I’d like an Extra Olive in my Music, Thank You.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Sonnet 18, one of my favorite pieces of work from the original English lyricist, Mr William Shakespeare. Almost 400 years after his death,  we still use the warmth, vibrant colors, and bright spirits of summer to describe how we feel. Much like the summer,music makes me, you, us feel in ways we cannot always articulate. Sometimes I wish I had studied anatomy so that I could tell you which organ pulsated at an irregular or heightened beat when listening to certain songs. Alas, I am not that gifted, and I struggle with the few words I know to best illustrate the feelings I get when I listen to music I enjoy.

I have been asked to listen and review this mixtape for a while now, and for multiple reasons (including laziness, sorry) I have put off doing so. Part of me is glad I put of listening to, and hence writing about, this mixtape until the summer. Maybe this has distorted my perception, but I can not see it any other way.  So to steal a page out of William Shakespeare’s association book, this mixtape sounds like a summer’s daze.


Olive Branch (2012)
Isosceles and Futuristic
Favorite Song: Significant Other (Guys, it’s summer 😉 )

 I didn’t know why, and I still don’t know why, Futuristic hit me up and asked me to review this mixtape. I was a little confused, like what can I do to help? Then I got nervous, was I going to like it, if not, what would I write about. Thankfully, these boys are sick, and the production on this album is well above par.

My first impression was they way the tape sounds. I’m no studio engineer, and I’d be fooling you if you asked me to go into technical detail, but this album is mad crisp. Sort of like when you chew mint flavored gum, then drink water type crisp. I really appreciated the equilibrium between the instrumentals and voice. And I know that it sounds crazy that I am ranting about this, but sound control can make or break a listening experience, and theirs made it that much more enjoyable, so kudos!

Now on to the music. You can tell this kids didn’t wake up one morning and think, “you know how we can make money, raping, all we got to do is drop a verse” and boom we have wack lyrics trying to call itself hip hop. In my head, I can see Iso and Futuristic listening to MC’s like Nas, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and absorbing their craft. There is no doubt that they are  influenced by the neo-soul alt hip hop movement, from the instrumentals they chose to their flow. This is one solid album, not looking for what’s hot and ending up with a mix matched album, but rather exhibiting the beauty of the boom bap (and not in a cheesy we are hip hop purist sense of the word).

My head nodded from the intro all they way through. I enjoyed the production on Classic, and without having to look at the credits from second 2, I knew Suuth was involved with Status Quo. Listening to Of Love and Music I began to fantasize about my Vicky Christina Barcelona type love with my future artist, and all the craziness that that entails. It was seriously in contention to be my favorite track until I heard Significant Other.

“Dear Future wife no pun intended when I say this cause in actual fact, gad damn, you’ll be Future’s wife” …..Done! Signed, sealed delivered, I’m done. Like I cooed when I heard that. My head bopped harder to this track. It’s a smooth track, in reality this whole album is smooth. Case in point Resivour Dawgs. When you have more than 2 people on a track you run the risk of it sounding too repetitive, and therefore too long, but when I heard this track it was nice and succinct and displayed each mc’s talent so big up yourselfs!

I legit feel comfortable playing this mixtape right after or before Black Stars album, Common’s album, A Tribe Called Quest’s album. Given the production and poetry on this album I 100% don’t get why Maseru’s radio stations fail to play local talent.

Download the mixtape here: http://limelinx.com/files/e478be9626806d5d2a0b9fb7ce82a9a2

I cannot say this enough, I am a firm believer in Lesotho’s potential, and Isosceles and Futuristic just gave me one more example to throw in my hat. People told me that you two were dope, and I agree. Some of you may (not) know that I am moving back home within a month, and one of the things I am most excited for is to be around Lesotho’s and South Africa’s creative energy. From what I have heard so far, I shall not be disappointed. So THANK YOU for reaching out to me, I enjoyed being part of the process.

I need some TLC

This week has been a rough one, and to make matters worse, I am sick in bed sipping on Dayquil on a Friday night. Obviously I need some TLC. No not Tender Loving Care, but T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli!

Thankfully I have what the doctor ordered:

Fanmail (1999)
TLC
Favorite Song: No Scrubs, Unpretty, Silly Ho, man the whole album 😛

The first time I heard this album, I was 11, and obsessed with TLC. “No Scrubs” was my pre-teen single girl power anthem. I desperately wanted the space pants they wore in the video, and channeled my inner Chilli and belted out the song with all the attitude I could muster.

