dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the comebacks January 3, 2009

cd

despite declining sales, labels continued to throw money and effort into album promotion instead of finding new and creative ways to make money from music. which is now basically free, let’s face it.

i enjoyed these the most of all the comebacks last year.

download the comebacks of 2008

anthony hamilton – the day we met

consistent and underrated, anthony hamilton’s new album ‘the point of it all’ is a little more punchy, i think, than his previous efforts. it’s worth seeking out his mostly unknown 1996 debut if you like this side of him.

ashanti – you’re gonna miss

ashanti is that girl who has more male friends than female. she gets a lot of hate, but, she delivers some good music. ‘the declaration’ was a solid effort that would have achieved more had it not been for her audience connection issue mentioned previously, and the state of the music industry.

beyonce – single ladies

well, if you thought ‘bday’ was a disappointment…i’m hoping some of the other tunes on ‘i am…sasha fierce’ will grow on me. there’s nothing groundbreaking there though. i did love the fact that she appeared on x factor to sing with alexandra though. who, by the way, i think outsings her on ‘listen’ when she sings solo.

common – sex 4 sugar

common is taking a more commercial route this time round with ‘universal mind control’. that’s ok, it works.

erykah badu – honey

..speaking of which, his formerly crazy former missus has also lightened up a bit. see, it didn’t hurt that much did it? but for a time there it looked as if she had a touch of the lauryn hills.

john legend – can’t be my lover

i tried but failed to get into ‘once again’ but i’m loving the return to form on ‘evolver’. the reggae tracks are totally his comfort zone and the euro-electro tinged tracks even work, much as i am hating this current trend, which should in my opinion have started and ended with britney’s ‘gimme more’.

keyshia cole – where this love could end up

keyshia was hailed as the new mary. to my mind, she has not evolved or developed even slightly past her 2004 debut. this is not to say that ‘just like you’ and ‘a different me’ are bad – they’re as good as ‘the way it is’. if prince were to unleash another few albums that took up where ‘1999’, ‘purple rain’ or ‘sign of the times’ left off then this would be eaten up. but keyshia’s not prince.

mariah carey – i’ll be loving you long time

‘e=mc2’ is nowhere near as good as ‘mimi’ let’s get that out of the way. and ‘touch my body’ is shit. but as r&b albums go it’s head and shoulders above most of the crap we get launched at us these days and everyone is so relieved to see her settled and wearing some clothes for once that this is good enough.

raheem devaughn  – woman

a consistent neo-soul artist who returned in 2008, like clockwork, with ‘love behind the melody’. despite the rubbish neo-soul genre tag, surely grown up soul is where the money’s at these days?

raphael saadiq – sure hope you mean it

like several others, mostly brit, artists, he went the retro route. to great effect and in a far more authentic and endearing way than gimmicky amy winehouse and duffy. raphael has, of course, been doing this since his tony toni tone days. i could have picked almost any of the tracks from ‘way i see it’ as my favourite.

snoop dogg – cool

not much promotion behind ‘ego trippin’ as it goes, which is a shame cos i heart the retro flow of this prince-inspired track and ‘sensual seduction’.

usher – before i met you

i wonder if poor old usher realised just how critical the salivating teen girls and his momager were to his success? not at all, apparently, until ‘here i stand’ bombed and he bricked it. marrying a ropey looking older woman when you have the pick of a population? bratz generation say what?

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teenage love affair July 10, 2008

before t’internet, there were magazines. ok there still are magazines but i now buy two per month – heat and glamour – whereas back in the day i used to get about ten.

just seventeen was good for horoscopes and those little free books that taught you to be a total stalker, in a completely non-harmless way of course…’close your eyes and think of a question. stick a pencil down anywhere on the page. find the symbol you land on and the answer will be revealed….’he thinks you’re too good for him’. well, durrrr.

