dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the newcomers January 3, 2009

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2008 was not only a year of comebacks but a year when, contrary to the declining viability of the music industry as a means by which to make an above average living, new artists emerged and those waiting in the wings made their debut.

and nkotb have been gone so long they count as a new act in my book.

these are my favourites of 2008.

download 2008 newcomers

candy hill – head gone

don’t know much about these girls. teairra mari featuring on this track is interesting. she might be better off joining them than trying to relaunch her solo career. i miss the days of tlc, swv and xscape.

jazmine sullivan – need you bad

have been hearing about this girl for a few years now. it seems like she had a failed contract a few years back which explain why there are so many tracks floating around that aren’t on the album.

jennifer hudson – all dressed up in love

i wonder if jennifer can ever really recover from what has happened, i don’t know. she was great in ‘sex and the city’ and i expect her to push forward with the acting now moreso than the music. somehow i think she will feel that is more appropriate and the accompanying promotional activity will be less about her and more about the characters.

karina pasian – 16 at war

born in 1991 – eek! not a typical def jam artist and i mean that as a compliment. her debut ‘first love’ didn’t exactly set the world alight but she has plenty of time and it was no reflection on the quality of the music.

michelle williams – unexpected

michelle’s mainstream debut was hotly anticipated as a the album to finally shut down beyonce or a damp squib depending on which camp you fell into. as it is, she didn’t even outsell kelly rowland.

nkotb – 2 in the morning

not strictly new artists, and would never have seen the light of day if they had been, truth be told. this was the track from ‘the block’ that showed their progression. i’m going to see them later this month…i will try to exercise some restraint but can’t promise anything.

santogold – shove it

seems to get a bit narky when labelled a hiphop/r&b artist. she isn’t, and i don’t care for most of her music but i liked this reggae track since i heard it on C4’s Transmission.

solange – sandcastle disco

sol-angel? nothing really that angelic about having a baby at 17, if we’re being picky. if beyonce had released this album, however, everyone would have lapped it up. it’s much better than her own.

stephanie mckaye – this letter

not to be confused with stephanie kay, wildchild of degrassi junior high. i wonder how many people reading this are old enough to get that…anyway, i hadn’t heard of her until her second album ‘tell it like it is’ dropped in 2008. kind of retrosoul/neo-soul fusion.

uness – woman got culture

his official arrival is taking forever…i could have put him on this list for the last few years. is it the state of the music industry or something else? how next selection can rush out a weak artist like cassie but sit on uness is beyond me.

 

i’m crazy for you, mr dj January 19, 2008

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the dj has enjoyed a good run of adoration that shows no sign of slowing down. and that is one serious jacket.

clearly, these artists didn’t frequent townie clubs where fat fortysomething djs led the crowd in chants of ‘who ate all the pies?’

see comedy dj ray von from phoenix nights for an example of the wedding reception dj those of us who grew up in the 80s had to contend with. though slowly becoming extinct they can still be found in their natural habitat – a chicago rock cafe.

shit…what is going to happen to pete tong and brandon block in the ‘010s?

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artful dodger – rewind

black magic – freedom

cassie – in love with the dj

che’nelle – i fell in love with the dj

destiny’s child – my song

indeep – last night a dj saved my life

jennifer lopez – play

lighter shade of brown – hey dj

rihanna – pon de replay

warren g – this dj

yvette michele – everyday and everynight

zhane – hey mr dj

 

i can’t believe it’s not prince September 22, 2007

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oh yes, this is a sequel. there are definitely more than one post’s worth of prince jackers.

