Tag Archives: Commentary

R&B + CHRIS BROWN: TOP TEN SONGS YOU’VE (PROBABLY) NEVER HEARD

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After dropping a critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2005 that was deeply rooted in R&B, CHRIS BROWN was quickly given the daunting task of spearheading a new generation of a genre that houses such greats as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. In 2008, though, Brown released “Forever” – his first real venture into crossing over into the mainstream and the pop/dance/electro hit shot him into superstardom. Many felt this success signified the end of his career as an R&B artist and haven’t given him much acknowledgment in the genre since. I feel like this debate will always be relevant because Michael Jackson is considered one of the greatest of all time and he’s deemed The King of Pop yet his name is thrown in plenty of R&B conversations; Brown has traveled a similar path but is slandered constantly whenever he’s nominated at award ceremonies in the R&B categories.

God forbid he actually win an award, but he did in 2012 when he snagged the Grammy for Best R&B Album for 2011’s F.A.M.E. and beat out El Debarge, Ledisi, Kelly Price and R. Kelly. People said Chris hasn’t been R&B since he first came out and that he shouldn’t claim the genre at all; I think that’s extremely unfair especially considering his catalogue is full of R&B gems that are hidden for some reason – until now. With his sixth album, X, slated for a summer release Chris has said that this album will revisit the vibe his debut effort held and many are skeptical that he’s able to pull this off.

So much music has been recorded but the masses have never gotten to hear them for whatever reason. Industry politics are a bitch but I’m here to bring the best of the best from CB’s resume so you’re not so lost out there – here we go!

10.) “Submarine” (2010) – A song that has him recounting where he went wrong to make his woman walk away, Chris spoke his heart and he spoke it to a jazzy, shoulder bopping beat that, if performed live, would have his feet moving in some way. No rapping, no cursing – just a voice and a beat. That’s what R&B is and “Submarine” displayed just that.

9.) “Calypso” (2012) – This Polow Da Don-produced promotional single was released ahead of Brown’s fifth LP Fortune in the summer of 2012 and was the lowkey cookout song for the scorching months. With backing vocals that were strongly reminiscent of a Mike Jackson in his prime, Brown had no problem enticing young ladies to just give into him and his harmless advances. He just wants to find out what you like, girl.

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WHERE’S THE SOUL GONE? ONE PERSPECTIVE ON TODAY’S R&B

The current state of R&B is creating an ongoing discussion that has everyone asking, “where’s the soul?” With singers rapping, rappers singing and the production resembling Dubstep, we’re currently in a ball of confusion. There are artists who are trying to bring the sound back whilst infusing new musical elements that elevate the genre more than it completely changes it – Frank Ocean, Miguel, Janelle Monae, and Elle Varner are huge examples of that.

Many claim that today’s R&B is oversexed – these same people who cry foul are those who grew up on songs that had their nine year old friends singing about knocking boots, freaking people and seeking out that honey love. I grew up within this same time frame and I have to say that while I do have my artists that I enjoy regularly, R&B today is a bit out of pocket. R. Kelly lived that freaky life he sang about – and got caught up a few times over it but we won’t discuss that here – but he also made songs like “I Believe I Can Fly”, “Gotham City” (for the Batman & Robin soundtrack, which was and still is a pretty big deal), and did a duet with Celine Dion.

What’s this called? Versatility.

Singing about sex is fine; it’s a natural thing that humans take part in for pleasure or to do as God intended for it and populate the world. Somewhere along the line, people forgot that in R&B versatility is the key to longevity. Part of this is a societal issue, though; to put it plainly, if the consumer has a ratchet mindset, then they’ll only identify with ratchet things that coincide with said mindset thus supporting ratchet music and keeping it in constant rotation. It’s a cycle and the more people complain with no action, the cycle will continue.

