dirty martini

old music for new people

everybody loves the old skool August 16, 2007

old-skool.jpg

this whole nostalgia thing is taking over. reminiscing used to be the preserve of old people, and at school, our biggest exposure to anything outside the early 90s was when we used to have to visit old people’s homes on what was known as ‘biddy patrol’.

in these, cough, fragrant environments, we just sat and listened to endless tales of ‘it was better in my day’ – a sentiment i’m starting to empathise with. we would smirk when they asked us if we were ‘courting anyone’ as we walked them round the garden. they then proceeded to tell us about the kind of music they listened to during the war, which most of us had never heard of. because it was fifty years ago.

a lot of people are scathing about the whole retro thing, especially the ‘i love…’ series. for most people, retro is several generations ago, not the 90s, a decade many people are still dressing in. i remember at the time of this series’ first run in 2001, the face magazine ran a pisstake article called ‘i love last week’. despite the fact that i loved the series, i found this right on the money. at the time i was 25 – should i be pining for my childhood already and oohing and aahing over such er, long lost groups such as take that and nkotb? nkotb haven’t even reunited yet, six years on! (although i am so anticipating that one).

we have long been encouraged to look backwards, its not an entirely new phenomenon. before the 00s, where the new, old and just-happened appear to share an equal platform in the nation’s consciousness, the first song i can remember that celebrated the old school was kylie’s ‘step back in time’ an ode to the disco era. there seems a unspoken agreement that old equals better – i think its just personal taste. i won’t listen to queen because they’re retro, anymore than i would listen to coldplay now.

my teenage cousins are more likely to listen to music made around the time they were born than i was at their age. this give us some common ground, but i do think its a shame if they can’t find anything new to relate to. we recently had a 15 year old work experience girl who listened exclusively to jungle, which was only really produced between 1993 and 1995. she was born in 1991. there is absolutely no chance that she could experience the culture behind the music. when i was 15 it was all about the new for me.

twelve artists who dig the cratesdownload here

aaliyah – old school

nostalgia’s an odd sentiment for a 15 year old but still, this is a nice mid 90s midtempo swing track from aaliyah’s first, r.kelly produced album.

amerie – reminisce witcha

from amerie’s new album ‘because i love it’ this track sees amerie nostalgic for a past relationship. there’s something very likeable about amerie and her voice sounds unique against the current crop of babyvoiced divas.

chante moore – old school lovin’

chante moore was a model-turned-singer and this is from her 1992 album ‘let’s stay together’. she had an early 90s supermodel look about her – lots of lipliner, pencil thin eyebrows and shiny, rollered hair.

estelle – 1980

this is an enjoyable romp through uk rapper estelle’s childhood, citing fresh prince, connect 4 and jheri curls as influences.

jill scott – family reunion

hazy happy barbecue days with the family. in a land where summer lasts longer than four days…

lauryn hill – every ghetto, every city

with more than a dash of inspiration from sir stevie, lauryn reminisces on an 80s childhood. its such a shame she couldn’t get it together to follow up ‘miseducation’. 

missy elliott and jay-z – back in the day

a look back to the 80s hiphop era – who knew british knights trainers actually orginated in the us? of course, missy was a huge five star fan, as well. hands up who wore their trainers with the tongues pushed up.

o’jays – family reunion

classic soul from one of the greatest groups of the 70s. used in the film ‘poetic justice’ for a barbecue scene, perhaps inspiring jill scott’s version.

shola ama – granny’s yard

cool. a very british excursion into shola’s 80s/90s upbringing. any song that namechecks soda stream, charlie brown and choice fm is ok with me.

stevie wonder – i wish

i watched a documentary about stevie wonder’s childhood and loved the fact that he didn’t his blindness affect his little boy instinct to leap off walls and sheds. ouch.

uness – old skool joint

newcomer uness pays homage to his girl and the old skool in one easy step. i’m loving uness.

will wheaton – old school soul

appreciation for the old school in the old school style. no its not that will wheaton…: )

 

prince’s protegees – sharing the magic May 7, 2007

its a common misconception that all of prince‘s protegees were:

  1. short – and i do mean short, as in shorter than prince, who is a certified dwarf
  2. female – prince had so many associates, it wasn’t really necessary for him to be able to sleep with all of them…

we need to make a distinction here. prince wrote and produced for many artists but these are those whose success he can legitimately claim as partly his own.