At the time of this album’s release I went to a pretty segregated school. You were either in the Afrikaans or the English medium school. All the teachers were white, and cleaners and gardeners black. Assembly was ALWAYS in Afrikaans, and the popular kids were obviously NOT English speakers.

One assembly, my Afrikaans’ class counterparts put on a show in the school’s assembly hall, we were all forced to attend the show. It was a musical performance, and the school’s most popular girl, Chantel, put on one hell of a Britney Spears show (her obsession).

As a Christina Aguilera girl, I was pretty upset, questioning why my class couldn’t put on a show… Lebo went into Kenny Ortega mode, and assembled a squad to perform for assembly. We would sing and dance, blow Britney Spears 2.0 out of the water. My weapons of choice, TLC’s Ne Scrubs and my Playskool tape recorder.

My tape player didnt look exactly like this, but pretty close

I, with the help of my neighborhood friend Matseko, choreographed a dance to TLC’s No Scrubs. I brought my little tape player to school everyday to practice, I thought I was the shit! WE got the dance down, and somehow arranged a meeting with my school’s principle to audition our dance to perform at school. He loved it 🙂

But his office was the last place we performed it. We did however sing Celine Dion’s My heart will go on at several school events.

It has been more than 10 years since I last listened to this album, and all I can say is I love it!

TLC is missed in today’s music scene.  While I listened to this CD, I realized there is a sever lack of female voices in music. No disrespect to the females out there now, but they are no TLC. TLC is a beautiful mix of female independence, sexual without being vulgar, and not afraid to show a vulnerability. I mean yes Lady Gaga has her stamp but she is an out there character. TLC was just 3 ladies kicking it, nonchalantly letting you know what’s up.

Fanmail has a TLC watermark, from the harmonies, instrumentals and topics, I don’t think anyone could pull off this album equal to or better than these 3 women. I sing along to the words and feel comfortable singing them, not thinking they are too extreme or out of character. I guess I can say I have some inner TLC, that I do not find in say a Beyonce. There is something so playful and unique in “Silly Ho” and “I am good at being bad”, that not even a Rihanna could convincingly portray its essence.

I legit hit repeat 6 times listening to No Scrubs, the instrumental sounded sooo fresh. I don’t think I fully appreciated it back when I was 11. I re-fell in love with Unpretty. I remember sitting in my living room rewinding the tape over and over again to jot down and learn all the words to the song. And I was super pumped that I still knew the rap to My Life, (that rap earned me respect from my high school seniors).

There are so many memories attached to this album that I doubt it will ever get old. I am soo glad that I am reunited with  Fanmail and get to listen to it anew. I advise you do the same.

Popcorn and M&Ms

One night, at a friend’s kick back, we had a fierce debate about Chocolate and Cheese. A friend argued you can put chocolate or cheese on anything. Bread, chocolate or cheese, Cereal, chocolate, Chicken both (A la Molé).

The debate ended with some saying neither worked for Ceviche, I made the case that a little bit of grated mozzarella would go a long way on that Ceviche. After an intense back and forth, I was convinced that you can in fact put chocolate or cheese on anything and it will taste good.

One of my favorite things to put chocolate on is popcorn! The joy I feel when I suddenly encounter a melted M&M swirling in my mouth with some salted popcorn is oral heaven.

NOTHING says great cinema food like hot popcorn (no butter) and some M&Ms. Every movie event without fail I buy a bag of popcorn, skim some from the top, pour a bag of M&Ms (or Smarties if I am in Southern Africa), shake the bag (sometimes to the annoyance of other moviegoers) , sit back and enjoy!

Well today my ears received the same fusion pleasure listening to

Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 (1993)
Guru
Favorite Track: Take a look (at yourself)

Hip Hop known for sampled beats, Jazz has been a favorite for years, and in the early 90s Native Tongues ran the jazz sample world. Even though the musical genre has forever been a part of Hip Hop, Guru’s Jazzmatazz was the first time a Hip Hop artist really fused Jazz with Hip Hop on a commercial album.

The result is a laid back 44 minute journey of musical lessons. I get to learn a bit more about Jazz, I love how slick hip hop talk was back then word is bond! And as expected from Guru, there was nothing bubblegum about his lyrics either. It was like a dinner table conversation without the intense politics, love it!

Next up I’m listening to Jazzmatazz Vol 2. May my Jazz experience continue!

