Archive for the ‘Song of the Moment’ Category

Nona Hendryx – Transformation

 

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 There’s some music that gets in your head and never leaves.  Long after radio forgets it and deejays stop spinning it – you hear it in your own mind from time to time and remember what you loved about it.  Nona Hendryx’s Transformation is one of those songs for me.  This experimental, 80’s dance tune is the perfect mix of that edgy funk/rock blend Hendryx has always dabbled in well.  As one of the original members of Labelle, Nona Hendryx is a R&B music icon. Never satisfied with labels, she has consistently pushed musical boundaries.  She has collaborated with pretty much every musician and singer who matters, but has always walked just outside of success as a solo artist.  Nonetheless, she shined brightly in Transformation.  Hendryx is proof that black girls really do rock!  Love.

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis

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This is all that’s up right now.  I’m so happy to see a mainstream hip hop album bang like this! Watch the Throne, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s epic partnership, will be my official fall hip hop album; that means constant rotation for the next few months.  The second single, Otis is that perfect first bite that has you anxious to enjoy the rest of the meal. Otis is the only song on the album solely produced by West.  It features a strong sample of Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness.  The song is laced with bass that flows down your back in through the floor.  Obviously I love good R&B samples, Watch the Throne is full of them, including samples of Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield.  Beyonce, and Frank Ocean of Odd Future make guest appearances and producers include Swizz Beatz, 88-Keys, RZA, Q-Tip, the Neptunes and of course Kanye West.  The beats and music throughout the album are so next level, some tracks left me speechless.  Lyrically, Jay is at the top of his game, as usual, and I truly believe Kanye is spittin’ the best rhymes of his career.  While some critics have gotten into the back and forth of the album’s meaning and exactly what Jay and Kanye were trying to accomplish, I’ll say this… Jay is Jay and Kanye is Kanye; they’re beautifully complex and doing what they do the way they do it – that means discussions of going from broke to insanely rich, regret, arrogance, extravagance, some racial and political commentary; all mixed in with a few “bitches” and sprayed over tight beats.

Please enjoy Otis, my song of the moment.

Smoke City – Dreams

 

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Smoke City released the I Really Want You album in 1985.  Dreams was the second cut on the album and became an instant Quiet Storm favorite.  It appears this group falls under the “one-hit wonder” category since they never recorded another album.

I Really Want You was out of print for years, leaving many R&B fans without a copy. Just last year, the album was remastered and re-released.  Very little is known about the group Smoke City; maybe that’s because it was signed to the Epic Records label when the Sony division boasted huge R&B artists like Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross and Sade.  Smoke City may have very well been swallowed up like so many up-and-coming groups signed to large labels.  Dreams was co-written, produced and arranged by Ron Scott who helped create a number of R&B classics including The Dells, I Touched a DreamDreams, is one of many rare slow jams that will be featured on my new mixtape Fell In Love in the 80’s, coming soon.  Love!

Gil Scott-Heron – Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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We’ve lost Gil Scott-Heron, one of the most prophetic voices in African-American culture.  Some called him the Godfather of rap… I called him an extraordinary force in American poetry.

The day Scott-Heron died, my Father and I were discussing some of his favorite artists and genres.  When we started talking about the protest music of the 60’s, Gill Scott-Heron and The Last Poets were two of the acts he mentioned.  He talked about the importance and influence of Scott-Heron’s album, Winter in America.  We learned of Scott-Heron’s passing a few hours later.

Gil Scott-Heron’s words were strong, dynamic presentations describing the condition of blackness in America.  While so many threw the word revolution around loosely, Scott-Heron described the darkness of revolt and reminded the masses that there is nothing easy about revolution; it is an ugly, yet often necessary course of action.

Like so many Revolutionaries of his time, Scott-Heron battled addiction for most of his life.  I suppose that when one is worn from trying to forge new reality in the real world, some choose to escape by “creating new reality” in their own world.  One fist in the air, for Brother Gil Scott-Heron.

 

Phoebe Snow – Poetry Man

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An unforgettable voice has been silenced.  Phoebe Snow instantly shot up to the top of her game in the 70’s after the release of her mega hit Poetry Man.  She talked about how the song was based on her own relationship with a married man.  Phoebe said the first time she played the song for her Mother, her Mom was shocked and hoped no one would ever hear her daughter’s frank portrayal of adultery. That song would eventually shoot up to #4 on the billboards.  Soon after that, Phoebe Snow graced the front cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

She was on her way to superstardom when she gave birth to her daughter, who was born with a severe disability; soon after, Snow decided to walk away from fame to be a full time Mom.

Snow’s voice was folksy, honest and warm.  In Poetry Man, her kind and sincere vocals draw you in as she describes the sweetest kind of love.  Then the song takes an unexpected turn when she says goodbye to her lover who’s leaving to go see his wife.  Snow explained the song by saying sometimes life is messy.  She was a great musician, and singer songwriter who will be dearly missed, please enjoy Poetry Man. Rest in peace Phoebe Snow.