Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kelly Rowland Finally Gets Something Right

Former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland and management label Music World Entertainment announced today the singer's departure from both the label, and manager Matthew Knowles.

According to a statement released today by Rowland and the label, Rowland will forgo future representation from Music World after several years, and two solo albums.

"Although we have decided to part ways professionally, the Knowles family and the entire Music World Entertainment team will always be my family," Rowland said.

Kelly Rowland's decision to end her professional relationship with now former manager Matthew Knowles is probably the best decision she's made in her entire career. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Knowles has yet to successfully promote any artist, outside of Beyonce, and it's far from likely that Rowland's career will suffer as a result of her departure. Still, Kelly needs to put in a lot of work before she'll ever have a truly viable solo career.

It wouldn't be fair to place all of the blame of Kelly's lackluster solo performance on Matthew Knowles. Other artists on his roster, including Michelle Williams and Lyfe Jennings, have experienced the same lack of promotion as Rowland, and still managed to find some sort of niche in the industry. While Williams' Unexpected underperformed on the album sells chart, she's had two chart-topping dance singles: "We Break the Dawn" and "The Greatest." Likewise, Jennings' last effort Lyfe Change hasn't had the most successful run, but he's still managed to stay a bit more relevant than Rowland. The difference between those two artists, and Rowland, is that they've managed to release good material.

Not even the most die hard Kelly fans (they're out there, right?) can deny that the singer has yet to release any genuinely exceptional material. Her debut solo album, 2002's Simply Deep, was flat and uninspired, to say the least. And, while her sophomore album Ms. Kelly was far superior, it lacked material engaging enough to really establish her as a worthwhile artist. When all is said and done, Kelly hasn't recorded a song that wouldn't be handled just as well by any other female artist with a decent vocal range, and that's a shame considering her undeniable talent.

Kelly doesn't belt like Beyonce, nor does she evoke the emotional response of Michelle at her best, but she certainly carries her own next to the other two ladies. Rowland has a soprano that doesn't give you chills, but calms them, as evident in numerous Destiny's Child songs that feature the singer introducing or closing a soaring melody. Out of the three, Rowland's voice is the best suited for mainstream R&B and Pop tracks, as it's subtle in all of the right places, but strong enough to carry a melody.

So, it's not the voice, but the material that keeps Rowland relegated to opening act while Beyonce sells out arenas.

I'd suggest that Rowland place a heavy focus on establishing herself as a performer, and choose material that caters to that image. I'm talking full-on Janet swagg here, as Rowland was easily the best dancer out the DC trio, and has already proven through various promotional performances that she can handle the stage all on her own. Songs like "Like This" and "Work" already suggest that she wants to head in that heavily-choreographed direction anyway, but her stage and video presence see her holding back in favor of stale glamor shots. We know she looks good, but so does Beyonce; so what's next?

More or less, this is all to say that Kelly needs something to separate herself from Destiny's Child, and ultimately Beyonce's shadow. Michelle may not have experienced the most commercial success with Unexpected, but she lived up to the album's title in terms of image and material. Kelly needs to prove that she's capable of more than just a fly hook on another person's hit song, and taking control of career behind the scenes is definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm Over Ginuwine, But This is a Good Ass Song

It's called Last Chance, and it's produced by Bryan Michael Cox, who, in my opinion, has written some of the best ballads heard on the radio in the past few years.

I Love P!nk

Monday, January 26, 2009

Notorious Lazy in Depiction of Lil' Kim

I finally had the chance to see Notorious this weekend, and while it's difficult for biopics to be surprising, I still found myself enjoying the film overall. The interesting thing about retelling someone's life, be in book or on film, is the fact that no matter how well you handle the material you'll always be hampered by a third-person handicap that inevitably makes the final product more of an interpretation and less of a reality. In that regard, I would argue that Notorious was lazy in its interpretation, as it offered plenty of material and very little depth. You don't leave Notorious with any new insight into Biggie than you would glean from a Wikipedia article, and that's a bit disappointing. But, that's not what this post is about.

Aside from Biggie's life on the street, and his eventual rap career, a majority of the story told in Notorious centers around his relationships with various women: from his mother and daughter, to Faith Evans and Lil' Kim. While Biggie is certainly depicted as the womanizer he has since been characterized as, via third-person commentary (Kim, Faith, Charli), we also see a side of him that harbored the utmost respect for his mother, and a desire for his daughter to avoid becoming the sort of woman that he was used to taking advantage of. In that regard, there is some diversity in Biggie's treatment of women throughout the film. But what stood out to me most wasn't Biggie's attitude toward women, but how the women in his life responded to that attitude: namely Lil' Kim.

In the weeks preceding the release of Notorious, Kim told various news sources how disappointed she was by her depiction in the film, saying “The film studio and producers involved were more concerned about painting me as a ‘character’ to create a more interesting story line instead of a person with talent, self-respect and who was able to achieve her own career success through hard work."

Based on viewing the film, there's a lot of merit to Kim's argument.

Before viewing the film, a number of people told me how excited they were to go see "Lil' Kim" act like a hoe. This didn't surprise me, as she's spent the better part of her career cultivating that same image for herself. While I'll certainly agree that there's nothing wrong with a woman openly engaging her sexuality, Lil' Kim does so with the explicit intent of engaging men and turning heads, which she would seem to do in an effort to garner commercial attention. That's not progressive, it's tacky. For that reason, I won't comment on the whole of Lil' Kim, but I will approach her depiction in Notorious.

