Wednesday, 30 May 2012
When Kris Stephens sings "I'm the most beautiful girl in the world" on R&B general Tank's sensational single 'Compliments' she may not be wrong. The beautiful singer is simply stunning but much more than that too. Part Olivia Munn lookalike, but all her own woman in her own right, Stephens is the new singer/songwriter to look out for. Tank's new artist and protegee, blessed his 'Compliments' single with a praise worthy hook so much that there was already a buzz about her and Tank's latest album ('This Is How I Feel') last year when this single was first released to much hype.
Now with a T.I. remix heating up the charts, a recently released video has really debuted the beautiful Stephens onto the scene. Showing style and swagger on the video, laughing and joking sitting with Tank's and draping her fingers across the 'King Of The South' T.I'.s shoulders Kris is owning the camera lens with every wink and look. Charisma hasn't been this cool since T.I. cleaned his sunglasses on Destiny Child's 'Solider' video or popped rubberbands with a model on Justin Timberlake's 'My Love'. Now we could be looking at the next star of R&B. Even though Tank's blowing up even more, he better watch out. He may have some competition as well as help.
It's all good however as this will be exactly what the general wants as his new artist looks to explode onto the scene out of nowhere like Sklyar Grey did when she assisted Dr. Dre ('I Need A Doctor') and Diddy Dirty Money ('Coming Home') amongst others. Just check out her over one minute, incredible interlude before the 'Compliments' album track on Tank's 'This Is How I Feel' as she gets to showcase all her vocal talent independently. You can expect to hear more Stephens song features and credits (perhaps on future Tank projects and maybe his TGT collective with legends Tyrese and Ginuwine) throughout the industry. "Basically we just tryin to sell the right thing back into the universe man, appreciating woman, lettin them know they are beautiful," Tank told press at the video shoot. We and Kris Stephens couldn't agree more. This talented singer/songwriter is about to make noise from the studios to the radio plays. She's worthy of all praises and compliments. So let's pay them. We should make her feel like the best. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
J Dilla, Gil-Scott Heron, Common.
Aren't you fed up of those generic, so-called 'theme' nights that nightclubs come up with on the semi-regular as a break from the four records they actually have and the watered-down, over-saturated scene it creates as they pretend to be different? Yes? Well 'So Flute' are so much more than this. Three D.J.s based in the city of Manchester (Yad Campbell, Chris Cookson and Dan Fynn) with three unique sets of funky house, dance, soul and hip-hop. Nightlife music has rarely sounded realer. These guys are the genuine article. They know good music and the true classics. This is the night of a different type you've been waiting for.
Bill Withers, The Isley Brothers, Kci & The Sunshine Band.
Manchester's music scene sounds so good again it's almost like the legendary sounds of Northern Soul are back for the first time. The Guardian have heard and we've read all about it. Next up to experience is Wales at the mid-June Kaya Festival. Right now Flute's Campbell, Cookson and Flynn are doing the rounds at the Roadhouse in Manchester with their next and last set of the year there next week on June 7th, between 11pm and 3am. Don't miss out of the sound of the Summer that has been describes as "funky as ****" and. "a great, eclectic mix over three stages". For a bargain, almost robbing them blind £2 advance or £3 on the door what more could you ask for? Especially with great acts Mecca:83 aka Rise and Bolts joining the party.
James Brown, Tony Allen, Lyn Collins.
So make sure you make a night of it before its too late. From the throwback Afrobeat's to the cool posters and artwork that will be bound to be torn down as a souvenir before nights end. From old and new records to remixes and classics of some records you'll know and some you won't this is the night. Part renaissance homage, part musical education, So Flute plays something for everyone from vinyl junkies to people just wanting to hear something fresh. These nights provide the right vibe that you can get along and dance to. You know when you have one of those unexpected great nights that you haven't had in ages and can't stop talking about? Well this is it. I'll drink to that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"A lot of times women in Hip Hop are objectified as sex symbols, rather than appreciated for their lyrical talent. Woman can be intelligent AND attractive, we don't need to diminish one quality for people to respect the other."-Michelle Bennett.
