again for the video of the hit 'Taste It', with Michael again raising the temperatures of female fans and music television networks alike, albeit in very different ways. 'Beautiful Girl' was yet another classic love song from the band with genuine and endearing lyrics from their front man. A song, like all love classics still relevant today (just check the trailer for hit movie, 'Love & Other Drugs'). The positivity in Michael's writing again shined through. Too many songs these days about love or lost love focus on all the negative, back then however Michael begged to differ. He even described the complications in relationships perfectly on the classic, album take 'Men and Women'.

Approaching the mid-90's INXS cooled off a little bit but they still remained relevant and true to their style with the release of 'Full Moon, Dirty Hearts' in 1993. One of the bands most aggressive songs 'The Gift' was full of heavy guitar and fire, especially in their award winning, ground-burning video. Now it was getting even harder to cool off Hutchence or his fan base. The album also featured a couple of guest appearances but Michael more than held his own alongside strong personalities like Ray Charles ('Please (You Got That...)') and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders ('Full Moon, Dirty Hearts').

A couple of complimation albums came and then years later there wasn’t much noise from INXS and their outgoing singer. This was apart from his often time written about private life and problems. Hutchence’s drug and relationship problems with celebrities was something the tabloids couldn't’t resist prying into, the music heads however wanted to hear something new, something true, something public, not private.

In 1997 came the last album from INXS with Hutchence, 'Elegantly Wasted'. The album may have not been a commercial success but it showed that the band had moved with the times. Musically and lyrically they remained relevant and true to themselves despite a harder, more mainstream, American sound. They showed in that respect they could stand next to other rock acts from Dave Matthews Band to Pearl Jam.

The albums title track was a hit and songs like 'Shine' showed that they could even move with the times with their speciality of rock and roll tracks infused with funk. Songs like 'Searching' (“Have we lost direction/washed our hands of blood/I’m in need of sensation/is there more to this love”) and 'I'm Just A Man' (“I’m just a man/my will is so strong/When I’ve got plans/I close my eyes to the pain”) showed Michael Hutchence’s introspective style of writing in a much stronger and more poignant light. Bold but beautiful, dark but decedent.

This writing ability was then seen even more with the release of the last studio album from Hutchence, his self-titled solo LP. Cuts like 'Possibilities', 'Fear', 'Put The Pieces Back Together' and 'All I'm Saying' stirred the soul, But he also had fun to. Songs like 'Get On The Inside' and 'Let Me Show You' gave fans the fun loving, sexy Michael they were used to. It was clear however, that this was a very personal album, especially as it was a solo piece. The haunting 'Flesh & Blood' (“All of the days we thought would come/all of the words we thought had gone/all of the pain & pleasure gone without you”) and 'Slide Away' (with Bono) showed a much deeper side of Hutchence's thinking. This resulted in beautiful, yet saddening tracks to hear straight from the mans heart.

Since his death his legacy has lived on to the full in his music. A wealth of timeless classic songs, entertaining, loving and at times reflective have been the legacy of one man and his band. He was an icon in his life and his death marked yet another tragic case of an icon gone before their time. The rest of INXS have soldiered on and kept Michael's name and music alive. They have also tried to go on as a band. Terrence Trent D'Arby did a very good job filling in at the opening of the ‘Stadium Australia’ in Sydney but he rightfully made it clear that his performance was out of respect, as a guest and nothing else. Replacing this man has been a much harder task for the group. It always will be when some little known names follow in the footsteps of such a huge talent. Even the modern day staple of reality television produced a new singer and album, but even that was no good as J.D. Fortune ended up without a band- and as it seems a home -living in his car. Even as nice as tribute albums featuring the talents of INXS, French singer Loane and John Mayer are, nothing bests the original, real thing.

The reality is that the talent, charisma and confidence that burst out of Michael was all natural. It cannot be taught, trained or cultivated over a television series. Michael was nothing short of iconic, a phrase which when properly given is an exclusive one and not a doled out saying. Michael Hutchence epitomized both a true rock star and entertainer. He was born to do what he did and what he did in turn lives on a decade plus after his death. Plain and simple Michael Hutchence can not be replaced and he will always live on in his music and he will always be INXS.

