New Album Lookout!!

I am very excited about this! (Neo) Soul Goddess (IMHO) Amel Larrieux (“Get Up“, “For Real“) just dropped a new album! In my opinion, she was due (really overdue for me) for one. If you are wondering who she is, well, you may not have been here before. I know I’ve at least mentioned her sometime in the past. She is the former voice of the group Groove Theory (“Tell Me” and “Keep Trying”) and one of my favorite artists. She has now 3 solo albums and is one of the ONLY people whose album I would buy unheard (and I did too). Come to think of it, she’s one of the only people whose album I would actually buy nowadays PERIOD!

Anyway, her new album is called, “Morning” and I believe it just came out this past Tuesday (that’s when i saw it, at least). I haven’t listened to it, as I said, but will tomorrow. If you want to check out Amel or bits of the album (and past ones), go here and here, respectively. If you are a lover of Soul music, Neo or otherwise, you will NOT be dissapointed.

(UPDATE) Here is a link to a couple of Groove Theory videos and an fairly recent interview with Amel.

Sample Moment #1

Welcome to what could be a new series on the spot. Its called “Sample moment” and if it’s not clear enough, it will be covering sampled songs, mosly rap and Hip Hop, but could be some others. We shall see. As with any other time I bring up some music, I will be using I will also probably be using and a few other places that might have what I need. I’m kind of lazy so this may or may not be as in depth as I’d like or have the info on.

Today’s sample moment came from my perusal of Pandora. I was listening to my Old school Hip Hop station (check on the left of this blog, if you please) when I came across the song “Wild Thang” by 2 Much. This is the first time that I’ve heard of this group (and song) and i’m fairly proficient in my Hip Hop. Why do you care? You might not, if you do, it’s because you’ve heard this song one way or another(i’m gonna find ya. I’m gonna git ya git ya git ya git ya…sorry about that). The song is best known from the song “Doin’ it” from LL Cool J’s 1995 album, “Mr. Smith“. That’s right, folks. you know the song now, don’t you?

Now, I have know idea when this the 2 Much track came out because I hadn’t found much concrete evidence except for this and this, but I am willing to bet any amount of money that this is the song that sparked LL’s. In fact, if I remember correctly, this little piece of info came out around the time that the song did. Plus, the fact that the girl rapping in LL’s song is the SAME one in the 2 much version. She’s not the same as the one in the video, but that’s a different story. One that I think LL went to court about because the rapper from the song, Le shaun, was not in said video because she was, I guess, “not up to specs” or something. Anyway, if you don’t believe me, listen to the link from two sentences ago, then pull out or copy of LL’ s (I know you have it) song or album to compare. I’ll wait.

Well, the story’s not done folks because there was more to this. I know a couple of you were thinkng that was it and was about to slip up. Hell to the Naww, Bobby! Well, I see one of you with your hand up thinking, “What about the other song’? Yes, Leshaun and 2 Much were NOT the first ones to use the beat for their song. That honor goes to one the argueably strangest people on earth. Or should I say, Strangé. That’s right, Model (I don’t know why), Actress(debatable), Singer (I got nothing) Grace Jones of Boomerang fame was the first one that I know to be a slave to that rhythm. Grace laced vocal on that now more famous beat in 1982 on the song, “My Jamaican Guy” from her album, “Living My Life“. I bet more than a couple of you know this song, too. You’re probably singing it now. And guess what, she wrote it too. Yes folks, this is where it all started. And LL was NOT going to have Grace Jones in the Doin’ it video either…. Well, he might, no he really wouldn’t.

So that’s it for this one. I thought it was going to be short, but the jokes on me. If you want to check out any this, click away on any of the link. Also, check out the album: Hip Hop essentials: Vol. 11. That’s where you can find 2 Much’s version as well as a couple of other nice ditty’s. Oh, and as a bonus, check out these albums:

Fat beats and Bra Straps: Hip Hop Classics and
Fat beats and Bra Straps: Battle Rhymes & Posse Cuts

Both are compilations of classic female Hip Hop artists(speaking of where are they nows). There’s some good material on these puppies. And if there are any suggestions for songs I should try to look up, hit me up. Don’t give me nothing too crazy and be warned, I know more about rap than say Rock or Country.

(UPDATE) Apparently, LeShaun and LL have possibly traded verses over a track more than once. I’ll have to check it out. Also, I would love to do this as a podcast, but there is no way in HELL that i’m fooling with the licenses agreements I would have to fool with to do so.

I love music…

Any kind of music(ok, not ANY kind). Just ask the O-Jay’s. That should be obvious to you by now. What does that have to do with anything? Maybe nothing, maybe something. Ride with me anyway.