more! was of interest primarily for the problem pages, which went slightly beyond that of the other titles. there was no ‘shoud i kiss him or not?’ boys at school would pore over these pages in great detail, before checking position of the fortnight. ‘oh yeah…done that already.’ ‘who with?’ ‘you don’t know her…i met her on holiday…’

mizz dealt in hardcore compatibility charts. so if you were an aries and you liked a pisces you were basically screwed. question: did anyone actually look a compatibility chart, see that their intended target was suitable and then march up to them at school the next day? no. it made no difference except if he turned you down…’we weren’t compatible anyway, he’s a fucking leo, i can’t be doing with it…’

minx ruled. it dared to take the piss out of gormless celebs like ‘louise out of eternal’ and the spice girls, much to the anger of their PRs, as I remember. i have no idea why it disappeared so suddenly, everyone i knew loved it.

download here

alicia keys – teenage love affair

amazulu – too good to be forgotten

aaliyah – age ain’t nothin’ but a number

beyonce – my first time

chairmen of the board – since there were pigtails

cool notes – you’re never too young

erykah badu – back in the day

hot chocolate – it started with a kiss

ryan leslie – used to be

shanice – i love your smile

sister sledge – frankie

slick rick – teenage love

 

when life imitates art May 11, 2008

this mariah and nick cannon thing…has to be fake surely. i know she’s madder than a bag of ferrets, but shotgun wedding to serial dater and no pre-nup? come ON…

download here

aaliyah and r.kelly – the thing i like

very seedy – aaliyah signed with r.kelly’s label at 13…and two years later they allegedly married when she was 15 although the certificate said she was 18. maybe she was? of all the discussions i’ve seen on this topic this hasn’t been raised a possibility. aaliyah went on to date damon dash. and r.kelly? not going there.

ashanti and nelly – switch

not sure if these two are still together or not – in any case both are releasing albums shortly so you can bet that they’ll let us know one way or another, depending on how their publicists decide to play it.

beyonce and jay-z – upgrade you

i want to like jayonce, but they have really dull friends like ‘new bono’ chris martin and gwyneth paltrow. on the upside, their inevitably impending offspring will have fabulously ghetto names, probably chosen by worlds’ scariest mama tina knowles. bet she’s scouring those 80s music lists for a faux francais babyname that jheri soul’s finest would be proud of.

bobby brown and whitney houston – something in common

oh how we loved bobby and whitney – 80s badboy teen falls for older woman and mends his ways. for about five years, then he has an early midlife crisis and it all goes badly wrong. now whitney is trying to replicate the good old days with an even younger model and bobby is trying to get it on with anyone who’ll have him.

brandy and boyz ii men – brokenhearted

think those child protection laws must’ve been a bit slack in the early 90s. like aaliyah, brandy fell prey to an older counterpart but *sigh of relief* it was sensible old wanya of non-threatening boyz ii men, and he apparently waited until she was 16…

common and erykah badu – the light

after splitting with andre 3000 of outkast, crazy bag lady erykah (i do mean that in a nice way) hooked up with smiley rapper common. this woman outcrazied two rappers. do not mess.

jennifer lopez and p diddy – feelin’s so good

i did like j lo and puffy. it was a shame about that inconvenient little shooting incident which scared her off. they were fabulously trashy and didn’t care. she also was channelling the best outfits of her life when they were together. i still want that green tropical versace number…

kelis and nas – popular thug

seemingly solid couple and i’m kind of impressed with nas that he chose kelis, who clearly is not your run of the mill model-video actress-clinique salesgirl by day type, which he no doubt had his pick of.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

a bad move for mary, and i would say that jodeci were more than a little tarnished by the revelations concerning the destructive nature of her relationship with kci, which she was dealing with for years before she met kendu. karma’s a bitch – have you seen the state of jodeci lately?

notorious big and faith evans – one more chance

not the likeliest of lotharios but biggie managed to charm quite a few women in his 23 years…faith and lil kim faced off quite publicly about him for a while and let’s face it, must have felt a bit ridiculous fighting over someone so er, non-standard.

prince and vanity – if a girl answers

prince and vanity lead denise matthews had a short lived relationship, once they split, denise aka vanity, hightailed it and was replaced by patricia kotero in a new group, appollonia. *crickets* yes of course he did, why do you think she got the job? vanity went on to date slighty taller men – adam ant and billy idol.

rihanna and chris brown – umbrella

so, blabbermouth jordin sparks lifted the lid on the relationship and now they’ve been ‘spotted’, unwittingly, in kfc…oh god…i mean they’re both like, 12 years old, why do i know this?  chris has only just started to form vowels properly.