“Live baby live/Now that the day is over/I gotta New Sensation/In perfect moments/Impossible To Refuse”. INXS: New Sensation


Saturday, 8 January 2011


A fall favourite makes it to new years for January's best.

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

As Lil' Wayne looks to stand taller than anyone else every year he closed last fall and his coming home celebration party with the big '6 Foot, 7 Foot'. The song is the first single off Weezy's 'The Carter IV' sequel to his classic series. This rap tracks stand head and shoulders above the rest in the rap game like Kobe Bryant in the NBA game. Lil' Wayne is reunited with producer Bangladesh and the duo create a song as heavy, powerful and as catchy as the classic 'A Milli' off 'The Carter III'. Expect some platinum sales with a song with a catchy sample and even cooler rhymes from Wayne relaying as the record spins. For two verses Lil' Wayne delivers much more strong bars than he was put behind for a year. With lines like "I speak the truth, but I guess that’s a foreign language to y’all/and I call it like I see it, and my glasses on/but most of y’all don’t get the picture ‘less the flash is on/satisfied with nothing, you don’t know the half of it". The rapper proves on his homecoming that he hasn't changed with this relentless barrage. He's still one of the best, most charismatic, enigmatic and energetic talents. He goes on for so long you forget Corey Gunz is on this record. Until with a minute left Corey comes gunning off the bench with spark-plug rhymes. Hip-Hop had a great 2010 and with this track and forthcoming album it shows no sign of slowing down in 2011. Just like this song. 4.5/5. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011



The trails from Wyclef Jean's campaign tell many stories.

From refugee to Fugee survivor. From musician to humanitarian and from ambassador to presidential candidate, Wyclef Jean has done it all for his native Haiti. A nation always close to his heart and influence. Even with all his success in America and his hip-hop and Hollywood pals, 'Clef has never forgotten home. Through thick and thin, earthquakes and denied presidency and from Pras to Sean Penn, Wyclef has remained constant to Haiti. The place is always in his heart and no debate or requirement can question that.

From scoring hits with Pras and Lauryn Hill and his own solo classics, Wyclef has always rapped, sang and preached awareness of his homeland. From his carnivals to his ecleftic work this preachers son has made the need to speak out about his homeland his gospel. Even his more recent albums, 'Welcome To Haiti Creole 101' and 'Toussaint St. Jean (From The Hut, To The Projects To The Mansion)' have been works of inspiration for his troubled nation and it's people.

It almost seemed perfect that Haiti's favourite son would run, win and lead, but this change was too good to be true. This setback won't stop the singer/rapper from carrying on in his bid to do everything he can for his nation however and it all starts again with the EP 'If I Were President: My Haitian Experience'.

This 5 track gem reads like a story with Jean even adding some pre-track narration to the design. After releasing the healing 'Hold On' in the wake of the Haiti earthquakes last year, Wyclef continues to lead and raise spirits with the single, 'Election Time'. The inspirational rally cry is a positive step forward. Complete with it's video, packaged on this digital set, Wyclef shows the natural beauty and ugly truths of a terrific but troubled nation. With kids joining in on the chorus, 'Clef looks to inspire everyone with his 'I Can'. His influential lyrics, "Alternative energy or oil in your SUV/Tell me what your looking for, we about to have a poll/Gun Control, Infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturer/Hip Hop Be My Culture/Tell me what you think about us" carry this inspiration.

The EP begins with, 'Haitian Experience' an epic and detailed track that tells us of how Wyclef came to America, his own turmoil and his respect for his current and home nation. Jean references everything from the Queen to September 11Th on this social commentary. He even shows his love for fellow humanitarian Angelina Jolie and all her efforts.