Southernhighschoolisticadillacmuzic

2005 was a big year.

I was entering my record 5th year at Saint Micheal’s School in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The LONGEST I had(have)  ever spent at one school. I was a squash player, and after my rankings at the regional and State open tournaments, this was the year I would make it to the State travelling team. Things were looking up.

Then I found out that I was accepted to Saint Andrew’s. No not the boys school a block away, or the girls school in Jo’burg. I was going a little further….Sewanee, Tennessee.

I was nervous about the change, but really excited about the possibilities. Here I was 17 years old, abandoning all I knew  for the pursuit of ???.

I went from a squash player to a soccer player

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Another thing I had to readjust to…MUSIC. Country music for breakfast, Bluegrass as a snack, Country music for lunch, and Southern Hip Hop for Dinner.

I mean I was exposed to Southern hip hop prior to moving to TN. I listened to some Outkast here and there, Ludacris (Especially after he shot “Pimpin All Over the World” in South Africa) and Lil Jon’s Get Low. At the time they sounded the same as my then hip hop musical crush Ja Rule (another story, different day, maybe never) from New York, and Snoop from the West Coast.

Then I stepped foot in TN.

The song that will ALWAYS tie me to my first 3 days in TN is Juvenile’s Slow Motion. That was the song I learnt about grinding. Nothing says Welcome to America like grinding, especially in front of your future teachers and coaches*buries head*


Why am I thinking of all this?

Well I recently listened to this:

Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (2010)
Big Boi
Favorite Track(s): Follow Us, Tangerine, Be Still, Fo Yo Sorrows

I liked Outkast growing up but didn’t pay them that much attention. Loved Ms. Jackson, and when Speakerboxx/Love Below came out I catapulted to an Andre 3000 fan, his quirkiness, flow, and word play is superb.

I admit, Big Boi, liked him, didn’t think much else.

He shut me up with  Sir Lucious Left Foot.

Reminded me that Outkast was a duo, both MCs equally amazing. T.I calls himself the King of the South, Luda some variation of the sort. Big Boi IS Southern Hip Hop.

It’s pretty useless that I don’t have the knowledge, and even worse the words, to describe Southern Hip Hop. I can wikipedia it, if they have stopped protesting, but I know you can read, so no use in copying and pasting from wiki.

All I know is this. East Coast rap is supposedly all gritty, West Coast Laid Back, Southern, bouncier.

You want to test my hypothesis? Go to any club, the second Waka Flocka comes on what do people do?

Back to Big Boi

His second debut solo album contains all the elements of a Southern Hip Hop. synthesizers, drums and bass, and the southern drawl that makes words flow into musical counts so effortlessly. Speaking of flow, Big Boi’s flow and content is so versatile on the CD. How does he go from Follow Us to Shutterbug to General Paton? Gad Dang..

It’s a fun, but not “cute” album. I don’t feel grimy listening to it but he Big Boi goes hard, especially in General Paton. He’s lyrics contain the usual suspects, but no I’m swag this, hottest that, and he even reminds us that New Orleans is still an issue.  This doesn’t sound like a CD 2 years in the making in that it doesn’t sound disconnected. I don’t get the feeling that he was chasing a #1 billboard let me make this a mass appeal record. He delivered what he’s great at, and proved he is as amazing with Andre 3k as he is as a solo artist.

Salute

For the Love of Beowulf

Disclaimer: This post is not inspired by Glee, or my recent Glee marathon!

Where to begin?

Let’s go back to 12th grade English, reading one of my now favorite, I refuse to call it a poem, poems – Beowulf. My lovably loony English teacher, who looks exactly like Meryl Strep in “The Devil Wears Prada”,  was so enthused about teaching us this piece of work. A piece she called a ballad….

Hold up, Hold Up , Hold up (Big Sean voice)

Growing up in Maseru, the most played songs on the radio, when I was around 7/8, were Bette Midler’s “From a Distance” and Celine Dion’s  “Because you loved me”. I was told THEN that those were ballads.

Now I’m sitting in class and Meryl Strep wants to tell me  that Beowulf is a ballad too? First of all the words on the left of the book don’t look like English, and the words to the right barely pass either. Second of all, this book is not singing to me. So…..?

