Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jamie Foxx’s "Intuition" is as Unnecessary as the Rest of His Music Career

This won't be a review of Jamie Foxx's latest disc Intuition. I've spent some time with the album, and it's neither bad nor good. In fact, much like his last album, it's just sort of there. It doesn't move me nearly enough to constitute a full review, and that's probably the reason I just can't help but to think that there's no real reason for Foxx to be releasing music at all.


Jamie's talent is obvious, but his music is boring. Intuition is nothing more than a bunch of Dream leftovers, with some T-Wayne thrown in for guaranteed single potential. While first single Just Like Me is enjoyable, it's nothing that you haven't heard before, and the T.I. feature just makes it stand out even less from the rest of what's on pop and R&B radio stations today. I know Jamie's been dipping in and out of music for years, but if he can't offer any sort of originality to the game, what purpose does he serve?

There's nothing wrong with being a safe artist. Bobby Valentino plays it consistently safe, and still managed to deliver a surprisingly strong, if slept on, sophomore album with Special Occasion. But there's a difference between safe and trite, and Jamie Foxx is as commonplace as a TMZ crotch shot.

I suppose Jamie's success only bothers me because stronger male artists don't garner a fraction of his attention. In addition to Valentino, other artists like Trey Songz and Sammie are hardly moving half the units Foxx does, despite doubling him in quality. And if you're looking for someone closer to Foxx in age, then Eric Benet is certainly someone who outshines Foxx in terms of material, but lags far behind in sells.

I'm not arguing that Foxx's success is in direct relation to other artists' failures, just that it isn't deserved. Yes, he can sing and is Julliard trained, but he hardly puts either skill to respectable use on Intuition.

And yeah, I said Sammie.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Music Bothers Me

I"ll never understand why Vanessa Williams' Save The Best For Last has become an unofficial R&B Christmas Carol. When I used to work at Macy's during the holidays the song would pop up somewhere between This Christmas and Deck the Halls faithfully, and it just doesn't make sense. Outside of "sometimes the snow comes down in June" there's nothing at all Christmas related in the song, and I'm not even sure that line counts because, you know, it's June. I suppose it's because Williams decided to re-release the song as a Christmas single following it's original success, with a new snow-themed video and all, which to me just qualifies it as a holiday hustle, not a tree-trimming classic.

At least Best For Last is a good song. I've always believed that even the best artists should leave Christmas music alone, whether it be creating original tracks for the holidays, or reworking classics. There's nothing worse than a culturally appropriated Christmas Carol. "On the 8th day of Christmas my baby gave to me a pair of Chloe shades and diamond belly ring." Uh, no. I love TLC, but I hated their '92 Christmas song and video, and I just don't think it's ever appropriate to rock condoms with a holiday stocking. Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You doesn't do it for me either, and that's one of her biggest hits.

The all time worst Christmas cover belongs to Ashanti, who in five minutes manages to ruin every Christmas carol you've ever held dear. The video is even worse. It's one of those clips that leaves you stuck in a moment of wondering if this is really happening, or if you're having a holiday hallucination. Otherwise, I like Ashanti.

A few Christmas songs that I'll always love: the Eagles' version of Please Come Home For Christmas is something I'll still listen to in June (while it's snowing, right Vanessa?). Silent Night as sung by Boyz II Men is a beautiful thing. And saving the best for last (ding!), Donny Hathaway's This Christmas is clearly THE timeless Christmas classic.

Oh, and Little Drummer Boy is a song that no one can mess up.

Here's Ashanti's Christmas randomness.




That Santa's sled scene is a mess.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nope, This Can't Be Good

Ne-Yo is probably one of the best R&B song writers to come around since Babyface. The man is a genius. His biggest talent is his ability to retain a signature sound from song to song, while still catering toward the individual artist's talent, so that songs like Irreplaceable are as big a hit for him as they are for artists like Beyonce. That's a hustle that'll keep him paid long after people realize that his own albums aren't nearly as interesting (which again make him comparable to Babyface).

That being said, I hate that he feels the need to cover his own songs, even going as far as to release an answer to both Irreplaceable and Take A Bow. To me that's the apex of arrogance, and really just boring. I don't wanna hear "to the right, to the right." What does that even mean? Are you moving your shit back in the house, or just scooting it to a different corner?

Janet Jackson's Can't B Good from this year's Discipline was written and produced by Ne-Yo. It's the best ballad Janet has recorded in years. It's perfectly suited for her barely-there vocals, and perhaps purposely reminiscent of her brother's Human Nature. There's a resistant optimism in Janet's voice that matches the song's subject matter perfectly, and the pace of the production is right on point.

In the biggest non-surprise of the year, Ne-Yo leaked his version of the same song, and it just doesn't work at all. Ne-Yo's voice is not suited for this song, and maybe that's just because I heard Janet sing it first. That's not to say that Ne-Yo can't sing, in fact it's probably more to say that Janet can't (at least she doesn't really try to anymore). Where Janet seems vulnerable or hesitant, Ne-Yo is straightforward and even a bit uncomfortable. You need an airy vocal to suit Can't B Good, and Janet has that department on lock.

But, as is clear by now, I'm a Janet groupie ( a respectable groupie, as I recognize that she doesn't always get everything quite right) so maybe it's just me.

Here are both versions for you to decide.

Janet "Can't B Good"

Ne-Yo "This Can't Be Good"

Always listen, never download...

Christina Milian: Def Jam Dropped Me For Rihanna

"[Def Jam] probably got rid of projects like mine to spend the money on [Rihanna]."

I'm a little late on this, not because I didn't read the Rap-Up excerpt that the above quote came from a week ago when it dropped, but because it's not really an important story. Were you guys desperate for a Christina Milian update? Didn't think so.

It wasn't until I read the entire Rap-Up article that I took a little more interest in Milian's argument that Def Jam let her go to finance Rihanna. That's probably the truth, as Rihanna is one of the most highly publicized (read: promoted) artists in the industry today. With all of the attention she gets, you'd think she was actually selling albums, which isn't the case. I suppose when you release your entire album single by single, there's really no need for anyone to go out and buy what they hear on the radio every hour, but even when Umbrella was at it's hottest, Good Girl Gone Bad wasn't moving shit. Damn near three years and 30 singles later, it's maybe platinum, and that's off the strength of three (yes, THREE) different releases.

But sells have nothing to do with quality, which leads me to wonder if Rihanna was worth the loss of Milian?

Christina Milian has never been too commercially successful, but I think I may have been a fan nonetheless. I wasn't too impressed with her while she was singing hooks for Ja Rule, but Dip It Low sort of won me over. Say I, the first single from her last album was also a favorite of mine, even as most people brushed it off as wack. I have both of those albums, and they're not bad. Far from remarkable, but not bad at all.

I mention all of this to say that if Milian had seen even a fraction of the promotion RiRi has received, she would have had a decent amount of success. You had to look for Milian's new music; really be a fan to even realize she was still in the game. We know Rihanna's every move, and it's not just because she's had a hugely successful two years, but because Def Jam keeps her in our faces. Back when she was still on her Reggae grind, they had her in Nike commercials, Bring It On sequels, and releasing an album every year. The most Christina Milian ever had going for her was Nick Cannon.

I'd argue that there was room enough for both ladies on the label, and Teairra Mari too (yes, I'm still on that). Realistically Def Jam is a mess of late. They may have helped Mariah hop back on the scene in 2005, but her follow-up hasn't done nearly as well. Janet's Discipline was the record to put her back on top, and Def Jam couldn't give the project the boost it needed to catch on. Shit, you know times are hard when LL Cool J moves toward greener pastures. I suppose Rihanna is what keeps that ship somewhat sailing, along with Ne-Yo and Kanye, and in that regard she's either a very wise investment, or a complete waste of money that could be better spent on keeping stronger artists afloat.