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alexander o’neal – innocent

well, alex was in a band, flyte time, with prince in the 70s. so it’s natural that their sounds would evolve similarly. especially with jam and lewis on production duties. i heard something about alex being spotted on kilburn high road looking confused last week. wtf if a soul legend doing on kilburn high road? shopping in primark?

cassie – me and you

no she can’t sing, especially not live, but the general consensus is that she’s getting away with it cos she has hot beats courtesy of er, her man ryan leslie. this sparse track is ‘kiss’ for the 00s. but not as good, obviously.

damage – ghetto romance

a very turn of the century sounding track from the boys and i’m not sure why it reminds me of prince exactly but i want to include it so…here it is.

janet jackson – if

in your face funk. janet, like prince, was never afraid to use rock in her production. she was also never afraid to tell it like it is which is probably they were my two favourite artists of the 80s. this track is every bit as hectic as ‘my name is prince’ which was out just a bit earlier.

karyn white – hungah

karyn’s earlier efforts were 80s machine funk and new jack swing respectively but for her third album she stripped her sound down somewhat.

mario vasquez – cohiba

the first time i saw mario on american idol i thought he had the potential to perform like prince, if not to be such an all rounder.  i’m not sure why this project has stalled…

natural selection – do anything

well this track fooled me the first time i heard it. the call and response chorus is very ‘erotic city’ and the beat is like a slowed down ‘extra loveable’.

nicole scherzinger – steam

there are no shortage of prince-style beats in 2007, which is just as well as nicole isn’t interesting enough without them. i’m not sure what all the fuss is about here. this will be another flop due to deluded self-belief that she’s as interesting on her own.

paula abdul – my love is for real

after cartoon cats and ethereal ballads, paula’s third album tried to channel prince and probably was more credible although not at all a success. her vocals are the problem. i find it incredible that she now judges others and that simon cowell has managed not point out the irony.

ryan leslie – rock u

to me, most of next selection’s beats are an attempt to recreate the buzz around early 80s prince. are ryan and cassie the new prince and vanity? probably, which is proof of the decline in quality and talent in the music industry.

spl2rge – scuse me

bear with me on this one – if prince had been born in london not minneapolis, twenty five years later, this is the kind of music he would have been making.

teedra moses – backstroke

well, teedra lies about her age but she does make decent music. this is very 90s prince.

 

you can’t give a baby booze September 3, 2007

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 drinking and music just works.  given that we do not live in a musical and most of us aren’t one of the kids from fame, we need a little liquid encouragement to start shaking it in a public place.

alcohol has moved on during my clubbing lifetime. in my early 90s, underage with someone else’s fake ID days, we drank some disgusting concoctions. snakebite and black, pernod and black, malibu and pineapple. not forgetting of course the infamous taboo and mirage which were rubbish because they didn’t get you pissed as quickly. pimms was avoided for the very same reason. it was spirits, cider, lager and wine.

the alcopops invasion happened when i started university, with hooch and two dogs ‘lemonade’. the former made my throat hurt it was so acidic and the latter’s alcohol content seemed to be entirely derived from sugar. bacardi breezers are still going strong but others we have loved and lost – ginzing, jammin’ (loved the blue and silver ones, yellow banana one was yuck), decoda (cream soda, yum), metz, woody’s and the best ever, smirnoff mule.

when you’re a penniless student though, sod sophistication and refinement. your alcohol budget (all of your available cash not spent on bus fare and bagels) can be stretched further than six 79p alcopops from the offie. oh yes, you can make the ‘i’ve been tangoed’ by mixing lambrusco, gin and orange juice for that just been hit over the head feeling. the unpopular and therefore cheap castaway, mixed with diamond white for a cocktail that will render you senseless in the student bar. 

once you graduate and have a bit more cash (I did only say a bit) all three flavours of aftershock can be dumped into a pint glass containing a bottle of smirnoff ice to produce a deceptively misty looking yet lethal concoction best consumed when you have a designated driver. ok, as a girl, i have never done this but its a twentysomething male staple along with vodka and red bull for those morning after shakes.

now? well, if i order a cocktail that costs less than a fiver I congratulate myself on not going overboard. pathetic…

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2pac – pour out a little liquor

busta rhymes – pass the courvoisier

d’angelo – one mo’ gin

j-kwon – tipsy

jutbox and cassie – at the bar

omarion and usher – icebox

public announcement – put your drink down

snoop dogg – gin and juice

solange knowles – champagne chronic nightcap

tony toni tone – slow wine

too short – cocktails

ub40 – red red wine

young black teenagers – tap the bottle

 

the true sound of miami May 21, 2007

what’s freestyle? even if you think you aren’t familiar, chances are that if you have more than a passing interest in hiphop r&b soul or even house and garage, then you will have heard several of its exponents.