This is not about gender. This is not about race. This is about rhymes. This is not the next female-Eminem. This is an artist in her own unique right. This is the future of real hip-hop. This is Mbennz. This is Michelle Bennett from Los Angeles ready to take on the world with her book of rhymes. This is the dubbed half woman/half amazing, wonder woman who really is a super talent to marvel at. This is a young woman of incredible beauty and inspiration whose positive trend is set to give her a bright future in what all seems like a too dull and negative mainstream music industry. Top tracks like 'Polka Dots' and 'Beside Me' are further rhyme to this reason. Once the illuminating new epic E.P. 'Lost In Space & Rhymes'-with its electric artwork-drops this July 21st you'll see what we mean. 'The Dark Knight Rises' comes out on the 20th July, the light Queen of California will drop and ascend a day later.
The lyrical and spiritual Mbennz says she spreads "peace and love" through her music and if your one of her thousand Twitter followers or someone who likes her on Facebook. If Michelle Bennett wasn't as incredible as she is at that rap game, she could have always crafted a career as a motivational speaker. Turns out she's doing that anyway in each and every rhyme in each line she writes. Now that's inspiration. Powerful with the pen and bold in the booth this artist is about to paint us a picture of just how good hip-hop can be again in all her aura. Bringing the positive back to rap like artists such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Nas-who are in no coincidence her inspirations.
Hip-Hop has got its conscious back. With all due respect to top female rappers like Nicki Minaj and Jean Grae and leading ladies of music like Rhianna and Lady Gaga, Mbennz could be the positive force of influence that young girls and women looking towards popular culture and music need. She will do this by tackling important social issues and raising awareness, all whilst bringing the humanity and integrity with all her heart and soul to what can be a less than wholesome business. Michelle Bennett could be that change we need. If only we believe. She can do it. She's already a star and can be so much more. She's just that good. Yes she can. This creative writer is bringing the poetry back to one of America's last art forms. This is a real woman. This is hip-hop. This genuine spirit is set to light up the game. This is happening. Her time is now.
"Never mistake kindness for blindness.. I'm so far ahead you may need to rewind this"-Mbennz.
Don't you just miss the good old days of rock music? The golden era? Bands like Guns N Roses and Thin Lizzy? The riffs and the sing-a-long chorus' that made this genre what it is before the indie kids came through and ruined it? Well fear not. You don't have to watch the forthcoming, 'WTF' Tom Cruise and Russell Brand 'Rock Of Ages' movie musical to get a proper blast from the past.
Stolen Empire have a 'Backup Plan' and we aren't just talking about one of their songs. The four-piece (Colin Gibson, Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Siy Hunter, Lead Guitar, Andy Dodson, Bass Guitar and Doug Pitman, Drums) from Southport are currently making the rounds in the city that The Beatles built (Liverpool) and rolling out some songs that are bound to win big in the long run (like their latest 'The Gambler').
They say it best; "sticking two fingers up at X-Factor" bringing forgotten guitar music and chorus melodies back to the stages where they belong. These fellas have found their niche and are a few haircuts and leather pants and waistcoats away from being a Delorean's drive towards the good ole days. This group is more than an act of tribute however. Writing an producing their own original songs. They're more than a homage to the past, they're a homage to real bands and music that is only manufactured by a pad and pen, a studio and some real hard work. Once 'The Gambler' pays off the good times and music will roll and play for this band. Against a stolen sound this empire is ready to strike back. TIM DAVID HARVEY
Thursday, 24 May 2012
B.O.B. is b.a.c.k. and according to weather reports and your style of dress these last few days it's clear skies that the Summer is too. Now what better a combination? On Bobby Ray's new stellar, sophomore L.P. ('Strange Clouds')-that is feature heavy-the best song belongs to the one he goes alone and his new single; 'So Good' produced perfectly by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. If you thought the Bruno Mars assisted classic 'Nothing' On You'-that set the Summer and the co-writers careers alight in 2010-was hot then it's about to get even more scorching with this sensational single. This is the ultimate feel good jam as B.O.B. sings on the chorus "You'll be in the high life/Soaking up the sunlight/Anything you want is yours/I have you living life like you should/You say you never had it so good", all whilst adding a few "la, la's" for feel-good measure. From talking about being "Barcelona bound" to "Drinking a German beer with a Cuban cigar/In the middle of Paris with a Dominican bar" our ATL rapper looks forward to the great times with his one and only. "Girl tell me how you feel/What your fantasy/I see us on a beach down in Mexico/You can put your feet up/Be my senorita/We ain't gotta rush/Just take it slow" he hooks drawing a picture of perfection of everything his muse wants. Every stroke of every verse is a master craft of hip-hop art as B.O.B. even references canvas classics "Cause she admires the art of Michelangelo with the flow/Picasso with the bars/She's well put together like a piece by Gershwin/Renaissance style, tonight is picture perfect". All in all this Summer hot, joy inducing number is incredible. 'So Good' we could put the whole lyrics up on here. Still, in closing let's share one more as this perfect holiday track really takes you to a better place; "Smile, and pack your bags real good baby/Cause you'll be gone for a while". Time to trip out with this Summers number one vacation jam. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 18 May 2012
Mellow Music By John Mayer.
