Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Lenny Kravitz - Black and White America

Woooooooooooooooo!
That’s the sound of a man satisfied.

Since watching the teaser on YouTube, which showed 90 seconds of Lenny Kravitz (with sole collaborator Craig Ross) build the bass-and-synth masterwork “Superlove”, I knew I had to hear the full song. Slightly cheesy lyrics aside, it’s well worth the wait. And now, having finally sated that six-month hunger, we can finally assess Black and White America as a complete album.

Lenny Kravitz isn’t an album artist. Then again, he isn’t much of a singles artist either. And if the critics are to be believed, he isn’t Rock, and he’s not quite Soul. Born biracial into the strictly segregated American record industry, where Black equals Soul/R&B and White for some reason equals Rock n’ Roll, he’s been forced to exist in a strange nether region between the two worlds. Yes, he’s kinda like Saffronia that way

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It happens to almost every female Pop artist. There comes  a moment when she decides to infuse her sound and image with a new sexuality, supposedly borne out of some newfound confidence. When it’s an artist with actual undisputable talent, it’s usually tasteful, if titilating (although there are some awkward exceptions). Then you’ve got the attention-seekiing, rite-of-Disney-passage hoe-down that seems to lure everyone who isn’t so Raven.

But the funniest has to be the when this sexual awakening magically coincides with the failure of an artist’s last few singles to do any real business at radio or retail. It befell Christina Milian (masterfully), Ciara (somewhat less so), and now it’s got Keri Hilson in its patent leather clutches. (more…)

onLoop 11.03.10

Posted: November 3, 2010 by RA in Music, On Loop

N.E.R.D. – “Hypnotize U” – 2010
God in Heaven, this is some funky shit!

I first heard this about six weeks ago. Maybe it was my incredibly manic schedule at the time (hence the prolonged radio silence), but I didn’t really warm to it, despite my excitement at the production credit. Yes, this is the long-awaited reteaming of the Neps and Daft Punk, almost a decade after the spacey, dream-like “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” remix back in ’01. The drums thump hard, yet are so synthetic in sound, it’s like being throttled with a foam bat.  The synths are dreamy yet ’80s yet Euro. Pharrell makes the best use of his amateurish falsetto since “Frontin'”, finally meeting his full potential as Rick James’ super-freak heir apparent. (more…)

Something About Faith… That Grinds My Gears

Posted: October 31, 2010 by RA in Music
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Faith Evans is a talented singer. And songwriter. The woman can wail like none other, and is responsible for some classic party and Pop songs that we’ll remember for years to come. She was also at the center of the most sensational story in all Hip-Hop canon, as the wife of one third of its holy trinity and the alleged lover of another.

She also is a colossal tease. And kind of a hypocrite.  She spends entirely too much time explaining she technically isn’t Biggie’s widow (the two had separated at the time of his death), and she’s been remarried for over a decade. But then she peppers every other song with a winking Biggie reference that seems to stake her claim to her former position in Hip-Hop royalty. (more…)

So, full disclosure: I love Mariah Carey. I think she’s a brilliantly talented vocalist, songwriter, and producer, and that makes up for her bizarre affectations and mannerisms that, frankly, do her no favors.

Also, I’ve pointed out in the past how her fixation on chart dominance makes her forego originality in favor of formula. Some would argue she did it once or twice in the ’90s, but I doubt any will dispute that since her comeback, the Ghost of Singles Past has been stuck in “We Belong Together” mode whenever she called him up for a recording session.

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I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Maroon 5. On the one hand, they cite folks like Stevie and Prince as their influences. On the other, they do them absolutely no justice, often trotting out work that’s so derivative yet bastardized, it sounds like Stevie as performed by the house band on Dancing With the Stars.

On the one hand, I can’t stand Adam Levine. He irritates the royal shit out of me, despite the fact that I could never be bothered to learn more about him than that he sings in that shitty band that’s somehow got multiple entries on my iPod. On the other, they’ve somehow managed to get multiple entries on my iPod.

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onLoop 9.20.10: Late-to-the-Party edition

Posted: September 20, 2010 by RA in Music, On Loop
Tags: ,

Here we have a selection of uptempo cuts I’ve been feeling lately. Like I said a while back, I’ve been kinda busy. So these cuts are probably pretty old to you, but the fact is, this post should’ve come out like six weeks ago. Sue me. (more…)