That being said, Good Girl Gone Bad was better than either Christina Milian album. I'd still ride for Milian any day though. She's SO FLY.

Rihanna or Christina; what do you guys think? More importantly, why is Christina still on any magazine covers?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Remember This...



Pink is gettin it in this video. People forget that back in the day she was straight R&B, and even though I'm enjoying her Rock edge of today, ol' girl could dance, and I want her to break out the choreography at least one more time.

I always thought Aaliyah should have been part of this routine. She always talked about how much Janet Jackson inspired her, so much so that Janet spoke at her MTV Memorial, and Aaliyah would have have handled an updated I Get Lonely so well.

Mya is killing that Pleasure Principle.

Oh Gosh SO Close...

Tyra Banks is a G

Yes, there are times when her talk show is almost too embarrassing to watch (see the episodes when she praises Tyra for being Tyra...which is basically every episode). And no, I don't believe she'll ever be the next Oprah, in terms of public persona and television substance. But regardless of her shortcomings, Tyra has been handling her business for years.


Growing up, I can't remember any other black models in the game besides her and Naomi; and while Naomi may have the Fierce Chick game on lock, Tyra has that and personality to boot. I can think of more than a dozen models who have tried to maintain a career outside of the catwalk, and Tyra is one of very few who have managed to handle her business outside of the Vicki S Fashion Show. While her music career is a joke at best, she's gotten down on the big screen, small screen and behind the scenes effortlessly, and at just 35 is a financial mogul to boot.

I still remember her as the little seen, but always fun to watch around-the-way girl, Jackie from Fresh Prince. Back then she was the chick with the big forehead who you were tired of seeing every damn where. Today, she's the chick with the big forehead who is running shit, and you can't help but to give her mass respect for doing so. Love her or hate her, few Black women in the fashion world have been able to transcend the game like Tyra, and years from now folks won't be able to deny that she's opened plenty of doors for plenty of people.

But them white girl weaves gotta go. Tyra knows damn well her shit ain't that legally blonde.

Oh, and Kanye's Blog inspired this post, but I promised he wouldn't get any more shine until the new year, so I'll leave the link for you to Google.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will Smith’s Seven Pounds Sucks

While on Oprah to promote Seven Pounds, Will Smith said that he's decided to make sure that everything he does in his life since turning 40 is done with purpose. Clearly he signed on for Seven Pounds while he was still 39.


Will Smith has become so pretentious in his success. There's no way he read the script for Seven Pounds and thought that the film was at all necessary to complete. Despite it's more than two-hour runtime, the film manages to accomplish absolutely nothing of relevance. Sure, the sentiment is nice, but the logic is non-existent, and in the end Seven Pounds only seeks to further satisfy Smith's desperate Oscar ambitions.

Don't get me wrong, Smith is an exceptional actor. He's shown an almost remarkable amount of growth since his Fresh Prince days, and has become one of the most dependable leading men of contemporary cinema. But sadly for Smith, dependable has become nearly synonymous with predictable, as the actor increasingly relies on the same roles in the same films to sustain his level of box office success. Seven Pounds is The Pursuit of Happyness. The logistics may differ, but the aim is still the same, and so is Smith's onscreen presence.

Seven Pounds isn't a bad film, it's just not the film as advertised. It's not even the film that it thinks it is. While trailers and interviews will have you believe that Seven Pounds is a life-changing (or affirming) tour de force, in reality it's just a predictable waste of time. Perhaps it would be easier to take the film as is, disregarding all of the hype and pretense, if it didn't take itself as seriously as it does. The plot creeps along tediously as if it's satisfying you with every second, offering brief bits of foreshadowing via flashbacks (a la I Am Legend), before abruptly climaxing all over the place, and inevitably only getting itself off. In that regard, it's like paying to watch someone masturbate…for hours.

As for anyone looking to see Will Smith "change his life in 7 seconds," trust me, it's hardly worth wasting your own for two hours. If you're paying attention from the beginning, the film's twist ending is obvious within the first 30 minutes, and even if you haven't figured it out by the time it happens, you'll retroactively realize you were giving the film too much credit, and the ending is as predictable as you told yourself it couldn't be.

Rosario Dawson turns in a very strong performance, and further demonstrates why she's one of the most underrated actresses of the moment. She's too good for this film. Hell, even the dog that accompanies her ailing character is too good for this mess. Dawson's career has barely recovered from the last time she co-starred with Smith in Men in Black II, and I'm not sure she'll survive round two.

I knew I should have saved $7.50 for Benjamin Button.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Brandy Sells an Embarrassing 73k in Her First Week

Brandy's latest album, Human sold just 73,000 copies in its first week, debuting at a weak number 15 on Billboard's Hot 100 albums chart. That's the lowest showing of her already ailing career, and would seem to dash any hopes of resurgence for the singer. I can't be the only one at least a little surprised by that.


It's not that I was expecting her to break any records right out the gate with Human, but even at her least commercially successful Brandy could guarantee at least a top 10 showing. Debuting at number 15 is hardly a good look for her, especially at this point in her career. At just 29, Brandy's been in the game longer than any of the artists that managed to get the best of her on the Billboard chart last week; at least of those charting in the top 10. She deserves at least 150,000 units sold on merit alone. But, falling as significantly short of a respectable debut as she has may just suggest that no one's checking for B-Rocka anymore.

That's a shame. While I maintain that Human is far from Brandy's best work, it's certainly a commendable effort. Without calling any other artists out, it sometimes amazes me how the female R&B market consistently seems as if it only has room for just a few successful black females. If it's not Whitney, Mariah and Janet, or Aaliyah, Monica and Brandy, then it's Beyonce, Alicia and Rihanna; never too many, and never all at the same time. And while there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part women in the music industry have their days numbered from the start.

Usher has sold consistently well since his My Way days, and I would argue the Brandy has delivered better projects in the same amount of time, but to increasingly declining sales. While it's not my intention to suggest that Usher doesn't deserve the level of success that he's achieved (Usher Stan, all day), I suppose I just don't understand why there are very few females from the same generation still standing.

And I'm sorry; though I love Britney, and Taylor Swift has started to grow on me, Brandy is bodying both them hoes in nearly every aspect of the game (save dancing, in reference to Britney), so there's really no reason for them to be thriving as she continues to sink. Circus outselling Human? Get it together consumers.

Here's my favorite Brandy video. She's done better work since, but in 1995 you couldn't tell me nothin when this song came on.



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The CW’s 90210 Remake Needs to Get Laid

I've been waiting for the CW's new incarnation of 90210 to grow on me, and it just hasn't. It's been three months and a third of a season, and I'm still bored as all hell. Even Shannen Doherty and reformed slut Jennie Garth can't save this mess.


It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with 90210's redux, but I suppose the easy answer is its lack of remotely engaging characters or plot lines. While I may be turning 22 in just a few days, I don't think I'm too far removed from high school to appreciate a little quality teenage angst; yet I don't find myself relating to 90210 at all. It bothers me that major plot developments occur via text message, that 40-something parents act as mature as 16-year-olds, and that the show's writers assume that their audience is as self-involved and vapid as its characters...which is probably true, but still. Honestly, Degrassi does a better job of recreating the original 90210's appeal, and does so with a cast that isn't nearly as attractive.

