what I’m listening to
I must admit, I was SO against these music streaming platforms but I love having access to thousands of new music selections daily.
Lalah Hathaway Honestly
I love this album. One word that I can use to describe the sound of the entire album is digital. Lalah is known for her sultry soulful melodies but this project seems to take a new direction that is definitely welcomed. Standouts for myself include “change ya life”, “what u need” “y o y” and “let it go”.
Rhyon Pretty Girl
I don’t know how I stumbled upon Rhyon’s “California” but as soon as I watched the video I remembered her from the highly rated yet short lived tv series Lincoln Heights. She also recently starred in Surviving Compton as Michel’le. I had no idea that she was a singer in real life! I instantly feel in love with “California” and decided to give her album a try and it did not disappoint.
Jhene Aiko Trip
I love Jhene Aiko. Some people are on the fence about her but I’m here for her music so I was pleasantly surprised when she dropped her latest album Trip a few weeks back. Her honesty in her music is one of the main reasons why I can relate to it and her as an artist. Dealing with the recent deaths of two family members back to back, I can relate to the concept and overall vibe of this album. Along with the new album, there’s also a short film and book of poetry that can be pre ordered here. Standouts: the whole album is one giant standout however she’s talking that good ‘ole SHIT on “Never Call Me”. Give it a listen.
I recently took a late summer vacation and was able to fully digest the beautifully designed scripted 10 part audio drama “Bronzeville”. The cast is stellar: Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate, Tika Sumpter, Tracee Ellis Ross, Omari Hardwick, Wood Harris, Lahmard Tate, Cory Hardrick and more make up the characters that come to life in the series. “Bronzeville” brings to life 1940’s Chicago and the “policy” or numbers games that allowed this African American community to flourish. At the center of the drama we are introduced to members of the notorious Copeland family, including sister Lisa Copeland played by Tika sumpter, Jimmy Tillman played by Larnez Tate and Curtis Randolph played by Laurence Fishourne. Not only was I impressed with the sound design of the overall series, I couldn’t believe how quickly I was transformed to 1940’s Chicago via these auditory performances. It’s easy for me to binge a great tv series or fly through a good book but I’ve never been so engaged in a scripted audio series. I think a major reason why I was so invested and am supportive of the project is because it is not entirely a fictional project and a little know piece of American history. Bronzeville was an actual African American community in Chicago in the 1940’s whose money generated from the policy operation allowed the community to be self sufficient and produce schools, stores, banks and nightclubs. You can read a bit about its history and the policy operation here.
You can listen to all 10 episodes of season 1 here. Hopefully the cast is hard at work and gearing up for season 2!
A friend of mine put me onto “There Goes The Neighborhood” as they covered gentrification in East New York Brooklyn. Being from Brooklyn and witnessing its gentrification first hand, I was all in. The series talked to both local residents directly effected by new city plans and the infiltrating house flippers. I devoured every episode and eagerly awaited a new season to be posted. I had hoped the series would tackle another section of Brooklyn but they are instead taking the series to the West coast to discuss gentrification in Los Angeles. If the upcoming L.A. version is as good as the B.K. version, we’re all in for an eye opening treat.
I don’t claim to keep up with any of the music that the young folk are bumping, at least not the rap music. I couldn’t tell you who Lil Uzi Vert is, what Lil Yachy sings (raps…whatever) or what Future or Migos latest hits are and I’m OKAY with that. It’s not for me, that is until I’ve had a few drinks or am at a club listening to their music at obnoxious levels because everything sounds AMAZING in the club at 2am. I do however seem to appreciate some of the r&b that’s being created by a couple of young ladies.