I'll preface this by saying, I don't know Lil' Kim. My entire impression of her is shaped by public domain, and the Kim I'm commenting on in this blog is as seen on film.

That being said, I certainly don't think it's fair to characterize Lil' Kim as a hoe based on what we see in Notorious. Yes, Kim has sex with Biggie fairly soon after meeting him, and yes she spends more time in the movie taking her clothes off, or putting them back on than she does actually speaking, but all of that is subjective. Sexuality is not about appropriating one's behavior to suit social expectations, and in that regard Lil' Kim has as much right to fuck Biggie within five minutes of knowing him, as the next girl has to wait until marriage. Sexual exploits does not a hoe make, but rather loss of self-worth and respect. With that being said, the film doesn't take the time to consider Kim's worth from her perspective at all, so calling her a hoe based on what we're given is far from apt, and really just lazy.

Instead, I would argue that Kim is a sentimental character. She comes to Biggie looking for protection, and without her even asking, he promises it to her. We're led to believe that upon meeting Biggie, Kim is at a place in her life where she needs someone to lean on, and I don't feel like it's appropriate to fault her for falling for the dream he was selling. It doesn't seem like Kim is looking for a come up, or to take advantage of Biggie in any way. We're given the impression that she comes looking for affection; and when he makes it so readily available, why wouldn't she believe that it's genuine?

More than that, the film also suggests that Biggie more or less dropped Kim instantly for Faith, and that sudden lost of interest, paired with their continued sexual relationship makes it understandable that Kim would have some animosity toward Evans, and find it difficult to walk away from Biggie. Kim never justifies the title of home-wrecker in the film, as the tension Between her, Faith, and Biggie is more a product of his selfish behavior.

That's Lil' Kim as presented by the plot, but it's important to acknowledge what goes on between the lines, and perhaps that's what best supports Lil' Kim's argument about her negative depiction in the film.

It's a problem that we see Kim's breasts in the movie nearly an hour before we actually hear her name. If one were to view the movie without any prior knowledge of Biggie, and his life and legacy, it would be easy to assume that Kim was just some random girl from the hood for the first half of the film. It's more of a problem that the whole of Kim's identity is shaped in the single moment that sees Biggie telling her to trade in hardcore lyrics for explicit sex appeal, which changes her entire character angle in a single moment. Of all the women in Biggie's life, Kim is never given any agency, nor sense of self, so that in the end her character is flat and pitiful, and doesn't function as anything more than sexual gratification, both in plot and for the audience. Many will be quick to assert that this is an accurate portrayal, but it'd be remiss to suggest that even the most hapless of hoes doesn't have some sort of depth or personality.

I would argue that Kim's portrayal in the film is less of an insult to her, and more of a comment on how apt our society is to generalize individuals for the sake of comfort. I don't believe Notorious' filmmakers knew how to approach Lil' Kim's presence in Biggie's life, and instead of rising to a challenge, they fell back on public perception and speculation. And while I would argue that it was irresponsible for them to do so, audience anticipation and response to Kim's character suggest that they were only giving the fans what they wanted; which, to say the least, is really saddening.

I don't too much care for Lil' Kim, but I like to think that I respect women enough to acknowledge that her portrayal in Notorious isn't an insult to hoes, but instead a marginalization of feminine sexuality that ultimately harms the entire sex.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ann Coulter Makes Me Wanna Vomit, But This Shit Right Here...

Sometimes I feel foolish for getting so upset with just about everything that comes out of Ann Coulter's mouth. It's so obvious that "a bitch got books to sell," so that pissing people off is something that she does to keep that spiteful face full of botox. Really, when you have a problem with women, jews, blacks, gays, and Barack Obama all at the same need to sit down and think about things. She even called John Edwards a faggot, and he's pretty much the carebear of politicians.

But I don't blame her...she's stupid. I blame reputable new shows that continue to host her biased and unfounded, and really just ignorant, opinions simply for the sake of ratings and media attention. It's not that I disagree with her (which I totally do), it's just that a majority of what she says has no logical, or ethical merit, and I can't respect that.

That being said, who knew this woman was 47? Evidently selling your soul to Satan does wonders for the complexion and bone structure.

Anyway...the point is...I just purchased the second season of the Boondocks, and wanted to share what may be my favorite moment from the entire series. The clip below is FUNNY...I'm not suggesting it's funny, I'm telling you. And if you don't laugh, you don't get it...which means you need to go and Google current events, catch up on a couple of years in politics, and come back to it. Yep, it's that serious.

"These crabcakes are good as a mug...I fucks w/ these crabcakes!"

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Just Not That Serious Folks

I said this on Twitter as soon as I saw this hat on Ms. Franklin at the Inauguration, and I'll say it again today: I know one of ya'll got an aunt w/ this same damn hat.

Back in my church going days, hats like this one were common place among the congregation..and don't let it be a deacon's wife on Easter Sunday...that bow would be demure in comparison to the bright, feathered, and glittered possibilities. Once you've seen Sister Jenkins rockin an entire nativity scene on top of her head (with matching gloves no less), Franklin's hat is as surprising as a new era fitted.