While I won't go back and forth about what makes the original 90210 so much better than the contemporary version, mostly because the list is so exhaustive and I don't have the energy to paraphrase it, I will point out the most obvious difference between the two: Sex. Back in 1990, Dylan, Brenda, and the rest of the crew were getting it in; in 2008, not so much. I understand that in a post-7th Heaven era, where the Jonas Brothers are hot because they're keeping the goodies on lock, it's sort of cute for TV teens to take it slow, and I'm cool with that, to an extent. Yes, Felicity might have gone to college a virgin, while Buffy and Dawson took some time to give it up, but eventually even that Gilmore Girl cashed in her v-card for a more exciting story arch, and all of these shows came equipped with far more substance than 90210.The show's premier episode opened with a parking lot blowjob, and we haven't seen shit else since.

Really, I don't want to hear arguments about sex on teen-targeted television shows influencing adolescents to engage in irresponsible behavior. I was a WB fiend back in my day, and still managed to think for myself when it came to matters of importance. If Gossip Girl can depict high school juniors sipping cocktails during lunchtime to rave reviews, then 90210 can give Tristan Wilds some play; or at least some balls, because his character is softer than a memory-foam mattress.

Though the addition of Lauren London to the show as a bisexual cheerleader chasing after Dixon (too easy) seems hardly original, I'm hoping that it'll breathe some much needed life into the show's otherwise stale storylines.

I say the writers slowly bring back the original cast, one has-been at a time, so that by the beginning of the second season we can pretend like the past year never happened, and Tori Spelling never left.

In other news, former Full House star, and current 90210 mom Lori Laughlin looks fly, even in hi-def. Aunt Becky is still killing the game, well into her 40s.

It's Kinda Like, Honestly Amazing?

I hate The Hills. It's about absolutely nothing, which qualifies it as a waste of time in my book. The only thing that I find somewhat enjoyable about the show is Audrina's ability to remain functionally retarded, without anyone else on the show noticing.

"It's like, I don't understand what happened between us; we were close before. Now it's like, random sock borrowing?" SO Lauren.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Different Me Impressive Addition to Keyshia Cole’s Collection

I was really prepared to dislike Keyshia Cole's A Different Me. The album's first single, Playa Cardz Right is awful, and after hearing her cover of Mary J. Blige's I Love You (which incidentally doesn't make the album) I just knew that Cole's third album would be a misguided mess. I was wrong.


A Different Me is an apt title for Cole's latest effort, as it certainly approaches the singer's talent from a different perspective. While the subject matter is more or less the same as what was heard on Cole's previous two albums, the production is much more diverse. Cole opens the disc by saying "I'd like to introduce a sexier side of me," and that's an appropriate description of the rest of the proceedings. The aggressive R&B production of The Way it Is and Just Like You is traded in for a sound that is unmistakably more pop influenced; think more Heaven Sent, and less I Should've Cheated. That transition works nicely throughout a majority of the mostly mid-tempo album, but leaves Cole sounding noticeably out of her element during the ballads.

At its best the album is an inviting collection of shimmering production and satisfying hooks, as evident during the two-step of Erotica. At its worse it's an unconvincing attempt at emoting emotional and physical vulnerability, like the vocally awkward Brand New. Fortunately the album is heavy on the former, and light on the latter.

The Runners produced Please Don't Stop is as fast as the tempo gets on A Different Me, which instantly makes the track standout as one of the album's most appealing. Cole rides the disco-lite dance floor production perfectly, even delivering a Donna Summer-eque breakdown that's skating-rink ready. You Complete Me is another album standout, reminiscent of Justin Timberlake's Until the End of Time in its drum-backed arrangements and soaring vocals. However, it's Cole's duet with fellow R&B star Monica that introduces an interesting tension to the album. One on hand, Trust is easily the best song of the collection. On the other hand, Monica owns Keyshia on her own shit. Trust is Monica's song without question, from vocals to overall presence; and though Keyshia rides quite nicely next to her, the song inevitably leaves you wanting more from the So Gone singer.

Keyshia's new sound doesn't function quite as well during other parts of the album. Make Me Over isn't the sort of song that Cole should ever record. It's not that the jazzy production and frivolous lyrics are bad, but they're certainly not appropriate for Keyshia. Lyrics like "Doll me up, make me look pretty," just don't complement her image, or cater to what makes her appealing to audiences. And while Cole's Sex and the City meets New Jack City vibe is well-balanced on other tracks, Make Me Over would be better suited for an artist like Jennifer Hudson.

All in all, A Different Me isn't quite the evolution that Cole's career is in sore need of, but the album is a solid addition to her catalogue. Still, Keyshia needs a timeless record, like My
Life or Janet, if she ever hopes to reach superstar status.

Are Nelly’s Best Days Behind Him?

I hadn't really noticed until just recently that Nelly's been pretty absent from the music scene lately, despite the recent release of his fourth studio album, Brass Knuckles. When the album's lead single, Party People first hit the internet, I was instantly impressed with it; and anyone who was with me on the two (if that) occasions the song came on while I was in the club can tell you I was easily the most excited person in the spot. Not excited enough to put down my Absolute and pineapple, but definitely feeling it just a little. Still, that single failed to do anything commercially, and though its follow-up Body On Me faired a little better, it certainly didn't do nearly as well as some of his earlier hits. Subsequently, Brass Knuckles has done terribly on the charts, and it really makes me wonder: Has Nelly fallen off?


Generally speaking, I wouldn't suggest that any artist's career is at its end based on the lackluster performance of one album and a couple of singles, but I feel like Nelly's situation is unique. Earlier this year I read a popular music magazine ( I can't remember which one. Blender, maybe?) that listed Nelly has one of the wackest rappers of all time, and I immediately took offense. I then spent the next couple of minutes trying to develop an argument against the magazine's suggestion and, to my surprise, drew a complete blank. I'm a fan of most of Nelly's singles, I own a couple of his albums, and I generally enjoy his presence on the radio, but I can't say that I've ever really respected his talent.

Nelly is a pop-star, all day. Since hitting it big with K-Row on the mellowed out Dilemma, Nelly's been more or less singing his way toward the top of the charts through most of this decade. He even managed to sound as good as Janet on their boring ass R&B hit, Call On Me. He's hooked up with Mariah, Christina, and even Tim McGraw , not to provide a touch of hip-hop to their hits, but to harmonize along with them on the hook. Sweat/Suit, his 2004 double album, sought to give the one-time hitmaker a platform to reconcile his new image with his hip-hop ambition by allowing him the opportunity to embrace his inner Britney on one disc, while demonstrating his rapping prowess on the other. Too bad no one was too interested in hearing Nelly return to his rapping roots, as every hit from that album came from the disc's softer side.

But at least back then Nelly could sell a record. The man hasn't had a solo hit in more than 4 years, and that's basically half of his career. If in 2008 Nelly isn't just a wack rapper, but a commercial failure, is there any hope left for his future in the industry?

While you ponder that, here's the first video that Nelly released from Brass Knuckles, before scrapping the original product and starting over after the song failed to catch on.





I kinda liked this song...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mya’s Latest Effort, Sugar & Spice Offers Little Hope for a Comeback

Mya has new album out, but you probably didn't know that; not just because the album is only being released in Japan, but also because you probably just don't care. That's more or less that story of Mya's career. It's not that the would-be R&B star isn't talented; she's just not that interesting. When all is said and done, there isn't really anything that Mya brings to the table that you can't find elsewhere, and with a U.S. release date.