I recently discovered the sounds of an artist named H.E.R (twitter is good for something). What initially attracted me to the artist was the mystique of H.E.R.’s Vol. 1 ep cover, a simple silhouette of a woman against a blue background. I quickly discovered that the artwork added to the mysterious story of the woman behind it. Upon the release of her ep, her record label (RCA) sent out her promotional package with no information or photos of the artist. She dropped her ep, shook up the world and had everyone from Alicia Keys to Wyclef Jean talking about H.E.R. but no one knew who she was! Well, not exactly. A few Google searches and I found who most believe the mystery woman is *spoiler alert, this isn’t her first rodeo*. I spent the past weekend absorbing the 6 song EP and I love it! Her music is smooth, sensual and addictive. I’m no music journalist, so I’ll skip further trying to explain why I enjoy the ep, I just do. It sounds good to me and left me wanting more. Luckily, Vol. 2 is set to be released June 2nd and can be pre ordered here. Give it a listen.
Ever since I began my Tidal subscription I’ve been more open to trying new music that I probably wouldn’t have had it not been for its availability through the app. Occasionally, I make my way to the “Tidal Rising” section which features young up and coming musical talent and a young lady by the name of Zonnique caught my attention. What really caught my eye was the name of her ep: Love Jones. “What this girl know about Love Jones?” is what I was really thinking. The title alone seems like enough to generate interest from an older crowd and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. While listening, I discovered that she’s the 21 year old daughter of Tameka “Tiny” Cottle of the r&b group Xscape and step daughter of rapper T.I. Love Jones is the opposite of H.E.R.’s Vol. 1. It’s fast paced, catchy and has just the right balance of energy and melody. There’s no doubt that having the talent of her parental unit added to the sonic success of the project. After learning who she was, I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I couldn’t get enough of the ep. Purchase or stream the project and let me know what you think. Happy listening 🙂
I’m a little tardy to the party on this one but better late than never. NAO hails from East London and might not be a new name to many but she is to me and her debut album For All We Know which dropped back in 2016 has been in heavy rotation in my household. I was first introduced to the artist, who for some reason I assumed was a band and not a solo artist, via a playlist on Tidal. NAO’s song “Girlfriend” was on the playlist and I instantly fell in love with her high pitched melodic tone. I really thought (and still do think) her voice was the product of a producer or engineer going a little too heavy on the effects, but it worked and I loved it. Whether it’s all her or a creative enhancement on her vocals, that unique sound that she seems to be well on her way to mastering is what works throughout For All We Know. Other standouts for me include Bad Blood, In The Morning, Blue Wine and (Feels Like) Perfume. As always, you be the judge and check out NAO for yourself.
This is my favorite playlist to date! Music to inspire, make you dance and keep you going. Enjoy!
Optimistic – Sounds of Blackness
Ghetto Heaven – The Family Stand
Back II Life (However Do You Want Me) – Soul II Soul
Keep on Movin’ – Soul II Soul
The Power – SNAP!
Don’t Make Me Over – Sybil
Don’t Walk Away – Jade
If You Love Me – Brownstone
Tennessee – Arrested Development
Mr. Wendal – Arrested Development
Revolution – Arrested Development
Fight The Power – Public Enemy
Finally – CeCe Peniston
Keep on Walkin’ – CeCe Peniston
Sending My Love – Zhane
Hey Mr. DJ – Zhane
Tell Me – Groove Theory
All Around The World – Lisa Stansfield
I Will Survive – Chantay Savage
People Everyday (Metamorphosis Mix) – Arrested Development
This is right on time. Give a listen to Rapsody’s latest EP “Crown” below or at iamrapsody.com
2016 has been a great year musically. Over the summer I caved in and got a Tidal subscription with my wonderful student discount (yay school) and it actually has allowed me to discover music from artists that I never even knew existed.
Most recently, I discovered Harlem rapper Dave East. I appreciate his mixtape Kairi Chanel because it’s that good ole’ New York rappity rap RAP that I’ve been missing. Never mind the almost comical fact that this is his 10th mixtape and I didn’t have a clue about this guy until a few weeks ago (I stopped keeping up with the rap Joneses a LONG time ago) or the fact that this mixtape plays like a solid debut album, but he’s gotten the attention of Mr. Illmatic himself, Nas, and is signed to his label Mass Appeal Records. That should be a solid enough co-sign to give this mixtape a listen.