So you’re in the car rolling to work and unless you’ve packed some tunes, then the radio is on being mediocre, at best. It’s providing just enough entertainment to justify being on. You finallly get around the corner from your job just in enough time to be on time and the JAM!!! comes on. You turn it up, start singing, and maybe even commence to dancing while driving (you know who you are). By the time the song gets in good, you are in the parking lot and with any luck in a space. Now, here is the dilemma. Do you sit there and and let it ride knowing that you will be late if you do? Do you grab your stuff slowly while still jamming hoping that the song goes off or just suck it up knowing (or hoping) that you have it at home or that it will come on again (it never does until you have to be somewhere) later? Well, anyone who knows me has that answer already, but I just have to ask question.

How about this: you’re listening to a song. You like it, you’re getting really into it. You start thinking, “Damn, I’ve got to find this joint. This is nice.” You look to see the name of the track or if you’re listening to the radio, then you’re waiting for the end of the track to hear the name (which most times never happen). You get the name and artist and shortly there after remember that you not only know the song and artist, but HAVE said song and artist in your collection. It’s kind of sad when you think about it….

Oh, and as DL would say,”Don’t act like it’s me”!

Radio, suckas never play me (or what I want)!

And you know what? I don’t need them to. It’s a rarity that I turn on the radio in my car and NEVER at home. Wanna know why? Because the radio PLAYS BULLSHIT! Yea, I said it. If it’s crunked up or ganstafied, it’s on the radio. If it’s sex for profit, it’s on the radio. If it’s true Hip Hop or soul music, it get’s no play (except for a couple of hours on a saturday or sunday night). Where are the Jazz stations(same deal there except for sunday afternoons)? And the number of stations that carry “oldies” and /or “classic R&B (real soul music)” are dwindling. So what is a person to do? Well, you can turn off the radio (I have) and/or pop in a CD, Cassette (yes, they are still around), or fill an MP3 player with whatever you want, but that is a topic for another time.

Right now, I want to introduce you to something new for your listening pleasure. This, unfortunately, will not do you any good in the car. Well, not unless your car has internet capabilities. That being the case, you are good and I want to see for my self. Anyway, what I am speaking of is the music discovery service called Pandora. Not to be confused with the box that let’s all Hell loose when opened, by the way.

Pandora was started by the people who came up with the Music Genome Project. What is this, you ask? Well, have you heard of the Human Genome Project, the people mapping human DNA? Well, it’s the same thing, but in relation to music. Basically, they take songs apart and group them into their key elements for mapping. From what I understand, a song can be broken into many parts, such as style of music, to instrumentation, to region of, genre (in a sense), etc. So, what does this have to do with Pandora? Well, it uses these elements to give you the music you are looking to hear, and quite possibly want to hear. So let’s get into it.

First, if you haven’t by now, go here. Near the bottom of the page, you should see the player loading up. The player is made with Macromedia Flash. It’s being used by 90% of all websites nowadays. That really won’t mean anything to you unless you don’t see the player at all. If you don’t, go here, download Flash, and reload Pandora. Good? Great. Now, the first time you go to the page, the player will ask you for an artist or song name. Go ahead and try it. Once you hit okay, it will make up a station based on the artist you entered. Some things to consider, though. You may or may not get the artist or song you want right away. Or at all. The reason being, is that they may not have the song or artist you asked for. That is because they don’t have every song and artist in the world. They have about 15,000 or so songs from what I hear. Even if they do have what you want, it is possible that it won’t show up first or at all. It will ask you for a sort of a confirmation as to what you asked for. You can either say yes, that’s it or no it’s not. But let’s say for the sake of argument that it does. Click ‘ok’ at the next message.

Afer a second or two, it will play the song or the artist you asked for. If you like what it gave you, you can click on the ‘guide us’ button underneath the album art (which is also a clickable menu). It will give you 4 options:

  1. ‘thumbs up’ – I really like this song – play more of this!
  2. ‘thumbs down’ – I don’t like this song – it’s not what this station should play.
  3. ‘?’ – Why is this song playing?
  4. ‘+’ – I want to add more kinds of music to this station

It’s actually all pretty explanatory once you play around with it. At the top of the player are the controls. You got volume, play, pause, and skip to the next track (only around 5 or so at a time). Now you say, no rewind? No skip back a track? Nope! Because of whatever license that they are running by won’t allow that to happen (violation of the DMCA, you know). So anyway, you are well on your way. You can let the music ride and see what comes up. The song selection will try to follow based on the stylings of the song/artist playing. If you don’t like a song, hit ‘guide us’ or click on the album art and give it the thumbs up or down. As a matter of fact, click it anyway and check out the other options. One such is that you can buy the song or album from Amazon or iTunes (if you go for that sort of thing).