What started as a treatment of 'throat granuloma' and an album push-back has resulted in a serious throat condition leading to a cancelled tour and postponement of singing by John Mayer one of mainstream musics modern marvels. If this is the last we hear from John Mayer then it really will be a tragedy. With that being said, right now what we hear and are left with from Mayer's music box is a great new album 'Born and Raised'.
After great albums from Bruce Springsteen (the big 'Wrecking Ball') and Norah Jones (the classic, soulful 'Little Broken Hearts') to start 2012 its only right musics Americana gets one from John Mayer this year. The man who was 'Waiting On The World To Change' and 'Slow Dancing In A Burning Room' as he defined the last decade of amazing albums with the cult classic 'Continuum' is back. He returns with legacy makers Crosby, Stills and Nash as the legends back Mayer's vocals on his own Neil Young, 'Harvest' esque sunny, Summer, sweet and sedate acoustic record.
Crosby, Stills and Nash will be proud of 'Queen Of California' too. "Hello beauty, hello strange/Hello wonder, what's your name?/Looking for the sun that Neil Young hung/After the gold rush of 1971/I just found out her ghost left town/The Queen of California is stepping down, down", Mayer sings being a Young away from a true supergroup forming. This is a classic beach bare, stripped down Los Angeles slow rock classic built for the sun and the boardwalk. The inspired 'Age Of Worry' could find itself at home on an Irish folk album while 'Shadow Days' really illuminates this phoenix rising from the ashes. After the sweet 'Battle Studies' that some labeled 'Safe', this rock student is back in the war studying the classic hallmarks of legendary American singer/songwriters.
'Speak For Me' sings more for Mayer as he shows the world he's back and here to stay even if it doesn't involve "the cover of a Rolling Stone". 'Something Like Olivia' is a delightful devoted blues jam to boot. The 'Victoria' singer looks to find his new muse with a sweet steadiness. The album title track 'Born and Raised' and its 'Reprise' are classic numbers for a record that looks at the growth of acoustic singing and songwriting and where it all came from. These cool, laid back cuts may not be for every mainstream fan but they serve as the perfect craft choice for the next chapter of rocks young leading man. A ground breaker who looks to follow all the greats in the musical territories that helped pave the way for the landscapes of their respective legacies.
'If I Ever Get Around To Living' makes the most of an album that really takes off in its adolescence. A second-half and final act that sees words-worth songwriting like 'Love Is A Verb' and perfect production like the hypnotic horns and haunting harmonies on 'Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967'. Then Mayer laments and yearns 'Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey' on the drowned sorrows of a introspective love and life song that hits the rocks with a twist. Its clear to hear this man has rebounded from his self confessed 'douchebag' years with a more grown-up sound and mature outlook. This is tried and tested and ready for the bar blues like old scotch.