 

‘…sounds a bit like prince…’ January 4, 2008

snoopss3.jpg

 as a new artist, or even as an established artist, one of the greatest endorsements is to be labelled as sounding ‘a bit like prince’.

the saving grace of lazy journalists everwhere, these few words can rescue a flopping album, even if they are only bestowed upon one or two tracks. now that prince himself is more rock-fixated, the promise of just one or two scraps reminiscent of his 80s prime can be sufficient to spark interest amongst the musical cognoscenti.

to a lesser extent, this peculiar brand of retro copycat hype has previously been applied to artists lauded as the new ‘stevie wonder’ or ‘madonna’. there isn’t going to be a new prince, and it turned out out that those artists were similarly irreplaceable. the excitable, yet totally unreal, music journalism of the the late 90s has given way to a more considered approach.

we don’t need a new prince – clearly the man has produced gargantuan amounts of music and yet more could be unleashed at any point (please). the accessibility of retro music means that we don’t need rafts of exciting new artists – gone are the days when you had to pay a premium to get hold of music that was no longer in the charts.

we just need a few new songs every now and then. and they should sound as much like ‘when doves cry’ as possible.

download here

alicia keys – like you’ll never see me again

debuted with an album containing a prince cover – a b side no less, to show her fan credentials.  on this track, not only the production, but the vocal style and lyrics ooze purple. a lesser artist could be accused of bandwagon hopping but alicia has already proved herself.

chris brown – take you down

chris brown, however, has clearly been advised that the tumble tots r&b will only take him so far and is trialling a new, more adult musical direction – prince. job one should have been to work on that childish feature in his voice that makes him sound like he’s not old enough to form singular vowels – evidence: ‘you make me say yeeeeeoooooaaaaaawwwwww’. shit, my cat forms better vowels than that.

the dream – fast car

i like what i’ve heard from the dream so far, which isn’t a lot. but this and album track ‘nikki’ do reek of ‘obligatory prince-esque production’ to hook gullible and lazy journalists and perk up enthusiastic but clueless PR. basically this is ‘little red corvette’ not-so-updated for the 00s.

erykah badu – honey

an interesting detour for ms badu. i love her music but neo-soul artists can often fall into the dull and worthy trap, making their albums unlistenable by the time they get to their fourth outing.

justin timberlake and beyonce – until the end of time

the influence is slightly more subtle here, but those ‘when doves cry’ instruments are there, just slower, and the overall vibe is classic prince slow jam.

kevin michael – liquid lava love

like robin thicke with a curly afro and arguably more soul. expect big things from this one.

ne-yo – sex with my ex

ne-yo got a lot of stick for allegedly being gay. then when he fathered a child, he got a lot of stick for being ugly. now he’s getting a lot of stick for churning out a raft of soundalike tracks for the artsts he produces for. with all this abuse perhaps he’ll soon have more in common with craaaaaaig david.

p diddy and keyshia cole – last night

an absolute, straight in your face ‘erotic city’ ripoff so blatant that you can’t really argue. as ever, diddy’s montone adds little to the proceedings.

ryan leslie – i-r-i-n-a

ryan leslie’s productions have more than a whiff of purple about them but his own album was fairly narrative and self-celebratory which isn’t prince’s style. prince’s lyrics are cute and playful and focus on the subject rather than the protagonist and so i’m talking production similarities here – there’s no parallel in terms of subject matter, although this is the closet r-les gets to purple greatness.

snoop – sensual seduction

the video and lyrics are classic prince, but the production?  not like anything i’ve heard from prince, but perhaps i’m missing something. the synths are straight out of early 90s chillout, i’m pretty sure they’re too floaty and random for the machine funk of the 80s. nice combo though, me likey.

sterling simms – nasty girl

sterling jumps right back to late 70s prince while everyone else tries to recreate the 80s.

van hunt – hot stage lights

i only just listened to van hunt after hearing his name for years. and now i have a new musical crush. the only good thing about discovering artists late is that there is usually plenty of material to whet your appetite.