The socially sombre and conscious track 'Earthquake' follows. As Wyclef recognises Haiti's troubles all whilst trying to help and uplift. Jean also uses this warning song to educate the world, singing and preaching the need to look after the worlds climate.

As dawn calls time on this EP, things get darker, but still as ever potent, and powerful. On 'Death Threat's' Wyclef channels The Notorious B.I.G., even mirroring the late rappers 'My Downfall' pre-interlude from Biggie's 'Life After Death' album. With 'Threats' Wyclef shows just how much his voice and dedication have cost him.

As Wyclef takes on some Bob Marley inspiration for the final, deep cut he doesn't take a day off from trying to make the world better, willing to pay the cost in full. Jean brings his trademark wails and his native tongue on 'Prison For The K'. The emotion and meaning over beautiful guitars needs no translation. We get the message.

Years ago Wyclef wrote the incredible concept song, 'If I Were President' for the 'Welcome To Haiti' album. The song has had many meanings and has served as a brilliant, yesteryear precursor to this EP. With 'The Haitian Experience' Wyclef doesn't just deliver a solid EP or his take on how his campaign went. Moreover he paints us a picture of his nations beauty and it's needs. He shows us just how great it is with everything it's been through and what we all need to do. Still leading for his followers, the icon does this all in just five tracks. Now we really must listen! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

R.I.P. GERRY RAFFERTY (1947-2011)

We pay our respects to a legend today, Gerry Rafferty passed away peacefully at his home after a long battle with illness. He was 63. The Scottish singer/songwriter made some iconic music, most notably the anthem 'Baker Street' about busking in the London Underground. He also made the classic, upbeat 'Stuck in the Middle with You' with his band Stealers Wheel. The songs iconic status was furthered by Quentin Tarantino's classic movie 'Reservoir Dog's. With legendary comedian Billy Connolly, Rafferty also formed the Humblebums, a group they toured at the beginning of their careers. Gerry Raffery's music will live on forever from Baker Street to every radio station. Time to honor him in London. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Before AMP's & 808's reveals our 'One To Record' for 2011, first a little back story. It was early evening on an even earlier November in midtown Manhattan. I was just an English tourist heading to the Penn St subway, disappointed that the Knick game I booked tickets for was 'rained off'. This was the first time this has happened in the NBA in 14 years and the one time this basketball mad, British boy would have a chance to see the mecca of basketball. Still everything happens for a reason. Winding through the underground staircases and mazes of commuters, I heard one of my favourite songs ring out from the first line as if it was meant to be, "If you ever change your mind/about leaving, leaving me behind". It was Sam Cooke's, 'Bring It On Home To Me', an epic, classic soul record. A song I've loved ever since I heard the iconic 'Harlem Square Club' live version portrayed on the opening montage of the Will Smith, classic movie, 'Ali'. The sound I was following was different to David Elliott's portrayal however... and better. Trying to catch a glance through the crowds of people filming on their phones or memory banks, I saw five guys dressed to the nines, playing every instrument imaginable (and anything that can be used as bass). Then my attention shifted to the cool logo on the drum set and and even better name,'Roosevelt Dime'.

If you've seen the talent that lines New York subways from The Bronx to Staten Island, then be prepared, because you aint seen nothing like this Brooklyn act. This group are so talented and gifted taking you from Mississippi right back to Harlem Square. If you've heard you will have checked them out by now, but if your listening, you should really tune in. With some great records available for sale ('Wishing Well EP', 'Crooked Roots' and 'Live At The Kings County Opry' (where Sam can be found)) and more coming soon ('Steamboat Soul'), billboards or your best offer this band already have great music out there. Awaking the classic, look and feel of every note from bluegrass to folk, to country and Motown, this band really are the roots of great music. Their presidential sound couldn't be more distinctly American. I mean real America, and remember I'm just a tourist. You should take a journey two, from the beautiful banjo of 'East Virginia Blues' to the out of this world, timeless qualities of 'Man On The Moon' and every port of call in between. One way or another this band are going to make it. Their songs are unimaginably original and definite. They may be playing a few stops from Times Square right now, but soon their name's will be in similair lights. You can bet your last dime on that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


