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The M.E. Tour featuring @marshaambrosius & @ericbenet [Review]

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I've been to many concerts, but tonight's show with Marsha Ambrosius & Eric Benet at the Hard Rocksino was absolutely amazing. Eric Benet opened the show, taking us on a journey through two decades of hits that had many standing in their feet dancing and singing throughout his performance. He made sure to provide a little humor through multiple stories he told between a line of hit songs.

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Marsha Ambrosius closed out the night, taking us on a similar journey through her solo hits, as well a as her gems as a member of Floetry. Ambrosius' energy was through the roof, as she took moments to sing along to many of her favorite songs by fellow singers and musicians. The audience laughed hysterical at the story of how her baby was almost named first Kyrie, and then KyLie, where the L would be symbolic of Lebron. Unquestionably, Ambrosius puts on an amazing show, and the audience was ecstatic to see her again, as she was here just last year. Topping the evening off, both artists took time to meet and greet with fans, taking pictures in the midst of it all. Simply put, it was an amazing evening that will be long remembered. You definitely want to make it a point to see these two if they hit your city.

[THE STAGE] SOULMate: A True Love Story (Review)

[THE STAGE] SOULMate: A True Love Story (Review)

📸 Phillyweeden.com

📸 Phillyweeden.com

It took a few years of hard work, but finally, local Playwright Philly Weeden is reaping the reward. That reward is pretty indeed, as the world is realizing the star talent this brother has. Tonight's showing of his hit stageplay SOULMate is evidence in itself. The venue has sold out, and the audience is eager as ever for a great show.

 

Starring Taral Hicks, Alvin Frazier, Archie Berwick, Tiffany Allison, and Makeda Grier, the storyline takes you through the lives of two hopeless romantics who by textbook standards should never end up together. Sabrina is like many other high school girls... popular, beautiful, and intelligent, while William is as geeky as they come [picture Steve Urkel]. Despite their differences, they ultimately learn they have much more in common than any would know, and they forge ahead in life as one.

 

Their lives aren't without demons, however. William has dreamed of a life with wife and kids, and Sabrina wants with every fiber of her being to give him that, but her daunting past has ultimately prevented that. The secret she's kept for so many years has finally caught up with her, and threatens to rip apart the only family she knows! The audience gets to see firsthand how they work through the devastating blows of life to triumph in the end. The story takes you through their lives, from teenagers to their final years. Their true love is evidenced in the way they regularly reminisce about the high school letter that William nervously wrote, pouring his heart and soul out about how he dreamed of life with Sabrina. That very letter surfaces many times throughout the storyline, right down to their final moments together. They were right by each others' side through the worst, and the best times.

 

📸 U.G. Digital Media & Publishing

📸 U.G. Digital Media & Publishing

To some, this story may be no different than that of other plays and scripts, but SOULMate is amazing not only in the story it tells, but the cast as well. From Sabrina (Taral Hicks) and William (Alvin Frazier) to Sabrina's best friend, her cousin, their uncle Ralph and Pretty Tony, you instantly see the work that each individual has personally invested. The humor is side-splitting at times, and you immediately fall in love with the characters throughout.

 

📸 Phillyweeden.com

📸 Phillyweeden.com

To say we're impressed with Philly Weeden is quite the understatement. It's not just with SOULMate. It's his entire life story, and the triumph he's made in pursuing his love. This story, sided with all the other amazing scripts he's produced and delivered to the world, has been perfected in every way possible. We're thrilled to have had the opportunity to witness the magic of everyone involved, and know that this is just the beginning of his life lighting of the universe.

 

Catch the next showing of SOULMate February 25 in Atlanta, Ga! We're thrilled to say we'll definitely be there cheering this crew on!

 

Also, for more on Philly Weeden, catch a video playback of our recent conversation with Philly Weeden at www.urbancityradiostation.com, and a new cover story in the latest edition of Cleveland's Triumph Magazine. 

It Came, I Saw, But Did It Conquer? A Non-Spoiler Look At Rogue One

It Came, I Saw, But Did It Conquer? A Non-Spoiler Look At Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Lucasfilm/Disney

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Lucasfilm/Disney

This isn't a proper review, nor is it intended to spoil any major plot points of the film. If all you've seen is the previews, you're safe.  That said, hell yes this film hit all the marks it was supposed to and most certainly conquered! You are doing yourself a diservice waiting to see this. Many of the plot points will leak out in time and you could spoil yourself from a pretty fantastic experience.