Relebohile Phoofolo Dictionary:
Ballad: Celine Dion

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (and Meryl Strep using different words and 30min to explain):
Ballad:

a : a narrative composition in rhythmic verse suitable for singing
    b : an art song accompanying a traditional ballad
2: a simple song : air
3: a popular song; especially : a slow romantic or sentimental song

The Return of the Ballad: 

Ceremonials (2011)
Florence + The Machine
Favorite Song: Only If For The Night

When the CD opens with what sounds like someone practicing their scales in an empty music hall, and 26 seconds later Ms. Florence Welch sings a one woman Ladysmith Black Mambazoesque harmony, Done!

Florence makes Beowulf come alive in song with the help of + The Machine. The words, narration, and delivery of said narration is well above par. I do not know how to best compliment F+TM for their lyricism and how their words and songs come alive in sentiments and imagery. Simply put, Ceremonials’ STUNNING

The songs in Ceremonials are provoking, mystifying, and just damn (no oxymoron) hallowed.

The lyrics seem to be written by a person who spent 12 years in Catholic (but because they are English, Anglican) school, with imagery of ghosts, demons, devils; sentiments of the original sins, organs piping in the background, and song titles you would find in your churches hymnals. Lest we forget lyrics “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back”    in “Shake it Out” Ode to me favorite hymn “Lord of the dance”???

Musically, Florence’s intonations, harmonies, and + The Machines arrangements and compositions are reminiscent of church choirs. “Seven Devils” instrumental sounds like the churches answer to The X Files opening theme music. Everything  just comes together so beautifully on this CD.

A ballad album in every meaning of the word. I’m sure F+TM ancestors are proudly rolling in their graves, soaking in the melodies they have created. Way to do your country’s (wo)men proud!

The Weeknd

I have never felt so intrigued by an artist as much as I have with The Weeknd

  • The name sounds like it belongs to a group
  • He spelled his name funny
  • I’ve never heard anyone with his sound
  • I did not know what he looked like until a month or so after HOB
  • He is a FIRM supporter of the Becky Club, yet I am still attracted to him, and
  •  I don’t know if he needs a hug, intervention or pat on the back

Abel Tesfaye yeah no.. you’re the one

How do I keep this about Echoes of Silence?

The Weeknd has been my soundtrack of 2011. I have salivated over all 3 of his mixtapes this year, all special in their own right, all different enough to tell their own stories, but similar enough to love.  So it is fitting that The Weeknd’s final contribution to 2011 be my last review post of the year

 

Echoes of Silence (2011)
The Weeknd
Favorite Song: Montreal, XO/The Host, Next, Echoes of Silence

I always find it difficult to describe The Weekend, and I cannot tell you, “if you like x then you will like him”, because he really is in a league of his own.

Rolling Stone once wrote The Weeknd’s compatriot Drake, had a Jay-z ego and Charlie Brown Soul. Well there must be something in that Toronto water, ’cause The Weekend has a Rick James ego and an Eeyore soul.

As I said, I don’t know if the guy needs a hug, intervention, or a pat on the back for a job well done.

I am not a drug user, but listening to The Weeknd makes the illegal activity sound so enticing. On EOS  he made Michael’s Dirty Diana sound like a drug users national anthem, the way he distorted the already trippy instrumental, and MJ’s already hollow voice, more haunting.

I normally do not condone artist who cover MJ, but jealous down The Weeknd owned that track.  Overall there is something more refined and mature about EOS. The mixtape is more melodic but with Illangelo’s continuous bass and synthesizer heavy contribution.

I cannot wait to see and hear what The Weeknd has to offer in the new year. He never disappoints me, and I feel sorry for those who don’t stan as hard as I do.

Till Next time, XO till you overdose (Nna I want to live)

All I Care about is Music and the Country that I’m From…

A foodie’s go to channel is the food network, they love discovering new restaurants, are ALWAYS excited to share new recipes, and palpitate at the thought of new flavors to devour. Clearly I am NOT a foodie. My favorite meals include cereal, pizza and ice cream. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand a foodies wants and desires. For me, music fills that void.  Music channels are my food network, record stores – restaurants, artists – recipes, and songs – flavors.

Today I am MORE than excited to share a new recipe and flavor. It comes in the form of Smuuve Jamz Vol 2. and the master chefs are  Maele aka Suuth and Ntsapi aka Luuk.