To suggest that Mya hasn't experienced any success during the course of her career wouldn't be fair. In 1998 when she was just 18, the now 29-year-old singer managed to muster up a couple of hit singles from her self-titled debut album, including the R&B hit Movin' On. Back then Mya captured mainstream attention by exploring subject matter that was more sexually suggestive than that of her contemporaries, like Monica or Aaliyah, while still appealing to the same teen fan base. While Monica was avoiding sex on the First Night, Mya was wondering "who's draws are these?," giving adolescent listeners who may not have waited quite as long as Monica a bit of validation. Though her success began to taper off upon the release of her sophomore album Fear of Flying, she still managed to secure another top 10 hit with the album's second single, Case of the Ex. Things began to look a little better for Mya after she teamed with fellow pop stars Pink and Christina Aguilera, along with 'Lil Kim for their Grammy-winning remake of LaBelle's Lady Marmalade, and her two successful 2004 solo singles My Love is Like…Wo and Fallen.

After that, things were pretty much a wrap. After switching records labels, Mya's 4th album Liberation, was delayed by Motown for more than two years before the label shelved the record permanently and dropped the singer after two failed singles, including the little heard Lock U Down, featuring rapper 'Lil Wayne. After a few months off the radar, earlier this year it was announced that Mya had signed a new recording contract with Japanese label Manhattan Records. That brings us to the limited release of her latest album, Sugar & Spice.

If Mya is looking for any sort of career resurgence, in the U.S. or abroad, Sugar & Spice is not the way to make it happen. Everything about the album is all wrong, from presentation to product, and that's disappointing considering that Mya's limited commercial success has never been reflective of the solid material she consistently delivers. First single Paradise is laughable at best, and the video is even worse. It's clear that Mya's budget for this project was zero to nothing, as the writing and production on most of the album's songs sound like something someone recorded for their YouTube channel.

"Listen to the beat of the Congo, like two animals in the jungle making love."

Huh?

She would have been better off covering that I Gotta Crush on Obama mess; at least it would have been somewhat timely. Seriously, listen to it. It's embarrassingly engaging.

I won't waste my time reviewing the rest of an album that you'll probably never hear, or care to bootleg, but I use Mya's latest effort to illustrate my argument that she'll probably never experience any sort of career relevancy again. A few folks here and there will argue that Mya was never given a fair chance in terms of consistent promotion and commercial exposure, but that's a lame excuse. At the end of the day, Mya is just boring. In 1998, when a majority of her fan base was still in middle school, listening to the singer may have offered a sense of taboo or grown-up sensibility, but 10 years later sex isn't as mysterious, and Mya is hardly a necessity. That's not to say that she's no good, but when Mya's absent from the radio few people really miss her, as she satisfies no real niche on the airwaves.

While, I would love to stand corrected and see Mya develop some sense of self in today's overpopulated American music market, Sugar & Spice doesn't show any indication of that actually happening. Still, I won't belittle her past success, as I've copped and enjoyed every one of Mya's American releases, and I'm still waiting on Sugar and Spice to grow on me.

Below I've posted what I suppose can be referred to as the sequel to her 2004 hit Fallen, creatively titled Fallen 2. It's the only song from Sugar & Spice that's managed to capture any of my attention.

And here's the video for her single Paradise, in all of it's $20 glory.




Janet and Mariah Might Be Expecting, Britney Delivers the Upset, Ludacris Wants You to Buy His Music Too, and Other Leftovers

  • How is Madonna still pulling dick that's half her age, when clearly this broad is scary? But A-Rod is at least a little bi-curious, so I'm sure that has something to do w/ their relationship.
  • Mariah and Janet keep talking about having kids "one day;" but at 38 and 42 respectively, isn't it time to give the birth-control a break before it's no longer necessary?
  • Britney beasted Beyonce and Kanye on the charts this week. Look for Beyonce to develop a substance abuse problem just in time for the release of her third single.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Have Never Been More in Love with a Commercial

This Can’t Be Life, There’s Gotta Be More

Keyshia Cole went and fucked up one of my favorite Mary J. Blige songs, and brought Lil' Wayne along to add insult to injury.


I won't comment on the situation too much, as I'm actually a fan of Cole; but this cover is not a good look. The charm of Blige's I Love You lies in its ability to remain mournfully reminiscent while still managing to radiate with a sense of optimism not present throughout most of the other tracks on My Life. Cole's version is vacant and shallow, and inevitably vulgar thanks to Wayne's unnecessary contribution. She lacks the vulnerability of Blige's original vocals, and the track ultimately feels inauthentic and disappointing.

Besides, isn't Keyshia still too eclipsed by Mary's shadow to be trying to revel in it?

"How I used to fuck you, and how you fought back"

For real? I'm so sick of this dude.

Click here to listen to Mary's I Love You

Click here to listen to Keyshia's fuckery

Monday, December 8, 2008

Columbus Short Standout Amongst Cast of Cadillac Records

I saw Cadillac Records this weekend, and while I won't take the time to review the film, I do want to comment on how outstanding Columbus Short was in his portrayal of harmonica legend Little Walter. Though I've seen Short onscreen twice before, in Stomp the Yard and last year's This Christmas, I hadn't really taken notice of his talent. So, imagine my surprise when the former choreographer and back-up dancer managed to parlay his supporting role into what should surely be a star-making performance for the up-and-coming actor.


Most audiences won't go to see Cadillac Records with Columbus Short in mind, as his previous films have done little to showcase his actual talent. However, Short refuses to take a backseat in Cadilliac Records, as he carries his supporting role right to the front of the generally well-cast vehicle. Even younger audiences who probably won't be very familiar with Little Walter's legacy will find Short's portrayal of the alcoholic and often volatile bluesman impressive. Short's performance is dark and incendiary in all of the right places, and just as funny and light-hearted when it needs to be. As Little Walter transitions from a street-smart teen suffering from the lack of a stable family, to a substance abusing star desperate to hold on to his waning fame, Short handles the material with the character-acting instinct and intuition of a veteran, easily stealing nearly every scene in which he's featured. And while many are anticipating Oscar buzz to surround one of Cadillac Records' bigger stars; I wouldn't be surprised if Short delivers another Dreamgirls upset.

Elsewhere in the film, Gabrielle Union delivers a wonderfully demure portrayal of a truly desperate housewife, while Beyonce turns in a better than expected performance as haunted living-legend Etta James. Though Knowles is still stiff and unconvincing in her approach toward everyday material, she was surprisingly impressive in scenes that called for her to exercise a little more dramatic skill.

I'll give credit where it's due.

Oh, and Mos Def as Chuck Berry was golden!

In Defense of Common’s Universal Mind Control

I may or may not write a full review of Common's Universal Mind Control to post later; emphasis on may not. That's not to suggest that I dislike the album, it just doesn't move me nearly as much I had hoped, and there are plenty of other bloggers who are more familiar with Common's catalogue that could probably deliver a more appropriate review. The fact of the matter is, I'm not a hip-hop head, and though I fell in love with 2007's Finding Forever, the rest of my relationship with Common depends solely on what I've heard on the radio. Still, I feel inclined to offer at least a bit of my opinion regarding Mind Control, as the effort continues to gather generally unfavorable opinion.


As I said before, I loved Finding Forever. In the months preceding the album's release my excitement surfaced almost out of nowhere, as I have never considered myself an avid Common fan in the least. Still, I went to purchase it as soon as I could. From start to finish the album is amazing, and while many fans will say that Forever isn't Common's best, I've never felt pressed to research that theory. That's mostly because I don't care. On the strength of its own merit Finding Forever is an eclectic yet uniform collection of brilliant production and engaging lyricism that invest more in timelessness than it does trend. Since tracks from the album continue to rest among my iTunes most played list, I was understandably eager for more Common via Mind Control. And no, it's not as good.

That doesn't mean that Mind Control is bad, but it certainly is different. While Forever was relaxed and approachable at even its most aggressive moments, from production to writing Mind Control is fast-paced and at times gaudy in its presentation. The lyrics aren't as interesting, nor are the guest-spots as inspired, but the record still manages to be fun. Considering early reviews, perhaps that's not how audiences prefer to see Common.