'A Face To Call Home' is a beautiful song that really closes this C.D. with class. "I am an architect/of days that haven't happened yet" Mayer sings making himself again feel welcome as a household name and face amongst the mainstream music masses. From the days of his Edward Scissorhand 'Continuum' curls Johnny Mayer has always drawn Johnny Depp lookalike comparisons and now with his new long hair, beard and stetson the two Hollywood heartthrobs even dress the same. Art is looking to imitate life too as just like Depp's 'Tourist', 'Rum Diary' and 'Dark Shadows' movies with 'Born and Raised' and the previous 'Battle Studies' Mayer is playing it sweet and safe. There is nothing wrong with this as the quality is still in control but just like Depp once John starts taking more risks like the ones that highlighted his unique career things will get more creative and classic. His discography like his first namesakes filmography deserves this. In the catalogue this is just a fun and fancy footnote. The best-hopefully-is yet to come. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Young guitar hero and legend in the making John Mayer is set to release his latest album 'Born & Raised' and the follow up to the sweet, sedate 'Battle Studies', next week so let's take it back to this Clapton-inspired singer/songwriter/guitarist's classic. 'Your Body Is A Wonderland' may have been a massive hit, and the bigger, sophomore album 'Heavier Things' (with added star-power weight) may have made him a superstar but it's the third, classic album 'Continuum' that made this man one of the best and gave him a lasting legacy. Every track is perfect and powerful as Mayer and modern music both got better at the same time.It's little wonder this disc held the record for the most album downloads in history with over 326,000 digital copies, until Coldplay and 'Viva la Vida Or Death and All His Friends' had something to say or sell about it. From the wonderful, inspiring, 'Waiting On The World To Change' which opened up this album and career of it's singer, to the 'In Repair' and 'I'm Gonna Find Another You' closers this Edward Scissorhand looking singer sounded great with some fresh cuts. 'I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)', 'Slow Dancing In A Burning Room', 'Dreaming with a Broken Heart' and 'The Heart of Life' remain some of the most beautiful ballads heard, while speaking of matters of the heart Mayer does Hendrix justice on his 'Bold As Love' cover. The guitar creative symbolism of 'Stop This Train' makes for an amazing acoustic record, while the dark and velvet 'Vultures' is a smooth, blues, seriously brilliant number for the new generation. Still it's when you hear the back to back 'Belief' (a great testament to current times with some excellent guitar work by fellow young legend Ben Harper) and the rising 'Gravity' (one of his biggest songs to date) that you realise this CD will always sit in your collection as one of the best. Plus with a digital hidden gem in the form of the soundtrack song 'Say' that made 'The Bucket List' movie you know that this album has more finds which makes this one of the best records to date. Let's hope John 'F@£$*&@' Mayer continues on with his next classic.TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 14 May 2012
R&B Rat Pack.
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 once 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 with their own perfect projects. Now Tyrese has announced breaking news that these self-dubbed R&B Avengers are reuniting to rip the doors off the studio and button up for the forthcoming 'Shirts Off Tour'. Ladies are you listening? The boys are back from town to town. It only gets better. It hasn't been this real since Jodeci. You will see. Let us spell it out for you.
Tank dropped his latest, greatest, 'This Is How I Feel' just this last week. While 'Elgin' came out last Valentines. In-between films, Tyrese isn't being left out either as his 'Open Invitation' has made it an open season for classic R&B after its release on the historic 11/01/11. 2012 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 problem...in 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' heated 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. With loud tracks like 'Scream', 'Sex Music' and 'Foreplay' and quiet and private, deep devotions like 'I Can't Make You Love Me' and 'You Mean That Much To Me' and 'Keep It 100' Tank really showed he had an arsenal of hits. Since then more musical artillery came out from Tank with the highlight reel worthy 'Diary Of A Mad Man' mixtape (featuring great cuts like 'Stars Girl', 'I Be On One', 'Get Back' and more) and the last week recent release of 'This Is How I Feel'. Another classic album with hits like the praise-worthy 'Compliments', 'Nowhere', 'Lost It All', 'Lonely', 'Better Than Me', 'Next Breath' and the slowed down vocal of the experimental up-tempo 'Off Your Hands'. 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 (G owned those shores and its clubs before too). With his family of Missy Elliott, Timbaland, the legendary Static Major (R.I.P.) and Aaliyah (Rest in peace), 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 has continued his run of hits and rich, deep album tracks, getting real personal on Valentines Day with 'Elgin'. Elgin Baylor went all classic like his Los Angeles Laker namesake with the perfect soundtrack for the most devoted holiday of the year, provide a disc full of 21 and older, love songs like the 'Heaven' sent first single, the radio friendly 'First Time' or the coldest cut 'Frozen' and the single 'Break' which brought the whole album together. 'Elgin' is another classic in the G man's 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 more than just 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've seen Mr. Gibson line the silver screen last Summer but a new album came too last fall.