5/5. This wasn't an album, it was a soundtrack. Janelle Monae scored the best of the best this year with 'The ArchAndroid'. This singer was a machine on a journey of an album. After the release of her classic, futuristic EP, 'Metropolis', Monae took us even further out this world. This artist used every color on her pallet to paint the perfect album. From Neo-soul to show tunes, every genre was touched as Janelle gave us musical art. From the commercially viable, battling soul, sold single 'Cold War', to the guitar unsensibilites of 'Come Alive (War of the Roses)' Monae had it all. The female Cee-Lo took a gamble on this one, but saw green as just great music paid off. Diddy and Big Boi (nice help on the 'Tightrope') were right with this one, sure other albums have sold more and been talked about more but none has had quite an impact or are as delightfully diverse as this. We could go all in on all of the eighteen tracks of this almost hour and a half movie musical, but the big picture here is the record as a whole itself. Which displays instrumental and vocal range that makes the renowed eclectic, pathetic. Simply put there hasn't quite been an album like this in 2010, as a matter of fact, there hasn't been music like this for years...years. 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. After all the build up, guest spots, mixtapes and hype in 2010 all Drake had left to do was live up to everything and everybody. With 'Thank Me Later' the Canadian rapper saved the praise for later and got to work. What resulted from the lab was a physical album that was the biology of modern day rap, displaying great chemistry with the charts and the critics. Drake gave hip-hop in 2010 a commercially viable and versatile album that Jay-Z would be proud of...and he's the best in the game. Shawn Carter also illuminated 'Light Up' for Tha Carters protegee Drake, so hows that for a co-sign. Wayne also readied himself for time inside with 'Miss Me' a Young Money gift that paid off for the fans. Y.M.'s other protegee and breakout star Nicki Minaj also gave Drake a boost on the strong, battle cry, 'Up All Night'. Still Drake shined the brightest on these and every track that the industry was grateful for from this album. From opening, bright 'Fireworks' with Alicia Keys to the final 'Thank Me Now', Timbaland assisted declaration. Drake got 'Fancy' and diverse with his flows with T.I. and Swizz Beatz and with Young Jeezy he truly dropped the 'Unforgettable', with beautiful remembered, reminiscence to the late, legendary Aaliyah. Sure this album was feature, heavy but Drake proved on his own he was the main feature presentation. With the Kanye produced, 'Find Your Love' and 'Show Me A Good Time' to his own 'The Resistance' it was 'Over' for the billboards. This Torontonian showed even in an industry cold to newcomers, he can stand on his own in his position atop the charts and the rap game. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


46324, USA. Monday October 18, 2010. NO WEST FOR THE WICKED: Rapper Kanye West has launched a Twitter tirade after his latest album cover was banned in the US. Kanye, 33, says officials have ruled that the front of his 'My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy' album is too explicit. The cover art on the front of the CD features a couple with demonic faces and wings straddling each other on a sofa. Writing on Twitter Kanye says the image has been banned in America - meaning the album won't hit the shelves. He wrote: ''Yo! They banned my album cover! Banned in the USA! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix! ''In the '70's, album covers had actual nudity... It's so funny that people forget that... Everything has been so commercialized now. I know that cover just blew y'all minds... I wish y'all could see how hard I'm smiling right now! ''In all honesty, I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers. I wanna sell albums but not at the expense of my true creativity. Photograph: Supplied by , USA: +1 Disclaimer: BWP Media Inc and their brand Pacific Coast News does not claim any Copyright or License in the attached material. Any downloading fees charged by BWP Media Inc and their brand Pacific Coast News are for its services only, and do not, nor are they intended to convey to the user any Copyright or License in the material. By publishing this material, the user expressly agrees to identify and to hold BWP Media Inc and their brand Pacific Coast News harmless from any claims, demands or causes of action arising out of or connected in any way with user's publication of the material.