Without going on for too much longer, I will say that just like Usher had to grow-up and Kanye had to go soft, Common needed to let loose. I'll never understand why audiences equate difference with deficiency so easily, but I suppose that logic translates to other facets of life as well. Presented by nearly any other hip-hop artist, Mind Control would be considered a solid effort. It's not even that Mind Control is bad for a Common album, it's simply different from what we're used to hearing from him. There shouldn't be anything wrong with treading new waters, especially considering the underwhelming predictability of the music industry today.

Universal Mind Control is in stores this week. Listen to it?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Flashback, Who's That?

I'm Sorry, is it 1995?

Mariah Carey performed at this year's Grammy Awards Nominations Ceremony looking like she had just stepped off the set of her Always Be My Baby video. I love it.

It used to really annoy me that Mariah refuses to accept the fact that she's nearing 40, by perpetually engaging in behavior apt to the average 12-year-old girl, and now dressing as if the whole world has remained a decade behind along with her. I'm sure that in her mind dressing like it's still the 90s means "technically I'm still in my 20s...which means I can still believe in unicorns and the magic of glitter like when I was 12!" Now, I just take it for what it is. Shit, I'm having trouble with turning 22 in a couple of weeks. We all have our vices.

Seriously, there has to be something just a little bit wrong with Mimi, but I'm not judging. Check the performance below




Mariah's sounding better than I've heard her sound in awhile.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Usher As Bad As Britney?


So I was on my usual blog stroll today, and came across this column comparing Usher's performance at this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show to Britney Spears' infamous 2007 VMA fiasco. Come again?

Now, Usher's biggest fan I am not, infact I think his ego could use a couple of knocks, but he killed this performance. Yes, he was a little pitchy in some spots, but for the most part Usher's performance of This Ain't Sex was as charming and showy as it should have been, without going at all over the top. I'm gonna give Usher even more credit for being able to own a stage without the presence of a single backup dancer, which is an accomplishment for an entertainer as celebrated for his choreography and elaborate stage shows as Usher is. I'm not really sure how anyone could see any trace of Britney's darkest moment in the performance posted above, but I think it might have something to do with the continued backlash following Here I Stand.

I am so clearly in the very small minority of people who actually enjoyed Here I Stand. I"ll even admit that I liked the album even more than Confessions, and that's something no one wants to hear. But, where Confessions was arrogant and juvenile, Here I Stand is the work of a man realizing his maturity. It may not have been as fun as Usher's 2004 effort, but it was honest and self-realizing, and showcased some much-needed evolution from the otherwise predictable Mr. Raymond, which makes the project infinitely more satisfying in my opinion. And if nothing else, Here I Stand had some really good songs. Trading Places, Moving Mountains, His Mistakes, What's a Man to Do, What's Ur Name, and my personal favorite Lifetime...good shit! There wasn't a bad song on the album, save the title track, and it would have been nice if more people gave it a chance.

Still, considering Usher chose Love in This Club as his first single, I would argue that he set himself up for failure. Love in This Club and its subsequent remix were the least reflective of the rest of the material on Here I Stand, and were obvious attempts to capitalize on the success of Yeah! and later 'Lil Wayne. In that regard Usher's introduction of Here I Stand was misleading, and ultimatly disappointing for fans expecting the album to take more of a Hip-Hip influenced R&B direction.

But I encourage you all to get over it, and give Here I Stand another chance. Let go of Confessions, and take the record for what it is, and I'm sure you'll find some satisfaction.

(Oh, and I apologize for the widescreen YouTube vid. It had the best quality, but clearly it doesn't agree with my blog template.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Barbara Walters' List of 2008’s Most Fascinating People Continues to be Year’s Biggest Waste of Time

Barbara Walters' list of 2008's most fascinating people is lame, at best. I suppose that ratings were a factor in the television special, so choosing bankable celebrities in an effort to draw a larger audience was a given; but damn, Miley Cyrus? For real Babs?


There's nothing remotely interesting about Miley Cyrus. I don't say that to belittle her success, which is undeniable, nor am I commenting on her talent (…), I'm just stating the obvious. Cyrus has had the most storybook rise to fame since Hilary Duff, and at least Lizzie McGuire was more fun. Perhaps a little later in her career we'll find out that Cyrus is hiding some serious baggage behind those big ass teeth, but until the daddy issues start to surface, I don't really care to see her responding to Waters' standard list of teen sensation centered questions that she probably threw at Britney Spears years ago.

I don't think Will Smith was a much better choice either. The man has been running the box office for more than a decade now. He's THE movie star; we get it. Having his best friend Tom Cruise on later in the hour was even more of a surprise, for all of the wrong reasons. How was Cruise even remotely relevant in 2008? Yeah, he was sort of fun in Tropic Thunder, but Lance Bass' cameo was clearly superior. I will say, at 46, the man has yet to age. That's kind of fascinating, right?

Elsewhere, Tina Fey and Sarah Palin were interesting choices, if only because the two became nearly interchangeable as Fey's impression of Palin became more credible than the governor herself during the course of the presidential election. And while I maintain that the entire pregnant man situation was a poorly conceived (no pun intended) exploitation of the gay and transgendered community's struggle to present healthy images of alternative lifestyles to the general public, I will admit that the story was attention grabbing nonetheless. Of the ten chosen, those are the only individuals from Waters' list that could be considered remotely interesting in 2008. When you're batting 3 for 10, it's time to sit down somewhere and think about what you've done.

Oh, and in case you thought I was going too hard on Babs, let's address her choice for the most fascinating person of 2008: Barack Obama. I would say that's the most predictable choice of 2008. I'll ride for Obama all day, but it wasn't at all necessary for him to be on this list. In fact, I would argue that he transcends it. Obama and his accomplishments go beyond fascinating, and certainly beyond Hannah Montana. While I'm sure Walters wasn't trying to equate one of the most historical moments in our country's history to Tom Cruise's offbeat dancing to a played out Ludacris song, she could have exercised a bit more tact in her selection making process. And if all that wasn't enough; Walters just interviewed the Obamas two weeks ago for 20/20. Overkill much?

What's more fascinating than Barbara's list is her haircut. She's been rocking that same helmet since the 60s, with more versatility than Sally Field any day. And the most interesting thing of 2008: Barbara's sleek yet sensible pant suit, with just enough sparkling beading to qualify it as an elite piece from the House of Dereon AARP collection.

Here's a rundown of the entire list.

10. Will Smith (didn't address gay rumors, or open marriage)

9. Miley Cyrus (no talk of her middle-aged boyfriend)

8. Michael Phelps (dude might actually be a fish; big feet, double jointed, narrow build)

7. Rush Limbaugh (I know, right?)

6. Tina Fey

5. Frank Langella (portrays President Nixon in new film, Frost/Nixon)

4. Sarah Palin

3. Pregnant Man (Google it)

2. Tom Cruise

1. Barack Obama (Yes, President-elect Obama just narrowly topped Top Gun)

What do you guys think…Is Barbara out of touch, or have I just been living under some far off rock all year?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bobby Valentino Has a Tail Now...

And that's basically a mess. When I first watched the video, I thought maybe his mohawk was tapered really narrow in the back...but no. That's definitely tail action. Secretly, I ain't even mad. When I cut my mohawk off, I kinda wanted to hold on to the tail myself. I just couldn't do it. Some things should be left in pictures and memories.