Rogue One managed to pay homage to its old fans and captivate new ones in just a few hours of film time. Unlike The Force Awakens, which had to both meet expectations of original trilogy fans and also rebuild trust after the prequels, Rogue One is free to be its own film. It did great work with that freedom, somehow being both an effective Disney film and a Star Wars story. More on that later in a spoiler review...

It's clear Disney's gamble on standalone Star Wars films have paid off. They'll be running to the bank on this one for sure, but most importantly they'll be producing solid Star Wars movies for some time to come. I'm sure you've got your own opinion and some ideas on things you loved about the movie. Feel free to share below, but no spoilers! Check me out at Deviant Theory for more nerding out, spoilers and a chance to share your feedback.

[MILESTONES] Lil' Mo: 15 years of Based on a True Story

[MILESTONES] Lil' Mo: 15 years of Based on a True Story

Fifteen years ago, the music world was blessed with the debut release from R&B singer Lil' Mo. She had already started building a name for herself, having worked with the likes of Missy Elliott and Timbaland. She contributed a bouncy tune titled "5 Minutes" alongside Missy Elliott for the motion picture soundtrack "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", and that would serve as her initial mark in music. While some felt the song underperformed, It stillresonated a great deal with fans, and that ultimately sparked preparations for Based on a True Story. 

 

Mo would go on to contribute to a number of collaborations with a variety of artists, including Ol' Dirty Bastard, Missy Elliott, and Ja Rule, leading up to the 2001 release of her full length debut. The lead single for "Based on a True Story" was "Ta Da", a tune Mo labeled as a woman's claim to independence. The album ultimately took off with the second single, "Superwoman Pt. II", which featured a then-up and coming rapper named Fabolous. The song undoubtedly helped in pushing him to mainstream success, while also solidifying Mo's place in the game. 

 

The success of "Based on a True Story" doesn't end there. Another single would be released later in the year, titled "Gangsta (Love 4 The Streets)". While only three singles were release from the LP, there were a number of tracks that did well with fans and ultimately made this album a classic for our generation. As we take a look at some of the album's many standouts, we want to extend love and congratulate Mo on 15-years of "Based on a True Story"! In addition to revisiting the standouts, we'll also peruse through some of those tracks that didn't make the cut. 

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Intro
  2. My Story
  3. Supa Star
  4. Superwoman Pt. II f/Fabolous
  5. Player Not the Game f/Carl Thomas
  6. How Many Times
  7. 2moro
  8. Friends (Those Girls)
  9. Gangsta
  10. Saturday
  11. She Could Neva B Me
  12. Time After Time
  13. Outro
  14. I Ain’t Gotta (Bonus Track)
  15. Ta Da (Bonus Track)

 

Intro: The “Intro” was perfect in the sense that it not only gave you a sense of what Mo could do with her voice, but she immediately let you into her world of spirituality, as she covered a bit of ‘I Love the Lord”. 

 

My Story: I found this track to be pretty awesome to say the least, along with the album's Outro. I always wished the two could have just been combined and ultimately been longer. I was definitely feeling it from the start, but Mo really pulled me in with the breakdown near the end: "I'm giving you me, every part of me, this is my story, I hope that you see, the life I'm living, my heart I'm giving, my favor to you"... I still find myself playing that track a lot, even today. 

 

Supa Star: 

 

2moro: This was absolutely my jam, as it was for a number of fans. Mo is great with ballads and slow jams, and she naturally gives every bit of all she has in belting out the right notes. She had me right at the start with "all day, you complain, it's a wonder I'm still the same, you got me on a ball and chain, can't escape, get away, it's the same ol' thang, same shit just a different day"... In the song, she's bad all she can take of that relationship, and she's on her way out the door. It's a subject that many have been in, men and women, and that alone may the song easily relatable. 

 

Time After Time: I'm usually not big on remakes of huge classics, but I felt like Mo did a great job with taking in Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. Musically, it wasn't much different than the original tune, yet, Mo managed to put a good spin on it and make it her own. 

 

Gangsta (Love 4 The Streets): “Gangsta” was that track that not many expected from Lil’ Mo. For as versatile as she had become, some found it to be too far left. Nevertheless, it struck bit with her core fanbase, and did well as a single. 

 

Ta Da: Released in 2000 as a lead single for “Based on a True Story”, Ta Da was an instant success with Mo’s audience. Written by Montell Jordan, it was one of many songs that allowed Mo to flex her strong vocal abilities. 

 

Saturday: On Saturday, Mo sings of being left by her man for another moment, although she was led to believe their relationship would be. Yet another fan-favorite.