its difficult to say whether or not they could have been successful without him, most were launched as ‘prince‘s latest project’. but their music is so much an extension of his own that it’s literally like discovering a whole new prince back catalogue. as is the man wasn’t prolific enough already…

also check out some rare prince, some even rarer prince and some dubious attempts to jack his style

ten artists who pretty much owe prince their careerdownload here

vanity 6 – undress me – 1982
originally named ‘the hookers’, the group wisely vetoed prince’s idea that they should perform in lingerie and heels. fronted by his then-girlfriend denise matthews, their biggest hit was ‘nasty girl’ in 1982.

apollonia 6 – blue limousine – 1984

after rows with prince led to lead vanity 6 member denise matthews fleeing paisley park, patricia kotero stepped in and the project became apollonia 6. they only released one album, and still didn’t wear much.


jill jones – violet blue – 1987

former back up singer to teena marie, she was recruited to provide backup vocals for the 1999 album. her debut album in 1987, written and produced by the man himself, received rave reviews and now sells on ebay for several hundred dollars.

mazarati – strawberry lover – 1984

originally given one of prince‘s biggest hits ‘kiss ‘to record, as soon as he heard it he kept it for himself. if only he’d done the same with tom jones. they managed to make off with an album’s worth though and had brief success in the mid 80s.

sheena easton – sugar walls – 1984

reality tv isn’t actually a new phenomenon, especially search for a star type programming. in 1980, sheena, then 21, was followed in her attempts to gain a record contract. after landing one, she soon decamped to the US and after some dodgy country music attempts, regained her senses and hooked up with prince in 1984. this track was banned by some stations – an interesting development for sheena but something prince had become a veteran of by this point.

wendy and lisa – satisfaction – 1989

originally part of ‘the revolution’ one of prince‘s earlier backing bands. they doubtless learnt a lot form touring and working with prince but in fact, achieved their success alone. the girls felt underappreciated and rebelled, leading to prince firing them in 1986, interrupting and delaying work that would become the ‘sign of the times’ album. they parlayed their industry expertise and talent into several successful albums, most notably ‘fruit at the bottom’ in 1989.

taja sevelle – love is contagious – 1987

taja joined paisley park in 1987 at the age of 25, and became instantly successful with this track, a worldwide hit. despite going on to sell many albums, she promptly disappeared, re-emerging a decade later with a radically different sound and image, now favouring indie twanging and tori amos style wild and unkempt image. hmmvery alternative (yawn)…

morris day and time – 777-9311 – 1984

a former classmate of prince and the remainders of the group flyte time who had a decent amount of success and exposure throughout the 80s. morris, who went solo in 1984, almost stole the show in under the cherry moon. this exaggerated persona was evident throughout his musical catalogue. like prince, he tried and failed to manage his own girl band, the day z’s. tlc paid homage when they covered the morris day and time track ‘get it up’ for 1993’s poetic justice soundtrack.

sheila e – a love bizarre – 1985
multi-talented instrumentalist sheila escovedo first collaborated with jazz bassist alphonso johnson in 1976 when she was just 18. soon after she met prince and he took her under his wing. she had several hit albums and appeared in the 1985 movie krush groove with ll cool j and blair underwood. lucky girl. she also appeared on the beyonce track ‘work it out’. and had to dodge lots of flying weave.

elisa fiorillo – on the way up – 1990

i didn’t know much about this girl except that she sang with jellybean and dated jordan knight of nkotb at some point. grr. apparently, she won star search at age 14 in 1983 and is mostly a back up singer.

 

90s r&b ingenues – some cautionary tales May 1, 2007

in today’s r&b scene there are several artists that you feel like you’ve grown up with. and there is a good reason for that – you have.the rise of teenage r&b singers in the early and mid 90s probably wouldn’t unfold in quite the same way today. it wasn’t entirely a new phenomenon – there have always been child stars but they usually made age appropriate music, or acted younger than their age. but representing real teenagers is a bit more difficult. we know they do the same things as adults, but it’s illegal so we don’t talk about it too much.
before the spice girls changed the rulebook, image and identity were just an added facet of celebrity rather than something you planned in great detail, either to complement talent or disguise a lack of it. it was possible to make music and be a bit vague about who you were and more importantly, how old you were.

the fact that these singers were the same age or even younger than they audience they were targeting, wasn’t immediately apparent. their songs dealt with adult issues, they collaborated with adults and existed within adult spaces. in some cases, this did impact on their personal lives by accelerating their development. we’ll never really know the truth about aaliyah and r.kelly‘s alleged underage marriage, unless it surfaces in the fallout from his court case.

