The Mic Check

The purveyor of truth

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

REVIEW: Ledisi, “Pieces of me”

When you think of singer Ledisi there is one word that comes to mind, POWERHOUSE!  With her new album “Pieces of me” Ledisi is more confident, emotionally uninhibited, and shows a side of her that we have not yet experienced.  This R&B album effortlessly displays vulnerability and transparency, which wasn’t so on her Funk and Rock like album “Turn me loose.”  Before I started working on this album, I had to figure out what I wanted to offer, not only musically, but also spiritually and mentally. That meant I had to finally embrace the totality of me. Now, I know that I am a great woman and I have much to offer to this world.”  While the styles are different, the one thing that is and has always been consistent with Ledisi is the QUALITY of music.

In April, Ledisi released her single, “Pieces of me.”  Co-written by “studio beast” Claude Kelly (Fantasia “bittersweet” and Bruno Mars “Grenade), this single was destined to be great.  “Like every woman I know/ I’m complicated for sure/But when I love/I love till there’s no love no more.” This single is a musical treasure and the powerful lyrics are what makes this song is lovable and relatable.   Shedding some of her layers and embracing the woman she’s evolved into, Ledisi debuts a piece of the evolved woman she’s become.

Have you ever had an idea as to what your perfect man would be like?  Ledisi likes he men like her “Coffee.”  “Serve it to me tall dark and strong just like I like me coffee.”  There is a sense of liberation as she segues into “Just keep it brewing baby, soon Imma need my fix.”  While she has always been sassy, it’s refreshing to see her flirtatious side.

One of the greatest aspects of this album is that Ledisi isn’t confined musically.  She’s multifaceted and this album shows her versatility.  Music can be anything you want it to be.  It can be sad, happy mundane, and profane, but the one thing it’s not is irrelevant.  There is nothing more heartwarming than listening to an artist who truly makes you feel what they’re saying with every note.  Ledisi has always been an underrated artist; maybe this album will prove to people that she is more than a great singer.  She’s a true vocalist, a visionary, a risk taker, and the epitome of an artist. “


REVIEW: Jessica 6, “See the light”

When you combine Nu-Disco and R&B, what do you get?  Brooklyn based group Jessica 6 has the answer for you with their newly released album, “See the light.”  Holding true to Nu-Disco, this album features Euro techno aesthetics, house music, boogie, and disco music.  Remember the song “Canned Heat” and “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai?  Picture Jamiroquai fused with a little 90’s R&B and “See the light” is what you get.  It’s definitely a party album far from the norm.

While artists are doing a lot of dance music, the sound of this album is very different.  The use of many instruments showcases the musical imagination of the group.   It’s very reminiscent of early disco music.  The lead singer Nomi Ruiz has a very expressive voice that enhances the music itself.  One doesn’t overshadow the other, they just complement each other.

The first single “White Horse” is somewhat provocative.  The sound is almost extra terrestrial and the ascending sounds in the beginning add a little anime to the music.  This hypnotic song served its purpose with getting you to dance.  With songs like the single, “White Horse” and “Prisoner of Love” commanding the dance floor, “Blessed Mother” and “Not Anymore” are the slower songs that display the R&B influences.

Euro inspired music seems to be the entire rave currently and Jessica 6 is not afraid to follow the trend while remaining disconnected from the mundane songs on the radio. This album is perfect for the eclectic who can appreciate an album with great diversity in sound.

REVIEW: Eric Bibb, “Troubadour Live”

Eric Bibb is an Acoustic Folk-Blues singer who has managed to sustain a career for over four decades.  As a way to display the connection between an artist and their audience, Bibb recorded a live cd entitled “Troubadour Live” which was released May 10, 2011.  Heavily saturated with an acoustic guitar, there is a somewhat Folk-Gospel sentiment throughout the entire cd.    It has a Lauryn Hill “Unplugged” feel to it.  There is nothing more soothing than the sounds of the guitar strings echoing in your ears as is infiltrates your soul.  It’s very intimate. Featured on the cd is Stefan Astner, a Swedish guitar player who’s played for renowned artists such as Celine Dion and Ray Charles; and Psalm 4, a Gospel trio.