So how has this thing managed to take on a life of its own?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

****ing Funny

Because school is dominating my life, and I haven't found time to make an actual's something that kept me from my English HW, and will probably ruin my Geology test grade...but FUCK IT, I'm a senior!

Can you **** yourself now?

Stay tuned for posts on The Dream and Kelly Clarkson.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Okay, I Need Some Help

If anyone has Pretty Ricky's 80's Babies in its entirety...could you please slide me a download?

I won't even call Pretty Ricky my guilty pleasure, since I really feel no shame in my enjoyment of their shit. I tried to write them off as talentless and wack coonery, but inevitably started to enjoy most of their music. No, I'll never see them in concert, or tape their photo to my trapper keeper (remember those?), but I'll probably keep listening to their stuff.

That being said, I can't find 80's Babies anywhere...and apparently the album has been shelved due to extensive downloading. If that's the case, I don't know how I managed to miss it...but I need it in my life.

So again, if you have it...drop me a line

Twitter: BFloyd86

Please and thank you!

*Here's hoping this post didn't compromise all of my musical integrity...

I'm A Little Late...But Birthday Wishes Are In Order For One of My Favorite Artists...

It's strange to think that Aaliyah would have been 30 this year. It's even more uncomfortable when one notices that it's been nearly eight years since her death. I still remember seeing the news scroll across the bottom of some show on MTV, and thinking it was bull, until I turned on the radio and heard a succession of Aaliyah songs, and knew that it was in memorial, not celebration.

Still, it has been eight years, and Aaliyah was more than a talent taken too soon. I remember buying her final album, Aaliyah on the day of its release and being less than impressed with the direction she had taken with the self-titled effort. I was 14 then. At 22 (and really, right around 16 or so) I can recognize the brilliance in Aaliyah taking a step away from Timbaland and Missy, and following her own agenda. With "We Need a Resolution" Aaliyah gave up adolescent inclinations toward abandoning a challenging relationship, and instead delivered a desperate, yet mature plea for the salvation of love gone wrong. At 23, she was wise beyond her years, and that resonates throughout the whole of Aaliyah.

"Rock the Boat" was the sexiest we'd seen the singer since the hesitantly suggestive "Hot Like Fire" from One In A Million, and "More Than A Woman" solidified her growth from street but sweet tomboy, to sex symbol in the making.

However, the album didn't just shine in terms of singles, but was consistent from top to bottom. Aaliyah defines R&B swagger before the word even became a pop culture staple with the borderline arrogance of "Loose Talk," and demonstrates her musical versatility with the rock flavored "What If?". Even the Timbaland assisted tracks, like "I Care 4 U" succeed because of Aaliyah, not in spite of her. All of which goes to prove, that even as Timb crafts hits for Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado, no one will ever challenge his craft in the manner Aaliyah did.

Taken as a whole, Aaliyah is pure romance. Not picture perfect love; but as brooding and pained as a Victorian novel. In the end, this demonstrates that Aaliyah never took her audience for granted, or allowed them to marginalize her as any certain type of artist; as she effortlessly progressed from the new jack swing of "Back and Forth," to the modestly cocky hip-hop swagg of "Try Again."

Remembering Aaliyah fondly isn't hard to do, as few artists stayed as refreshingly progressive as she did throughout her near-decade long run as the exception to every teen-pop rule. While record sells for the singer were modest to well, her talent was consistently undeniable, as evident in the timelessness of a majority of her material.

Here's my favorite Aaliyah video.

Damn, that "I Miss You" video is still a little difficult for me to watch.

Tonite...A DJ Saved My Life

Most Mariah fans will tell you that her 2001 effort, Glitter, was taken for granted in the midst of the film's poor publicity, and commercial failure. That's bullshit; Glitter sucked.

The album had four (four!) singles, and not a single one managed to catch anyone's attention...I seriously can't remember a single one, outside of the awful "Loverboy." Disregarding the wackness that is the song in general, the video is even more of a no 30-something woman should be prancing around a racetrack like a meth-influenced teenager...wearing a bandanna bra no less. "I want a sugar daddy...take me for a ride!" Gross.

But I don't mean to go hard on Mariah, as the fact that she was paid out of her Virgin contract after just one album is insult enough (really..consider the lack of faith that you have to have in an artist to decide that you'd rather spend money on dropping them, rather than take the chance of wasting money on keeping them). Instead, this post is in praise of MiMi's cover of the the 80's classic "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life."

Of Glitter's four singles, this was the last, and it's almost a shame that it wasn't given more attention. Mariah has been blending hip-hop with pop since the mid 90's, and I'll give her credit for taking a risk that most pop artists didn't take until well into the 2000's. That being said, Mariah eventually lost focus..and the authenticity of tracks like "Honey," "Breakdown" and the "Fantasy" remix were eventually compromised for shallow radio-eager fodder like "Heartbreaker" and "Crybaby." But where those tracks desperately sought to please TRL audiences, "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" was dance floor brilliance.

