Music

Obsessed: Rather Be

You know how there’s a song that you randomly hear and like?  But you go to look for it and can’t find it?

That was Rather Be for a long time for me.  But thanks to YouTube, I’m now listening to it on repeat forever and ever.  It’s a problem.

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This was literally me all weekend.

ALL DAMN WEEKEND!

This dumb song is everything and I can’t even explain it. Like I want to give you musical analysis, how it pulls live classical instruments over a dance beat, how the early 90’s influence is so strong (a la Crystal Waters & Black Box), how the harmonies are super super tight, how the ab libs are soft but effective.

That last swell into the final chorus???

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But really, the song just embodies happiness right now.  Or my version of it. As weird as it sounds, I’m strangely in a good place. Are things perfect?

um no

But this song embodies my version of happiness and real love. Where shit can go wrong but you know just being with that one person will fix your mood immediately. It pleases me to think that I’ll be in that place at some point in my life. (Speaking it into existence, y’all!)

Either way, I’m going to be snatching your faves wigs with my karaoke rendition of this song with some patented Countess step-touch choreography.

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Four Days of Black History Plus Some Quick Grammy Thoughts

Let’s start with what you all came for, Black History!

February 6th – Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She was also commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and the Nobel Prize in 1993. On May 29, 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

February 7th – Lonnie Johnson

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Lonnie George Johnson is an American inventor and engineer who holds more than 80 patents. Johnson is most known for inventing the Super Soaker water gun, which has ranked among the world’s top 20 best-selling toys every year since its release.

February 8th – Diahann Carroll

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Diahann Carroll is an American television and stage actress and singer. She has had a long, successful career that has spanned nearly six decades. After appearing in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts such as Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959) and on Broadway, she starred in Julia (1968), one of the first series on American television to star a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. Later she played the role of Dominique Deveraux on the popular prime time soap opera, Dynasty. She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen awards and nominations.

February 9th – Matthew Henson

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Matthew Alexander Henson was the first African-American Arctic explorer, an associate of Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years. They made six voyages and spent a total of 18 years in expeditions. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, traded with Inuit and learned their language, and was known as Peary’s “first man” for these arduous travels.

During their 1909 expedition to Greenland, Henson accompanied Peary in the small party, including four Inuit men, that has been recognized as the first to reach the Geographic North Pole (although this has also been subject to dispute). Henson was invited in 1937 as a member of The Explorers Club due to his achievement and was the first African American to be accepted. In 1948 he was made an honorary member, a distinction for 20 persons annually.


 

Man that was a lot of history.  And frankly, that’s the best part of this post because the Grammys were dull.

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I had every intention of doing a full recap, but there was nothing there.  The performances ranged from delightful (Lady Gaga/Tony Bennett) to cringeworthy (Kanye/Madonna).  No one performed anything up-tempo and with the show that long, you needed someone to up the energy.  It was mostly draining.  Even artists that are typically entertaining and fun were listless.

Honestly, I just wanted it to be over so I could watch Bob’s Burgers.  What were your thoughts?

TRASHY THURSDAY IS BACK! – The Big Tymers

WHAT’S UP FRESH? IT’S OUR TURN BABY!

Trashy Thursday is back, snitches! It’s been far too long since the dulcet tones of hoodboogers have populated this blog.  But how exactly do we come back??

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Now by the time we were blessed with this duo, Cash Money has been around for a while. But like a bat out of hell, Still Fly came through and stormed the charts gaining the duo MTV-Level fame with the catchy hook and hilarious subject matter.  So let’s take a step back and just deep dive in the anthems.

This Is How We Do is perfect.  Mannie Fresh truly was the best part of Cash Money.  His productions are why so many of their jams were so catchy.  This song has his fingerprints all over it.  Baby might as well be a feature rapper in it.

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Now Stun’n is actually their first single as a duo.

The sheer difference between the sound here between the first two songs we listened to is a clear example of late 90’s Dirty South rap and the early 2000’s rap that was played on the top 40 stations. It’s not just the money difference.  It’s a range in style and polish. It’s in the griminess of Stun’n juxtaposed with the slickness and pleasant beats of This Is How We Do.  But you can go to Complex to get a true historical point-of-view on rap and hip hop.

I.

FUCK.