5/5. Just when everyone thought he was done, he did it again. Mr. West is back in the building, and he really shook it this time. The dark and twisted beauty of this album may just make it the best thing Yeezy's done after dropping out of college. 'My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy' is the album all Kanye fans dreamed about, that he made a reality. After giving away some of his best work for free via 'G.O.O.D Friday's' Kanye showed he had even more classics at his disposal. From a real 'Monster' collaboration (we see you Nicki Minaj, thank you) to 'All Of The Light's' (and apparently all of the industry) shining, Kanye had the hot hand on every track. From the sick, 'So Appalled' to the 'Power' and grand design of 'Devil In A New Dress', West fashioned some more envelope pushing hip-hop for the ages. Channeling Wu-Tang and Pusha T influences into tracks, Kanye scalled every element of the genre. From crack addictive rap ('Runaway') to sharp, deep cuts of the lyrical sword ('Gorgeous') Kanye made his declartion as hip-hop's best loud and clear for all of us to hear. He showed us a 'Hell Of A Life' with an education in higher power music. Even Chris Rock knows that Yeezy taught us well. Now he won't have to speak up at the next Grammy's, his trophy cabinet will do the talking. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 21: Ronnie Vannucci Jr (R) and Brandon Flowers 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 The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers, bloomed on his own he didn't die a soloist death. Instead he grew with an album that made a killing. 'Flamingo' really was a more personal album for the singer as he channeled his inner Springsteen to paint a portrait of not only himself, but the inner workings of his hometown Las Vegas. Accessing all areas behind the glitz and glamour that shaped his showbiz life. Right from 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' Brandon welcomed you into his home and his world. With the incredible first roll of the catchy, hot single and song of the year 'Crossfire', Flowers had the hot hand, shooting big. 'Flamingo' was a complete set decked with classic like the big, top 'Only the Young', the haunting and introspective, 'Playing With Fire' and the epic, end of the night closer, 'On The Floor' (parts 1 and '2.0'). Sure with Killer esque tracks like, 'Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts' and 'Right Behind You' it's going to be great to hear what Flowers has in store when he plants back in the studio with his and everybody's favourite band. Still however, this notion is furthered by 'Flamingo'. This album shows just how deep and devoted to his craft this singer really is. In 2010 the singer with the Hollywood moniker really made a name for himself when he went further west. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


5/5. Nobody had a tougher comeback then this courageous and beautiful artist. Corrine Bailey Rae overcame her classic self-titled debut and her own personal, tragic troubles to unleash 'The Sea'. A soul record that not only was hers, twenty ten's and the U.K's, but one of the best soul albums ever drawn out. From the beautiful beginning of 'Are You Here' , Corrine reclaimed her place. The honest, and touching, 'I'd Do It All Again' is an incredibly poignant tribute and from there 'The Sea' is a stream of musical magic for the weak tides of the mainstream. She shows funk and soul diversity, ranging from 'The Blackest Lily', to 'Paper Dolls', all the way to 'Closer'. On the single 'Paris Nights/New York Mornings' Rae extends her reach, while on 'I Would Like To Call It Beauty' the singer deserves that very title. With 'Feels Like The First Time' this album feels so fresh and new, it may as well be Bailey's debut, as this LP even betters her classic, first outing. Still it's not until you put on the records, 'Love's On Its Way', 'Diving For Hearts' and the albums title track that you see how deep, beautiful and epic 'The Sea' can get. A delicate but decedant record of the decade, not just the year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