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CUTTING ROOM FLOOR: “DON’T JUDGE ME” – CHRIS BROWN

Hey y’all! I love music and I grew up in a dope time where music videos meant the world to artists. In turn, they meant the world to me, and still do. So much so that I often sit around and think of treatments for some of my favorite songs. With me having this lovely vessel with which I have access to, I figured why not share my ideas with you guys? Hell, maybe the right people will see these and hit me on my Jack! … yeah, so let’s get started but please remember that I am not a director so I’m not up on camera jargon and all that jazz and I can’t draw worth shit so NOOOOO sketches of any of this will ever be seen from these hands, ‘kay? Alrighty then, let’s start with Chris Brown‘s next single, “Don’t Judge Me”…


Blonde CB is needed for this one…

Word Bank: CB->Chris Brown (duh); LL->leading lady; IR->interrogation room

Setting: (main) a smokey, dark interrogation room with a two-way mirror; (secondary) an all-black room with a mic stand and a stool, also black.
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COMMENTARY: WHY I’M JEALOUS OF TEAM BREEZY

I am a person who can admit when I’m feeling a certain way, including jealousy, and this explanation just struck me minutes. Naturally, I had to bring it to you all’s attention.

When I was fifteen in 2001, I was just learning to live with the fact that *NSYNC would never do another album together and getting accustomed to seeing Justin Timberlake by himself. That year, I didn’t have much to look forward to musically so my taste scattered for a bit until 2002. Yes Justin released Justified that year but it was also the year that my obsession with B2K began the moment they were brought to my attention.

Thanks(?) BET.

Their high energy drew me in and made me want to dance even though I had no rhythm whatsoever. I went to concerts but was subdued because I couldn’t find it in myself to act a fool like the other girls were doing. Not in public, anyway. That time came and went and in 2004, I was back to longing for some decent music that wouldn’t lull me to sleep. Sure, there was Usher but he was … well, he was getting old and I was only eighteen. I needed somebody who would keep me young.

Thank God for Chris Brown in 2005.
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COMMENTARY: WHY YOU SHOULD SEE “THINK LIKE A MAN” + THE CAST & CREW THANK FANS FOR #1 SPOT

You’ve had to have been living under a boulder if you haven’t heard anything about Think Like A Man over the past year: the New York Times bestselling book penned by Steve Harvey that educates women on how to overcome relationship obstacles by presenting them with the mindset of a man was adapted into a star-studded film and though it’s experienced release date delays and slander from the male population, this past weekend was a historical one as it debuted at number one – beating out the box office king The Hunger Games, which was going for a four-week championship title as the country’s favorite.

I’ve owned the book since it came out and yes, I’ve been a silent advocate for what Steve’s putting out. I’ve told people about it, internalized most of the information and got lowkey amped when the announcement of a movie being made was publicized. I was slightly thrown once the laundry list of cast members kept growing; I didn’t know how it was going to be formatted, how everyone was going to fit, and I became worried once the release date started getting changed. I almost lost interest.

However, the marketing buffs behind the film weren’t about to let me and my dollars slip through the cracks. The advertising assault in favor of Think Like A Man was something I hadn’t seen in a GOOD while; I could not get away from these people, no matter how much I wanted to at times. As April 20th grew closer, I started to get excited again because the premise of how the book would be used was becoming clearer. The cast was a great draw: I already was familiar with everyone and their work, so to see them in this realm would be great.

I’ve seen the movie twice – once Friday afternoon with my mom and again the next day because we had to drag my sister with us. When I tell you that I haven’t had a better time at the movies than I did in the two hours I was sitting in theater #6 (twice), please know that I’m being genuine. Think Like A Man was funny, educational, and light-hearted – a movie based on a book that’s caused so much conversation between the sexes needed to be those three things.

So, why should you go see Think Like A Man?

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A QUiRK’S THOUGHTS: ENTERTAINERS VS. SINGERS – THERE IS A DIFFERENCE, FOLKS

Every day, there is someone having some kind of discussion being held about who is better than whom in today’s music industry. Beyoncé slays Alicia Keys; Adele is better than Rihanna; Chris Brown buries Trey Songz on his worst day – etcetera, etcetera.

Do you see something wrong about those comparisons? How about these:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches don’t compare to turkey and swiss; Twix just does not satisfy me as much as Jolly Ranchers; Vitamin Water is better than Sunkist.

How about that? My point is you can’t compare two things that do two DIFFERENT things because the measure of which you compare the two differs greatly. Entertainers and singers are purposely put in different categories; there are also subcategories of each but essentially there are only two options of what an artist can be – much like the hip hop debate of whether you’re an MC or a rapper.