THESE.

HOES.

AFTER.

OUR.

SHOOOOOOW!

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Listen, I just had a pure dance break to this.  Also, how many people punched themselves in the face getting their roll on?  I was actually driving home to NC from Boston for my vacation when this song came on the radio.  I, of course, started to jam and dance.  Luckily, there was no damage to my car or the Chikfila drive-thru.

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Let’s go back to an earlier jam.

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EVERYTHING I TELL YOU! If you aren’t pursing your lips and shoulder bopping, you’re not listening to it correctly.

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YES YES YES YES YES! The Cribs parody. The cornrows.

So this is my absolute favorite Big Tymers song of all time.  OF ALL TIME!!! It just makes me smile so hard.  The special effects!

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Story Time! So young Trash actually attended a Big Tymers concert back in the day.  It was pretty much the greatest thing to ever happen. During Oh Yeah!, there was a giant diamond set piece.  During the breakdown, the top opened and what had to be 100 hoochies dressed in metallic swimwear poured out to dance around the stage for the next few songs.  It was SO SO SO GOOD!!!! Y’all the early 2000’s were a glorious time.  I only paid $5 for my ticket.

To close this out, turn your hymnals to Page 55, Bling Bling.

I know I left out some brilliant tracks. 10 Wayz and Fuck You are other favorites.  What are yours? Share your favorite memories of Baby and Mannie Fresh.

Black History Facts Plus Random Thoughts

Hey y’all! It’s been a minute, now I’m back with the jumpoff.

I saw this on our dear friend Brash’s Facebook and thought it would be important to keep up with the important Black History facts she’s sharing here on the blog.

Feb. 2nd – Meet Alexander Miles. He is credited with an important evolutionary upgrade to the elevator. You know how the doors close automatically so you can ignore that coworker you don’t like or avoid the serial killer who’s after you? And also how you don’t have to close them when you get off the elevator? Thank Mr. Miles. He also improved the closing of the elevator shaft when the elevator isn’t on a floor.

Alexander-Miles

 


 

Now some cobbled together thoughts…

Empire is still the greatest.  I’m going to get up some more detailed thoughts this week.  (Finally!)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is FINALLY back!!! Best believe I’ll be here recapping it with you all.

The Super Bowl was a good game.  Missy Elliott is the queen of everything. Let’s enjoy a retrospective of some of her greatest hits.

I listened to Work It so so so so many times.  One of the greatest songs of the early 2000’s.  The amount of practice to get the backwards lyrics is why I didn’t do well in Pre-Calculus.

One Minute Man with Trina PLUS The Get Ur Freak On Remix with Nelly Furtado has me about to flip a table.

dutty

 

Stone. Cold.  Classic.  If you don’t know this song by heart, rectify this immediately.  This is music video history.

 

That’s all for now.

Your New Pop Queen: Sophia Grace

Listen, I’ve always seen it for Sophia Grace. because While she’s completely aware of the camera, she’s always acted like any extroverted child to me.  Not to mention that she and Rosie are super adorable.

So when this popped up on my timeline, I knew it was going to be cute.

But what I didn’t expect that I would hit a smooth two-step to it!

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“IF YOU GOT A FRIEND LIKE THAT, LIKE THAT??”

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Come through Sophia! My only question is where the f*** is Rosie?!?!?!  Rosie was the special spice, serving you Muted Princess Adorableness.  Is she not the best friend the song is about?

IS ROSIE ABOUT TO RELEASE HER DISS TRACK FEATURING THE MIGOS BECAUSE FAME GOT MISS SOPHIA????

Because that would be hilarious.

But on a serious tip, I have a deep and abiding love for child/teen-appropriate songs performed by people in that age group.  I don’t think it’s impossible to make good music for the children that’s actually enjoyable.  So go ahead and put this on Spotify!

 

 

Bloggity Blog Blog

Hey y’all!!!

dusting

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Needless to say, the final weeks of 2014 were a bust in several ways.  There were things to discuss, but nothing was positive and our drafts listing is filled with half-written posts.  But it’s a new year and I’ve decided to dive back in as a manner of expressing myself again. So let’s talk.

