The Voice x Tessanne Chin
Someone asked me what the big deal was about this girl. The fact is she is another artist that has risen to the occasion & has given us West Indians hope. With a larger than life sound, Tessanne has been a superstar in our eyes for a long time, and now she has the unique opportunity to get advice and coaching from notables in the industry. Greatest of all, she has been exposed to a worldwide audience, something that she definitely wanted.
The panel was shocked by her speaking accent and of course then Adam alluded to reggae music as his favorite, though I don’t know if Tessanne will be singing much of that this season. What matters is that she seized the opportunity, with a little push from Shaggy, and she’s got the W.I. strapped in for the ride.
For years I’ve been hearing my friends say they can’t or won’t listen to reggae & soca artists because they can’t understand what’s being said. And to be honest, that is not a completely fair assessment of the range of music that we make… But I digress… It’s almost as if they tuned out that section of the world until Rupee & Sean Paul & Elephant Man came back on the scene around 2001. (Now if I ask people about the lyrics to these songs, they still won’t know them… Again, I digress…) But many artists like Tessanne, Tarrus Riley, Kes the Band, Bunji Garlin, Machel Montano, Destra, and so much more are itching to kick their proverbial foot through the door. I honestly think they’ve had the hardest time breaking into the US market, so I’m looking forward to seeing what follows.
Hopefully Tessanne’s presence can help peak some interest, and cause scouts to look toward the Caribbean for more prospects. You never know, there maybe another Rihanna or Tessanne just waiting for their shot.
Written by Kay.DS
Yesterday’s post about TLC
No Scrubs x TLC
Last night my timeline flooded with opinions about CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story on VH1. They’ve certainly accomplished a lot in 20 years, solidifying a legacy as one of the greatest girl groups of all time. I actually wasn’t going to watch the movie at all. I didn’t particularly want to see other people play out scenes that I remember. As a late 80s baby, I lived through the all of the news, interviews, award shows, and fiascos that were touched upon. But the reviews made me curious. And it got me to thinking about which TLC song I wanted to talk about.
The film is a great summary for those who may have missed the decade of in-your-face defiance represented by the trio. And the stories told aren’t suppositions - T Boz & Chilli were the executive producers, so we get their point of view: as accustomed, they tell us the raw truth. The cast did pretty well: Drew Sidora as T-Boz, Keke Palmer as Chilli, Lil’ Mama as Left Eye, Evan Ross as Dallas Austin. (And yes, that’s Carl Payne AKA Cole from Martin as L.A. Reid)
As a Music Business major, I’m particularly glad they showed the gritty realities of the industry and their persistent fight for their rights. They gave glimpses of everything from the studio to the tour, and stressed the importance of understanding your contract and finding fair managerial and legal representation.
Three points about this video/song:
1. Another ingenious work of director Hype Williams, it won the 1999 MTV VMA for Best Group Video beating *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. According to the movie, Left Eye always wanted the girls to listen to her and do a futuristic video. So I guess this was it.
2. If you watch closely, the girls seem to play out their actual friction comically on set, with a two-against-one karate fight at the end.
3. Two former members of another big 90s girl group Xscape, Kandi & Tiny (T.I.’s wife), actually wrote the lyrics, except for Left Eye’s verse. In 1999, I was in 6th grade singing this song to imaginary guys in their best friend’s ride while trying to figure out what 'inundate', 'insatiable', and 'acquisition' meant! (Vocab from Left Eye)
Some write-ups are saying Lil’ Mama stole the show. I wouldn’t go so far to say one actor outshines the others. But capturing the true spirit of the late Left Eye was key. Let’s just thank God she did it justice. No one knows how much more Left Eye would have done if she were still alive today. She was the second female artist the industry lost within a year (following Aaliyah). But she surely left her mark. May her soul eternally rest in peace.
Written by Kay.DS
PrimeTime x Janelle Monáe ft. Miguel
There’s no dispute. The Electric Lady aka Cindi Mayweather is back, and with help from her leading man Joey Vice, she’s set to make a lasting impression.
Almost 10 years ago, the R&B spotlight was on Alicia Keys and Usher when they collaborated for "My Boo" at an important time in both of their careers: 21-year old Keys had released her sophomore album, 23-year old Raymond capitalizing on the success of his fourth studio release. And now, even amidst the influx of artists vying for our attention, Janelle and Miguel are taking center stage. They are both 27 years old and have risen to fame with a total of five studio albums.
The collective influences of both male & female artists in any given genre has always been a propelling force in the music industry. Currently Janelle and Miguel both sit at the crux of artistic creativity, finding ways to meld all their musical influences together into a unique but defining sound. Janelle has reinforced the presentation of her latest album by featuring people she admires like Prince, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, and Solange. The Electric Lady contains hints of classical, rock, R&B, pop, and jazz that has become characteristic of the overarching relationship between the albums. And though each album has a story of its own, Janelle guides us along Cindi Mayweather’s journey through song.
The Electric Lady and preceding albums strike me as a modern day audio theatre and an art period all at once. Who knows, many years from now we may refer to this collection of works as the ArchAndroid Period (akin to Picasso’s Blue Period)… but for now, I’m interested to see how else Janelle will break the proverbial box from the outside.
Check out this insightful interview with Janelle Monae about this song, her album, and her career » http://www.vibe.com/article/watch-behind-scenes-janelle-monae-miguel-primetime-video-shoot «
Check out yesterday’s AudioBites post about Miguel’s "Candles in the Sun"
Written by Kay.DS
Spotlight on Janelle.
I write… about music. Check out the new post.
The Party Classic - “No Diggity” x Blackstreet
Today, October 8th, is Teddy Riley’s birthday. So what better time to talk about this hit?
According to sources, this was the song to knock the “Macarena” off its 14-week run at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1996. Rolling Stone & MTV said it was one of the 100 Greatest Pop Songs; VH1 calls it one of the 100 Greatest Songs of the ’90s. In the year it was released, it sold 1.6 million copies and went on to win a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
The platinum record was produced by Teddy Riley himself. The track is a relentless groove created by looping a tempo-adjusted, pitch-shifted sample of “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers. Just about 5 seconds of strumming & humming at the beginning of a song that follows Withers more famous “Ain’t No Sunshine” on his album Just As I Am. One can only imagine how the process of making this song actually started…
I was so fascinated by the creativity of the video for “No Diggity” that as a child, I failed to acknowledge the importance of Dr. Dre’s cameo even though I had repeated the song a million times to mimic both him & Queen Pen. (And I would dare say that it was actually my formal introduction to Dr. Dre) Truth is, I can’t imagine the song without those two crucial verses. But the inclusion of marionettes of Teddy & Chauncey, playing and singing, was well infused with the other imagery by director Hype Williams, who would prove to be another visionary in the music industry. In fact, the video got nominated for Best R&B Video and Best Rap Video in the 1997 MTV VMAs.
In honor of Teddy’s birthday, I’m gonna go ahead and revisit Blackstreet’s Another Level album… Go on, have a happy Blackstreet day! ^_^
- Written by Kay.DS
Berklee BSU and friends standing in solidarity for Trayvon in 2012. #WeAreTrayvonMartin
I’ve watched the entire case. Awaiting the verdict. The nation should not take this young man’s death lightly. Whatever happens in this case, we cannot ignore the injustice.