But in all seriousness, I really like Bobby Valentino. I'd probably include him on my list of underrated contemporary male R&B artists, along with Trey Songz and Mario. I don't really remember anything from his first album, which is probably a good thing because those singles sucked. But his last effort, Special Occasion, is still on heavy rotation on my iPod. The album didn't do too well, and that's a shame because it was a lot better than I was expecting from Bobby V., and one of the better R&B albums released that year. But then again, he was on Def Jam, and they can't seem to do right by anyone of late (read: Janet).

That being said, this "Beep Beep" shit sucks. And the whole "Blu Kolla Dreams" shtick he's pushing is also a bunch of bull. I'm pretty sure Bobby was suburban born and raised, with a doctor as a mother, and college degree of his own. His record sells might be modest, but I doubt his pockets are. Here's hoping this is just a phase.

If You too Fell in Love with The Snuggie...



And yes people, this is really happening.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brandy’s Back and Long Overdue, with “Human”

Not too long ago Brandy's Right Here (Departed) began to play on a cd that I made for play in my car, to which one of my friends responded "Why is this on here?" I'm not friends with that person anymore.


I'll never believe that there's any good reason to dislike Brandy. Perhaps one can be indifferent to her, but to flat-out not like her is hard to do. Though she isn't my favorite artist (not even top 5), and I always chose Monica when it was necessary to ride for one or the other (and in 1995, it was always necessary), Brandy easily delivers some of the most consistently good material in contemporary R&B. From her harmlessly naïve self-titled debut, to the tragically underrated masterpiece Afrodisiac, Brandy knows her lane and is always at home in her element. And though her latest offering Human is less inspired than her last two albums, it still manages to outshine any other R&B album released this year.

Human is easily Brandy's most adult-contemporary album to date, and that's both a strength and a weakness. On one hand she sounds more mature and confident than she has in her entire career; on the other she's sort of boring. I can't help but to think that people will compare the album to Usher's Here I Stand in that regard. But while Here I Stand was boring in terms of subject matter (as Usher goes from trickin' to nursing), it's Human's mellow production and warming vocals that make it almost too calming. However, once you've accepted the fact that Brandy would rather tuck you into bed after the club than meet you there, Human becomes a very enjoyable experience.

The album's first single, Right Here (Departed) should have been a hit. Upon reuniting with his one time muse, Rodney Jerkins greets Brandy with the most complementary production that the two have collaborated on since her Never Say Never days. When we last heard the pair together on 2002's Full Moon, Brandy's vocals were being stifled under the weight of Jerkins' production, but Right Here is organic R&B at its best. While Brandy sounds good on Right Here, her vocals are just short of flawless on the lovelorn ballad Long Distance, in which the singer laments the difficulty of preserving love from a distance. Torn Down picks up the pace a bit, but keeps the heartbreak vibe intact, while the Natasha Bedingfield penned Fall boosts the album with a much needed shot of urgency. Sadly, it's the album's final track.

The album's title track and The Definition, are the two song that standout most on Human. While the production on both tracks is consistent with the rest of the album, the writing paired with Brandy's delivery is moving. "I'm only human, forgive me, love me, save me from myself," she begs on Human, while later asserting that "I've dropped all of that baggage…the pain, you can have it," on The Definition. These tracks take Brandy back to her Afrodisiac best, when the pain in her voice gave impact to her lyrical confessions. But what really makes these tracks amazing is not the hurt that inspires them, but the optimism that thrives in spite of that negativity.

While Human is not without its low points (1st & Love is barely listenable), it still qualifies as an exceptional album. While I'll maintain that we've seen Brandy do better, we haven't seen many other artists do nearly as well. I don't believe that she will ever experience the commercial success of her peak again, but I hope Brandy stays in the game for a long while, as she's a consistent breath of fresh air to an increasingly stale industry. And who knows, Brandy could surprise us all and make the commercial comeback she deserves. Never say never; right?

New album “Circus” sees Britney at her Best

Britney Spears is a singles artist. Though her albums have sold consistently well throughout her career, the secret to her success rests in her ability to deliver a handful of good songs that effectively outweigh the throwaway material that populates a majority of the rest of the album. It wasn't until 2007's Blackout that Britney finally got it right; ironically delivering her most cohesive album while she was at her least coherent state. So it comes as no surprise that it is the dance floor brilliance of Blackout, paired with the popstar's renewed sense of confidence that make Britney's latest offering Circus, her best work to date.


The album's first single Womanizer might be Britney's most commercially successful since Baby One More Time, but it's the title track and second single that really delivers the goods. Where Womanizer is rigid and restrained, Circus allows Britney the chance to catch a breath, resulting in her best vocal delivery in years. The track's near-flawless production is subtle in all the right places and just as aggressive when it needs to be; a dance song that carries you with it, instead of asking you to catch-up. That pace continues with the Danja produced Kill the Lights, which is almost hypnotic in its layered background vocals and slick use of 808, and the short but sweet Shattered Glass. Britney's delivery in the latter is as acid washed as a pair of 80s jeans, resulting in a sexy swagger that she carries with her to the sleazy-yet-satisfying Lace and Leather.

Britney's ballads have always left something to be desired, and that doesn't change this go around. My Baby is perhaps the most personal offering on Circus, as Britney coos about motherhood to a soft piano-driven melody, and though the sentiment is sweet, the vocals are not. She manages to sound a little better on Out From Under, another introspective-ish track, but in the end both feel boring and uninspired. The mid-tempo Unusual You sparks a bit more interest, both in terms of production and subject matter, as Britney wonders "You're so unusual. Didn't anyone tell you you're supposed to break my heart?"

That's as interesting as the lyrics get, as substance is hardly a factor in Circus. That comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the documentary that accompanied the album's release, in which Britney address the past couple years of her life. It would have been nice to see her incorporate a bit more of the loneliness she emotes throughout the film into Circus. Instead, we're given an album that more or less perpetuates the persona that she says imprisons her. For instance, the juvenile double-entendre of If U Seek Amy (repeat it aloud) barely functions throughout the song, and is really just unnecessary in general. Considering the fact that Britney's vagina has been plastered all over the internet as a result of her indifference to draws, is there really any use in her throwing a phonetic veil over the word fuck?

Britney doesn't break any new ground with Circus, and if you didn't like her before that probably won't change now. But, while Circus may not gain Britney any new fans, it will certainly satisfy the many she already has.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Britney Spears Goes on Record: “I go through life like a karate kid”

One of my college professors brought up Britney Spears during a lesson on global warming. He used Spears as an example of the mass amounts of attention Americans pay to seemingly irrelevant things, forcing the safety of our planet to take a backseat to the antics of our pop stars. In reference to Britney's pop culture relevance, he asked: "Who the fuck cares?," seemingly unaware of the irony of his in-class rant serving as a means of answering his own question.


It's easy to find yourself fascinated by Britney Spears. Even if her music doesn't necessarily move you, her public persona has almost certainly caught a bit of your attention at some point during the more than 10 years she has spent in the public eye; and rightfully so. Spears arguably ushered in the teen-pop phenomenon of the late 90s single handily, if barely dressed. Yes, N'sync, along with the Backstreet Boys and other pop starlets like Christina Aguilera contributed to the movement in their own right, but from the moment she pulled her hair into pigtails, tied her shirt around her waste, and confessed her loneliness on the way to recess, Britney Spears became the mascot for a new generation of post-Tiffany teen pop, the influence of which can still be felt today.

In 2008 it's far from unusual to see music artists pursuing more than just music. We expect to see Beyonce in an American Express ad, while Usher markets cell phones, and Rihanna gets her Cover Girl on, but in 1998 such wasn't exactly the case. Yes, artists would pursue endorsements here and there, but save a few Pepsi spots and the occasional television cameo, most artists depended on old-fashioned means of promotion, such as music videos and concert tours. Enter Britney, who became one of the first solo artists heading into the millennium to go beyond turning themselves into a household name, in favor of becoming an international trademark. But it has been more than 10 years since then, and while the Britney trademark has more or less thrived during that time, we've seen the person beneath the brand name crumble under its weight.

