Beyoncé – “Formation” Feb07

Beyoncé – “Formation”

It’s been about 12 hours since Beyoncé tore the muthafucker down and evicted all the wannabe queens striving for her throne. “Formation” is not an especially great track. It stammers and stalls, builds then destroys, echoing Beyoncé’s ethos of self-empowerment. For Beyoncé’s fans, this track is everything and more, but for Queen B the impeccable timing of the “Formation” single and video underscores her business savvy. After all, “Formation” is also a method to sign people up for Tidal. Ha! Got eem! Produced by Mike Will Made-It and co-written by Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd, “Formation” feels more like a collection of Instagram-ready quotes framed amongst gif-ready set pieces. In the video directed by Melina Matsoukas, even Blue Ivy makes a bold appearance as a stand-in for a Destiny’s Child redux. Amid tragically flooded scenes of New Orleans and Los Angeles soundstages, Beyoncé is still effervescent and impossibly more gorgeous at 34. Quick thoughts. Off top…where did all that tiddymeat come from? Blue Ivy been grown. Inquiring minds want to know, but I ain’t mad. I appreciate you, Beyoncé. I doubt any chemicals have touched Blue Ivy’s head. It’s gonna be a damn shame when B gets a bigger pop from the Super Bowl crowd than Coldplay or Bruno Mars during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. Funny how Rihanna’s ANTI album release is an accident, but Beyoncé’s video and single release are calculated and done correctly. Shoutout to the Illuminati conspiracy fuckbois who still think Black folks are part of the Illuminati. Stop that! My homie, Ken, mistook the lyric “Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation” as “get information,” which, at first, sounded funny, but considering the double meaning of getting in line for battle (formation) and gaining knowledge (information), I think it all works. Beyoncé never forgets Houston. That’s why her city loves her unconditionally. “Foundation” can be downloaded for free. And you can get a 90-day free trial of Tidal. What a...

RIP Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire Feb05

RIP Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire

There are a lot of kind words being said about bandleader and R&B innovator, Maurice White, yesterday and today. His band, Earth, Wind & Fire, is one of the few musical acts before my time that I enjoyed from the very beginning. My father regularly played their songs on the record player. But it wasn’t until I was older and appreciated the depth of their catalog, realized there were two lead vocalists (Maurice White and Philip Bailey), and realized their impact on the rap music I have always enjoyed. All night I have been playing EWF, first the hits, then watch the crazy videos and romping live performances, and now the deep album cuts. Knowing that Maurice was never afraid to incorporate musical influences from so many other genres adds to my reverence of the man. Rest in power, Maurice White. Dear reader, please enjoy the work of Earth, Wind & Fire and their leader, Maurice...

The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” (prod. by Max Martin) May27

The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” (prod. by Max Martin)...

After so many months away (and I really wasn’t away or not desirous of posting… you know…life and shit), I found a song to inspire me to write very quickly and succinctly. After all for the first 43 seconds, this was the warbling, woozy Weeknd shit I was used to and ready to accept as another waypoint to his next album. Then the beat drops and the bassline erupts into this pop-R&B ready made hit for the summmer. Almost too good for the summer despite all the right ingredients: On the rise R&B singer fresh off a crossover hit…check It’s got a nice beat and you can dance to it…check The hook is catchy enough for even the most base people in the world…check Overt drug references right up the title of the record…check Pop star appeal with reasonable looks and passable dance moves……..hold up now! Because Abel Tesfaye is still Canadian cipher still sporting that Egyptian palm tree on his head. And I’ve never seen him dance. Hell I’ve never seen The Weeknd do anything but stare directly at the camera while his head is turned at some profile angle and chin raised high. But if Katy Perry can make dance songs while she merely poses rhythmically, I’m sure bigwigs will find a way to get him to do the same ol 2-step or something. (ViewHipHop / Spin / Stereogum) edit 6/16/2015: The RIAA tried to drop the banhammer on me, so here’s the YouChoob version. Also song title is...

The Weeknd – “Often” (video) Aug21

The Weeknd – “Often” (video)...