 

 

Songs we wish made the cut!

 

 

More Than You Know: Mo’ sang her heart out on this track. I was quite surprised it didn't make the final cut because she really took us there with her riffs and runs. 

 

Starstruck: Starstruck was an example where Mo’ was clearly having a good time and taking it to a place a humor. Featuring Missy Elliott, Mo’ went after that boy that ridiculed and picked on her. Starstruck was that track that made humor of it all and essentially said “look at me now”. 

 

If U Wanna Dance: A video was released for If U Wanna Dance in 1999, and while the track is definitely upbeat and sure to get you moving, it didn’t strike it big with fans in the eyes of label execs, and was subsequently removed from “Based on a True Sorry”. Nevertheless, it was definitely one of our favorites. 

 

Club 2G: Another certified hit that takes Mo to the club with guest appearances from rapper Naam & Missy Elliott. 

 

5 Minutes: from the time I heard "5 Minutes" on the soundtrack of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", it was definitely a favorite. I always assumed it would make it onto the album, and as much as I would have loved to see it there, it actually makes a bit of sense not being there, considering it was already a few years old and had already been released. Still a hot jam this very day though. A video was also released for ‘5 Minutes” back in 1998. 

We would love to know what you thought of the LP, and what your favorites were. Send your comments to info@ugdigitalmag, and we’ll add them into the next issue’s mil section! You can also feel free to tweet them to us at @ugdigitalmag

[REVIEWS] SWV: Still

[REVIEWS] SWV: Still

It's funny how musicians and artists can seemingly vanish for a period of time, and make their way back to music. SWV was one of the biggest and most successful girl bands of the nineties. They maintained a steady stream of hits throughout three albums before disbanding amidst growing troubles within their circle. Mind you, that was 1998 when they released "Release Some Tension". Following their split, Coko moved forward with success in her solo career. She would do a considerable amount in the Gospel circuit before making her way back to SWV. 

 

I can recall some time back around 2005 that there were talks of the group reuniting. We interviewed the ladies around that time, and although they were quite excited about their new prospects, we still didn't see their official reunion until 2012 with the release of "I Missed Us". Released via Mass Appeal and E1, the album didn't do well. Whether It was lack of promotion or otherwise, it just didn't resonate with fans. They soon would embark on an opportunity of having their own reality show aimed at rebuilding their careers as a group. Depending on who you ask, that show may or may not have consistently shown them in the best light, and for some, it left a lot of questions of whether they were truly serious and if they could maintain as a unit. It surely left a lot of skepticism in the minds of music lovers. No one knew what to expect with a new release from the ladies. 

 

“Still” is likely one of the most important albums of SWV’s career. While it was a chance to continue doing what they love, it also served as an opportunity to finally get it right. Releasing an album, and promoting that album to great success takes a great deal of work, arguably more work than what most artists are willing to do. Fact is, many artists from the nineties and prior who return and attempt to rekindle their past success struggle because they aren’t necessarily able, or willing, to do what it takes in today’s climate to make it work. Whether they like it or not, they’re now competing with today’s artists, and that is much the case for SWV. 

 

“Still” represents what some would consider their final shot and putting together a lasting project together. Releasing again through Mass Appeal, the ladies make an indelible mark this time around. What makes Coko, Lelee, & Taj stand out on this new LP is the fact that throughout, they are being themselves. While they may be going for the same success and accolades as their peers, they work on “Still” as though the others don’t exist. They kept with their original style, thus delivering solid hits that fans can groove to for years to come. Each plays their respective lanes perfectly, and for the first time in a long time, they sound like the true unit they were in the beginning. Their sisterhood shines bright as they trade verses one the album’s ten tracks. Favorites on the album for many include the album’s title track, MCE (Man Crush Everyday), Love Song, Ain’t No Man, and Leaving You Alone. 

 

SWV make a strong impact with Still. From the sounds of this album, the ladies will definitely be here for some time to come. 

[REVIEWS] Lil' Wayne: FWA [Free Weezy Album]

[REVIEWS] Lil' Wayne: FWA [Free Weezy Album]

Following a few month in obscurity, likely because of pending troubles with Cash Money Records, Lil' Wayne has resurfaced with his latest mixtape, "Free Weezy Album". Released via Tidal, the album features 15 new tracks, and is available for streaming via the service. 