Smuuve Jamz Vol 2 (2011)
Suuth & Luuk
feat various artists
Fav Song: Just Sayin

It’s pointless for me to go into a track by track analysis because 1. the mixtape is beautifully consistent 2. there are only so many ways I can spin words like:  amazing, great,  love, dayum and 3. I suck at track by tracks 🙂

But this much is true:  What Pete Rock was to the early 90s, J-Dilla to Soulquarians, and 9th Wonder to Little Brother. I truly believe Suuth and Luuk could be to Lesotho, and their Smuuth Jamz Vol 2 proves they are well on their way.

This mixtape features mostly Lesotho artists, like T-Mech, Core Wreckha, and Futuristic, but they do go a little 9th Wonder and recruit Azon Blaze from the Carolina. What I find beautiful about the album is even though there are a multitude of artists on the mixtape, somehow (careful choosing???) there is a common sound in flow and message.

I obviously have some favorites on the mixtape. “Summer Time” feels like a warm summer’s day, and Deney’s voice is oh so soothing (or do you prefer suuthing?). I had a Boi Stop moment listening to “Rage”, the instrumental is crazy sweet, like I was transported back in time, expecting to hear Common jump on the second verse. Azon Blaze and these boys ALWAYS come correct. And I swear,  “Heavenly Father” touched my music soul…If this interlude and Just Blaze’s Lord Knows instrumental had a baby, I would request that to be my walk on music to the pearly gates.

Listening to “Just Sayin” I was seriously left agaped. Dude, felt like my child just came home and told me s/he got a full ride to Harvard type proud. Honestly there is NO WAY I could be impartial to the track though.

Thanks to twitter, I have met, talked, and argued (over Childish Gambino) with Suuth, I value his opinions on music, and other points of our conversations. Because of this I’ll continue to support his work. Then add to the fact that Suuth goes and loops this damn beat with words by Malcolm x….GAME OVER

Music aside, T-mech, or as I more comfortably call him Thulo, is like family. I’ve known this dude for years, and I wont air his dirty laundry but let’s say he has been “close” to friends of mine. For a minute now I’ve been listening to and critiquing his music and to hear his progress over time, and then his flow on Just Sayin…I’m speechless..nah dude..props.

Download the mixtape for FREE!
http://suuth.bandcamp.com/album/smuuve-jamz-vol-2

For people who complain that music has lost its feeling, take a listen to Smuuve Jamz Vol 2 beacuse I can assure you these dudes aren’t doing it for the money or “swag”, they do it cause they love it. 2 things I love unconditionally family and the country that I’m from, I TRULY believe in Lesotho’s potential, and Suuth, Luuk, SlumREC and all those involved with Smuuve Jamz Vol. 2, make my believing a little easier

Trying Out something New: Beyoncé – 4

4 (2011)
Beyoncé
Favorite Track:  Love on Top

 This week was the first full week at my new job, first full week of continuous exercise (I walked to and from work: a total of 4.5 miles) and for the first time I listened to a Beyoncé album –  in full, start to finish.

4 is the first Beyoncé CD I have 1. bought and 2. thoroughly enjoyed, that is not to say I dislike her, but I’ll be honest, I couldn’t relate to most of her songs. Before I get tomatoes thrown at me, and chants of “how Dare you dislike Queen B”  or “what kind of female are you” let me state that I am in NO WAY undermining the TALENT Beyoncé posses. She is one of the most hard working and gifted singers/performers of our generation. Seeing her in concert, while I was in Brazil, cemented this belief.

Beyonce singing Halo in Salvador

However, it took me a while to really connect to Beyoncé’s songs. I’m too tomboyish to relate to “Freakum Dress”, don’t have an “Irreplaceable” experience, nor the tough-girl chic attitude for songs like “Diva” and honestly I’m just too darn reserved (in an emotional way) for songs like “Single Ladies.” I wasn’t sold on “Who Runs the World (Girls) and trust me I understand her female empowerment messages, I did go to a women’s college. Sometimes I wish I had a little Beyoncé in me, and it took 4 for me to realize that I do.

There is a fine line between vanity and insecurity, and Beyonce straddles this line beautifully on “I Was Here.” Is it really selfish to want to leave your mark on the world? Is it egotistical to thrive to be remembered? If so, call me a selfish egotistical brat. As I struggle with the ultimate post-graduate question “What Do I want to do with my life?” all I know is I want to make a difference somewhere and somehow. No surprise that I related to this Beyoncé ballad.

Alright, so now that you know how I feel about the end of the album, let’s go back to the beginning.