And so, Britney goes on the record.

"I've never wanted to be one of those prisoner people," she says. "I've always wanted to feel like I could get in my car and go."

With that, Britney introduces us to a theme of imprisonment that resonates throughout the documentary that follows a two-month span of the star's life, starting in September of this year. As the documentary progresses, we see that by first becoming a prisoner of her fame, Spears eventually became a prisoner of her health, the legal system, and even her own home. Though I initially approached Britney's documentary with a sense lighthearted enthusiasm, by the end of the first half I found myself genuinely moved by her fleeting moments of sincerity, so that by the end of the film I found Britney's claim that she "goes through life like a karate kid," as endearing as it was incredibly random.

As I've said, sincerity seems to be present throughout Spears' documentary, even as candidacy only arrives in spurts. For example, as Britney describes her break-up with Justin ("he was a big part of my life, and I didn't know what to do [when it was over]") and Kevin ("when it ended, I felt so alone"), she does so briefly, and without much detail, but with a glare of honesty in her eyes. And really, who can blame her for wanting to remain guarded even as she exposes herself? Britney's description of her breakups is perhaps more relatable than any of her song lyrics, which in turn should remind viewers that the vulnerability of those moments can often seem overwhelming. Imagine parading that vulnerability in front of the world, even if it's just by visiting a grocery store.

That's not to say that one should feel bad for Ms. Spears. The price of fame is high, and even as she reels from its side effects, she continues to invest in its stock as she prepares for the release of another studio album at the end of this year. And though I believe that Britney has every right to pursue the career that offers her personal satisfaction, I do so with the assumption that she finds her success worth the sacrifice, although I wouldn't be quick to agree that it really is. There are times throughout the documentary when Spears is visibly upset, with tears in her eyes, even saying at on point, "I'm so sad," in reference to nothing else but the state of her life. That pain is illustrated across her face in another scene, as the SUV she is traveling in pulls beside a fan, who is singing Spears's latest hit single "Womanizer, while she looks at him with disinterest, and seems genuinely withdrawn from the moment. Contrast this with scenes where Spears is smiling and excited to be back at work, and the tension she feels between her personal wellbeing and her professional success is obvious, and almost heartbreaking.

But, as we shouldn't feel bad for Britney, she doesn't feel bad for herself either. Throughout Britney Spears: For The Record, we see a woman who is unapologetic, and consistently accepting of her growing pains. I hesitate to suggest that Britney has spent the past couple of years of her life making mistakes, as every 20-something will look up at some point and realize that his or her life is a mess; and if that doesn't happen, then they haven't lived. But if we learn from them as we should, eventually those mistakes become our strengths; a point that Britney attests to quite often during the documentary.

All in all, Britney comes across charming and approachable in the film, which may or not be made-for-TV self-marketing, but I've seen Britney act, so I'll venture to say that had she been putting on a show, it would have been obvious. Her southern-accent is much more noticeable when she's in her natural element, and even while sporting tousled hair with minimal makeup, she's a strikingly pretty girl. And while the press repeatedly brings her maternal skills into question, the few moments that we do get to see her with her boys, paired with her hilariously desperate assertion that she "used to be a cool chick," suggests that she may be quite the mom.

So, Britney Spears: Who the fuck cares? More folks than can even recognize how interested in Britney they are. To examine Britney Spears is to examine the state of entertainment and pop culture politics over the past 10 years. The trajectory of her fame and the exploitation of her subsequent downfall provide a poignant commentary on the way our nation characterizes its superstars; stripping them of their humanity, and snickering at their pain, as if there only purpose on this earth is to keep us entertained. Perhaps South Park explored the issue best, when they depicted Britney as a sacrificial source of public enjoyment, selected by the masses as means of satisfying their perverse desires. Or maybe that's too dramatic, and she's just fun to watch. But try asking yourself why that is, and you'll probably approach this paragraph from a different perspective.

Sidenote: How surprising was her awkwardness with Madonna? I realize the two probably don't spend too much time together, but Brit seemed genuinely nervous, while Madonna was so the grandma that won't take no for an answer: "You goin eat some of this food girl." And chick was severely botoxed, but surprisingly well-preserved.

"My babies' daddy lives out there!"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm sorry, is this serious?



Not, "staying cozy and warm at sporting events." What the hell?

This has to be sponsored by some sort of cult. I'd be scared as hell to see a bunch of people rolling deep in their snuggies.

In other news, that sage green would work wonders for my complexion.

Yeah, I Stole This from My Cousin's Blog

I love Flannel. Every time it goes out of style, I wait with bated breath for it to make its triumphant return. I don't know what it is, I just think it has the potential to look good on everyone. Maybe I have a thing for lumberjack swagg?

In any case, here are a few of my faves from Karmaloop.com. Though I'm more partial to the two on the right, the one on the left is for those of you who aren't afraid of a little color.

If you're afraid of full-on flannel, you can always cop an accessory or two. A flannel scarf over a solid shirt is always a winner, gloves are nice too. But don't over do it. Contrasting patterns is hot, looking like a walking crossword puzzle is not.

Also, despite the fact that I found these shirts at Karmaloop, please believe I'll be taking my ass to Target to find the look for less. The shirts pictured here run for about $75-$100. I've been able to grab a couple that are just as fly for less than 30 bucks at Target. If you're really feeling yourself, you can always go to Macy's, where I saw a couple of nice Rocawear and Sean Jean shirts running for about $80, but again, that's not really necessary.

Don't be scared to embrace your inner-flannel, it's a classic look that you won't regret while sifting through pictures of yourself 20 years from now.

By the way, Karmaloop.com is a nice place to visit if you're looking for something a little different to add to your wardrobe. But be careful not to just shop for what's trendy...that shit won't be in style next year, and you'll have a closet full of $100 clothes that you won't know what to do with. Ask my Aviator Jacket and skull & bones all-over hoodie.

Also, check-out my cousin's blog, because I definitely jacked this fashion trend post idea from her.

Yep, I Still Watch Nickelodeon



Nickelodeon has always had some of the most random, nearing-inappropriate cartoons on television, at least in terms of programming geared toward children. Though I never too much messed with Ren & Stimpy, as they were a bit too disturbing for my liking, for the most part I loved Nick as a kid. Rocko's Modern Life and Rugrats will always be my favorites, but I was down for Doug and Angry Beavers too, maybe CatDog on a desperate day. As I've grown older, my tastes have matured more toward the teen sophistication of Disney Channel shows (shout out to Kim Possible), but nothing can touch the sometimes unsettling weirdness of Nickelodeon animation.

The Mighty B! is a testament to that weirdness. Though it's not nearly as darkly-comic as some of Nick's earlier creations, it has a mature humor about it that makes it more exciting than most any other cartoon currently on television. Don't get me wrong, thought-provoking pathos it is not, but it does manage to blend a bit of sly social commentary with its hilarious absurdity, to make its brand of animated slapstick a little more substantive than one might expect off-hand. Or perhaps I'm doing too much in trying to analyze it, and the shit is just funny. Whatever the case, the clip above is only a sample of its brilliance.

Oh, and Back at the Barnyard is amazing too.



I've had Several People Request that I review the rest of Kanye's album


But this guy does a better job of it. I agree with the majority of the review, except the Robocop portion. Ya'll know that's my shit.