 

hiphop love songs April 26, 2007

…collective sigh of relief, one blogger isn’t getting into the whole don imus thing. quite frankly, I don’t know enough about it. more interestingly what it does seem to have triggered is renewed interest in the crusade against misogynistic and violent hiphop lyrics, a cause currently championed by russell simmons.i’m not going to delve for examples of russell‘s back catalogue that contradict this stance. it’s not big and it’s not clever – people are perfectly entitled to change their opinions.

what i’m not clear on though, is why they think the campaign will work this time round. the number of hiphop devotees has multiplied more than every other genre since the mass media last rallied in the early 90s. then, they targeted just a handful of rappers, including too short, tupac and snoop. because that was more or less the scale of the ‘problem’, a couple of record labels, a lot of overblown egos and scores to settle.

in 2007 its a whole different ballgame – they’re not attacking a subsection of underground culture, hiphop is now popular culture. no doubt, the campaign will hold up tupac and biggie‘s deaths, which now happened more than a decade ago, as proof of hiphop beef taken too far. and they were far from an everyday occurrence, the isolation of the incidents involving these tragic figures is exactly what has created their legend. far more people die on the streets every day than have hiphop icons over the last 20 years. and i’m pretty sure most of the street incidents happened to the kind of person who was going to get caught up in that world anyway. listening to eminem in your bedroom does not magically transport you out of the suburbs to the kinds of places where you might face those kind of kill-or-be-killed decisions.

perhaps the real shock factor in these deaths was borne out of a naïve assumption that a celebrity can more effectively shield themselves from someone who wants to kill them than the average member of the same community. that they were granted some kind of immunity and had transcended their circumstances through fame, rather than in fact becoming more vulnerable and a greater scalp.

what we should remember is that genuine hiphop tries to reflect real life. nwa didn’t just rap about compton to entertain you, that’s where they’re from and who they are. they were trying to give their community a voice, not suggest that their reality is anything like yours and that their actions and reactions would be acceptable within other contexts.

in the worst neighbourhoods, shot or be shot is an almost daily dilemma. tupac and biggie‘s deaths weren’t the shocking result of fiction overstepping the boundaries of storytelling, rather a sad indictment of a lifestyle they glorified for cash rather than broke out of. there wasn’t any fiction involved and their late material implied an acceptance of their fate.

so, those that should know better are regrouping to decide how to remove offensive content from hiphop. instead of convening to tackle the real life incidents that inspire it. then the rest of us can pretend its not happening anymore. great, well done.

ten non-offensive hiphop classicsdownload here common and mary j blige – come close
2004 cut from ‘electric circus’. common recognises that relationships can be hard and require sacrifice, but worth saving…

guru – when you’re near
king of non-offensive hiphop, guru and then-acid jazz ingenue n’dea davenport from the brand new heavies flirt back and forth in 1993.

guerrilla black – you’re the one
even g’s get it bad sometimes.

common and jill scott – 8 minutes to sunrise
now this one could really be messy – common has woken up next to his best friend’s girl.

foreign exchange – all that you are

how many men actively try to treat their women right?

ll cool j and boyz ii men – hey lover
ll
pioneered the hiphop ballad with ‘i need love’, then in 1995 he went one better and recruited r&b crooner boyz ii men to assist this tale of an unobtainable crush.

roots and erykah badu – you got me
new relationships are hard…especially when you meet in paris and are worried the spark will fade once you get home.

pm dawn – set adrift on memory bliss

best use of a sample ever. end of.

ali and gipp featuring letoya – almost made you

these relative newcomers are doing their thing, with ex-dc starlet letoya on board.

ll cool j – around the way girl

how come someone as fine as ll never gets his dream girl?