There was a woman who ran a soul food joint I used to frequent, and one day she came up with a new recipe for chicken wings. My friend and I didn’t buy any, but she felt that they were so good she said to us, “I just want somebody to taste this. Just taste it, baby.” We did, and those wings were magnificent. Every now and then, I hear something that I just want people to taste. It might be new, it might be old, it might be just relatively unappreciated. Whatever it is, I just want you to hear it. I know that most of my writing here has been long-form, but in between I’m going to just start sharing thins that I think you should taste. I’m not even saying it’s the greatest song ever…but it was Yasiin Bey when he was still Mos Def, you know? And since Black on Both Sides is one of the best hip hop albums of all time by anyone anywhere ever…well, you can’t blame me for wanting to get close to that, can you? This is produced by Kanyeezy. Shout out to Okayplayer.
Do you remember how soundtracks used to be extreeeeeeemely dope? The movie would come out, but half the time, the movie went to another level because of the soundtrack. Obviously, y’all know I have a great affinity for the Belly soundtrack. But then there was the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack, which justifies it’s very existence off the strength of “U Will Know” by Black Men United and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” by K-Ci. Forget the fact that the soundtrack included Mint Condition, Brian McKnight, Spice 1, Scarface, and Oleta Adams. You can even forget the fact that I’ve already called out K-Ci’s rendition of “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” is one of the great song snatchings of all time. Just think about one thing– “U Will Know” by Black Men United–and how it’s the only song they ever made. It’s like “We Are the World” for the neighborhood. Look at the names: D’Angelo, who wrote it when he was about 19 or 20 years old, plus Aaron Hall, After 7, Silk, D.R.S., H-Town, Gerald Levert, El Debarge, Johnny Gill, Joe, Lenny Kravitz on guitar, Stokely from Mint Conditon, Tevin Campbell, Keith Sweat, Boyz II Men, Al B. Sure, and some more people who are totally underrated. There was Christopher Williams, Intro, Portrait, Damion Hall, and Silk (whose “Meeting in My Bedroom” was >>>>. I don’t know what happened to that CD.) Thin about how great that was, then think about how today, there are no R&B groups–everybody wants to be solo. And think about how BMU was a group of groups, a choir full of all stars. It’s like when you’re playing NBA 2K and you can draft whoever on your team, so you have a team with Michael Jordan and Shaq and Kobe and Lebron and Magic Johnson and everybody…the team’s so good you have Bill Russell and Larry Bird coming off the bench. Well, that’s what Black Men United did with “U Will Know.” You’ve got stars singing background, just to be a part of this. It’s unfair. Not only did they get people there to record it, but they got them all together for the music video. And they did all this for a soundtrack. Excuse me, I’m going in:
Let’s start with a definition, courtesy of Urban Dictionary:
1.To tell someone about themself (sic), mostly used by gay black men.
“That was a read honey!” “Don’t do it honey, I will read your ass”
2.(noun). a taunt or mockery. A phrase or word used to mock someone in a humorous way.
When she said that you should have taken the receipt with your haircut, that was a read.
I start with this definition because read in this usage is not in my every day vocabulary, and also because there is probably no better word to use to accurately and precisely describe what Oran Jones did at the end of this video. I also confess that I am a fan of what I call “talking songs.” You know, songs in which someone decides to have a conversation or a monologue at the beginning, middle or end. There are so many great ones when it comes to talking on songs, including one of my favorites, “Woman to Woman” by Shirley Brown. She’s so superb that when she calls Barbara on the phone, you don’t even think about the fact that you never even hear Barbara talking. But then again, if Shirley Brown calls you up laying everything straight out like that, you probably would just be quiet and listen for a minute too. Continue reading →
have you heard Prince’s new song “Screwdriver”? I don’t know how I missed this…but you know how Prince rolls. And because you know how he rolls, you probably need to go listen to it here before it disappears.
Anyway, there’s a future post coming on the greatness of Prince. (And some other really good drafts in the queue about Diddy, Church’n’B, and so much more….but they’ve got to wait. Apologies for the delay, especially to Becca in the UK.)
When Beyoncé took the stage at Superbowl 47, I found myself thinking one thing: Kill Them Beyoncé. Kill them all. Beyoncé doesn’t make the best music of all time, nor does she have the best voice. But she is one of the greatest performers of her generation–of this there can be no question. In case you missed it, the entire performance is below.
And this came after her live performance of the National Anthem in the press conference. She might has well have held the mic out at arms length, dropped it, threw her hands up, said “can I live?,” and then George Jefferson walked off the stage.
When someone realizes Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter’s level of achievement, we must begin to consider their contributions in a context. The result of such rumination is often to compare Beyoncé to Tina Turner. It’s an easy parallel to draw: incredible stage shows, sheer spectacle, performances that are more energy and power than virtuosic vocal demonstrations, big blondish hair, great legs, and of course, this:
While that is an easy and apt comparison, it is by no means the best. I tend to think of music in family trees. The parallels drawn between Beyoncé and Tina Turner, if accurate, would make Tina Bey’s musical mom. But it only tells half the story–and in my view, less than half. If Tina is Bey’s mom (and I personally think she’s really her wild and crazy aunt), who is Beyoncé’s dad? (Don’t worry, Matthew Knowles–I’m speaking musically. You don’t have another paternity question on your hands.) Continue reading →