The Mic Check

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Archive for the month “October, 2011”

REVIEW: Lalah Hathaway, “Where It All Begins”

It’s not often someone sings and I immediately get goose bumps.  I’ve always longed for a singer, male or female, who can “wow” me with every note they utter.   The first time I heard her, I was blown away.   She gives me chills every time I hear her croon.  Her sultry contralto voice causes me to lose myself in every word she croons.  Her tone comforts me like a lullaby comforts a swaddled infant.

Lalah Hathaway’s voice is an eargasmic balm, just like her father’s.  Donny Hathaway makes me feel like Maxine as Kyle sang “My Funny Valentine” to her on “Living Single.”  Talk about euphoria.  “A Song For You” holds a special place in my heart.  “Forever, For Always, For love” is what made me fall in love with Lalah Hathaway.  It’s sexy, it’s enchanting, and it’s sheer perfection.

Where It All Begins” is the sixth studio album from Lalah Hathaway.  Fused with the sounds of Jazz, R&B, and Soul, this album is a musical gumbo.  Lalah has said in interviews that she doesn’t want to fit into or conform to today’s style of music, and she doesn’t.  I applaud her for doing what she wants and loves, without assimilating to the cookie cutter music of today.

“Strong woman” is anthem like, without the tawdriness, and features a pulsating beat.  Summertime, convertible, and Jackie O sunglasses, this is definitely a feel good song.  “Where it all begins” is soulful and jazzy, mid-tempo and groovy.  “Do you know who you are…love starts from within.”  “Small of my back” is playful and sexy.  “When you put your hands on the small of my back, I just want to groove with you…Don’t rush, take your time because you’re blowing my mind.” “Dreamland” is childlike in a lullaby kind of way.  She reminds us how beautiful dreams can be.  “Lie to me” is about the kind of love that’s unending while the relationship is disintegrating.  Wanting, yearning, and needing that one last night with someone before they walk out of your life.  “Lie to me tonight, let me borrow your heart until tomorrow, then I’ll give it back..I can’t be mad at you because nothing last forever.”

Full lips, styled locs, and a thick physique, Lalah Hathaway is beautiful.  Bluesy, jazzy, soothing, her voice is like a choir of heavenly cherubim’s.  “Where It All Begins” is unfettered, unrefined, and bona fide.  It’s not boggled down with superfluous beats and void rhetoric camouflaging as great music.  It’s merely a great piece of music that will capture the hearts and ears of those on a quest for something to bring joy to their ears.

Check out Lalah Hathaway’s first sing off her sixth album, “If you want to.”

Rihanna, “We Found Love” video

Bajan beauty and singer Rihanna is gearing up for the release of her upcoming album, “Talk That Talk.” While she’s not the best singer, the one thing about Rihanna is she will give you a chart topping single that is bound to go platinum before her album.

Yesterday Rihanna released the video for her first single “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris.  The single is an up-tempo Pop song that features a similar bass line to LMFAO’s “Party Rock (Everyday I’m Shufflin’).” “We found love in a hopeless place” sings Rihanna as she describes about her tumultuous love affair.  One can’t deny that the featured male in the video, model Dudley O’Shaughnessy, bears an uncanny resemblance to her former boyfriend, singer Chris Brown. Piercing eyes, bleach blonde hair, and a grunge/punk look, it’s obvious that her video beau is a substitute Breezy.

The video begins with Rihanna, or a woman with an accent who sounds like Rihanna stating the following:

I saw you screaming and no one can hear. You almost feel ashamed that someone could be that important that without them, you feel like nothing. No one will ever understand how much it hurts. You feel hopeless, like nothing can save you. Then when it’s over, and it’s gone, you almost wish you could have all that bad stuff back, so that you could have the good.”

Throughout the video Rihanna and her beau are in a constant inebriated state.   There is definitely an emotional tug of war going on.   I love you, but I love me more. I love you, but I can’t continue living like this. “It’s the way I’m feeling. I just can’t deny, but I’ve gotta let it go.” The heart has reasons that the mind will never understand. Finding love in a place that’s despair and offers no hope is inexplicable. “But I’ve gotta let it go” seems to be the end result.

Rihanna took a discombobulated and abashed reality for some and made it into a tolerable video. The characters aren’t “glammed” up, but somewhat regular. Their relationship isn’t a fairy tale, but rather realistic. “We Found Love” isn’t displaying the pomp and circumstance of relationships, but the personal truth. It’s Carrie and Big in a “La vie Boehme” kind of way. Dancing the tango Maureen while emotionally tangled in a web of unhealthy, yet unmovable love.

*”Talk That Talk” is scheduled to be released November 18, 2011*

Beyonce’ releases video for “Love on top”

Gospel music is a big part of my life.  The music is inimitable.  Some of the best singers come from church.  Vocally there are things in Gospel music that I haven’t heard in secular music.  Growing up listening to Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Professor James Hall, and the “Choir Master” Ricky Dillard you know that their songs aren’t the easiest to sing.  The one thing about their songs that could make or break a choir were the modulations.  I remember the first time I sang “God’s will is what I want” by Ricky Dillard.  The nine (yes I said 9!) modulations in that song were difficult, especially if you’re not use to singing that high.

When Beyonce released her fourth studio album “4” after a year long hiatus, I must admit that I wasn’t really impressed.  However, “Love on top” saved the album.  I think it was the modulations that made me love it.  Not only the modulations but the lyrics are what drew me in.  With every note and every modulation Beyonce made me believe that she was in love.  There was a different sound on that song that was easily distinguished from many of her songs.  It didn’t seem forced or superfluous.  It wasn’t just some cheesy love song with an up-tempo and nice vocals.  It was the effervescence of love resonating throughout the song that within the first week it was one of the most played songs on my iTunes.

Today Beyonce released the video to “Love on top” and I must say that to my surprise, I wasn’t awed.  I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I do give her credit when it’s due.  As I watched the video I thought to myself that it was akin to a video that I had seen before but couldn’t put my finger on it.  Like most people, I took to Twitter and asked what they thought about the video.  Most said there wasn’t much to see, but then one of my followers answered the question that I had been pondering since pressing play.  “New Edition If it isn’t love’ all over again.”  She was dead on!

I’m not saying Beyonce stole from New Edition, but one can’t deny that it’s very similar.  If you’ve seen her MTV Awards performance, you’ve seen the video.  The only difference is the singers are male and every modulation features a wardrobe change.  It was almost as if they combined the MTV Awards rehearsal with the actual performance.  I wasn’t impressed visually, but it gave me an excuse to listen to the song and sing at an ungodly decibel.

Check out Beyonce’s “Love on top” video and let me know what you thought.

Also, here is the video for “If it isn’t love” by New Edition

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