Solange’s A Seat At The Table is FOR US! Seriously, just listen.
I love when clients put me on to new music! If you don’t know by now, I have a love affair with New Orleans. Everything from the people to the culture to the history to the music…I love it all! A client suggested that I listen to New Orleans native Christian Scott’s Christian aTunde Adjuah after a recent photo shoot and I was not disappointed. This isn’t his latest jazz project, this album was released in 2012 and is labeled as a 2 disc album so I am still digesting it (over 20 songs) but feel free to get lost in his many other bodies of work, you won’t be sorry.
As I enter month #2 of my Tidal subscription, I have to admit that I’ve happily consumed an enormous amount of new music in various genres. My latest gem is an artist by the name of Laura Mvula, a British soul singer whose latest album The Dreaming Room was one of the featured albums on my Tidal home page. I decided to give it a listen and was pleasantly surprised by this body of work. Check out the video for one of my favorites from the album “Overcome” featuring Nile Rodgers.
I recently got a Tidal subscription (I know, I know…) but my reason for doing so has nothing to do with Jay Z, thinking I will actually listen to all of the music that they claim they have (they definitely do not have EVERYTHING) or any other reason that most people seem to get a music streaming subscription. I actually think it’s insane to pay a subscription to “rent” music that you can pay a one time fee and actually own but that’s my flaw, get your money music streaming sites. I feel like I was forced to get this subscription due to my recent iPhone debacle. In short, I upgraded, got a new iPhone and for the first time in my Apple history received a lemon. The phone randomly deleted all…ALL of my music collection three separate times. I’ve done some research and can’t find an answer that makes sense. The only thing that I can come up with in my conspiracy theory laced brain is that all of the newer Apple iPhones are flawed when it comes to Itunes and their algorithm because they want us all to eventually move to an Apple music subscription. Apple has already made it clear that they are moving forward with cloud subscription based programs and the introduction of Apple music’s new platform was the beginning of the end for owning music via mp3’s or downloads in my opinion. So after being frustrated with having to re-download thousands of songs and getting a replacement phone, I decided to take advantage of these student discounts that some of the music streaming services offer and skip the drama of losing my music again. However, I REFUSE to give in and get an Apple music subscription so I decided to give Tidal a shot and I must admit, it’s not bad at all…for a music streaming service.
So after a few weeks of getting used to not having any real music that I own on my phone, I decided to create and share a 90’s hip hop playlist, mainly because I couldn’t find a really good one. These are songs that I grew up listening to, songs that I’ve missed and songs that in my opinion go harder than ANY OF THIS NEW SHIT PLAYING RIGHT NOW. If you have also
been forced into getting purchased a Tidal subscription, do check out my playlist below. If you haven’t jumped ship yet, I’ve provided the song playlist below so that you can check out the songs on your own. I don’t think you can listen to more than a few seconds of a preview without a Tidal subscription but you can always purchase the tracks or vibe out on youtube.
These are songs that were on my original playlist but the mighty Tidal did not have them in its library, FAIL:
I’m not sure why these songs aren’t in the massive Tidal library. I kind of understand why the soundtrack songs would be more of a challenge to get on a music streaming site (New Jersey Drive for The Queen and Crooklyn and Clockers for the Crooklyn Dogers) but the rest are regular singles that I thought would be there. I found Nine’s “Whatchu Want” for crying out loud, WHY is there NO Lil Vicious on Tidal (that one random song doesn’t count)? Anyway, take a trip back in time and check out the playlist on Tidal here or you can view the selected tracks below. Enjoy!
New jazz alert! I recently discovered Theo Croker’s music via a Tidal jazz playlist called “Not Your Parent’s Jazz” and was pleasantly surprised at this gem of an artist! You can visit his site to hear samples of his music, purchase the new album “Escape Velocity” and learn more about the artist. Enjoy!