Last night on Twitter, Team Breezy (Chris Brown fans) and Trey’s Angels (Trey Songz’s fans) were at it once again with the trending topic ‘TreySongzOrChrisBrown’. This comparison burns me to my core because I’ve found that the hatred between the two fan bases has intensified over the years. Trey and Chris came out in the same year but from the beginning Chris has soared while Trey’s career floundered a bit in the beginning. When you look at what they started out doing, it’s easy to see how different they are: Chris dropped “Run It!” as his first single, a dance/pop/R&B single that shot straight to number one. Trey’s first single – “Gotta Make It”, a crooning R&B single that took a bit of time to catch on with people.

From their first single alone, people should have known that these two Virginia-bred young men would reside in different lanes for the duration of their careers. Alas, fans have decided to forever beat this debate in the head.

I personally don’t understand why comparisons even need to be made, but radio/TV personality Charlamagne Tha God said it best during an interview with Nicki Minaj which is a track named “Press Conference” on her new album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. In reference to the notion that Nicki is being accused of trying to imitate artists like Madonna or Lady Gaga, Charlamagne said,

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THE WAY WE WERE: THE DEATH OF THE MUSIC NETWORK AND WHY THE MUSIC VIDEO ERA MAY NEVER REEMERGE

It’s Friday, which means it’s commentary day! This week is all about how dynamic the music video era of television was and how it left a lasting impact on its viewers. We may never see what we saw before on TV ever again, so it must be acknowledged. Feel free to hit the share button!

I was born in 1986 – the year of Pixar’s inception, Oprah’s national television debut, and the tragic crash of The Challenger. MTV was five years old while BET had existed for six years; VH1 was originally named Cable Music Channel and was created by Ted Turner as a competitor (whose target audience was older and geared more towards the adult contemporary demographic) for MTV, but was sold to the dominating network after a month due to low turnover. All of these channels providing cable viewers with the latest in music videos and other programming

Throughout my childhood music was always present: my mom had a Pioneer stereo that played some of the best music I’d ever heard, but it was music I hadn’t always seen on the TV: After 7, Bobby Brown, D’Angelo, Stephanie Mills, Heavy D, Full Force – I could go on for days, but I’m sure you get where I’m going with this. MTV and BET allowed me the opportunity to like my own artists and follow them as they developed visually. Through BET, I learned that I had a fond love of R&B thanks to people like Jodeci, SWV, Xscape, Aaliyah, R. Kelly & Public Announcement, and so many others. Hosted by Donnie Simpson and Sherry Carter, the urban network’s premier music show Video Soul made me excited to hear from all of the newest acts and watch them perform live each night. The peak of my week was every Friday night where, after a rousing night of TGIF programming provided by ABC and a nice bath, I watched their top twenty countdown for as long as my mother would let me.

I saw Boyz II Men’s “End Of The Road” video for the first time on Video Soul and almost fell over when I found out my mother bought their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony. I was seven years old, but it was just the beginning of my obsession with music television.

With MTV, I was exposed to the “other” side of the music industry: pop and rock, and I loved it. Bands like Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Guns ‘N Roses, Nirvana, Soul Asylum, Counting Crows, The Foo Fighters; vocalists like Mariah Carey, Lisa Loeb, Annie Lennox, Natalie Merchant, Alanis Morrisette, Suzanne Vega; dance artists like C+C Music Factory, Snap!, Real McCoy, Robyn S. – again, I could go on for days.

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A QUiRK’S THOUGHTS: GOOD GIRLS AND THE (BLIND) MEN WHO SEEK THEM

I was provoked to do this commentary after reading a tweet mad early this morning. Of course it’s long because I’m long-winded, but watch it because it’s good and funny and because you support me [lol]!

Shout out to Detroit for real though; they know I fucks with them.

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COMMENTARY: WHERE’S THE BEEF? – Artists Leave Much To Be Desired Regarding Singles And Videos

Don’t you hate when an artist drops such a live album but leaves much to be desired when it comes time to drop a single and shoot a video for said single? Yeah, it burns my biscuit as well. Sadly, I see this happening to three artists in particular and it makes me sad. Let’s hash this out because something needs to be done:

Drake’s Thank Me Later: Released on June 15th, you would think that Drake’s initial excitement for his debut album would have driven him to keep the momentum going his first two singles started in the spring and summer. True, “Miss Me” dropped and a video followed but it noticably got a lot less play than “Over” and “Find Your Love”. It was obvious that would be a single because of Wayne’s feature but they had WAY more options for singles including “Fancy”, which had a video but Drake didn’t like it. That’s all well and good but that setback definitely halted the TML train and it looks like he has no interest in trying to rectify it, sadly.