Starting off with the upbeat "I Feel Good", which samples James Brown's classic of the same title, the entire album bangs. I think in so many ways, Wayne had grown a little complacent throughout the years, and much of his material began to sound the same, but he's definitely gotten off on a good foot with "Free Weezy Album". His talent has always been undeniable, and with this album, he shows the world that despite the troubles he may be having on the musical home front, he can still produce a solid product, which is only a testament to the work that also has been done with Young Money.

The album features guest appearances from Jake Troth, Hoodybaby, Cory Gunz, Junior Reed, Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, and a host of others. From tracks like Post Bail Bailin and Glory to White Girl and Pull Up featuring Euro, fans will definitely be pleased with Free Weezy Album. 

[REVIEWS] Stalley: The Laughing Introvert

[REVIEWS] Stalley: The Laughing Introvert

In the short time that Stalley has been doing music, he's released a number of joint, collaborative, and solo projects. This week, he's back with his new mixtape, The Laughing Introvert. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with "Introvert", as he's showcasing his lyrical growth. I think despite the fact he has done so much, he's still been in that building phase where he's still developing his style, and building his fanbase. Stalley has an immense amount of talent in his lyrical abilities, but when coupled with different producers, some tracks have failed to hit the mark with past releases. Producers on "Introvert" include Thelonius Martin, who has provided production work for the likes of A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson, Curren$y, and a long list of others, and Black Diamond, who regularly produces for Stalley along with a list of other artists. I think every artist has a certain sound they deliver best with, and they have certain producers they work best with. I think he works better with Thelonius and Black Diamond, and the proof is in this album. Fans will definitely be pleased with "Introvert". 

 

Click below to listen to streamed tracks from "Introvert"....

 

1. Laughing Introvert

2. All I Know

3. Nissan Skyline featuring PJK

4. Glass Garages

5. Voila

6. Playa Way

7. Stop Signs featuring Chris Turner & PJK

[REVIEWS] Jill Scott: Woman

[REVIEWS] Jill Scott: Woman

Jill Scott has returned with her new release, Woman. As her first release under a newly attained deal with Atlantic Records, saying Woman was highly anticipated would be quite the understatement. While fans have gotten somewhat accustomed to the long breaks between albums for Jill, it still can seem a bit unbearable, considering the quality we've also grown accustomed to. Truth is, Jill releases damned good music, and it's only a testament to her lengthy career. This year marks 15 years that we've been blessed with her soulfulness, so it’s only right she bless us with something on this anniversary. 

 

So does Woman live up to expectations that have been set? I think that answer is an emphatic yes. Fans have come to love the realness of her music and how genuine she is in her delivery, and Jill stays true to her heart.

 

Woman jumps off with the Warren Campbell-Produced, spoken word-esque Wild Cookie, and follows right into “Prepared”, which I think is one of the albums hottest tracks. Prepared was produced by longtime Jill Scott collaborator Andre Harris, who actually provides much of the album’s backdrop. Other standouts on “Woman” include ‘Can’t Wait”, “Closure” which features production from David Banner over Curtis Mayfield’s “Get Down” and Graham Central Station’s “The Jam”, “Lighthouse”, “You Don’t Know”, and the album’s lead single “Fool’s Gold”. 

 

Other producer throughout woman include Andrew ‘Pop” Wansel, who has produced in the past for the likes of Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys, Trey Songz, and so many others, Philadelphia producer Steve Mckie, Adam Blackstone, who his known for his work with the likes of Nicki Minaj, and Adam Levine & The Voice, The Isley Brothers, Angie Stone, and more. 

 

Jill definitely elevates us to the next level with Woman, providing solid production and well-written lyrics throughout. This release is sure to be at the top of the charts.

[REVIEWS] Big Grams

[REVIEWS] Big Grams

I'm excited to be writing about the new album from Big Grams. With only 7 tracks to cycle through on the album, it's by far one of the best albums I've heard in a while. For those who don't know, Big Grams combines Big Boi of Outkast with electronic rock duo Phantogram. 

 

Big Boi, most known for his time as one half of Outkast, has built a name for himself that at this point has solidified him as a legend in this business. Given the quality in all he's released throughout he past 20+ years, everything he does catapults to unimaginable success. Phantogram are no strangers to the industry either. The group, consisting of members Sarah Barthel & Josh Carter, released their debut album in 2009. They were featured on three tracks from Big Boi's 2012 release, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. The connection has been there, and given their musical chemistry, it was only inevitable that they'd eventually collaborate more. 