Yes I made twitter fun of Beyonce for her lyrics in “1+1.” I didn’t see how knowing the sum of 1 and 1 was 2 had anything to do with her lack of algebraic knowledge.  However, this did not take away from how raw and bare this song (and video) is. Wonderfully arranged and sung track.

Rolling Stone wrote “4 is a more relaxed, personal set that emphasizes ballads over bangers and showcases the singer’s nuances; it’s very much the sort of album a pop star makes when she doesn’t feel like she has anything to prove” and tracks like “I Care”and “I Miss you” demonstrates this. What drew me into this album was the intimacy Beyonce displays throughout the CD. I felt that this album came from her, and in her mini-documentary I learnt that she really did take the reins on this project, and I love it for this.

Choosing a favorite track was difficult; between “Party” “Countdown” “Love on Top”and “End of Time” I was spoiled for choice.

I just feel like a good time (no Jersey shore) listening to the Kanye produced “Party” It’s so chilled and happy, and it wouldn’t be a Kanye track without a slick (pun intended) sample, this time “La Di Da Di” by Slick Rick “The Ruler”and Mr Dough “Beatboxer” E Fresh

Countdown is pop heaven, like the attention given to composing such a track is what I expect from all top 40 hits. Her intonations are serious on this song. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sound of “End of Time” I feel like I should be in Pelourinho or 1970s Zaire listening to this song.

But these up-tempo gems were outshone by “Love on Top.” iI really does have a playful, late 80s RnB feel. Every time I heard this song during  my walk to and from work, I had an extra spring in my step. I’m a sucker for punctuated songs (dont know if this is real music jargon)..when there is a quick silence or pause in the song to emphasize the words or beat…i.e when Beyoncé sings Stop. I just feel so so so soooo good listening to this song (throwback shout out to an old Destiny’s Child song)  I imagine her having so much fun recording the song, and the fact that this was the song she revealed baby Bey-Z to, only makes it more special.

Em fim, to answer your question…Queen B not a fav..but King B converted me. I’m a true believer

Nov 15 – The day Hip Hop used the “I”

I’ve been dreading writing this post. Since Nov 15 Childish Gambino’s Camp and Drake’s Take care has sat on my bed as a constant reminder that I need to fulfil my promise to myself and write my “review”of their CDs

A lot of people when talking about Childish Gambino mention Drake and vice verse. I know they are different artist, but I find myself putting them in the same bracket too. Not because they sound the same or have the same content; but because there is something, something I cannot wrap my head around, that ties these two together (and it DIDNT help that their CDs came out on the same day).

With Kanye West as their Moses, Drake and Childish Gambino are redefining hip hop. I like what CG said in an interview, he said, when it comes to rock you have alt rock, indi rock, classic rock but we are quick to blanket hip hop/rap. Hip Hop heads know there are multiple sub-genres of hip hop, and I believe Drake and CG have opened another lane (different lanes, but very close to each other)

Many people disagree with the claim that they, especially Drake, have redefined hip hop. So instead of outright making this claim, I will tell a little story about one of my college Professors which will help me explain what I think Take Care (and Camp) did.

My Professor said the only way to get an A in his class was to teach him something new. My thought was HOW IN THE WORLD WILL I TEACH A MAN WHO HAS STUDIED THE TOPIC FOR 20 YEARS SOMETHING NEW? I met with him during office hours one day and he explained that teaching him something new was to write about me.  He flat out said, there is NO use reading my paper, if he didn’t learn more about me; that he might as well read someone elses paper, or just stick to the original source.  Told me I shouldn’t be afraid of writing my feelings towards the issue and using “I” in my paper.  Now understand, after being taught that you should be objective in your papers using words like “one” and leaving out the “I”, this shook my world.

So what does this have to do with Drake and Childish Gambino? They wrote and produced albums about their feelings towards the issue (hip hop) and  used the “I”.  Their albums are refreshingly real and honest, (and we can get into a whole debate about “being real”)  what I mean by this is, it’s a sound and message I can only get from them. I learned a WHOLE lot more about both of them on this album (even though I don’t know them personally) Yes Drake was emotionally open and what what on Thank me Later, but he had nothing to lose then. He had EVERYTHING to lose with Take Care, and yet he still took the risk, and I applaud him for that.  Childish Gambino forces a race vs class debate we havent really had in Hip Hop, especially our generation. I mean elements of this rhetoric were present in WTT, but not a lot of people understood their racial commentary; and issues of race and class were blurred more than contrasted throughout the album. Any way, I applaud CG for being the “smart middle-class black kids…role model”  and giving them (me) a platform through telling his own story.

