#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
Mixtape Review-Winter’s Diary 3 by Tink
Everyone has something different to say, naturally, but Tink is one of the most promising songwriting talents R&B has seen in years. That’s been there from the start. As far back as you go in her catalog you can find clever, daring songs that twist and turn while remaining true to that 90’s R&B your-body-all-over-my-body sound.
The really interesting thing about Winter’s Diary 3 is this is the first project after the world discovered her on a mass level. Timbaland is now working with her and the machine is churning behind her first release. The expectations are getting up there and the music is taking on more polish and less rough edges. Music is such a brittle thing that a lot of artists straight up fail to translate.
Winter’s Diary 3 is proof that she’s a liquid capable of filling any open space. The durability is on display as she goes from Timbaland production to Cookin’ Soul to C Sick to DJ Wes, all giving very different production. Her voice links everything. Jelan Abrams is a great example; she provides the hard nosed brick and mortar East Coast hip hop beat on Medicine Interlude and Tink turns it into a vengeful I WANT NO MORE OF YOU frenzy (“Never trust no N_ cause they all got options”) but she also gives a lighter sweeter toned down thump on H2O that Tink turns into hypnotic cooing with real longing surrounding it.
Cookin’ Soul stuff Very Very Special with faint background chanting and enough bass to make Fiend feel comfortable. Tink dictates the pace and when the beat wants to speed up she pulls it to a halt with her easy going, slowly enunciated chorus. This level of control comes hand in hand with a great deal of artistic intelligence, which is the primary concern with her Timbaland relationship. She does not need Timbo to mold and fashion her into a musical force. She is a musical force. She needs his best beats. Their collaboration on this tape is L.E.A.S.H. and it might be the tapes least interesting song. They are still working on chemistry. It might seem curious that all the songs with DJ Wes or Silly The Producer are home runs that she knocks out of the park and the weakest track is with one of THE important musical minds of his generation. When you’ve been an artist on the bubble you are used to scrapping for yourself; masterminding your own development. A well received mixtape later you are in the studio with a legend wondering…do I even get to argue with this dude? If so, how do I do it nicely? The chemistry takes a while.
A loud shout out goes to DJ Wes who made Jupiter into the thickest nastiest booty jam of a beat. On Afterparty he takes the beat into first album Whitney Houston territory and Tink turns the content excitedly sexual in her trademark endearing way(Tink describes having sex like I describe finding comic books I’ve been searching years for. She’s always goofy excited, not creepy excited.) You can trust her to approach any subject from a healthy direction, whether she is discovery the rapture of new love or deliberating in golden tones about being cheated on. Through ten songs she’s always considerately human and that’s always fascinating and easy to connect with.
Winter’s Diary 3 is better than 2. The album better be better than this. We’ll all be mad if it isn’t because she’s so f#$%*@^ good.
Stream or download Winter’s Diary 3 below:
Throwback Thursday-Back In The Day by Missy Elliott featuring Jay-z
We all know now that Missy was a creative freak, mastermind of both music video and lose your mind dancefloor hip hop. When we go back to those hits we shouldn’t lose track of what she was overcoming. She wasn’t hailed as a genius while she was going double platinum on Under Construction. The counter narrative of the time (I was regrettably one of these dudes) was that Missy wasn’t hip hop at all but some gimmicky hybrid who neither rapped impressively or sang impressively but did enough of both over the right beats.
What I really enjoy about listening to Under Construction now is that it was made as a direct response to that narrative. 2002 Missy was staring down 2002 Dan and saying “I am hip hop. This genre was created by people to have fun which is what I’m creating.” Beyond that, her bars hold up like crazy. Jay brings TOP shelf energy namedropping and chuckling, loose and dangerous. Missy namechecks just as many great artists as Jay (the way she says Big Daddy Kane is full of the perfect amount of wistful longing for the past). Near the end of the song she busts out of her singing and drops a few bars at a fast pace and it’s quick but impressive. The song is full of so much joy and instead of making the case that “this is the old school hip hop and you don’t know” it has an air of inclusivity to it. Missy wishes the old school was the new school and the kids would know the joyful freedom of doing the cabbage patch and not worrying if you look silly. A lot of the younger generation did learn that hip hop has that joy nestled in its center, from Missy’s gleeful albums and blisteringly catchy singles. That’s an amazing legacy, especially since as good as Timbalands career has been front to back….nothing he was ever involved in sounded better than Missy’s albums. That’s not a coincidence.
Song of The Year-Movin’ Bass by Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z produced by Timbaland
I think my dream collaboration album would be Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Drake. Look at the songs they have all made together over the last few years! The difference in a Jay guest appearance on a Ross, Drake, or Jeezy song vs. the usual is Clark Kent vs. Superman. When people go nuts that someone killed Jay on a track, sometimes the song or the artist just doesn’t do much for Jay. Ross always pushes the perfect buttons to give us the outcome we desire. Even though Jay is just chorus laying and whisper doubling Ross at times he’s integral to the song and sounds excited about it.
The album this song appears on is Hood Billionaire and it’s kind of awesome. The bass is sensational all the way through and this feels like mixtape Ross; paranoid and sneering looking out of the window with weapon in hand. Jay snarls the chorus out like its 1997 and he’s prepared to pounce. Ross is the reason. That overwhelming desire to succeed that causes you to churn out music on an endless loop, to tour and do videos until you pass out of exhaustion is something he sees himself in.
These two go together so well this might not be your favorite Ross/Jigga collab of 2014. Early this year Ross dropped Mastermind with Devil is a Lie as a collaborative centerpiece between the two. That song is amazing as well and clearly the best song on the project. The difference this time is 1. The beat is better 2. The album is better 3. The album seems to grow around this song as its middle rather than fall into its shadow.
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Tagged bass, best songs 2014, Drake, Hood Billionaire, Jay-Z, Jeezy, Mastermind, Movin Bass, rap collaborations, Rick Ross, song of the year, The Devil is A Lie, Timbaland
Song of the year-Jay-z Blue produced by Timbaland
Jay-z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail is easy to dislike. On it he name-checks Basquiat like most rappers do molly (too darn much), he even brings his sand to the beach because his beach is better. It’s a gloriously snobby album and we’re only conditioned to like that when Kanye does it.
This song and a lot of the album mark the first breaths of a new more scaled down Timbaland production style…I’m not sure it’s an improvement. In fairness, I’m not sure a production style exists for Timbaland that I am in love with. The prescence of Timbo bogs down a lot of MCHG but in this case the lyrics alone make Jay-z Blue a song of the year.
A lot of listeners are saying this is the Jigga album they connect with the least. For me it’s the absolute opposite. Jay-z albums were always about having control, seeing all the angles. Know the block, know the boardroom and have your money right. In a way each album felt like a recorded message left by the bad guy bragging how far ahead of you he was. Magna Carta Holy Grail ,on the other hand, is full of fear.
In a few hours I’m going to the hospital with my wife to induce the labor of our first child. I’m sure when I hold that new soul I’ll feel the same fears: how to be a good father without a father to guide me, how can we know our marriage will last forever? Those fears are mine and they are Jay’s but if you haven’t gone through it you might not connect to it. This song exposes his fear of aging in the game through movie samples(with the ghostly Biggie grunts behind him) along with a fear of repeating the cycle of bad fatherhood and beyond that…if he does provide Blue with everything she needs in order to grow up as happily as she deserves…will she appreciate it?
New parents have a lot to be afraid of and mask it in funny ways.
P.S. This was a written a while ago. I did have my kid and it was awesome.