No more Kanye posts until at least after Christmas. Dude ain't paying my bills.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Principle of Pleasure



Most people recognize how stellar this video is; without question, Janet is killin it. But as a song, Pleasure Principle is sorely underrated. Whereas Janet's singles usually seem wrapped in the glow of love, Pleasure Principle is one of the rare instances where listeners have the chance to hear Ms. Jackson direct an ex to the left. And, despite the obvious scorn that motivates the verbal send-off, Janet manages to weigh confidence and aggression ("I'm not here to feed your insecurities"), with just the right amount of naiveté ("I wanted you to love me") to give the record plenty of the charm listeners had come to expect from her after the runaway success of Control.

Also, believe it or not, in 1986 people actually thought Janet could sing (a notion I still support today), as she had yet to retreat to the whisper register that many began to associate with her at some point during the 90s, and Pleasure Principle supports that theory. Janet sounds comfortable, albeit non-threatening, throughout the course of the song, but it's on the ad-libs that surface near the song's end that she really shines (or at least flickers).

Still, it's clear that even at 20 Janet knew her vocals alone wouldn't pay the bills, as the album version of the song is remixed for the video, leaving less room for song, and more for dance; a smart move. In fact, I would argue that Pleasure Principle, along with Rhythm Nation and If, has done the most in establishing her contemporary pop-cultural identity as a world-class performer. Even today many people can't help but to remember her slinging that near-mullet around in a deserted garage, wearing different shades of denim and standard 80s kneepads, while delivering what is perhaps the most approachable dance routine of her career.

Although, contrary to reports from Janet herself, I don't believe she actually performed that infamous back-flip from the top of those crates. Something about that editing seems as suspect as that Billy Ray Cyrus wig she's rockin.

I've also included a live performance of the song. Emphasis on live; Janet rarely gets enough credit for sounding as good on stage as she does on record.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Can’t Cosign on This Shit



What's Weird is that I like Rihanna. I've been down since her Pon de Replay days. If It's Loving That You Want was my summer anthem right after high school. My first year of college, I was feeling Unfaithful and We Ride like I was the sideline ho in question. Back then Rihanna was an upcoming artist and experiencing inconsistent spurts of success. Fast forward to 2008, and this chick is dangerously close to attaining pop music relevancy. Come again!?

Rihanna is fly, yes. I'm not one of those listeners who believe that every pop star has to be a vocal power house to be a respectable artist. Talent does not rest solely in a five-octave range, in my opinion at least. That being said, Rihanna is not talented, and this AMA performance proves that, hands down.

Perhaps it's because the announcer introduced her as having had "the most #1 singles of any female artist this millennium," paired with the fact that she managed to beat out real artists (MJB, Alicia Keys) for awards in two categories is what has me so upset. A fucking sequined eye patch and fly haircut does not a performance make. Nor should it a career make.

Rihanna is all image, and no substance. I have yet to see a performance where she exercises any little bit of stage presence, or vocal tact. Her VMA performance of Disurbia earlier this year was embarrassingly un-listenable, and even worse than that was the fact that she turned what could have been an interesting set into one of the lamest routines of the night. The same can be said for her performance of Rehab at the AMAs. Those vocals runs that she attempts toward the end of the song are terrible, and the fact that she had the nerve to crouch toward the ground in a fit of pseudo-emotion only adds insult to injury.

As I've said, not every female artist needs to be the next Mariah, but what Rihanna lacks in vocals she doesn't even try to make-up for in presentation. Chick will not dance, at all. The fact that she has a handheld mic and live band at most performances baffles me. Yes, live vocals and instrumentation would be impressive from most any other artist, but in this case, I'll pass. With Rihanna, I want pre-recorded, lip-synch ready, heavily choreographed, shamelessly over-the-top spectacles; that way I can forget what a waste of time she actually is.

I'll still be listening to Take a Bow, Rehab, and most of the rest of Rihanna's pre-maturely extensive catalogue, because the songs are good. Still, I'll keep wishing someone else was singing them. Think of the swagger Monica could've added to Take A Bow...

I will say, Umbrella was all her own. Chick killed it.

If You Liked It Then You Shoulda Put a Ring on It...

I've been receiving a lot of positive feedback for my blog thus far, and I really appreciate that. So, if you've been here a couple of times, and you like what you've seen, I promise it'll just keep getting better.

That being said. Bookmark Me. If you're a blogger, add me to your watched list, or blogroll. Tell your friends. Do whatever necessary to help me, help myself. I'm majoring in English, this blog might just be my career climax...

Thus ends my shameless self-promotion.



I LOVE this shit.

I Have Yet to Reference Britney on this Blog

But trust me, it's coming. I've been listening to her new album, Circus, non-stop at the gym, and a review is on the way. I've decided to wait until after her MTV documentary airs this Sunday, that way I can knock out both with one post.


Let this post serve as warning that I love Britney, and while I'm sure that some people will go hard on me for disliking Beyonce, and praising Ms. Spears, I'm cool with that. The two aren't comparable in my opinion, and that's a compliment to both.


That being said, Womanizer was awful. Circus is not.

There Was No Reason for Any Member of 112 to go Solo

Not musically, at least.

I debated about even posting this, as 112 hasn't been hot in quite some time, and I thought more than a few people might find themselves googling the group before reading this. If you need a refresher course, go here, here, and definitely here, and you'll see why 112 was easily one of the best male R&B groups to surface in the 90s. Though they were never as popular as Boyz II Men in their heyday, for a group that spent almost a decade on the Bad Boy roster, they did pretty well for themselves. I mean, Diddy can't even get a hit on that label. That being said, the group probably peaked sometime around 2001 with Peaches & Cream, but even at their commercial and creative low, they were better than their Making the Band replacement any day.


So imagine my surprise at hearing a solo single from one of the group's lead singers, Q, floating around online. Though I managed to convince myself that the track was just a random occurrence, something one of the boys was doing in their spare time between recording with the group, soon other tracks began to surface from other members, and the next thing I know I'm watching another 112 alum, Slim, in his own music video, promoting his solo album. What the hell?

This is all wrong, for so many reasons.

First, how many of you can put faces to the names I referenced above? Exactly. No one knows 112 individually. That was true even at their peak, and now that the group's recognition has waned in recent years, it's even less reasonable to think that anyone will be able to reference their solo efforts back to their group success. Slim might have the benefit of possessing the most easily recognizable voice in the group, but the rest of the guys…not so much. And even when you hear Slim's new single, So Fly, chance are you're going to first assume that 112 is on the comeback trail.

That brings me to my second concern: even if you know who's singing, you'll wonder why they're singing alone. Nothing on Slim's new album, Love's Crazy, and nothing that I've heard from Q is anything different than they could have done with 112. In fact, it all could have been better with the rest of the boys. What made Slim's voice stand out in 112, a nasally falsetto-based wine, treads dangerously close to annoying during the course of his solo album, and Q just doesn't bring anything exceedingly interesting to the table at all. What's worse is that the material isn't even bad. Slim's album contains what is arguably some of the most solid R&B material released this year, but suffers from lackluster, play-by-the-numbers delivery. 112 had the ability to carry their pitch-perfect harmonies seamlessly from the dance floor to the bedroom, and Slim just can't make that transition alone. And really, what's the point of trying it on your own if you're only going to expose your shortcomings without offering anything new to compensate for them?

It made sense for Beyonce and Justin Timberlake to go solo, for obvious reasons. Bobby Brown didn't flourish until after he'd left New Edition, and Babyface held it down post The Deele. But just like T-Boz had no business touching herself (though that remix was hot), and Sisqo should have avoided unleashing the dragon, Slim, Q, and the rest of 112 needs to hug it out, and make it work.

But just in case they don't, check out Slim's album, because even the absence of 112 is better than the presence of most of the other shit on the radio right now.