– for a more elaborate piece on CG and Drake and the discourse they bring to hip hop read this article : Racially Charged: A Day of Reckoning

Fast forward to Nov 15, I – still in unemployment (3) Week(s) – walked over to a nearby music store to make my purchase. On the walk over I thought about what the listening experience would be like, whether I would enjoy the music etc. Once I got in the store, they were playing CG’s Camp and I knew I had to get in and out as fast as possible because I didn’t want my first time listening experience to be in store (In some regards I admit I am a music listening weirdo)

I picked up both copies of the CDs and headed to the counter. In front of me there was a boy (I think biracial) no older than 14,  holding the same CDs I had, and he was smiling ear to ear. I began to smile, and thought of him heading home real excited to listen to them. And weirdly enough I felt proud, proud because I felt he needed to hear CG’s story and struggles with race and fitting in,  and Drake’s emotional vulnerabilities and for the boy to think – scratch that KNOW –  both are cool. I felt good, even though I had NOTHING to do with the production of either CD.

Fast forward to my actual listening to the CDs. After a fierce eenie meenie battle Drake edged out CG for the first listen.

Take Care (2011)
Drake
Favorite Song: Look What You’ve Done

Listened to the first track “Over My Dead Body”, and I loved how the first 10 seconds set the tone of the album. I loved the friction between the very melodic instrumental then the sudden synthesizer drum beat which seemed out of place and then Chantel began to sing and it all came together.

When “Shot for Me” rolled in, I laughed. I laughed because I got it, I understood why people disliked Take Care, Drake took it there. I think we all assumed Drake was going to go in a certain direction, given “Headlines”, and his features like “I’m On One”, then Take Care came out and Drake took a sharp left. Whether we will admit that Drake is redefining hip hop, given most people’s reaction to the CD, he brought something different to the Hip Hop table.  I loved the album, it was refreshingly new, and I can imagine scary to release. I give Drake props for allowing himself to be so emotionally open, and honest. Especially in an industry and musical genre, heck SOCIETY, that does not allow for men to show their emotions.

One thing I have against Take Care: Drake SERIOUSLY thanked FIFA 12 (which I have no problem with) and REAL MADRID for this cd! REAL MADRID…this Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid…No Drake! This is soccer offense number 2, after seeing him in the unsightly ManUre garb head to toe….We need to intervene QUICK!

Now to Donald Glover, AKA Childish Gambino, affectionately known as my Musical Husband!

Camp (2011)
Childish Gambino
Favorite Song: 3 way tie between All The Shine, Letter Home and Hold You Down 🙂

As opposed to Take Care, Camp was what I expected it to be, and not in the mundane sense. I feel Camp is a beautiful culmination of CGs repertoire. The same way Kanye’s MBDTF perfectly tied all his previous albums together, Camp did the same for CG. And I don’t think it’s without reason that Kanye and MBDTF came into my writing for CG’s Camp, because you can tell that Childish Gambino is influenced by Kanye ( he has even said so himself) on some of his flows and production. Kanye really did give the okay for people like Childish Gambino – and Drake – to not only rap, but rap about what they do.

Alright enough about comparisons. What I REALLY love about Childish Gambino is his content, and sometimes I wish I were smarter or more nerdy just so I can be CG cool! I want to be able to talk like CG raps…what do I mean by this? His word play and references are RIDICULOUS! The only reason I understand his “True Faux N***s” comment was because I stalk CG and watched a clip of him explaining it. Also I relate to CG best when he talks about race and not being “black enough” Something I have heard and battled with (I’ll tell me story another day – maybe). In that regard I’m thankful that Childish Gambino has taken the liberty to use rap as the vehicle to express his sentiments, and the sentiments of others. Like he said

“Fuck nerdcore, fuck backpack
Fuck rap cool, I make cool rap
I make music for wack blacks to blast back” – My Shine

There is no denying that I ride CGs musical d**k so hard, I even set a twitter debate with a pal to find out his reasons for disliking CG in my attempt to convert him. Converting him fully didn’t work, but I got him to admit that CG is not bad! And the fact that he produces his own music *sigh*. Again here is another artist who has, if we want to admit it or not, redefined hip hop, and I am thankful for it. I did say if I were to ever meet Childish Gambino the first thing I would say was thank you, well those were not my first words, BUT if I were to meet him again, I surely would say thank you for Camp!