Let’s talk about one or two other things. Look to the left of the player, you will see options to create a new station or the name of the one you just created. If you choose to you can make a new station and start the ball rolling again. If you do, the one you created will stop after the song or artist is chosen. If you aren’t going to do that, you might want to edit your station a bit. If you click on the down arrow next to you station, this will bring up another menu:

  1. Add more music to this station
  2. Email this station to a friend
  3. Edit this station
  4. Rename this station
  5. Delete this station
  6. Close menu

So have at it at your leisure. By the way, you have up to 20 minutes or so in introductory time before you are asked to sign up (which can be free unless you choose otherwise). A couple of things should be noted. You can have up to 100 stations at any thime. I don’t know what you would do with 100 stations, but you can. If you sign up for the free version, there’s not much different from the paid service except for the fact that you will eventually hear ads every so often (haven’t heard any yet).

Let’s give an example. I wanted a (Neo) soul station to listen too. I started off with one of my favorite artists: Amel Larrieux (who’d you think?). The first song it gave me was “Even if” from her 1st solo album, Infinite Possibilities (which is a great title track). The second song was “Peaches and Cream” from Monifah’s 3rd album, “Home“. After that was “Blue” by Barry Manilow. Why? ‘Cause he writes the songs that makes the whole world sing! Nah, but I did hit ‘guide us’ and clicked on why this song was played. It gave me an answered that makes sense. Which brings up something. The service isn’t perfect, meaning you will have to tweak it a bit because of stuff like this (or not), but it’s pretty damn good! Then the whole thing stole the show for me. It played Anita Baker“Giving you the best that I’ve got”. If anyone knows me, Anita Baker is my absolute favorite female singer. I’ve been hooked on Pandora ever since. That is why I am telling you this now. It’s a great service. Plus, I’ve found music that I probably would not have found on my own. And I can get to it from anywhere with an internet connection. That includes a wi-fi connection, for those with a PDA,Treo, or whatever. Except for the Sony PSP which has internet capabilities but no flash support, yet. And I’ve been told that Yahoo does something similiar to this. Well, that might be true, but the sound quality is nowhere near this and I doubt it’s presented like this. Incidently, the last song I listened to in this set was ‘Get Up’ by Amel Larrieux, her first single from Infinite Possibilities.

Look enough talk, go try it out already. If there is a song or artist that they don’t have, tell ’em. I will say that they don’t have classical music yet because they don’t know how to handle it yet. I’ve run across some stuff like an old Lisa Fischer song I used to like, to Coldplay, to Portishead, Karyn White, and am now delving into some reggae (yea, L, I’m looking up Assassin). There are other stuff that is supposed to be coming in the future. For now, they do have the ability to subscribe to a friend’s stations as RSS feeds and emailing and sharing said stations and feeds. Oh, and you can share your stations on your blog or website (you should see mine shortly after this). Go here to find out how to do this. Alright, I’m sure i’m forgetting something, but who cares. Go try this, now!

If you want more info outside of what I’ve told you then listen to this interview with the founder of Pandora:

Inside the Net 6: Tim Westergren of Pandora Media


Pandora, find music you’ll love (You really will)

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And I totally Forgot…

Where the hell is Too Bigg MC, Hammer’s Sidekick? I can’t believe I forgot him in my last post. wow. And does anyone remember the “Basement” video of “Let’s get it started”? It was the very first MC Hammer (as I know it). I remember seeing it on Video Soul (Now that is old) on BET. This was WAY back before BET became Viacom’s House N…. Anyway.

On another note, Check out this site:

Welcome to Honeysoul dot com!

It’s pretty interesting. It’s a blog with music videos, interviews, and music clips. Pretty well designed too. Filled with what looks to be a showcase for Soul (neo Soul some would say) artists. Looks to be done by a (sing it with me) “Southern Girl” who apparently LOVES music and is married. I can dig that. She has an interesting bio, which includes a couple of top 10 lists. One of which mentions the fact that her husband’s love saved her life. I encourage you to check it out. It’s really well done. I like her style (and musical tastes also). It’s the kind of site I wish I could have done. Oh, down at the very bottom of the page on the left, there is a player there with some good music playing. Good stuff. I’m almost jealous.

And before I forget again…PROPER!

But are you Hittin’ in New york?