ten 90s jailbait anthemsdownload here

brandy – baby
born 1979, debut 1994 at age 14
poor old brandy. until recently, one of the most successful of the 90s ingenues, having completed 4 successful albums, a tv show, movie and a panel spot on america’s got talent’. after the birth of her first child, her marriage was exposed as fake and she is currently awaiting trial for manslaughter after a crash that killed another driver. we won’t even go into her errant brother ray j, those tapes and the whitney thing…

tevin campbell – can we talk
born 1976, debut 1990 at age 13
tevin
‘s first taste was as a guest performer on prince‘s 1990 album ‘graffiti bridge’. a year later, his first album hit and he became an overnight star. he famously dated tatyana ali, both on and off-screen, after a cameo role playing himself in the fresh prince of bel air. there has been considerable speculation about his sexuality and he has been arrested for a george michael-style incident with an undercover cop.


aaliyah – the thing i like

born 1979, debut 1994 age 15
since her tragic death in 2001, aaliyah‘s popularity has spiralled. before, she was a popular yet often overlooked singer on the verge of superstardom as an actress. she blossomed as she broke away from r.kelly and hooked up with visionaries missy elliott and timbaland. aaliyah’s smooth, caramel-like voice sounds even more soothing against many of the melismatic, shrill and shouty copycat acts she’s inspired since.


usher – think of you

born 1978, debut 1993 age 14

in 1991, 13 year old usher‘s appearance on star search led to a contract with laface. precocious beyond his years thanks to an ill-advised internship at bad boy, usher was well known on the circuit by 1992 and in 1993 his first track appeared on the soundtrack to poetic justice. in 1994 he released his eponymous debut, but didn’t hit paydirt until worldwide smash ‘you make me wanna’ in 1998.


monica – angel
born 1980, debut 1995 at age 14

in 1991, 11 year old monica started work on what would become her 1995 debut ‘miss thang‘. an astonishingly mature effort given that fact, it remains her best album to date and stood confidently alongside offerings from more mature artists. like many of her peers, monica has suffered significant personal trauma with the suicide of her boyfriend, and has been criticised recently for dressing her three year old son as a thug. these critics best not visit croydon. despite being only 26 now, she looks much older thanks to a dodgy bleach job.

smooth – mind blowin

born “1979”, debut 1990 age “11”…
ok, something here doesn’t quite add up. if her alleged birth year is correct, mc smooth debuted at age 11 in 1990 with an album produced by her brother, chris stokes who also produced b2k and iMx. we’ll suspend disbelief…in 1993 she recorded a sophomore effort, now as smooth, ‘you been played’, but it was her third album at age 16 in 1995, that broke her. now recording under an alias, ‘needa s’. her real name is juanita stokes if anyone can be bothered to uncover the truth…i hear she was born in 1973 but having viewed a clip on youtube that would have been recorded in 1990, i find it a stretch to believe she was even 17 at the time.




mona lisa – can’t be wasting my time
born 1979, debut 1995 age 16
had no idea she was so young at the time. if she was – she named her debut album ’11-20-79′, her birthdate, so more likely than the aforementioned ms stokes. if that picture’s anything to go by, mona tried a bit too hard to labour the point about her youth by wearing bunches. at the age of 16. her second album was shelved but a comeback is imminent and several tracks have leaked.




destiny’s child – no no no
born 1981/2 – debut 1997 ages 15
so, despite ongoing allegations that beyonce was born as early as 1974, and not 1981 as drilled home during recent bday promotion, it doesn’t seem as odd looking at the rest of this list. after several members and incarnations, which would later prove to be just the tip of the iceberg, their arrival in 1997 heralded the new era of jittery tracks overlaid with rhythmic rather than melodic vocals.



immature – feel the funk
born 1981, debut 1992 age 11
after a childish debut, immature, including future actor and r&b star marques houston, had to wait for their third album and er, puberty, before gaining success in 1995. several years later they realised that their name was perhaps not doing them any favours and they became IMx.


kris kross – i missed the bus
born 1978/79, debut 1992 ages 13/14

research has failed to uncover an earlier example of clothes being worn backwards. therefore, millions of fashion crimes can be traced back to a pair of early teens, both called chris, in 1992. just to clarify, an entire culture took style cues from a 13 and 14 year old. never in 2007. i have resisted the temptation to put ‘jump’ on here. it’s usually played in clubs right after ‘jump around’ if you seriously can’t remember it…