5/5. On his fourth solo set, rapper/actor Mos Def showed how mighty he really is. With 'The Ecstatic' Dante delivered a fit of enthusiasm, with one of the most definite, best hip-hop albums of the decade. The only thing left for debate now is which classic is Mos Deffest album? This or his hip-hop decedant, debut 'Black On Both Sides'? Every track on this LP are as diverse and classic as each other and anything we've heard from hip-hop in recent time (and I'm talking as recent as Adidas and gold chains). Speaking of which, Mos gets slick with Rick The Ruler on the grand, 'Auditiorium'. He also crafts 'History' with Black Star partner Talib Kweli and adds growth and water to some beautiful 'Roses' with Georgia Anne Muldrow. There are too many tracks, lines, lyrics and harmonies to mention, as this album is stellar from the first 'Supermagic' sip to the reassuring last draw of 'Casa Bey'. Both kinetic tracks would keep any hip-hop party or cipher spinning all day and night. From the socially, scaving conciousness of 'The Embassy', to the beauty of 'No Hay Nada Mas', this actor shows all elements and developments of his character. If it wasn't for an incredible year this album would be number one, but for a guy so Def it often plays like this. The industry can't ignore or fail to package Mos' record this time. This 'Quiet Dog Bite Hard' with his 'Life In Marvelous Times'. The time is overdue to make him a 'Priority', Kanye has. TIM DAVID HARVEY


5/5. What is love? That's what Bilal Oliver sings and asks on the incredible 'All Matter', the opening track of his first album in almost a decade, 'Airtight's Revenge'. This experimentally, neo-soul album that sounds as fresh as the preceding year 'BLACKsummer's Night' by Maxwell and as classic as Sly & The Family Stone. Bilal channels all levels on this one, but primarily and most importantly his own. The versatile singer, who's sometimes feminine like, falsetto once blended his harmonies seamlessly with a Nina Simone sample on frequent collaborate Common's 'Misunderstood'. Here the Philly singer/songwriter fills us with an album that blends together perfectly. Although it has deep range, from the beautiful tribute to his son ('Little One') to the experiment on analysing the music industry ('The Dollar'). The more futuristic this neo-soul pioneer gets, the funkier it sounds as 'Cake & Eat It Too' can attest. On this brilliant sophomore (but really third) set this artist really does take his slice, giving everybody food for thought. 'Airtight's Revenge' is a dish best served with soul and this songbook has plenty of helpings. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


NEW YORK - APRIL 18: Musicians John Legend (C) and The Roots perform onstage at the Dow Live Earth Run for Water at Prospect Park on April 18, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Live Earth Events)

5/5. The greatest soul singer today teamed up with the greatest hip-hop band ever to 'Wake Up!' some ol'soul classics. On this album John Legend and The Roots covered a lot of historical, musical ground with their versions of tracks from everybody from Curtis Mayfield (on the standout 'Hard Times') to Bill Withers (on the poignant 'I Can't Write Left Handed'). Their song selection was real deep as they chose no to opt for the most, popular or conventional singles. From their opening jam 'Wake Up Everybody' with Common and Melanie Fiona to the last cut 'Shine' this new 'group' just got deeper and brighter. Every track was classic, just like their originals from the unrivalled 'Compared To What' to the grown up 'Little Ghetto Boy'. Both artists put in their hardest work, The Roots where busy with their own, great album ('How I Got Over') and finding a home as Jimmy Fallon's house band. Still they helped John further his sound after his personally groundbreaking 'Evolver' album. On this LP, the singer furthered his legend and the band awoke The Roots of the greatest most emotional musical genre of all time. What resulted was the proof that the harmonies and the messages of these timeless songs still stand relveant today. These soul men went for change and all that's wondered now is whether they could do it again? Yes they can! 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)

5/5. After a 'Relapse' induced comeback, Eminem wanted to come back even harder. So he went back into the studio with Dre, his notebook and the mind of his own as he started his 'Recovery'. What resulted was just the right medicine. Eminem returned to his deeply, disturbed, potent lyrics and delivered them without a spoonful of sugar for the watered down mainstream. With 'Recovery' Em' gave his best and most complete album since 'The Eminem Show' began. His lead single 'I'm Not Afraid' showed his fearlessness on his quest for the top spot, while the epically dark, 'Cold Wind Blows' confirmed his scarily good return, as this track set off the classic album. Shady victory danced on 'Cinderella Man' and enlisted P!nk for an usually great collaboration on 'Won't Back Down'. Still, however the man who once brought out Elton John for the Grammy's wasn't done with the unbelievable duets. 'Love The Way You Lie' with Rihanna was the collabo and many peoples song of the year, while 'AMP's & 808's' top ten. 'No Love' with Lil' Wayne furthered this unique duo's chemistry on this set. After sampling Haddaway's 'What Is Love', Em' also played career Russian Roulette sampling a terrible Ozzbourne family duo for the brilliant 'Goin Through Changes'. As Marshall Mathers spun the barrel on this record the only thing he shot down was the competition. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