It's difficult to swallow a dance song from Mariah, considering she has the rhythm and stage presence of a hesitant stripper, but for some reason "DJ" works. It's one of the rare occasions where she manages to channel a little bit of funk, without sounding like a straight hood rat ("Speedial connected me to Ray Ray,'s Chante and Mae Mae!"). Instead "DJ" is the sort of dance track Janet would kill for, but couldn't handle nearly as well (that voice has hardly seen any little bit of challenge since Velvet Rope).

"DJ" isn't' about vocal delivery, as Mariah does a wonderful job of restraining her remarkable range in favor of a mellow, causal delivery, that suits the the material perfectly. Instead, the song smartly forgoes vocal acrobatics in favor of 80's superficiality.... barely audible, yet alluring delivery, with production catering exclusively to the cocaine haze of the era. But the song falls just short of becoming too old-school, thanks to a welcomed Fabolous feature. In the end, when Mariah sings "Last night a DJ saved my life from a broken heart," you can't help but to relate, given the feel good vibe radiating from the record.

Fuck "Migrate," "DJ" is Mariah at her club-ready best.

Here's the video for "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life," followed by the embarrassment that is "Loverboy"...cause I'm a Janet Stan..and can't give MiMi too much positive attention.

Mariah got a little bit of booty though...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Janet: After Discipline and Def Jam

I really tried to avoid this post for several reasons: It's lack of timeliness, lack of originality, and my obvious bias (see archives)...But given Jermaine Dupri's recent dismissal from Def Jam and the Essence interview that has surfaced since, I feel inclined to throw caution to the wind and publicly question Janet's sustainability in the wake of the worst decade of her career.

Since Discipline's failure, both Janet and Jermaine have been quick to point fingers at Def Jam for lack of sufficient material, promotion and communication. If that sounds familiar, it's because they did the same thing when Janet's 2006 effort 20 Y.O failed to take flight when she was signed to longtime label Virgin. Janet has even been quoted as saying "the material just wasn't that good," in reference to the latter, while later claiming that the former suffered from poor single choices. Huh?

If nothing else, more than 20 years as one of the top selling artists in the music industry, across any genre, should give Janet enough sense and agency to recognize bad material and pass on it before it even reaches our ears. While I'd venture to say that 2004's Damita Jo was far better than '01's All For You, despite it's sub par sells, I'll agree that 20 Y.O was misguided and disappointing. Still, the album was better than the attention it garnered, and Discipline was an honest return to form for the singer. That is to say, I don't agree that "the material just wasn't that good," and poor single choices are acceptable excuses for Janet's commercial shortcomings. But, if that's the road she wants to take, I'll go there with her.

Of the six singles that Janet has released in the past four years, I would only concede that "Call On Me" was a poor choice. Ironically, it was the most successful. 2004's "I Want You" and "All Nite (Don't Stop)" should've been hits, likewise 2006's "So Excited" was the best R&B dance song Janet had released in years. Finally, last year's "Feedback" should've been the song to bring Janet back to the front of the pack, while "Rock With U," though not as enaging as "All Nite," was the house song her fans had been craving for years. The fact that none of these singles managed to garner attention in either radio or video form comments more toward Janet herself, and audience attitude toward her than it does actual quality of material.

While Janet will cite lack of label commitment to her projects as another reason for their lack of success, I'd say she's half-assing it too. That fact that she consistently refuses to properly promote new material until just a few days preceding its release is questionable at best. A few official website updates and an occasional label-induced track leak does not a platinum plaque encourage. With Discipline, Def Jam tried more in terms of promotion than I think Janet gives them credit for; holding several listening events for the writers of major blogs and inciting a heavy internet buzz for the album months before its actual release. Still, Janet didn't do a single live performance until the day of the album's release, and at that point it had already become clear that "Feedback" was fading. Hell, the video for the single didn't even surface until 3 months after the song, and that's just poor timing. To add insult to injury, Janet's publicity tour more or less ended just a week into the album's release, with her cancelled SNL performance due to sickness, which resulted in her being replaced by labelmate Mariah. Seriously Janet?

Actually, that Mariah incident was just as tacky on Def Jam's part...but Janet knows damn well her ass should have popped a Dayquil and used a backing track to get through that SNL apperance once she got that MiMi memo.

Add to that a world tour with only 12 dates (give or take) satisfied, and it's clear Janet is just going through the motions.

Realistically, Janet is 42, and at this point new fans are going to be hard to muster. The most that she can hope to do is win back her waining fanbase, and half-hearted attempts at a comeback just aren't the way to do it. She'll walk away from a project (and a label) after just two underperforming singles, and that's disappointing. B'Day was far from a runaway success, but Beyonce rode that shit like walking away would've meant splitting another paycheck with Kelly and Michelle, and it paid off. Janet needs to rediscover that sort of drive, as she's clearly been lacking it of late. I'd love to see her stay committed through a third video; something she hasn't done since 1997's Velvet Rope.

Outside of that, people want to see Janet fail, and that's not something she can help. I suppose that given her legendary history paired with the increasing level of professional embarrassment she's experienced in the past few years, her downfall has become fun to watch for the same people that supported her while she was on top. In that respect she's like any other celebrity who happens to fall from grace, and I suppose it was inevitable. Still if Britney can go backwoods crazy and spend a year looking like a pre-op circus Tranny, and still manage to move more than 500k in her first week, then I honestly believe anything is possible.

