#BandcampGold-1990 by Amerigo Gazaway & Xiomara
I used to burn cd compilations of 90’s R & B. They were semi-notorious amongst my crew (Army stuff). I called the series “Booty Music” because the 90’s were the first decade where the music said what it meant. As richly political and social as 70’s R & B remains those guys could only say so much. Aside from Between The Sheets by The Isley’s the lens is big picture not hardcore sensual.
The new album 1990 nails what was so unique about that decade in the genre. The producer of all thirteen tracks is Amerigo Gazaway who is the master of mash-ups. If you know the careers of the artists he is mixing, he picks and matches up from deep within catalogs. This dude knows more about music than I ever will so it is a joy to learn from his new releases. I have never heard of West Coast singer Xiomara but she really hunkers down and provides beautiful delivery of very well written songs.
1990 does such a great job stretching out in all the trailblazing directions the decade explored. Some of the songs influences are quite clear. After the initial interlude we go right into a West Coast New Jack Swing tribute(Westside Swing). This is where I shout out Xiomara who shows herself to be surprisingly comfortable in different sonic environments. Her strong diction and clear vocal leadership hold everything together and keep this from being cheeky nostalgia. Bounce is a gorgeously blown kiss to the Timbaland/Missy/Ginuwine/Aaliyah explosion that tore music down and rebuilt it. SNL is still doing skits about the Pony beat. At the end it slows down into a DJ Screw pace and you realize again how damn good Gazaway is.
The best songs on the project aren’t as directly referential and are more powerful for it. That Old Alarm is one of the finest R & B songs in the genre this year. It knocks and is haunting at the same time building on weird strings and strong drums. Xiomara drifts overtop talking about getting a loved one out of her head, knowing that it will be hard but once it is done she will be able to move on “don’t come chasin’ after me/ ringing that old alarm.” Can’t Let Go is a groove that finds and holds you so tight that when the beat drops out Xiomara and friends giggle their way through a weed based parody of the chorus.
Both participants understand that 1990’s R & B was primal and personal at the same time. The beat found your guts and made YOUR BODY ALL OVER MY BODY make sense. Xiomara grounds the project with lyrics sung with ownership. It isn’t nostalgia in that pure sense, it is what Sharon Jones did for late 60’s Soul. These two breathe new life into the vessel containing what we loved to bring us closer to what it meant. Recommend this to ANYONE who ever loved this era in music. Somewhere Drake and 40 are BUMPING this.
Stream or download 1990 below:
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Tagged #BandcampGold, 1990, Aaliyah, Amerigo Gazaway, booty music, Ginuwine, Isley Brothers, Missy, reviews, Sharon Jones, Timbaland, Xiomara
Contrasting The Unsatisfying with The Satisfying
From the first Kehlani song I heard I filed her into my head as an important person. She has world domination pipes and a real versatility to her. Her new album SweetSexySavage was built around her ability to dig into many moods and styles of R&B. She can give you a snarling stepping out of the ashes anthem in Crzy or get super radio friendly with a song like Advice. The savage end of the three part equation isn’t quite there but that’s fine. Even on a song like Do U Dirty where she is the cocksure mistress declaring intentions to do you dirty and that we should be worried….you won’t be. Kehlani doesn’t have the dangerous side someone like Rihanna has. If Rihanna said she was gonna do me dirty and that I should worry…I would be genuinely fearful of getting a lamp broken over my head or something.
Here is Kehlani Do U Dirty
If you get the deluxe edition of SweetSexySavage it is 18 songs where she is changing personas but keeping each song as big screen as it can be. Every song is a swing for the fences radio hit that nearly clears the ball park but falls in an outstretched glove. Kehlani is frantically getting dressed in different characters for the big dance, her debut album. By the time the limo gets here she is mismatched and trying too hard. It is not a bad album AT ALL. Lots of great stuff on it, but it is not satisfying.