The Weeknd released his single, “Often,” a couple of weeks ago along with the announcement of an album and tour named King of the Fall. But the real question was whether “Often” was a call back to his popular House of Balloons mixtape days or his still-good-yet-maligned Kiss Land album days. As someone who has liked all of Abel Tesfaye’s projects, I didn’t give a fuck. Give me more. “Often” is more of that good Weeknd fucking music. The Weeknd is one of the progenitors of the 2010s-style of indie R&B (or if you must use that bullshit PBR&B signifier, which was proven to be a damn joke) also inhabited by Drake, Miguel, The-Dream, Frank Ocean, and now FKA Twigs and PARTYNEXTDOOR. But The Weeknd is for me the revelation. The romantic misogyny. Even his album covers had topless white chicks like nothing. I have to believe Abel inspired blue-eyed devils Justin and Robin to step their topless game up to the videos. I guess the problem was while those guys are media handsome ((pause)), Abel doesn’t even look like Jason Derulo(((pause))), Chris Brown((((pause)))), or his co-conspirator Drake(((((pause))))). He’s an Ethopian palm tree who looks like the KMD logo. And maybe that’s why people weren’t feeling Kiss Land. Whatever, girls love dudes who can sing and adore dudes who talk nasty. The Weeknd does both on “Often” and does it well. (((((((pause)))))) “Often” is available now as a single. The Weeknd’s album King of the Fall will be out soon…maybe in the fall. /rimshot...

BOY/FRIEND feat. Fat Tony and Tom Cruz – “Ride Slowly” Aug18

BOY/FRIEND feat. Fat Tony and Tom Cruz – “Ride Slowly”...

First things first about BOY/FRIEND (aka Shan Poo), when he stays inside that sultry love lane, he is winning everyday. I may have seen the name, but this is the first time I’ve heard of him. That track is 6 months old and is already timeless in my eyes. The fact that he looks like filmmaker friend, Walter, makes BOY/FRIEND even more compelling. Although I’ve grown up among very capable Asian folks who can really sing, it’s still a shock yet heartwarming to see an Asian dude sing R&B on a national, albeit independent, level. However, for the sonic jambalaya BOY/FRIEND is serving up on the “Ride Slowly” record, it has literally taking multiple back-to-back listens for me to divorce the parts I don’t like (the intro rap with an unfortunate Fred Durst namecheck) from the parts I do like (any part when Shan Poo is singing). Time to retcon my knowledge by downloading his previous releases and listen with open ears while wishing I could be considered Va$htie‘s dream man. [EDIT: Dude likes Girls over Game of Thrones…/sideeye] (The...

Kwabs – “Walk” Aug17

Kwabs – “Walk”...

What do I know about Kwabs? Pretty much what Okayplayer has told me. And then what Okayplayer told me again. Then after distilling it all down to “he’s a Black British R&B dude” I see he’s a contemporary of Grey Worm AKA Raleigh Ritchie. (What you didn’t know the captain of the Unsullied could sing so well? And while hasn’t he unleashed his dulcet tones on Missandrei? And when is Season 5 of Game of Thrones dammit?!!!) I digress. And I disagree with the commenters. “Walk” may not have the gravity of Kwabs’s previous single, “Pray For Love,” but here the emotion is everlifting and vital. This is put-the-battery-in-your-back music. I can fuck with that. Eventually “Walk” will be on iTunes, but his other work including “Pray for Love” by Kwabs is available....

Chris Brown feat. Usher and Rick Ross – “New Flame” Aug14

Chris Brown feat. Usher and Rick Ross – “New Flame”...

First things first about Chris Brown’s latest single, “New Flame,” doesn’t this sound similar to Mario’s “Break Up” but without the jarring Bangladesh-produced drums (and shitty marble-mouth raps from Gucci Mane and worthless verse from the songwriter). I mean Mario’s single was very hot back in 2009, but Chris Brown has constructed a very polished pop-R&B track with his king predecessor, Usher, and a very adept rapper, Rick Ross. And as usual, Chris is the only R&B singer bringing challenging choreography to the video dance game. “New Flame” will be on Chris Brown’s oft-delayed album called “X”. Not to be confused with Ed Sheeran’s album “X” which you’re supposed to say “multiply” because he’s clever. I guess....

PARTYNEXTDOOR feat. Drake – “Recognize” Aug14

PARTYNEXTDOOR feat. Drake – “Recognize”...

PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Recognize” featuring Drake is a sleeper track that needs to be blasted at strip clubs across North America. Or at the very least, every creeping muthafucker or booty-called bitch driving to their destination to do their dirt should be enveloped in PND’s sinister atmosphere. “Recognize” is the anthem for disloyalty. And as PND’s plaintive voice transforms into something akin to Young Thug and the track reaches a crescendo, here comes Drake when he doesn’t need to save the day. While I am certainly somebody who really appreciates and likes the juxtaposition of opposite voices, this track is all PARTYNEXTDOOR. A word about the video. Those Megan Fox clones lip syncing to the track are Kendall and Kylie Jenner. In 2014 we give passes to white girls mouthing the word “nigga” because ultimate white girls put their mouths on niggas. I digress from my cynicism. In a day when Chris Brown (America’s Sweetheart) is the dominant R&B primary singer and the radio allows clones like August Alsina, Kid Ink, and Kirko Bangz orbit around Brown, it is a fucking coup for a new artist like PARTYNEXTDOOR to have two of the most well-known females in the world cameo in his video. On top of that, this track is a fascinating, well-constructed R&B track with emotion to rival other R&B indie artists like FKA Twigs or Toro Y Moi. “Recognize” should be ubiquitous on the singular strength of PARTYNEXTDOOR’s creativity. The Drake feature helps. Kendall and Kylie cameos help. Put this nigga on. PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO is out now on iTunes. (Nahright/October’s Very Own) PARTYNEXTDOOR – Recognize ft. Drake from PARTYOMO on...