5/5. In a chart where singer and songwriters normally dominate, Gil Scott Heron's poetry spoke volumes. With his thirteenth album (and his first in sixteen years), the 61 year old soul artist proved he really was a wise man. The man who brought us the classic 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' in the 70's broadcast some of his finest work in 2010. With an album full of dark beats, street imagery and pain from the heart crooning, this artist painted us a picture of a long life. From the city scape of 'New York Is Killing Me' to the heartbroken 'Me & The Devil' this pioneer of hip-hop proved he was still a part of the culture. Every song had it's own individual mood, from the introspective 'Your Soul & Mine' to the dark reflections of 'Where Did The Night Go'. Even though this album was the product of a down-trodden man, by no means was it the produce of a desperate one. This man proved on this set that he was his own making and this unique style that was not compromised for anyone became embraced by everybody in the know. With this spoken word piece Gil lit up the world of blues. With 'I'm New Here' Gil-Scott Heron ensured that his fans, old or new and young would always remember where he's from, where's he's been and who he is. Truly a classic for the ages. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


Singer Ne-Yo attends a promotion event for his new album Libra Scale in Tokyo, Japan on October 28, 2010. UPI/Keizo Mori Photo via Newscom

We could of gone even deeper with this list, but deadlines are deadlines. In a great year of albums Plan B. showed he could undergo a major change in personality with 'The Deflamation Of Strickland Banks'...Nas & Damien Marley also joined forces for some world music with 'Distant Relatives'...Big Boi also proved he could do it on his own with the Outkast's brilliant 'Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dust'...Mos Def had a top classic this year but his Black Star partner Talib Kweli just missed out with Hi-Tek for their Reflection Eternal classic 'Revolutions Per Minute'...from dark rock to summertime anthems both The Dead Weather ('Horehound') and The Gaslight Anthem ('American Slang') proved they had more in the tank for a storm of releases...R. Kelly ('Love Letter') and Usher ('Raymond vs Raymond') also made triumphant comebacks as the king and prince of R&B respecively.....while Prince himself extend his genorosity with the giant '20TEN' which he released for free in British newspapers...Ne-Yo wasn't far behind however channelling and paying homage to Michael Jackson with 'Libra Scale'....Lil' Wayne was pregnant with out of this world music with 'Rebirth' and 'I Am Not A Human Being'...B.O.B debuted his 'Adventures Of Bobby Ray' while his new best friend, Bruno Mars gave us a complete set with 'Doo Wops & Hooligans'...while Rumer unveiled the 'Seasons Of My Soul'...Linkin Park saw 'A Thousand Suns'... Cee-Lo Green showed us the 'Bright Lights, Big City'...and Kid Cudi took us on a second trip out of this musical space with 'Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of MR. Rager'...while Bruce Springsteen made brilliant on his 'Promise' of some classics from the vault...while Ben Harper gave us a Fistful Of Mercy and his new groups debut 'As I Call You Down'...T.I. showed 'No Mercy'...while Nicki Minaj gave us a 'Pink Friday'...and Jamie Foxx offered up the 'Best Night Of My Life' if that wasn't enough before the year ended Ghostface Killah took us back to a classic with 'Apollo Kids' while Diddy Dirty Money just managed to catch the 'Last Train To Paris' for a great journey.

Special shout out, thanks and appreciation to Tank, who gave our site some love on Twitter and also released more brilliant music, really showing us it's 'Now Or Never'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.