originating from miami in the mid 80s, freestyle can best be described as a straight mashup of electro, hiphop, r&b, house…anything goes. hence the name. it became hiphop for girls. yes, female rappers such as roxanne (both of them) salt-n-pepa and jj fad were doing their thing, but this was much sweeter and more accessible.sometimes, it was so plaintive as to be almost offkey and out of tune but I think that adds to its charm, and is more honest than giving cassie, britney and mya recording contracts and manipulating their weedy warblings. freestyle sounded like it had been made on a casio keyboard, and it most probably had been. the studio version without the ‘wake me up before you go go’ demo button though. vocals that sounded like they had been recorded into a handheld tape deck gave the whole affair a more dangerous edge.

the look? quintessential late 80s styling with a latin edge. big backcombed curls, big earrings…and relaxed pastels for the heat. freestyle itself could perhaps be summarised with the above image – aspirational neon cocktail. totally 80s, totally miami.

when I visited florida a few years ago, I didn’t expect to hear any freestyle. i thought that one of the things that had made me want to visit miami for so long would be long gone, a distant memory of twenty and thirtysomethings now fully immersed in the house or r&b scenes. but it was everywhere!

 


crunk had just exploded but from the local radio stations, you’d never guess. we cruised happily up and down the a1a, and in and out of walgreens and taco bell, to the sounds of freestyle for two weeks. i highly recommend florida to anyone needing some sunny late 80s nostalgia…

ten sounds of party 93.1 south floridadownload here


lil suzy – take me
well, if i hadn’t known this track before i went to florida, i certainly did by the time i arrived home. played about four times a day and considering we didn’t spend that much time in the car listening to party 93.1, you can safely assume this was a dj favourite…

stevie b – spring love
uk peeps may only know stevie b for his dreary 1991 hit ‘because i love you’. it seems the only reason he got away with releasing that dirge was that he had already established some credibility on the freestyle circuit. and promptly flushed it down the toilet.

nice and wild – diamond girl
no pic exists for this group, who had several freestyle club hits – this is my favourite. perfect example of electro meets hiphop meets 80s jheri curl soul.

expose – let me be the one
i do remember expose being hyped as the next big thing in smash hits in the late 80s. well, they didn’t take off in the uk but appear to have done well natively and are fondly remembered. i think when en vogue arrived i was slightly confused then realised they were a completely different group.cover girls – show me
like expose, touted as the next big thing but the uk didn’t really get freestyle so they sank without trace until they shifted direction. i seem to remember they covered ‘wishing on a star’ so they must have had some success over here.

lisa lisa and cult jam – i wonder if i take you home
electro favourite that was hard to categorise at the time. lisa lisa and cult jam continued to have success, with ‘all cried out’ (later covered by allure and 112) and c&c music factory remixed ‘let the beat hit em’ (heard that on the radio last week – still sounds amazing). lisa went solo in 1994 with album ‘LL77’ to rapturous reviews but uh, it was all a bit alternative and grey for me…i much preferred the colourful nonsense of the 80s.

shannon – let the music play
perhaps the first freestyle hit, apart from freeez‘s ‘iou’, which i’m not sure counts as they were from london, not miami. plus, ‘iou’ was a wedding reception favourite even back in the day, which surely disqualifies them. anyway, this track along with madonna’s poppier ‘holiday, changed the face of dance music in 1984.

 

 

 

joyce sims – all and all
this song was doing nothing and going nowhere until kurtis mantronik picked it up and laid the vocals over his ‘bassline’ instrumental. suddenly it was everywhere and not everyone realises its a remix – a bootleg at that.

debbie deb – when i hear music
one of the biggest freestyle hits. i had to include a more recent photo of debbie as she looks awful in her 80s shots. circulation defying skintight bleached jeans, sausage in a condom style boob tube, blonde hairdo that looks like it would come off in one piece…ick…sometimes i’m glad i wasn’t really old enough to pick all of my own clothes in the 80s. 

 

seduction – two to make it right
much like expose and the cover girls, assembled to cash in on their success. probably wore the least clothes out of the three and had the least hits as well…