What’s Yo (Relationship) Status at the Bank?
Guess who happens to still be single in the most vivid way imaginable?

thisguy

Over the course of the holidays, it was almost as if everything I did involved hanging with couples, listening to the drama between couples, or getting advice on how to end up in a couple.  It was harsh to say the least.

Even worse, I realized that my type is still relatively elusive.  While Class may try to act like my requirements for dating are obscure, they are actually not that bad.  But the two requirements that are most important to me seem to be the hardest to find.  Internally motivated and an interesting conversationalist seem to be rarities these days.  Lacking in these areas render even the most superficially attractive specimen useless in my world.

But the largest obstacle standing in my way is my reluctance to put myself out there.  For many years, it was fear of rejection that held me back.  That I was too big or not attractive enough to be worth anyone’s attention.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’m okay looking.  I’m relatively funny.  I’ve got some things going for me.  Also, I’m Important.

popit

Seriously though, I’ve exhausted my desire to go out.  I’m tired of checking apps and dating sites.  I’m just in this place where I’d rather not be bothered.  That attitude doesn’t fix the situation, but it is where I’m at these days.  We’ll see what changes this year.

On Blackness
This blog isn’t even a year old and we have a full archive on Race Issues.

But it seems 2014 was the year where racists just said “Fuck It” and went hard in the paint to make America miserable unsafe for Black people. I remember back when President Obama was elected, there was a mixed feeling of elation and fear.  One of the biggest lessons I’d learned was that when white people feel a loss of perceived power, they lash out.  No matter what.  Whether it’s getting angry and upset with harsh words and attempts to ruin the victor’s credibility or attempting to utilize the one perceived slight as an example of how hard they have it, it is going to happen.  The only other reaction I’ve ever seen is the defense “I’m not racist, I hate everyone.  Racist comment, racist comment, racist comment.”  That’s probably the worst of all.

But to keep myself from going full-on thesis, here’s Miles Jai:

Here’s Chescaleigh:

Here’s Tre Melvin:

I’m using these as examples because I’m trying to swallow this rage and keep it trucking. But the end result is that people are pissed at the injustice.  And no one cares how much it inconveniences you.  Our lives are at stake.  Until there is real change, there will truly be no peace.

Pettiness and Heartbreaks: Celebrity Style
cph

“Cut that Chinese Pussy Hair off my face. Lol”

When I tell you that Sass and I cackled for hours on end over the Lispy/Fanny Pack brief separation.  But something about this douchey face and the Lol sent me over the moon.

Both of these people truly need to leave their lives off the internet, but for the first time in ages, I laughed at their antics instead of rolling my eyes.  The involvement of Drake. Her tears of melancholy and faux-inspirational Instagrams from the Jhene Aiko playbook of songwriting.  The phrase “Chinese Pussy Hair”.  This is classic.

2014 also saw the breakup of Amber Rose & Wiz Latifah. I like Amber and Wiz is entertaining to look up so hopefully things will be good for their baby.  However, this my friends:

is good times. I love this like I love cheese.

Some Last Minute Jams
Here’s two of my favorite songs.  Leggo!

In The Presence Of Mirrors – PM Dawn

Ugh, love this group so much.  I wore my aunt’s cassette for “Of The Heart, Of the Soul, And of the Cross” out when I borrowed it back in middle/high school.  They have an interesting way of speaking about life and love in a way that’s emotional and masculine if that makes sense.  It’s melodic but it’s funky.  It’s definitely a product of the early 90’s free-for-all music scene. I’ll leave the song’s interpretation up to you, but this song still takes me to a place of wondering who I am and what I’m doing.

Please Don’t Turn Me On – Artful Dodger

With my very public love of Craig David, I don’t think it is surprising that UK Garage music appeals to me. Artful Dodger did some production work on Craig’s first album too, but it wasn’t until much later that I took a dive into his singles. I love the softness of his production, the abundance of harmonies, and his ability to give songs a groove while downplaying the drumbeat. It’s all very lush, if that makes sense.  This song makes me happy.

So what’s happening in your world? Are you looking forward to 2015?

Aretha Butchers The Great Diva Classics – An Album Review

So you might remember this being a thing that happened:

Aretha’s Wet N’ Wild Eye Shadow.

Aretha’s wobbly knockers sitting sideways like boys in the days.

Aretha’s minty green discount prom dress.