Bibb’s voice is very husky, and vintage.  Imagine being in one of those wooden churches down south.  There is no air conditioning.  The only instruments you have are a washboard, your hands to clap, and feet to tap.  During morning devotions one of the Deacons, probably Deacon Smith, sings some old testimony song before service begins.  This same aura is resonated throughout “Troubadour Live.”  From the clapping of the hands and the vocal accolades of the audience, there is a sense of religiousness, or reverence, shown to Bibb.

Eric Bibb is a minstrel whose acoustic sound, intimate lyrics and witty personality is what makes “Troubadour Live” great.

Check out this video of Eric Bibb singing “Walkin’ blues again.”

Was the “Man down” video REALLY that bad?

Recently Pop star Rihanna released the video for her fifth single, “Man Down.”  The release of the video sparked somewhat of a controversy.  It was deemed as a shoot and kill, violence promoting video, while Rihanna said that it was merely her way of bringing light to a difficult issue, sexual assault.

The video begins with Rihanna shooting a man in the head as he walks through a busy street.  As the shot is fired, people frantically run away from the scene, and all that’s left is this man lying on the ground dead as blood protrudes from his cranium.  Fast forwarding to the day before, you see Rihanna walking around town and enjoying life.  That night she goes to a club and meets a man.  They dance and he tries to escalate the situation, but Rihanna declines.  She leaves the club and the man follows her and then assaults her.  She runs home with tears in her eyes.  The next day she’s standing at the balcony and sees her attacker strolling down the street, which leads to the scene at the beginning of the video.

According to RAININ (Rape Abuse, & Incest National Network), every 2 minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.  That comes out to about 213,000 sexual assault victims a year.  While those numbers are mind boggling, it’s even worse to know that 15 out of 16 rapists will NEVER spend a day in jail.  From television shows to the nightly news, we see how sexual abuse is something that continuously affects people.  It’s sad when you have women, and men who have gone through such a travesty, yet they never get justice.

At first I was a little skeptical about watching the video.  I couldn’t imagine what was so repulsing that it had everyone speaking about it.  After watching the video, I thought about it and while I do see how someone could be upset about it, I just didn’t see why it caused so much commotion.  We live in a society where it seems that the most graphic things have the biggest impact or have higher ratings.  Actually, there is more blood and gun fire in an episode of “Criminal Minds” than what happened in the “Man Down” video.

The Parents Television Council (PTC) criticized Rihanna and BET for the video, professing that Rihanna is promoting violence.  Rihanna took to Twitter and responded by saying:

The music industry isn’t Parent’s ‘R Us. We have the freedom to make art, let us! It’s your job to make sure your children don’t turn out like us. You can’t hide your kids from society, or they’ll never learn how to adapt. This is the real world!

As expected, her response did not sit well with people.  However, she does have a valid point.  Artists should have the freedom to be artistically uninhibited.  Unfortunately, when you reach a certain level of success you become somewhat of an “authority figure.”  Your moves, motives, and anything you say can and will be put under a microscope for observation.

While both parties make valid points, there is a question that seems to be left unanswered.  What exactly goes through the mind of a rape victim or someone who has been assaulted?  Do they contemplate murdering their attacker?  Do they tell the police?  It’s easy for someone to pontificate about what they should or shouldn’t do, but can you imagine what must be going through their minds?  I know I can’t.  Personally, I believe we have been somewhat desensitized about the ramifications of sexual abuse because of the false accusations that we hear and see.  It’s to the point where you question the motives and credibility of the accuser.  Even on television, when a female goes to the police and report a rape, they treat them as if they were the guilty party.  This could be why 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail.

Personally I think that the purpose and point of the video was overshadowed by the uproar over Rihanna’s character in the video murdering her attacker.  Not to mention that she’s remorseful for her actions.  “I didn’t mean to end his life, I know it wasn’t right, I can’t even sleep at night, can’t get it off my mind.”  I also think that this is HANDS DOWN Rihanna’s best video to date.  She really put a lot of thought and effort into the concept and delivery of the video.  Job well done Rihanna!  What are your thoughts on the video and the controversy that transpired from it?

New Video: Ledisi, “Pieces of me”

Ledisi released the video for her single, “Pieces of me.”  It’s been getting a lot of mixed reviews.  Check it out and let me know what you thought about it.  My review of the album, “Pieces of me” will be posted soon.

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