Of course the fans suffer at the end of the day. I always saw a video for “Unforgettable” and he seemed excited to bring that to life as a personal ode to Aaliyah, but we’ve heard nothing else about it. Time will only tell but I can already tell you how this story will end: in about three months, we’ll be hearing a new single from Drake’s sophomore album Take Care. I’m not a pessimist; I just tell it like it is.

Trey Songz’ Passion, Pain & Pleasure: So the Petersburg native picked up where “Say Aah” left off when he released “Bottoms Up” as a first single off his fourth album. I guess that was a wise choice; I’m not a party song person so it made me no nevermind one way or another. Following up with the slower “Can’t Be Friends” was definitely a decision I supported and I saw big things for this single. I actually was shocked when the song — and the album, for that matter — was shut out of the Grammy nominations recently announced. Anyway, if I were an executive at Atlantic (Lord knows they need to call me…), instead of choosing the sexually charged “Love Faces” as the follow-up to Trey’s summer hit, I would have picked something slower and more meaningful like “Please Return My Call” or my personal favorite “Made To Be Together”. We get that the mainstream portion of the industry only know of Trey because of his image as a budding sex symbol but why can’t we dispel this faction by showing the public that he’s about more than slapping skin and grinding pelvises? That shit is getting ancient and he’s putting himself in a box he does not need to be in. The songs I picked are sound choices that could go over well on radio; they both boast mature sounds that could get him steady play on the urban adult contemporary stations and once you’ve cracked that market, you’re in there. It’s as equally influential as the young urban market that everyone’s trying to get into.

Why the hell is no one listening to me? I swear, Atlantic ruined what made Ready so great by putting out songs like “Neighbors Know My Name” over album gems like “Black Roses”, “Jupiter Love”, “Love Lost”, or even “Holla If You Need Me”. What the fuck were they thinking? I have no earthly idea but they need to get it together. I knew “Love Faces” was going to be a single and I scoffed when I read the official press release announcing it. This shit is all wrong and what’s even worse is that they waited so long to put it out in the first place. “Can’t Be Friends” dropped in the summertime; why is “Love Faces” just being announced as the next single in December? I’ve yet to hear it on the radio which means that a video hasn’t even been shot for it yet. Anyone with sense knows that an album typically has a public life of about nine months, or a year if you’ve sold ridiculously high volumes of the disc. Passion, Pain & Pleasure dropped in September and about four months has passed between the singles. They’re so wrapped up in tours and endorsements over there that they’re abandoning the music that put them in this position in the first damn place, which shows how the music industry is all about business and nothing about the music anymore.

Trey’s never had a soft single since “Gotta Go”; why can’t he play that role once instead of this sex Adonis whose sole purpose is to pleasure every woman on the planet? I may be one of the only women out here who doesn’t think with her vagina every time Trey enters my brain because that shit doesn’t entice me. I want his label to peel back some layers and show this boy’s soul sometime. What use are the songs he records and puts on the album if he keeps putting out shit with the same subject matter over and over? Miss me with that bullshit.

Rihanna’s Loud: It’s actually pretty early to get on Rihanna about her single choices at this point because “What’s My Name” is JUST starting to die out finally. However, when I heard that “S&M” was a strong contender as the follow-up single I had to comment.

Like, for why?

I get she likes the song and it’s raunchy and all that good crap but I mean…for why? If I was the Bajan songstress, I would put out either “Cheers (Drink To That)” for its jovial good time subject matter (and I would have done this just in time for New Year’s – come on, that shit is the perfect song to sing at the bar) or go for the sure thing with “Raining Men” and call Nicki up to shoot the video. That would be a fun video, actually, even though I don’t love the song as much as I love the others.

After that, I would throw “S&M” out there if I had to but I’d keep going in the opposite direction and go with “California King Bed” or “Man Down”. Actually, I’d do both those songs and cancel out “S&M”. “Man Down” would be an epic ass video; she needs to film that whether it’s gonna be a single or not.