Bilal – “Sirens II” (prod. by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad) Aug13

Bilal – “Sirens II” (prod. by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad)...

Adrian Younge is a producer of stylish retro soul music. He has put out his own albums and worked with the Delfonics, Ghostface Killah, and Souls of Mischief on recent, separate projects. He has also the music composer for the movie and TV series, Black Dynamite. And if the drums sound familiar, but you weren’t familiar with Adrian before this post, then you should know now that Timbaland sampled Adrian’s original track, “Sirens,” for the “Picasso Baby” track for Jay Z. Where does Ali Shaheed Muhammed fit in with the new “Sirens II” track? Along with Adrian Younge, they are overseeing with the production of Bilal’s new album. Now we’re all acquainted, luxuriate in the sounds again and again....

iLoveMakonnen feat. Drake – “Club Going Up On A Tuesday” Aug12

iLoveMakonnen feat. Drake – “Club Going Up On A Tuesday”...

Music is disposable and comes at you fast. Output has conquered polish. And artists who may have one facet figured out have to improvise to unleash the whole jewel of their message. iLoveMakonnen does not have a great singing voice, but the track is beautiful on its own. And with Drake on board, it’s now hit my consciousness and hopefully a broader audience. The message is universal from Makonnen. I’m working hard through the weekend, but I still want to tear the club down when I’m off, which happens to be on a Tuesday. (2dopeboyz) OG version and...

DJ Khaled feat. Chris Brown, August Alsina, Future, and Jeremih – “Hold You Down” Aug11

DJ Khaled feat. Chris Brown, August Alsina, Future, and Jeremih – “Hold You Down”...

For years DJ Khaled has managed to assemble rappers together to do features on tracks he may have produced. As long as Khaled throws in a “We The Best!” verbal watermark, the uncaring public knew that the next 4-6 minutes will be filled with a somewhat hot track slathered with mediocre or hand-me-down rhymes and possibly a melodic hook. Khaled has managed to convince the most popular contemporary rappers in the world to rap on his records: Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and many more. So in that same vein, he has assembled the best most popular(?) R&B contemporary crossover singers(ish) of 2014. But really, the song is outshined by the sheer ridiculousness of DJ Khaled’s wooden acting ability. I don’t think he’s acting. I believe Khaled demands his girlfriends to say his name on command. I believe all the alcohol and headphone product placement is reproduced in his own house with stacked boxes of promotional loot. And when Khaled says to the girl that he’ll “hold you down,” I know he thinks it means that he will support her. But by the word’s other definition, Khaled will hold, as in prevent her from ascending, her down mentally, financially, spiritually, and physically The thankless actress who endures Khaled’s “say my name” queries. The shitty New Edition re-creation. The slow motion smash cuts of bathwater, lingerie, and fuckniggery. The endless pointing, preening, and wingflapping of all the singers. You get all of this and a song of such little consequence that I won’t even talk about it. Enjoy the “headsario” (Khaled’s word, I think) and his 4 hired singers warbling over a typical 2010s radio friendly production. “Hold You Down” is the first single from the I Changed A Lot...

Usher – “Good Kisser” May05

Usher – “Good Kisser”

For the first single from his yet-to-be-named 8th album, Usher enlists a slew of producers to create “Good Kisser.” As listed on 2dopeboyz, these dudes are Pop, Flip, JProof, Terry ‘Tru’ Sneed, Natural and Oak. I don’t know who these dudes are except for Natural who I know worked on Looking For Myself. The big difference is Usher has distanced himself from the electronic fuckery which have dominated his last two albums. This is not “OMG” or “Scream,” but “Good Kisser” is equally as danceable. Clearly with the dominant drum break flowing through out the track, there is an organic, visceral feel to the record. Usher growls, raps, coos, and wails in such a familiar, easy manner. Some folks might call this record a comeback, or at least a throwback to the approachable boy-next-door Usher. I guess that’ll happen when you divorce a succubus and have to rebound via a network singing contest show. I’m going way off track. This single is hot. It’s available on iTunes, but I’m sure you’ll listen to the track on repeat on Vevo....