Still, for that to happen she has to stop looking for places to lay blame and handle her business as best she can. The rest should come; and if not, she's a legend. Weak chart performances or not, that won't change.

And because I look for any reason to post a Janet clip, here's one of my favorite live performances.

Ms. Jackson gets SO much better with age...and she knows it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rihanna's Grammy Promo Shot Is Sorta Fly

Rihanna's likeness here is made up of titles of Grammy winning song that have inspired her own career. Who knew RiRi was such a fan of Destiny's Child and Mariah Carey? No really, I see a lot of Bee and MiMi dominating Rihanna's hairline, and chin area.

Elsewhere, the list is pretty safe and predictable. Little Madonna and Whitney, some Prince and Michael...surprisingly no Janet (that I can see). I'd definitely expect her to relate more to Jan than Mariah, but who knows...

Still, generally speaking, this pic is pretty interesting.

MTV Debuts its Gayest Real World Ever. No, Really.

I don't know if MTV's decision to embrace a new sense of sexual diversity on its Brooklyn season of the Real World is a good look, or a lame exploitation of the LGBT community, a la Shot At Love. I'll go ahead and compromise by calling it a little bit of both. In any case, there's a lot going on with these kids, so lets address them as pictured, starting at the top left and moving down accordingly (I hate Blogger and it's lack of design options).

First, JD is yeah. That's it.

Next, Katelynn is the first transgendered castmate in RW's history, which is refreshingly progressive. She seems nice enough, and really that's what matters...And now that I've said that, what the hell is up with this chick's clothes? Seriously, she dresses like an extra in an early episode of Blossom, and that's not okay. Even her promotional shots are tacky as hell. A patent leather halter top? Really? And the Kurt Cobain hair is a whole nother issue.

Also, am I the only that thinks Ryan's initial reaction toward Katelynn was borderline offensive...or at least tactless. That's not just in reference to his facial expressions while Katelynn was sharing her sexual history, but also the way he divided her gender when explaining to his mother that there were eight roommates instead of the usual seven. Realistically though, the situation probably caught him off guard, and when he said "I am ignorant, but I don't want to be," it seemed sincere.

Sarah used to date she doesn't. So yeah. That's it. Oh, and she's a pretty girl, perhaps the prettiest in the house. Played out Rihanna bob and all.

Katelynn is the transsexual, but Devyn is the dragqueen. Nah, she's a girl, born and raised, but if RW producers had simply announced that there was a transsexual in the house, without telling who they were, I would definitely be stuck between Katelynn and Devyn. I think it's the bad wig and huge boobs. Maybe the eyebrows and forehead. I just know that when she says "It's easier to get in to Heaven than it is to get in to Devyn," it leaves me a little curious about the circumstances surrounding that difficulty.

And finally, I don't think it's cool to repeatedly conjecture about someone's sexuality, especially after they've addressed the issue themselves...but Chet brought it up, so I'll bite just this once. Chet tries a little too hard to flaunt his metrosexual membership card to compensate for the rest of the cast's assumption that he's gay. Also, his whole religious "Mormons are cool" schtick just seems like a way for him to validate suppressing his sexuality...if in fact, that's what he's doing (ay, I don't know?). All of that paired with his mild taunting of Katelynn while wearing a bright blue trimmed fadora tells me that we might just have another Steven (see Seattle) on our hands. Whatever the case, I don't like Chet..mostly because of his bleached blond man bangs.

All of that being said, I probably won't watch too much of this season. I really liked Hollywood, but something about these kids just doesn't too much interest me..probably because there's not one strikingly attractive cast member in the whole bunch, and I'm shallow.

*All photos taken from

Monday, January 12, 2009

There's SO Much Wrong with This

"I'd rather have lots of breast milk, than a million melons!" LOL..I can't

If your child is old enough to say "breast-feeding," they don't need to be breast-feeding.

"I won't breastfeed forever...not when they go to college, or get married" But prom nite? It's going down.

They named their mom's boobs!

Musiq's "OnMyRadio" is Good?

Usually, I would ignore Musiq. When I first heard his debut single "Just Friends" from the Nutty Professor soundtrack, I was somewhat interested in him, but quickly grew bored after I noticed that all of his songs sounded exactly the same. Since then, the only other song of his that held any of my attention was "Love," and that came out when I was in, like, middle school. Fast forward awhile, and OnMyRadio is on its way toward becoming one of my favorite albums of the past few years.

What I disliked the most about Musiq in the past was his indifference to actually singing. For the better part of his career, or at least the stuff I've listened to, he's taken more of a spoken word approach toward his material, where he sort of sings during the hook and adlibs, but is lazy during the verses. That annoyed me almost as much as that thing Mariah Carey sometimes does with her voice (you know, kinda raspy and wavering,then soaring, and then back to strained a la "Through The Rain"...), so I more or less left him alone. Who knew the kid could sing?..and consistently no less.

What..everyone knew that? Oh..well who knew he could sing decent material.