Cissy’s perpetual over it face and lack of effort.

It’s amazing.

Well all of this was leading up to a new album release!!!

aretha

So this is a cover of the “great diva classics” and Aretha is here to show you how she does it in 2014.  I’m going to listen to what can only be a flaw-free album.

optimism

I’ll be rating each song on a scale of 1 to 5 Aretha Jigs.  One Aretha Jig being a live Jhene Aiko performance.  Five Aretha Jigs being this Respect performance. Let’s get started!

Track 1: At Last (originally performed by Etta James)

This one starts out pretty well.  Aretha seems comfortable and ready to slay.  But then, we get some of Aretha’s slight liberties where she slides up an octave. But you know this is nice.  Aretha’s trademark rasp and lisp are here, but there was some restraint here.  Both in the performance and the post-production (you’ll see what I mean later).  This is a good start to the album!

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

ArethaJigArethaJigArethaJigArethaJig

Track 2: Rolling In The Deep – Aretha’s Version (originally performed by Adele)

You’ve already laughed at that live performance.  But how does the recorded version hold up?

Not too well actually.  The autotune on her voice in the verses are strange.  I like her performance during the pre-chorus for the most part.  But I just don’t follow where Aretha was going with the arbitrary octave jumps.  Her slides in the chorus are just as hilarious as they were live.

WE COULD HAVE HAD IT aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLL!

ROLLING IN THE DeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP!

But I can’t recommend this for any reason other than the lols.  There’s so much happening and it’s such a tonal departure from the original.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to listen to it over and over again.

The bridge into Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an interesting choice.  But they’ve autotuned her belting and it’s just so weird and, sorry to say, bad.  It’s just bad.  This is not a good song.  But it is an amazing one.

Rating: 2/5 Aretha Jigs

ArethaJigArethaJig

 

Track 3: Midnight Train to Georgia (originally by Gladys Knight & The Pips)

Ooh I love this song!

::starts bopping::

“aHeeeeeeLL AAAAAAAAAYYYYEEEE”

britneywow

This one is going to be a hard one.  Part of it is that I absolutely adore the huskiness of Gladys Knight’s voice and her vocal performance on this song.  Aretha staying in her upper register does not fit this song even a little.

Once I get over that tragic mistake, it’s listenable.  The beat is comfortable and the background singers are killing it.  Aretha’s voice is much more natural here than in Rolling In The Deep.  Her ad libs as the song closes is some of the best stuff on the album so far.  It’s not too bad.

Rating: 3/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 4: I Will Survive – The Aretha Version (originally by Gloria Gaynor)

Okay this is the first song that should really use her upper register.  Is that auto-tune???

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What is the jazz hi-hat??

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Okay.  It speeds ups after the first chorus.  I love the scatting! For the most part, once the disco beat kicks in, this is good.  Not great, but solid.  Aretha could have kept that ending run.

Wait, is that Survivor by Destiny’s Child?!?!?!? Okay, that is how a mash-up is done.  Wait, is this about her broken engagement from Catfish??? Okay Aretha! Sing from your pain!

Whomever thought it was a good idea to use effects on Aretha Franklin’s voice should be put out to pasture.  Her voice may not be at peak, but what in the absolute fuck? Leave it as it is.

This song has all the parts to be a good cover.  I like the scatting and Aretha’s mashup.  But I hate that the auto-tune and I especially HATE the intro.

Rating: 1/5 Aretha Jig 

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Track 5: People (Originally by Barbra Streisand)

Now I’m not as familiar with this song in comparison with the first four tracks.  But I think that it truly benefits from a more laissez-faire approach to the production.  The slower songs let Aretha be Aretha.  That’s all we really need.  My only complaints here are that I wish she had taken a bit more care to enunciate the song.  With the lisp on each “people,” the message loses just a hint of its power.  The other is that there’s a slight thinness to her voice in the later parts of the songs.  I wish it had a little more power to it.

Overall, I like this and it befits the Queen of Soul.

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 6: No One (originally by Alicia Keys)

Umm, is that the Casio keyboard Reggae 2 beat?

Wow…this intro…

gritsteeth

It doesn’t get any better from there honestly.  This is a travesty.  The voice is processed with in an inch of its life.  The beat is just awful. The vocal performance does not fit at all.