 

While they clearly aren't the first artists to collaborate ona full album, they're still taking things to the next level with Big Grams. The merging of sound in their differential styles is definitely needed in hip-hop. Admittedly, more artists are taking risks these days, but I think many will agree no one has done it to the degree of groups like Outkast. After all, he ushered in Janelle Monae, who has done so many positive things with her music for the urban genre. With Big Grams, Big Boi, Barthel and Carter are definitely stretching the lines of music and broadening the horizons. Much of the album's production is heralded by Phantogram, while Put It On Her is produced by 9th Wonder, and Drum Machine is produced by Skrillex. Born to Shine features an appearance from Run the Jewels, another hip-hop merger consisting this time of Killer Mike and El-P of The Weathermen and Company Flow.  

 

I believe most fans, either of Big Boi or Phantogram, should be pleased with the album. Big's rhymes don't necessarily go as deep as most are used to, but I don't imagine that was the point with this EP. The point in my mind at this point is to introduce fans to the idea of them being a unit, and seeing where things can go. Even with this in mind, there definitely are standouts. Big goes for the gusto with Drum Machine, which also features Skrillex. For those who aren't familiar with Skrillex, this is only a piece of what he's capable of. Other potential favorites include the 9th Wonder provided Put It On Her, Lights On, and Born to Shine. 

 

Overall, this is a release that should satisfy fans on either end of their spectrum. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting more from this collective.

[REVIEWS] Rico Love: Turn the Lights On

[REVIEWS] Rico Love: Turn the Lights On

If you follow hip-hop & R&B, then you know Rico Love very well. He’s written and produced for the who’s who of the music world for nearly a decade. “Turn The Lights On” is that opportunity for you to get to know him for his own artistry. 

 

Definitely, this isn’t his first release, yet, listening I get the sense that it will be the album that establishes him as more than a super-producer. “Turn The Lights On” is treated like a debut in the sense that it will definitely take him to that next level as an artist. He covers everything from fame to love & relationships throughout the album. The lead single, “Somebody Else” definitely gets things off to a good start. Produced by Jake One, it’s already been remixed with Wiz Khalifa & Usher. 

 

Other album standouts include ‘Trifling”, “For the Kids”, “Happy Birthday”, and “Days Go By”. All in all, the album is quite impressive, and leaves listeners wanting more. Despite the fact he’s entrenched in hip-hop & R&B, this album is the type that simply can’t be categorized. It’s not hip-hop! It’s not R&B! It’s Music!! Anyone listening can relate somewhere on throughout the LP. With no guest appearances, you definitely have the opportunity to really get to know Rico. Turn The Lights On is a must-have for any music lover. 

 

Below, we’ve posted the track listing, and you can also check out the video for “Somebody Else”! 

 

Rico Love: Turn The Lights On (TTLO)

 

  1. TTLO
  2. Bad Attitude
  3. Trifling
  4. Ride
  5. For The Kids
  6. The Affair
  7. Days Go By
  8. Somebody Else
  9. Run From Me
  10. Happy Birthday
  11. Amsterdam
  12. The Proposal

[REVIEWS] Missy Elliott: WTF [Where They From]

[REVIEWS] Missy Elliott: WTF [Where They From]

It's been a long time, but Missy Elliot has finally made her way back to the limelight with a new single, "WTF (Where They From)". Produced by Pharrell Williams, the single serves as her reintroduction to music after a full decade away. So many have been waiting for this moment and now, with it finally being here, once can only ask, it is too late?

 

I expected that I would hear mixed reviews of "WTF (Where They From)”. You have some fans who absolutely love the tune, while others aren’t so convinced that this is it for Elliott.  I don’t believe in any way that the intention of those who dislike the track to diminish the legacy that Elliott has built and maintained over 20 years. She has undoubtedly put in her work time and time again, but the expectations are naturally high for her return. While I personally like what I’m hearing, I’ll also say that I don’t believe it supersedes the expectations. Fans are used to her coming at a certain level, and she has always seemingly worked harder than most to outdo her previous work. In some ways, I feel the sound is a little dated. 

 

Pharrell, while a musical genius as both an artist and producer, is not the one to spearhead her return to the top in my mind. For me, Timbaland should be at the forefront of her long-awaited return. I, personally, would have expected that he would be riding the lead single with her. In the end, though, it’s really all about preference. For me, being a big fan of their work and knowing the magic they make together, my expectation lied with him catapulting her lead single to the top. 

 

In this industry, there's so much that goes into launching and running a successful campaign as an artist, and her work on this campaign for her new album will prove whether she has what it takes to maintain in today's climate. You can’t help but face the harsh reality that ten years of downtime is indeed a long time. Taking so much time away is a setback that many artists can’t overcome, so Elliott surely has a lot of work ahead of her. Many of today's youth, who are truly the ones buying music, don't know a great deal about Elliott if they weren’t privy to any of her previous work. Of course, she did guest on tracks for a few artists, including Fantasia, Ciara, and J. Cole, but time will tell if that was enough to keep her afloat.