Thanks to his fans tweets we've received an 'Open Invitation' to what Ty's got in store from the studio. From the hot club record 'Too Easy' (with fellow 'Fast', petrol-head Ludacris) to the sublime 'Stay' (an incredible, inspiring 11 week Number one on the Urban Billboard charts), 'I'm Home' and 'I Miss That Girl' this album is fast, furious and transforming the game. A number one album for two weeks, with 350,000 units dropped on his own imprint label 'Voltron Recordz'. I guess that so-called music industry "expert" who said Tyrese couldn't sell better clear out. 'Open Invitation' is Ty's best to date in a discography of classics (even the B-Side of 'Rest Of Our Lives' with Brandy is a classic). It's an R&B 'Takeover' with tracks like 'I Gotta Chick', 'Nothing On You', 'Best Of Me' and 'Angel'. It's all on Tyrese and we're really getting the best of him. Tyrese really is home.
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. This all deserves one more album right? With the legend Ginuwine, Hollywood's Tyrese and music's master Tank, TGT have every ingredient of real music. The R&B 'Rat Pack' is back. 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.
Becaus the TGT album is coming.
Friday, 11 May 2012
With the release of Tank's 'This Is How I Feel', this weeks 'Tape Deck Shuffle' is dedicated to his R&B supergroup 'TGT' with Tyrese and Ginuwine. Let's go three sides and look at this R&B's Rat Pack's greatest work.
TOO EASY Featuring LUDACRIS: Off Ty's latest and greatest. The actor/singer gives an 'Open Invitation' to top rhyme slinger and 'Fast Five' co-star Ludacris for a fuel-injected club number.
ONE: A one in a million dedication to the one and only love. Classic.
TAKING FOREVER: An ode to how hard this singer worked to get where he deserved to be.
I'M SORRY: The ultimate break-up, slow jam.
SWEET LADY: Where it all started, after that famous bus journey.
PONY: The Timbaland new beat generation driven classic off the bold and beautiful 'Bachelor'
I'M IN LOVE: The definitive record for being in love.
LOVE YA MORE:...and it just doesn't stop, with more heart and soul.
FIRST TIME (REMIX): A radio worthy jam off 'Elgin's latest.
HEAVEN: Produced by TGT partner Tank and further rhyme to the reason of these R&B greats being that legendary.
COMPLIMENTS Feat KRIS STEPHENS & T.I.: All praises due to Tank and his first single off his new album 'This Is How I Feel'. The interlude before it is just as good too.
OFF YOUR HANDS: Don't adjust your sets. This slowed down, chopped and screwed drawl vocal shows Tank at his experimental best on his new album.
WEDDING SONG: Never fearing the envelope pushing, here Tank vows to turn wedding chimes into the perfect song.
I CAN'T MAKE YOU LOVE ME: A real deep and decadent heart-filled regretful lament of lost love.
PLEASE DON'T GO: Who could forget the song that propelled his success and the remix that birthed TGT? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
With his time now Tank brings an army of strong slow jams.
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.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
A Good Strange.
'The Adventures Of Bobby Ray' really took B.O.B. places. The ATL rapper with the regular Joe name became a superstar after his number one debut album, garnering huge returns, Grammy credits and even an 'Adidas' endorsement. This was all thanks to the huge, feel-good Summer smash with fellow then-megastar-to-be Bruno Mars; 'Nothing On You', a crossover takeoff with Hayley Williams of Paramore ('Airplanes' (with an even better Eminem part 2)) and some more mainstream 'Magic' with Weezer forever young, man-child Rivers Cuomo. It was little wonder this alternative rapper leapfrogged over his peers Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi and made his own money in the rap-rich city of Atlanta standing next to the cities last biggest star and the king of the south T.I. (literally in concert, B.O.B. is signed to Tip's Grand Hustle imprint) and fellow 'B.O.B.'s and legends OutKast.