This is the first song that is actively terrible.  Yikes.

Rating: 0/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 7: I’m Every Woman/Respect (Originally by Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin)

Pump up the groove! Okay, this is already miles better than No One.  This song fits so much better on her voice.  I also love that the first voice stays in one octave.  It’s rare that she doesn’t arbitrarily jump up the octave.  (See the second verse and chorus).

Even with that complaint, it’s still good.  I’m bopping you know!

yankin bop

Now, the Respect portion of the song doesn’t work at all.  I mean, did you click that video I linked earlier in the post?  Now that was over 50 years ago. But once you listen to that, it’s hard to listen to this.  That said it’s still good, and I almost upped the score to five jiggin’ Arethas because I love a good key change.

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 8: Teach Me Tonight (This was performed by everyone, but let’s go with Dinah Washington)

Ooh, the slower songs are better.  And this is no exception.  The simple production really lets her shine.  Though the touches of autotune are completely out of place.

But this is beautiful.  This is the kind of cover I want to hear from Aretha Franklin.  Soulful, simple, all about her voice.

Best song on the album, by a wide margin

Rating: 5/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 9: You Keep Me Hangin’ On (originally by The Supremes)

Okay, the opening is promising.  I love that Aretha performed with a bit of sweetness in her voice (a lovely nod to The Boss).

I like this a lot.  It’s much more relaxed and truly uses Aretha’s gifts appropriately.  Minor pitch correction.  Minimal octave jumps until Aretha is allowed to just go at it.  There’s such restraint here and the album shines in those moments.  Now excuse me while I bop my shoulders.

Another of the finer moments of the album.  Not as good as Teach Me Tonight, but solid all around.

Rating: 5/5 Aretha Jigs (I originally had this at a 4, but I honestly don’t have any real complaints)

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Track 10: Nothing Compares 2 U (originally by Sinead O’Connor)

Did you all know this was written by Prince?  Great diva classic, indeed!

Okay, this is jazzy. With a big band arrangement.  This isn’t what I was expecting.  I like  it, I think.

So I need to actually write about this song.  It’s so far outside of what I was expecting that I’m struggling to write about it.  There’s no way to compare this to the original.  That’s actually smart.  I’m not so sure that the song itself fits the production.  It’s an admirable attempt, but my brain just associates this lyric with Sinead’s buzzcut and lone tear.

NothingCompares2U

Taking it from  an sparse, emotional ballad to this upbeat, sassy song.

Don’t let my critique take away for Aretha’s singing.  I actually think this is her strongest vocal performance on the entire album.  So soulful and full of life.  The beginning of the album has this weird feeling of trying to modernize Aretha.  I don’t know about you all but that’s not what I want.  She has a voice that is representative of that bygone era and we don’t need to plasticize it, even if it’s not in prime condition.

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Overall Rating: 3/5 Aretha Jigs

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I like this album way more than I thought I would going into this review.  After that Rolling In The Deep, what possible opinion could I have??

But as I started to mention in the last song critique, the strengths of this album lie in letting Aretha be Aretha.  She’s not Kesha.  She doesn’t need vocal effects.  Give her a standard or a song from an era where covers of covers were number one hits and let her do her thing.  Despite age, Aretha still has a remarkable ability to convey emotion in her voice and to really use her voice as an instrument.  Look at the difference in her performance on Keep Me Hanging On versus the power on the opening verse of People.  Most of your famous singers these days are incapable of that versatility and it is why the divas are revered.

The album goes wrong when we try to modernize Aretha to make her “palatable” for the current music scene.  The covers of Rolling In the Deep and No One are easily the worst parts of the album.  Someone with good sense could have stopped this and steered her towards more classic sounding songs or at least better production as it relates to these two.

The other issue that I may not have raised is that there definitely is something cheap sounding about the album.  I mentioned that there are some pre-packaged sounding beats here and there.  Again, this isn’t as big a release in 2014 as say a Taylor Swift album (I just vomited in my mouth typing that). So there’s not going to be as much of an investment in the production on behalf of the label.  This can work for certain artists, but since most classic songs rely on a hearty instrumentation, it weakens the song rather than adding to it.

Go take a listen and let me know what you think! I’m off to bop to Hoodrat Tunes.  My basic side has been neglected.