 

Nevertheless, Missy is a musical genius, and it’s great to see her back. The track highlights the high energy we’ve come to love Missy Elliott for over the years, and the accompanying video treatment will definitely have you moving. As a long-time fan, I convinced that there are many great things to come from her upcoming album. It’s been a long time coming, and like her other die hards, I’m eager to hear what she’s got in store.

[REVIEWS] Angie Stone: Dream

[REVIEWS] Angie Stone: Dream

Faith and God have taken Angie Stone to greater heights, personally and professionally, and that revelation is exemplified time and time again throughout Dream. Her voice is crisp and strong as ever, and musically, she's finally in a place where she's loved, appreciated, and trusted enough in her craft to do what she does best. 

 

I'm referring in part to Angie's new deal with Shanachie. Simply put, Shanachie “gets it”. When most labels and executives are flexing their power and calling the shots, they’ve given Angie the power to take over the driver’s seat. Her confidence exudes in tracks like “Dolla Bill” “Begin Again”, and “Didn’t Break Me”, while she still shows her vulnerability on songs like ‘Magnet” and ‘2 Bad Habits”. 

 

There’s a small level of predictability in the fact that you know you’ll get a quality product with Angie Stone. “Dream” is void all the fluff, useless skits, and nonsense that many fill their albums with. She gets right to the point and gives it to you raw. It’s difficult to point out the best tracks here because they’re all pretty high on the list. Overall production is solid throughout the LP, and Angie is backed by some of the most powerful names in entertainment, including Walter W. Millsap III of Conjunction Entertainment and Marv Mack of TopNotch Music. It also must be noted that her new management is working diligently at reversing the damage of past relationships. 

 

Even without having a thing to prove, she still shows the world that she’s still a prime contender to anyone who thinks they can trump her. Her new allegiance with Conjunction and TopNotch will prove to be profitable, and not just financially. Stone has gone practically unnoticed with her last few releases, despite having released some of the best music ever. Her notoriety is sure to increase this time around, as she’s with a crew who values her input, and trusts in her talent.

[REVIEWS] Jooba Loc: Only Way Out

[REVIEWS] Jooba Loc: Only Way Out

With so much new music dropping these days, it’s a little difficult to find anything that stands out tremendously. No doubt, it’s a good thing that we’re seeing more music these days from our favorite artists, yet it’s a little unconventional in the fact that many artists are over-flooding the industry with so much and doing very little in the effort of marketing and promoting. I believe many will agree that the quality hasn’t necessarily been there either, which is what makes the new mixtape release from Jooba Loc so special. 

 

Fronted by none other than Snoop Dogg, Jooba Loc has undeniable star power, and it’s evident in Only Way Out. As the flagship artist for Snoop’s Doggystyle Records, the bar has been set high for him to show and prove, and he’s doing just that with tunes like the infectious “Fallbacc”, “One Way Out”, and “It’s Bedtime”. The album flows quite well in general, making it much less like a mixtape, and more like a full-fledged album release. 

 

Support is high for Jooba, with guest appearances from west coast luminaries like Daz Dillinger, Kokane, and Snoop himself. 

 

As someone who likes to look at the overall picture, I’m eager to see how it all plays out in terms of full artist development. I think the possibilities are endless with his current situation. Snoop has a proven track record in regard to development, and Jooba seems to have the personality to take it next level. 

 

“Only Way Out” is available via iTunes and other online retailers and sites. Check out our stream of “Only Way Out” below.

[REVIEWS] Beyoncé: Lemonade

[REVIEWS] Beyoncé: Lemonade

As many have expected, Beyonce has done it yet again, landing at #1 with her latest release. After drawing millions to HBO and Tidal just a week ago, she released her new visual album, Lemonade, to iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers. The full release, while teased for a short time, was as much a surprise as her last visual album, the self-titled "Beyoncé". It stands as her 6th album release to hit #1 in it’s first week of release, selling nearly 500,000 copies, and reaching 653,000 equivalent album units, according to reports from Nielsen Music.