My issue with Rihanna, her people, and Def Jam is when it comes to her having hit albums and everyone loving her songs, they don’t capitalize on that. Dating all the way back to Good Girl Gone Bad, her label’s been fucking her selling potential all the way up. After “Hate That I Love You”, something either bouncy like “Sell Me Candy” or slow and cute like “Say It” should have been released. “Rehab” was a cool way to end the album…but I would have traded that for a “Sell Me Candy” video. Sorry.

With Rated R, I can’t even find the words to explain how much they fucked that one up. “Rockstar 101”? Really? “Te Amo”? For real? FUCK outta here! I would have scrapped them both and gone with “Fire Bomb”. If you ask anyone who owns the album, it’s guaranteed that they’ll say “Fire Bomb” was one of their – if not their absolute – favorites. Shit was just epic all around: her voice sounded great, it was an awesome concept, and the video would have murdered ANYTHING that dropped in the final quarter of ‘09, if filmed correctly. It showed vulnerability and told the story of every woman who’d ever had her heart broken by someone, including Rihanna herself. Why wasn’t this put out?

Notice how all three of those artists I just named all have endorsements with Kodak, among other companies using their image to sell you shit. Coincidence? On my part, it actually was but still. You see, labels have forgotten the main purpose of music: shit is a healer, it saves lives, it tells a story. Why would you water down an artist for the sake of a dollar? Who was the genius who said that this process labels follow was effective? All it’s doing is pissing me off. I can’t believe there are enough mindless drones out there who actively follow this formula but it frustrates me even more that consumers buy into this shit. You’re telling them that it’s okay to feed you bullshit and not listen to what you want like it’s okay and it’s not. YOU drive these artists’ careers so you should have a say in how shit goes down. Don’t let these eighty year old executives control what you, as a twenty something music savvy individual, see and hear.

The time to take control is now and these artists are even more brainwashed than the buying public is because they convince themselves that the label is leading them right or are sacrificing their voice for the sake of a check or potential control at a later date. I got news for you, honey; they don’t care about you and they’ll shit on you in the end so take your career in your hands and don’t let them take your integrity, sense, and voice away from you.

I’ll just continue to sit back with my Power-C Vitamin Water and watch as it dwindles.

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ALBUM REVIEW: “No Boys Allowed” – Keri Hilson

Today is the day that the world gets to hear Keri Hilson’s latest offering to the music world, No Boys Allowed. I, being a Keri fan from her first album, was expecting this to be the ultimate follow-up and solidify her place in the R&B lane. It…lived up to my expectations? I’d love to mean that because I love Keri, I honestly do, but it kinda fell short to me. Saddens me to say it but I’ll explain why:

The premise behind the title No Boys Allowed is that women should get into the habit of not entertaining the advances of little boys and that men should get into the habit of behaving as such. Great, I’m all for it and it’s sad that a whole album’s concept had to be based around this ideal because niggas should have had this together already. But I digress; the catch with this was that only male features appeared on the album. Clever, right? I thought it was cute. Score one for you, Keri.

Overall, I can comprehend the theme of the album and it was good. I think I was hoping for an In An Imperfect World sequel, but I didn’t get that. Her first album is special to me because it helped me and my friend through some things and while I’m not going through those things now, it’s nice to hope that material like that would get some shine. Instead, we have Keri hollerin’ about “The Way You Love Me” (mighty ratchetly, might I add) with that GOD forsaken Rick Ross featuring on it, — I swear, I just can’t get away from this guy no matter how hard I try! — then she’s exercising this false Island twang thing on “Bahm Bahm (Do It Once Again)”, and demanding that women put a finger in her man’s face to let him know she’s reached her “Breaking Point”.

*sighs*

Girl, what are we gonna do? I swear “Pretty Girl Rock” saved her because I honestly wasn’t going to give this album a chance due to what I’d seen beforehand. Keri’s a good person though and I’m a sucker for artists who are familiar to my ears, so I stepped out on faith. Despite what it may seem like, the album isn’t a total lost cause. There were more songs that salvaged my love for her than further tore it down. Sounds dramatic but I formulate close bonds to my favorite artists’ music; that’s what a fan does. Here’s what you did right, Keri:

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