Syd’s album Fin is another story. This is a side project from the lead singer of The Internet. They put out one of 2015’s best albums Ego Death. Fin doesn’t have nearly the stakes that Kehlani’s debut has or seek the pressure of radio domination. Fin is such a personable album with a beating heart right next to Aaliyah’s legacy. Know sounds like Aaliyah, like really does…which is something to say. So few things sound like Aaliyah. She is genuinely funny “If I go to hell hope all my B’s can visit (Nothin To Somethin’)” and impossibly personable cashing in on a mid-tempo groove with a mixture of gratitude for where she is, confidence as to what she can do, where she came from, and psychosis. She stews it so perfectly that while Kehlani forces her voice in every crevice of SweetSexySavage you can find yourself forgetting how special Syd is as a vocalist. She doesn’t go full Mariah but when she hits a beautiful moment it is striking (See: Smile More). The other times you are led by these incredible lines. My favorite song on Fin is All About Me which starts “I be more than a god in my dreams, it’s wishful thinking. I sleep more than I need to, I drink more on the weekend.” To sleep more than you need to so you can return to the dreamscape you rule which contrasts to what?! Well, I’m hooked.
Here is All About Me
Syd might be incredibly versatile as well but you get the idea that she doesn’t care whether it ends up that way. This is a side project that will be full of stuff SHE WANTS IN. “When I die my grave gon’ be my music, my soul is living through it.(All About Me)” and she says it just as casual as anything else. It’s why Fin feels so damn free.
Mixtape Review-Sell Sole by Dej Loaf
I became completely infatuated with the Dej Loaf mixtape Sell Sole on track 7. It was great before that but the shorthand I had been using in my head about Dej Loaf based on her snarling single Try Me was “This is a little female 50 cent; hardcore material with an incredible sense of melody.” Track 7 is called Me U and Hennessy it’s only one minute and forty six seconds long and begins with the soft cooing plea “Can we stay home tonight?” What follows is such a soft illustration of pure inebriated passion Aaliyah would be ear to ear smiling. It’s not just a plea for sex. Me U & Hennessy is a warm and genuine call to celebrate romantic union. It’s followed by I Got It where she opens up even further “I don’t know much about that bible never felt like I needed it. I tell my mama that I got her when I make it we even. For all the years she took care of me and my brothers, believe it. I miss my grandma why did she have to leave me?” Not too long after that she’s back in startling threat mode “Anybody want war it ain’t s#$% to get it crackin’ cause N where I’m from they use alley’s for the caskets.”
She speaks violence and then says she’s not trying to promote it. Tells you to shut up open your mouth and eat her out then dedicates the next song to a tender loving moment (see Easy Love). These aren’t contradictions but dimensions of a very personal journey. No matter how many tracks start out with the intention to lick shots at enemies (see Birdcall) they can’t help but shout out the dead remember the locked away and thank those who’ve helped along the way. It’s the personality of Sell Sole that makes it so special.
Seven of the thirteen tracks are handled by DDS who gets the balance between short tempered thuggish paranoia and heartfelt longing. The sonic universe is full of the stark space drill beats give you but with a lick or two of soulful warmth. The soft plink on Grinding comes together perfectly with Loaf’s gently sung chorus.
The mixtape has a unique ability to give an artist a direct connection with his or her audience. No way could Def Loaf provide a major label debut like this. The songs would end up being more like the brazen radio friendly Blood(featuring Birdman and Young Thug) than the sincere meditative Never. In one mixtape I’ve got a direct connection to Def Loaf. Not only do I know what kind of music she wants to make and what her sound is but she’s an artist to root for. I want her to succeed so she can pay her mother back for her patience. Why would I root for Big Sean to make more awkward jokes through his thin mustache? Rap is more than technique and wordplay or hits. It’s having a story everyone wants to hear and Sell Sole is a ten out of ten in that category.
Stream or Download Sell Sole below:
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Tagged 50 cent, Aaliyah, Birdman, DDS, Dej Loaf, Detroit Hip Hop, Loaf, Mixtape, mixtape review, Sell Sole, Try Me, Young Thug