Now Bobby Simmons is more than a NBA player namesake. Now comes the sequel...and 'Strange Clouds' doesn't disappoint. Showing his talent hasn't dispersed after two years and mixtapes since his 2010 breakthrough and groundbreaking album. It's clear to see that after all his success Bobby Ray has a lot more new friends as everyone from country star Taylor Swift (on the brilliant and beautiful partnership of 'Both Of Us') to movie legend Morgan Freeman are welcome guest on this ecletic piece. it's one Wyclef Jean collabo away from being 'ecelftic'. It's the worlds best narrator Morgan Freeman's deep baritone "As the war between light and darkness continues, heroes and villains become harder to identify" intro to this album on 'Bombs Away' that really makes the record and shows just how good B.O.B.'s pull really is. Don't get two excited the man who played Nelson Mandela is not rapping (thoughts of Biggie's "more gone than Freeman" anybody?), still you will enjoy the sound of Morgan's voice on this one. it's the best rap guest spot since ATL rapper Ludacris brought Ving Rhames and Chris Rock in on the same album.
'So Good' is exactly that, the feel-good track of the year and best since Bob's Bruno collabo, while 'Play For Keeps' gives this album and its artist more. 'Ray Bands' is as cool as the Lupe assisted 'Past My Shades' of ray's first album, while the sophomore single and introspective 'So Hard To Breathe' is so much more. The album-title track with Lil' Wayne is of course a big record as is the Young Money expense account, superstar Nicki Minaj assisted 'Out Of My Mind' in all it's classic craziness. Even though Drake's fabulous 'Fancy' hit and it's sample of a verse by B.O.B.'s mentor T.I.'s 'Play My Guitar' was left off the final cut, the huge 'Arena' with T.I. and Chris Brown more than makes up.
Ryan Tedder offers more to 'Never Let You Go', while Lauriana Mae gives beauty and shine to 'Chandelier'. The cut 'Circles' keeps this C.D. spinning around while the Playboy Tre assisted 'Just A Sign' is foretelling. B.O.B. may be far from the conscious level of Nas (no offence but who is?), but he gets his 'Nastradamus' on saying "Looking at the world from my rear view/Searching for an answer up high/Or is it all wasted time?/Everything is crumbling around me/Feels like the ending of the times/Or is it all just a sign?". It's clear to hear our man is getting older, deeper and better.
Then on this more than sand strong piece the rapper builds 'Castles' with platinum prince Trey Songz before performing an almost 'T.I. vs T.I.P.' conflict homage with the conflicted and introspective 'Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray)'. 'Back It Up for Bobby', 'What Are We Doing', 'Ms. Professional' and the Roscoe dash invited 'Guest List' give the iTunes babies more bounce for their downloading ounce, still it's the Nelly assisted jam 'MJ' that really is the bonus. As the past and current pop/rap kings get their Michael Jordan on passing the rhyme and the ball it's clear the torch has been passed. B.O.B. is still balling after his rookie of the year success. He's in his own lane and it's clear to hear the game belongs to him now. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 7 May 2012
Feeling Good, Feeling Great.
R&B superstar Tank just keeps on rolling with a barrage of hits in his rhythm and blues arsenal. The singer/songwriter who has written and produced hits for everyone from Ja Rule to frequent collaborator Jamie Foxx and even helped score the Oscar winning 'Dreamgirls' movie finally has his own aim on the charts as this underground legend has finally found the mainstream success that he so richly deserves. After the Grammy nominated success of the classic 'Sex, Love & Pain' Durrell Babbs returned with the make or break 'Now Or Never' in 2010. It truly made him too with hits like 'Emergency', 'Sex Music' and 'Celebration' (featuring hip-hop leading man Drake). Not even a year after the success and praise of his chart climbing album, Tank paid his own 'Compliments' with a stunning, praise-worthy single prepping his new album.
If that wasn't enough more artillery came with the real track turning 'Diary Of A Mad Man' mixtape (The highlight off this reel 'Underrated' is featured on this new album as a bonus) released to close out 2011 and the weekly Kanye West/Timbaland inspired 'Tank Tuesdays' done of late to whet fans appetites for this new album. With all this work we haven't even begun to mention his other 'side' project with R&B megastars Tyrese and Ginuwine. Despite some label pains the TGT group looks set to takeover R&B. That is however unless Tank doesn't do that himself as his new album ('This Is How I Feel') is further rhyme to the reason and notion that this star can not only stand next to today's legends Tyrese and Ginuwine musically, but can also stand atop this urban soul music scene.