It was bound to happen. You knew it. I knew it. I was catching up on my recent podcasts (f you don’t know what they are shame on you. See me after class) when I came across this. I was listening to Former MTV VJ / Current Podfather (later, I promise) Adam Curry‘s Daily Source Code #245 (don’t ask me why, but at least this part will make sense in a minute), when I heard about another entry into the Blogosphere (it’s a word). Now blogs come along every other second, so that’s nothing new. What’s so special about this is who it is. You know him, he’s been a pop icon, dancer, ganster rapper(not really), cartoon star, Television evangelist/minister?, Funky Headhunter, commercial personality, movie/TV star, and God knows what else. Didn’t see porn star, but that doesn’t mean it had or hadn’t happened, and that’s why we pray we don’t. Yes, you know who i’m talking about!

Ladies and Gentlemen (and lowlifes), M.C. Hammer is blogging now!!!! You HAVE to check it out. It appears he just started in February ’06, so he’s a little late to the party, but some would say the same for me. It seems to be a mixture of text and audio blogging and nicely done too I guess. There are even a couple of videos on the right side from google and Youtube of some dancing… yea. Probably him, but I haven’t had the nerve to check them out yet. Feel free and I’ll see you on the other side. Overall, it’s doesn’t seem to bad. No filler, seemingly no BS, no Pumps and a bump…(sorry, had to). The text part is basic “My day” posts with some pics. No big deal, but enlightening. I’ve only caught a piece of an audio post, but it sounded interesting. Sounded like he was talking about his vision for the blog. Cool. No word on any Special Generation, B Angie B, or Oaktown’s 357 sightings. I believe he is still in Oakland. Anyway, check it out(can’t touch this, truly!). It’s on Blogspot, which is curious to me. I guess MCHAMMER.COM was taken(nope) or he wanted to try this blogging thing out. Either way, could get interesting. Hey, where the HELL is the Gospel Kid, anyway? There’s only one thing left to say…

DON’T HURT ‘EM, HAMMER!!! (couldn’t resist)

Here’s the Link: MC Hammer Blog

Hammer, should you find this post, know that I mean no disrespect. I just had to TURN THIS MOTHER OUT(sorry)!

Hip Hop lyric lookup

     Can’t remember that one part of “Planet Rock” (that’s ok, Bambatta didn’t either)? Never learned BDP’sYou Must Learn“? Can’t spell U.N.I.T.Y? Well, you’ve got other issues and need to go here or learn how to use spellcheck in Word or something. Anyway, for the answers to theses and other Hip Hop lyrical questions (remember the show Soap?), check out The Original Hip Hop Lyrics Archive. Basically, look to the left under navigation, click ‘all artists’, and go from there. Pay no mind to the scantily clad young lady underneath, unless you like that kind of thing (raises hand). That’s the easiest way, but feel free to check out the rest of the site.  Anyway, have at it.     Ironically, I had a Bee Gees flashback in the making of this post thanks in apart to a recent conversation with a friend of mine, so now debuts the “Sounds of the Post” segment of the blog. The song: “Emotion” – Samantha Sang w/ The Bee Gees

Where are they now?

     Because I had to do it. I remember making VHS tapes full of videos (I still have them, too) to watch when I get nostalgic. Rummaging through music video sights lately kinda make me want to pull a couple of them out.     But to the point of this. I was going through the and Yahoo Music (yea, I’m peeved but they are a good source of videos) sites checking out some stuff when I came across something. Does anyone remember the group, The Gyrls? I didn’t think so. Well here’s the short skinny.     They were a 4 girl group (fancy that) that had an album, “Love me or leave me(Capitol) back in 1988. They were produced by Al B. Sure (yea, thought that would get you), so you know what the sound was like. And before I forget, they did background for him during that time. I believe you could see them in the back of the video for “Off on your own (girl)” in the concert part. The only other thing I can say about them is that a couple of them came from South Carolina. Columbia, to be exact. I don’t recall them ever claiming that either, but oh well. Needless to say they aren’t around anymore but two of them, Terri and Monica went on to write and do background for others while doing some stuff themselves. In 1993, they came out with the album, “Systa“. The album was actually quite good and if you can find a copy, do so. Production came from sources like the rapper Grand Puba to Bryce Wilson, of Groove Theory fame (shouldn’t have let Amel go, fool) Songs of note were, “Uh-huh” and “Intentions” both being singles. I’m more partial to the end of the album with the slow songs, “When the tables turn” and “The way you make me feel”, the latter of which had that trademark sound of the time. When you hear it, you will know what i’m talking about. The album could possibly still hold up today’s (lack of) standards. I’ll have to pull it out and see. I have no idea what these ladies are doing now, but I am curious. Looking back at this post, I seem to have found material for future “Where Are They Nows”.