In fact, OnMyRadio is full of better than decent material. That includes the embarrassingly commercial first single, "Radio," which isn't nearly as lyrically engaging as the rest of the album's material, but still serves its purpose as a mindless change of pace for the otherwise predictable artist. And while most listeners will cite Musiq's duet with Mary J. Blige, "IfULeave," as the album's standout track, I much prefer the mockingly remorseful "DearJohn." The song's title is simultaneously self-explanatory and surprising, as Musiq delivers the most heartfelt of casual breakups possible; and just when you're ready to call him out on his cowardice, he beats you to the punch, pretty much conceding that he's an asshole before you even suggest it. Another potential single, "BackAgain," accomplishes what "Radio" doesn't, in terms of balancing mainstream appeal with substantive material, and is probably the most refreshing song Musiq has recorded since his debut.

There isn't a bad song on OnMyRadio, which means that I'm either being too lenient in response to my surprise at being even a little bit impressed with the album, or it's just that good. I honestly couldn't tell you which it is, but I'm leaning toward the latter.

In other news, I miss Maxwell.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Don't Usually Take Interest in YouTube Impersonations

But this chick is pretty entertaining. She's riding the borderline between interesting and insane, and I love it. She's pretty self-aware of the fact that she's impersonating Beyonce, and not actually becoming Beyonce...unlike those Single Ladies (and gentlemen..) that recreated her last video, and I like that.

Whatever..the shit's it.

LOL...I LOVE that she went on location. Is there a wind machine in that elevator?...and that scramble effect @ 1:38, priceless.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Wanna Twitter

But I'm not really sure how. I mean, I get it..but then, I don't. Maybe it's because I don't really know anyone else who Twitters, and the site's search function is wack.

In any case, find me on Twitter, and follow I'll having something to talk about.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kanye West and Brad Pitt Go Au Natural For "Vibe" and "W"

I guess it's becoming common practice in 2009 for male celebrities to expose all for popular magazines. First Brad Pitt hops on the cover of W looking like Benjamin Button at birth, and next month Kanye will forgo airbrushing (and blistex?) for Vibe.

Brad has managed to do a decade's worth of aging in just a year. I realize the man is 45, but damn...clearly Jennifer Aniston got his youth in the divorce settlement.

I'm also having trouble with Kanye looking nearly as aged as Pitt, despite the decade and some odd years separating them.

In other news, Kanye's kicking around the idea of releasing "RoboCop" as his next single, with "Bad News" also falling under consideration.

You know I'm team "spoiled little LA girl" all day!

Alicia Keys and that Damn Bunny

These MTV promos instantly renewed my waning interest in Ms. Keys.

Here are my favorite two

Janet's were hilarious too

"This is not even a real key, it's like, duh!" LOL

And Usher's was SO slept on

"Damn, that's a big ass laser!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Remember This?

Not too many people are familiar with Mary J. Blige's "Changes I've Been Going Through," and that's a shame. The song wasn't a single, nor did it garner much unofficial radio-play, so you'd basically have to own What's the 411? to notice it. It's pretty amazing, nonetheless.

I won't pretend like Mary hasn't released better music since; and really, "Changes" isn't even the best 411 has to offer, but there's something about the song that makes it sort of timeless. This is Mary at her hip-hop/soul best, with the lyrical vulnerability of My Life shining through even before the album came to fruition. Lyrics like "can't you see what I've been going through, cause I wanna be with you," sung in Mary's raspy whine make "Changes" resonate with anyone who's ever been the least bit lovesick.

"Baby, did I push you away...was I coming on too strong for you?"

Kids today, with their fly by nite Myspace-bred relationships don't know nothing about that Real Love! LOL...

Oh, and that sample..beautiful. Why can't Diddy do production of this caliber anymore?

I Think I've Dissed Cherish On This Blog Before

But I've FINALLY come around to listening to their sophomore album(I know, right?), The Truth... and I might be in love with it. Yes, I realize it was released nearly a year ago...but there was better music consuming my attention back then.

A lot of my friends get on me for enjoying the album's first single, "Killa" featuring Yung Joc so much; but in my defense, I was a bit intoxicated the first time I heard it, and I vaguely remember some chick falling off the stage right around "shorty is a killa!," which makes me smile every time I hear the words. Other than that, it's just a fun song, which I can appreciate.

Given the small selection of pop and R&B girl groups today, I feel inclined to work with what's available. Danity Kane bores me, and they're a wrap I'm gonna keep quietly listening to Cherish, alone in my room...and discreetly switch to Coldplay should any questions be asked.

Oh, and should you run across The Truth, I suggest you approach it with caution --expecting very little, and looking to kill some time. With that attitude, you'll find it significantly more enjoyable.

Here's the video for my guilty pleasure

Are they playing musical chairs at the end?

This is Completely Random...

But, this is the cover to Britney's 1999 single, "Baby One More Time." It's a little weird, right?

I've always wondered what Britney's camp sought to accomplish with this picture, especially considering that by the time the single was released commercially it had already been a huge radio hit. That is to say, Britney was already well on her way toward becoming a household name, which to me makes this photo sort of an odd choice as her very first single cover. I'm all for the face shot (wait...), but there had to be some other motivation behind choosing this photo..because clearly it's not the best of Britney.

The messy bed-head and vulnerable look in Brit's eyes, paired with the suggestive tone of the title make me think that they were aiming to establish her jailbait potential from the start; Brit looks like a little girl in her momma's wig (assuming your mom is Courtney Love)..and maybe it's just the English major in me, but that has to symbolize something...vapid or insightful, but definitely profitable.