*phew* Writing this “review” felt good and I am glad I finally did it.  These are two CDs I would recommend having in your collection, don’t be afraid to embrace it!

Flo’Ology – Floetry

 Flo’Ology (2005)
Floetry
Favorite Song: ???

Flo’Ology is the 3rd and final album produced (not in the music industry job title sense of the word) by Natalie  “Floacist” Stewart and Marsha “Songstress” Ambrosius. The album is melodically consistent, however not stagnant, making it hard for me to choose a favorite track. It would have been easy to go with the album’s leading single “Superstar” but as I said the album is consistent and hard to single out (no pun intended) one track to favor.

Instead while re-listening to the album late at night, I started to piece together a hypothetical short love story to accompany the album. Mind you, I am not the most creative person in the world, in fact I’m rather unimaginative (sad state to be in). Anyway, for my own amusement, and your whatever-you-feel-you-get-out-of-this, I will relate my short love story to you through a track by track (or as play jargon calls for, Acts) play

I call this body of work “Because this is Hollywood…but we have to be realistic”

Act 1 “Blessed to Have You”:
The Protagonist of the play (me) wakes up to a beautiful warm day in July, because between Natalie and Marsha’s voice, resonates warm mellifluous upbeat tones. After a shower and getting dressed, I happily prepare a wonderfully wholesome breakfast comprised of fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, and a crisp glass of  apple juice.

Act 2: “Superstar” Feat Common
Refreshed from my morning meal, and feeling good about myself, I decide to get my Corinne Baily Rae on and bike to the local neighborhood park. I station my bike, and myself,  under a shaded willow tree (Because this is Hollywood…but we have to be realistic) and I proceed to put my headphones on and read excerpts from Langston Hughes collection of poetry.  While glancing around the park I spot many beautifully people strolling mindlessly. My eyes cannot gaze away from a well built, well groomed, sunkissed 20-above 23-something man. The nameless man nods and smiles at me as he walks by, and I blush uncontrollably. My imagination runs rampant at the idea of interacting with the nameless man, and the words to LH Dreams do not calm my situation…I get lost in a summer daze. – This last scene was inspired by Common 🙂

Act 3: “Closer”
Closer is the “Dream” I have about my thoughts on and interaction with the nameless man

Act 4:  “My Apology”
I snap out of my dream by my phone alerting me of a mention followed by a subtweet from a disgruntled yet to be labeled male in my life. Unlabeled male (let’s call him Jair) is unhappy because I have not returned his texts or calls. Natalie’s lyrics are the words I tweet back, but in 140 characters, because this is Hollywood…but we have to be realistic

Act 5: “Let Me In”
The sun begins to set, and following the tweet back and forth between myself and Jair, I pack up, bike back home and call him. The back story to Jair and I’s friction: his inability to…”Let Me In.” So once again, my conversation with him is best articulated by Marsha and Natalie, because they are better lyricists than I. 

Act 6: “Lay Down”
Because this is hollywood…but we have to be realistic. Jair does not suddenly appear at my door step during this act. Instead, I change into sweat pants and a tee, and pour myself a glass of wine as I listen to Floetry’s sensual song. I smile to myself and get lost in the song thinking about Jair.

Act 7: “Feelings”
Inspired by the previous song and a few glasses of yellow tail Pinot Grigio wine (because this is Hollywood..but we have to be realistic), I text Jair again, and we talk about “Feelings”

Act 8: “Sometimes U Make Me Smile”
He Calls

 Act 9: “I’ll Die”
Same shit different yet to be labeled man. Jair is JUST NOT CUTTING IT emotionally and….

If I stay right here,
I’ll die inside.
Ran out of tears,
I can barely get by.
It’s fair to say,
That we tried.
You know I wanna stay,
If I do, I’ll die.


Act 10: “Imagination”
 Following our conversation this DAMN song plays on the radio and I break out the pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream (my late night craving the day I concocted this story)

Act 11:  “I Want You”
After feeling all types of ways from “Imagination” and Natalie’s ad-libs  I call Jair the next day (The beat is to upbeat for an evening phone call) and tell him that “I Want You”. We get back together, and like Floetry, at the end of this CD we break up …BECAUSE THIS IS HOLLYWOOD…BUT I HAVE TO BE REALISTIC… 

s/n this is a purely fictional story, all names and characters….you know the rest…