 

"Lemonade" takes fans on the journey of a woman whose relationship has gone through turmoil; she was cheated on, and is now on her own path of discovery and healing. Sure, the subject is nothing new to anyone whose been in a relationship in their lives, but her approach is what is ultimately grabbing fans, and even those who haven't necessarily been fans. Starting with the album opener "Pray You Catch Me", which details her realizing her man is indeed cheating, the album takes you on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs with tracks like "Hold Up", where frankly put, she's just ready to tear some shit up (and she does just that in the accompanied video), “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, which expresses her angry side, and “Sorry”, where she visits the feeling of apathy, but ironically is getting even. She shocks with lyrics like “I don’t give a fuck, chucking my deuces up, suck on my balls, pause, I’ve had enough, I ain’t thinkin’ bout you”. 

 

The wow-factor doesn’t end there. Beyonce strikes gold with practically every track on the album, including “6 Inch” featuring The Weeknd, “Sandcastles”, “Freedom” featuring Kendrick Lamar, and the country inspired “Daddy Lessons”. The album closes with the politically-charged “Formation”, which debuted to the world via this year’s Super Bowl. 

 

Beyonce definitely did her thing with this release, but she wasn’t the only one in the driver’s seat when it came down to writing, production, and so forth. A lot of hands went into making this masterpiece. Samples and elements were used from a number of artists, including Soulja Boy (“Hold Up”), Led Zeppelin (“Don’t Hurt Yourself”), Isaac Hayes (“6 inch”), Outkast (“All Night”), and more. The overall eclecticism is quite amazing, and I’m sure it has a lot to do with why the album is doing so well. 

 

Naturally, even with sales having done so well already, there’s still some backlash in a sense over multiple things, with the most being about the album’s subject matter. Is it really about Beyonce and Jay-Z cheating? They’re relationship has been pegged by many as doomed from the start. It didn’t necessarily help that fashion designer Rachel Roy see mingling implicated herself into the midst of it all, based on a post to Instagram following the album’s release. Many wonder where the truth lies, but at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. Regardless of it all, the good music shines through, and the “Lemonade” is good indeed.

[REVIEWS} Music Soulchild: Life On Earth

[REVIEWS} Music Soulchild: Life On Earth

It's no wonder Musiq Soulchild has stood the test of time, through the many changes in the R&B climate throughout the years. Indeed, a lot has changed over the years. Gone are the days of anticipating releases from your favorite artists, because many seemingly shift their focus in response to the fickleness of the industry. As much as you want to blame it on the industry, the fact is the blame lies with the artist. Many have become fixed with trying to fit with the times, and they ultimately lose ground because they're not being authentic. Only a select few artists manage to do their own thing, no matter what, and Musiq Soulchild has remained consistent with that. While he has made subtle changes since his beginning, it hasn't been because of strategy. His changes, growth, and elevation have all been natural, and those things speak volumes to why he's been here so long.

 

With Life on Earth, Musiq’s signature sound remains intact, and without being predictable, he shows us just why we originally feel in love with that sound. The album fuses together many different elements of R&B, Hip-Hop, and Jazz, and he manages to take you on a journey through love and life. There truly is something here for everyone, young and old. Having already struck a chord with tracks like “I Do”, ‘Part of Me” featuring Joi Starr, “Heart Away” and “Alive and Well”, he’s well on his way to having a classic LP on his hands. Other songs gaining momentum include “Far Gone” with Rapsody, “Wait a Minute”, “Who Really Loves You”, and “Changed My Mind”. 

 

In reality, I could go on and on about how good the tracks are here, but I think everyone gets the picture. It’s clear that he’s put in a tremendous amount of work with making this album what it is, progressively building his catalog, and his overall brand. Some things that have changed are producers, and his label situation. Following a long-standing recording relationship with Atlantic Records, Musiq is now a part of E-One Entertainment and My Block, with much of the album’s production being handled by Warryn Campbell and Taalib Johnson. What pleases me the most out of everything is that through it all, he has remained true to himself. Typically, when artists change label situations, things go awry because they don’t know how to connect with the artist, or don’t have any idea how to tap into their particular style. Surely, that wasn’t the case here. All parties played their respective positions, and it made way for a great album. Despite the things that have grown popular in music over the past few years, he continues to do him, and that shines throughout Life on Earth.

[REVIEWS] Natasha Mosley

[REVIEWS] Natasha Mosley

I must say that I’m rather impressed with the debut from R&B singer Natasha Mosley. Atlanta has been a breeding ground for some of the best in hip-hop and R&B, and that trend continues with Natasha and her debut. 