Or maybe this photo is just an eerie foreshadowing of Brit's darker days ahead...poorly kept weave and all. I mean, she definitely looks a little crazy right? Less future superstar, and more "I'll never tell..."

Can you tell I don't have SHIT to blog about? Still, I probably would've slid this in eventually.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ciara Gives Fantasy Ride another Try with “Never Ever”

This week R&B singer Ciara will drop the third release in a series of failed first singles to promote her much delayed album, Fantasy Ride.

Yes, you read that right; this is Ciara's third shot at a first single in the past year. I can remember a time, pre-2006ish, when a first single was a first single, and whether it sank or swam an artist's release date held firm, facing them with the challenge of coming harder with the second single to keep the album afloat. Today, artists release two simultaneous singles off-rip, and probably a third and fourth when the album actually drops. That's assuming the first two singles perform well; if not, record labels will hold an album until they've finally found a radio hit, or scrap it altogether (ask Mya). In this scenario you've heard half an album before you've ever had the chance to buy it, and the second half within two weeks of its release.

Perhaps that's the industry's way of coping with a serially-downloading, YouTube addicted culture that doesn't have to wait for much of anything anymore; but for the most part I think it's just an attempt to saturate the market with so much subpar material that listeners lose concept of what constitutes good music and make due with the best of the worst. Enter Ciara's wack ass Never Ever

When Ciara first surfaced with 2004's Goodies, she was instantly overrated. Besides her obviously weak vocals, not even her dancing could compensate for her lack of showmanship and originality. Plus, her weave was smoked…which, considering the technologically advanced faux-hair options we've had since the turn of the century, was inexcusable. But Ciara came much stronger in 2006 with the release of her sophomore album the Evolution. Everything from her material to her image was noticeably more polished and confident, and with each successive hit single it seemed as though Ciara was well on her way to establishing some seniority in the music industry.

However, in 2008 her place in music history isn't as secure.

The first two singles from Ciara's Fantasy Ride, Ludacris assisted High Price, and Go Girl, which featured T-Pain, were far from terrible. While the use of Ciara's higher register in High Price was a bit unsettling at first, after a few listens the pitch matches the song's mood nicely, and in the end the record was at least fun, if not lead single material. Second first single (yep, I'm gonna keep doing that) Go Girl was far better, even with the T-Pain feature. What the song itself lacked in originality, the accompanying video more than made up for in style and visual appeal. Still, both songs performed poorly on radio, and were pushed to the left in favor of more studio time.

If High Price and Go Girl couldn't do it for Ciara, I'll be sorely disappointed if Never Ever is the single that catches on. The Polow produced mid-tempo song is so Prom '94 that not even Jeezy's presence can bring it into 2009; we're talking fingerwaves and cross-color jeans. There's nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia (Keyshia's Let It Go), but Never Ever doesn't know that it's outdated, and that's a problem. Vocally, the song is a regression for Ciara, who sounds just as bored and uninterested singing the song as you will listening to it. And really, I can't blame her. Singing lyrics like "Throw your hands up in the air if you know he love you" would kill my spirit too. Then again, she co-wrote the song, so maybe I'm cutting her too much slack.

Ciara's career is far from permanently damaged, and I'd really like to see her get it together before it's too late. She's grown on me quite a bit since Goodies, and really, I can't think of another female artist in her age-range that satisfies her place on radio, stage, and video. That's enough to keep me interested in her.

Below you'll find Ciara's video for Go Girl

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Wasn't Blogging When This Picture Was Relevant, So Technically I'm Not Late...Just Vintage?

I don't know shit about photography, but I can recognize a good picture when I see it.

Back in 1999, leading into 2000, when Angelina was just the hot chick who dated her brother, I loved her. Her whole brooding, occasionally Gothic chic look, paired with her notorious Daddy issues worked for me, which probably says something about my own issues, but that's neither here nor there. In 2009 however, increasingly-domesticated and randomly good-willed, save-the-world-one-baby-at-a-time Angelina just annoys me, for a myriad of reasons. It's not just that she's boring, but also that she's so publicly good-hearted. Anyone can assist in curing international famine, but only Angelina has to do so by becoming the goodwill ambassador for an entire nation. Boo you, and your incredibly sexy demeanor.

In all of my loss of interest in Jolie, I had forgotten why she's considered such a sex symbol. Obviously men are all on it, but even a surprising amount of straight women will openly admit to their willingness to hop right in the sack with Jolie too. While I think she's frightening in a prang mantis, eat your head off after you've mated sort of way, this picture reminds me that despite her ever escalating annoyingness (my blog, my word), Jolie does posses the sort of classic beauty that qualifies her as much more than simply sexy.

I've seen Jolie wear much less and still not look nearly as appealing as she does in this quarter length shot. The cleavage is hard to ignore, but her eyes are what hold your attention. And, as much as I would love to argue that Jolie's lips are overrated, this picture won't let me. Parted just enough to escape a pout, but too little to qualify as a smile, her mouth is nearly a work of art in itself, and I'm sure she's fully aware of that. Jolie looks every bit the movie star on this cover, offering the sort of relaxed glamor that most contemporary actresses can't pull off nearly as well.