This is just how we feel and 'This Is How I Feel' is another range of Tank tracks full of real emotion and genuine spirit. Hot off the heels of his last L.P. not even a year and a half old, Babbs crafts another full feature length that has the makings of a true modern great. The hardest working and most underrated man in music won't be ignored and can't be denied with another stellar set with new production and vocal values that should leave him being the most sought-after singer and producer in the urban soul game. All R&B singers should use Tank's new model of production on their future releases.
The Kris Stephens 'Compliments' are extended here on the album version featuring top ATL rapper T.I. to top it off while Tank's movie 'Preachers Kid' inspired single 'Next Breath' shows the singers other, deeper, more vulnerable side, breathing even more feeling and realness into this piece. The R&B general really sets things off by bringing foot soldier Chris Brown on board for another collabo. After his guest spot on Tank's last album, Chris Breezy gets 'Lonely' with Babbs for another great-if expletive filled-big, signature, single style hook-up. The 'featuring' finds dig even deeper as veteran legend Busta Rhymes shows his good old self over the kinetic beats of 'Nowhere', a song that takes us everywhere.
'Your One' is another singled out success, while 'Don't Give Up' puts in work for the females. The man who blessed the LeBron James 'More Than A Game' soundtrack with a massive 'If You Dream' collaboration, extends his range even further with the neglectful man chiding 'Off Your Hands' . Which is as good as R&B legend Joe's man versus man album favorite 'You Dropped Your Dime' off 'And Then'. Don't adjust your iPod's, this slow-drawl, slowed down vocal sound is not like when you Walkman's used to run out of battery. It's a Tupac 'R U Still Down' era inspired, chopped and screwed, cool and sublime, experimental vocal range from the slow jam king which extends on to the 'This Is How I Feel' interlude. An interlude found on the intermission laden more deluxe edition of this album.
'Better Than Me' shows more of the singers best work, while 'Lost It All' and it's Prince 'Purple Rain' esque guitar beginnings is one of the albums deepest and realest cuts, hitting home hard. Still its the album titled 'This Is How I Feel' that has the sirens ringing. The evocative, energy filled track breathes atmosphere and steam through the speakers. All in all with another grown and sexy mature R&B album that crosses gender and cultural lines Tank shows his straight forward/shooting/talking music is real enough for anybody. The genuine talent adds another C.D. of classic cuts to add to his ever growing and impressive catalogue. The songbook is getting stronger, thanks to Tank's armored talent. It all feels so good now. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
Last year Miss Jones helped Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi and Jack White craft a classic in 'Rome'. This week Norah teamed up with super-producer Danger Mouse for her new classic 'Little Broken Hearts'. This breakup record isn't the first time the 'Come Away With Me' singer has changed her tune however. So for this weeks 'Album Select Of The Week' let's take a look at one of Norah Jones finest records. Now every one of her platinum plaque albums are perfect and obviously the best is her classic, diamond debut 'Come Away With Me' but let's pop her last work 'The Fall' in the player. Partly a break-up record and all a change of heart in Norah's style (she even cut her hair into a beautiful bob) this different stroke from Jones was a master craft. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, all the legends went electric in their time so it's only right that this eclectic, best of our generation singer followed suit and put the lid on her beautiful piano for a few tracks. From the quirky, lead, lead strong single 'Chasing Pirates' to the hilarious, cute, 'all men aren't as good as dogs', 'Man Of The Hour' closer this record tracks the opening up of Norah. With new classics like the vibrant, red 'Young Blood', the decedent 'December', the single story 'Stuck', and the ode to home 'Back To Manhattan' this album had it all. The gorgeous gems; 'Even Though', 'Missing', 'Waiting', 'I Wouldn't Need You' and 'It's Gonna Be' rounded out this real classic timelessly. Make sure you pick up the deluxe edition for some 'Live From The Living Room' takes on some of these best album tracks and some cool covers from this welcome household name. From a heartfelt homage to Johnny Cash's 'Cry, Cry, Cry' to her familiarly fantastic cover of The Kinks 'Strangers'. A beautiful take and an unheralded new Norah classic. On 'The Fall' Miss Jones truly rose. TIM DAVID HARVEY.