On “Rose Hall”, Natasha offers seventeen of what seem to be her best works in song. I, for one, can be very particular about the number of songs on a debut album, and I have my own thoughts on marketing an album for a newcomer, but this album is definitely well thought out, and well crafted. What strikes me the most about Rose Hall and the content is the fact that Natasha sounds like someone who’s been here for a long time. The love songs here strike me as those from someone who has had a lifetime of heartache, heart break, and pain. She pours her all into each track, and it can be heard rather clearly as you listen. R&B has gone through a bit of a lull; ok…a LOT of a lull, over the past few years. There’s so many people out there making music, particularly R&B, and frankly, it all sounds the same. Mosley, on the other hand, is carving her own lane, and it’s pretty refreshing. 

The album kicks off with ‘Over”, where she’s asking whether the relationship has any chance of making it, despite the fact she messed up. Right out the gate, she’s showing her vocal prowess and full range. It then leads into ‘I Want You” and “Love Me Later”, followed by the album’s lead single, “Anything”. Favorites on the album, for me anyway, include the aforementioned, along with “Kiss Goodbye”, Don’t Go”, “Never Be the Same”, and “Team Me”. 

Natasha Mosley is definitely one to look out for. The monotony in music has gotten pretty bad, making “Rose Hall” a breath of fresh air. 

[REVIEWS] LEGENDS OF SOUTHERN HIP-HOP: THE REVIEW

[REVIEWS] LEGENDS OF SOUTHERN HIP-HOP: THE REVIEW

The Legends of Southern Hip-Hop

Cleveland | October 28, 2016

Words: James Johnson

 

Any Hip-Hop fan out there looking to see a good show should definitely consider seeing the Legends of Southern Hip-Hop tour. Currently traveling worldwide, the tour features a variety of artists who have garnered enough respect and success for their art and craft in music that they’ve been afforded “legendary” status. The roster is surely no joke when it comes to the artists who are being featured throughout. Each, in their own right, has built a fan following that is unparalleled in Hip-Hop, and most notably, they’ve been here for some time. They definitely aren’t your “flash in the pan” artists that seem to cycle through. Beginning with Pastor Troy, the list goes on to include Trick Daddy, Project Pat, Bun B; whose legendary status comes courtesy of both an amazing solo career and his duties within the also legendary group U.G.K., Mystikal, 8 Ball & MJG, and finally Juvenile. Scarface also jumps in on a few dates. Clearly, the list isn’t lackluster, and anyone attending this show is in for a spectacular treat.

 

So was the case here in Cleveland, Ohio this past week. Like so many others, having attended so many concerts over the years and seeing so many artists, I’ve come to have a certain expectation in regard to energy levels, enthusiasm, and simply put, whether the artists is truly having a good time, or if it’s “work” for them. This has got to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time, hands down. It was truly amazing because as each artist came out, they all went through songs that honestly, I had long forgotten about. It showed that while many of them have current hits and projects, they also have an extensive catalog of hits that will never die to their diehard fans. While each artist was truly amazing, as a spectator at any show like this, you can’t help but try and categorize each performer in regard to who gave the best show. They honestly all gave an amazing show, but I will say that 8 Ball & MJG absolutely had me nearly falling with excitement as they performed their verses on Three Six Mafia’s “Stay Fly” and their smash Bad Boy hit, “You Don’t Want Drama”. They gave a great performance and showed why they have such a strong bond with their fan base. Bun B went through a number of hits from himself as well as U.G.K, even performing some of the vocals made legendary by rapper Pimp C. Fans were so happy to see him come out, and their excitement multiplied exponentially when he performed their biggest hits, including the collaboration “International Player’s Anthem” which featured Outkast. While his set was short to some, it was just enough to show just why he is the legend many know him to be.

 

When it came down to overall energy, the award goes out to both Mystikal, and Juvenile. From start to finish, Mystikal danced all over the stage as he rifled through the lyrics of such hits as “Down 4 My Niggas”, “Danger”, “Bouncin’ Back”, and “The Man Right Chea”. Just as well, Juvenile went all out as he went through a small roster of his hits. The problem with Juvie is that he’s got so many hits and fan favorites that many left feeling bad that he didn’t hit on certain tracks. He did manage to hit on some of the best though, coming out to the huge hit track “400 Degreez”, and going through a list including “Ha”, “Juvenile On Fire”, “Back That Azz Up”, “Slow Motion”, and “Nolia Clap”. He closed his set with “Gone Ride With Me”, actually wanting to continue performing; only the power to his mic was finally cut short.

 

I really thought it was a great show, symbolizing the unity that exists in the music industry and Hip-Hop world. Together, everyone showed with this tour that good music never dies.