Still Team Jen all day.

A Few Songs That I’m Loving Right Now…

--> I don't too often listen to adult-contemporary radio, which is probably why I was a little late in hearing Aretha Franklin's Put You Up On Game, featuring Fantasia. Still, the song is pretty amazing. More so than a majority of aging artists, Aretha knows how to balance her seniority in the music industry with the challenge of catering to an increasingly younger radio-listening audience, so that songs like this one, along with her 90's hit A Rose Is Still a Rose are timeless enough to appeal to any age. Put You Up On Game tries a little harder than Franklin's duet with Lauryn Hill to appeal to contemporary culture, but lines like "Don't get it twisted, I ain't hatin" are far more dated than I think Aretha recognizes. Thankfully, a majority of the song is an absolute achievement in bridging the generation gap between two phenomenal vocalists and their respective fans. And not so surprisingly, Fantasia holds her own quite nicely next to Aretha.

--> I'm still not speaking to Justin Timberlake after a certain 2004 incident, but I can't even pretend like his randomly leaked single(?) If I… isn't one of my favorite songs of the moment. Timberlake's falsetto suits him quite well, and the fact that he uses it fairly rarely keeps me interested in hearing it as often as possible. Future/Sex was a mess of an album to me, and the fact that every song worth listening to on the entire set was released as a single tells me that Justin knew the album was an inconsistent clusterfuck of sound too. If I…is the sort of music that should consume Timberlake's focus on his next album. The relaxed, oldschool-lite production of the track is comfortable without ever venturing toward boring. This is the sort of music that Robin Thicke dreams of recording, instead of the increasingly dull material he currently delivers. The T.I. feature is predictable, but fitting. This track proves that the two have a chemistry that isn't exclusive to 2006's My Love.

--> Awhile ago I said that Slim's (of 112) album was a waste of good material, and I stand by that today. However, the album's second single Good Lovin' is one of the best songs to be completely ignored by radio since Janet's Feedback. With Ryan Leslie picking up the hook, and Fabolous injecting some energy near the bridge, the track is consistently satisfying from beginning to end. Slim sounds as good as he ever did on any up-tempo 112 song, reminding listeners that he can handle a dance track with the same ease as a ballad. For whatever reason, I refuse to give Ryan Leslie a fair chance (probably because he introduced the world to Cassie), but between this and his solo single Diamond Girl, I might have to rethink my attitude toward the producer turned singer.

Whitney Leaves The Hills for The City

I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again for good measure: I don't enjoy The Hills. I was never too interested in Laguna Beach, and when I did watch it I rarely paid any attention to Lauren, it was all about Kristin in those days. So, naturally when Lauren headed to L.A., I turned to VH-1. Still, I'm fairly familiar with a majority of the show's storylines, based on pure entertainment news coverage alone. In five seasons, I've probably seen just two episodes, but could tell you more about Spencer and Heidi than I could some members of my own family. My consciousness has basically been violated by The Hills, and I suppose that my instant interest in The City is my inevitable act of submission.

City star Whitney Port is probably the one character person from The Hills who has kept a low enough profile to remain relatively unnoticed by those not too familiar with the show; so unnoticed that when I first heard of The City I had to promptly tune into The Hills to familiarize myself with her. Luckily enough, I found Whit just in time to see her interview with fashion mogul Diane Von Furstenburg and then announce her departure from one primetime slot, for another. This week I reluctantly showed up for Whitney's east coast arrival and, to my surprise, I might just hang around for the rest of the season.

On paper life in the city is more or less the same as it was in the hills, with one noticeable difference: Whitney is considerably more interesting than Lauren. Actually, they're both sort of boring, but at least Whitney has the whole wide-eyed and innocent angle going for her. Lauren is nice enough, but that's about it; not especially witty or engaging, just mild-mannered, pretty and inexplicably famous, where Whitney is less the celebrity, and by trade, more personable. This makes the working-girl approach of both shows much more effective on The City because the lead is infinitely more convincing in the role.

Outside of Whitney's charm, The City has, well, the city going for it. Everything is more interesting in New York, even stale conversations about pre-mature relationships (seriously, where the hell did Whit's randomly Australian love interest come from, and why does he look like Adrian Grenier from HBO's Entourage?). New York gives the show a refreshing urgency that hasn't ever been present in the excessively indulgent pace of The Hills. The show is still about absolutely nothing, but NY has enough substance to compensate for that, at least for awhile.

However, like its companion show The City is far from perfect. I will never understand how these girls manage to live in major metropolitan cities, and still fail to encounter a single person of color…like, ever. If anyone were to question if lack of diversity on television was still a relevant issue in 2009, they'd have to look no further than shows like The City, which claim to depict reality, but do so on such a limited scale that it becomes painfully obvious that popular media still has a long way to go in terms of reflecting the actual reality of America. Elsewhere, a decent chunk of the show's premise seems to rely on a whole uptown/downtown, hipsters vs. socialites beef that is so Gossip Girl I could vomit, and Whitney's co-worker/obvious-future-frenemy Olivia is so randomly vacant that she and Audrina have to be at least distantly related.

But, whatever…The City is perfectly suited for its Monday night timeslot, when I don't have shit else to do but homework for Tuesday.