cee-lo's soul machine

Being one of the fusing forces of Goodie Mob and then going solo, Cee-Lo's been blazing some trails here and there. Admittedly the trail being blazed for the debut release didn't leave much of a mark. Between releases, he managed to make himself known, most recently in Speakerboxxx in the very short, eloquent rap in Reset. With Cee-Lo Green Is The Soul Machine he's managed to make himself a formidable force. Considering the last couple of months with mediocre releases from others (witness Janet), this album is a nice surprise.

As productions and artists go, he's got some high powers in his camp. He's got Timbaland in the mix for the first release, Call Me, Ludacris in Childz Play, Pharrell in The Art Of Noise and Let's Stay Together, and Scrap Metal with Organized Noize. They're all great, and easily accessible by the masses.

It's all about adding his own nuances that makes this one shine.

He spreads love across multiple places. In My Kinda People, complete with Jazze Pha and Menta Malone in the background, he sings about Southern simplcity:

I can smell it, somebody put wood grain in the air
And there's a lot of fine ass women everywhere
Ain't nothin' wrong with passin' and drinkin and havin' fun
Why don't you take your dead ass home if you ain't havin' none?

From the spoken words in I Am Selling Soul and Sometimes, he gives more than just lyricism -- he also slams spoken word, in surround sound even.

Sometimes good just ain't good enough
And othertimes evil will get you even
Sometimes faith is not knowing any better
Sometimes nothing is what you believe in...sometimes I don't even have a hook.

He also uses the N-word in Southern style that's love instead of hatred in the lively When We Were Friends. He uses romance and love, complete with watching Blockbuster movies, in All Day Love Affair.

As it he put it himself, he's "the obviously odd, five foot, six inch god" proclaimed in Evening News. I believe that's the best assessment that can be made.

8/10. The best release this year so far. Your take?

To remain plain and simplistic, realistic, accurate, articulate, and absolutely artistic
Uninhibited, unadulterated, unstoppable, unfuckwithable and unforgettable
But since I've been granted the power of choice to make God be the voice he is so all the credibility is his
So let these be words of wisdom and in the same breath warning...
Son, I shine like Sunday morning
- Sometimes

April 11, 2004 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

damita jo: taking the extra out of extraordinary?

Damita Jo, just released, has been one of the most anticipated albums this year. From a majority of the reviews seen thus far, this album is considered to be a miss, rather than a hit. What happened this time? Succinctly put, the album is not a groundbreaking effort. Coming from a new or up-and-coming artist, the album has the ability to spin effortlessly, to give the grooves needed to please, and without a doubt would be labeled a solid album. The problem here? The expected excitment, the undulation the people have been used to in every release is not present here.

Declarations of the passion and the newness that is Damita Jo along with Strawberry Bounce set the album off to a strong start, but rarely give any newfound passion that we've been accustomed to. Undoubtedbly, with Dallas Austin introducing us with the first release Just A Little While, fans were unaccustomed to the Prince infusion, resulting in quickly releasing the solid, albeit non-groundbreaking track I Want You.

With Jam and Lewis present, as with every release, the Janet Jackson sound is still there. Island Life and Truly are standard Flytetyme tracks expected off of every album. The infusion of old-school beats is a boost that some of these tracks provide. With Spending Time With You, with a slight interpolation of the Gap Band, and R&B Junkie breaking off Evelyn Champagne King, the 80's enhancements uplift the album for the old-school legion.

The addition of other production teams give this album variety also. With BAG & Arnthor helming All Night (Don't Stop) and Slo Love, there's additional funk that effortlessly guides people to the floor. Having Kanye West pulsing us into I Want You and My Baby, along with Babyface giving us his signature cut Thinking About My Ex, the current fan base are granted songs designed for this day and age.

Janet has previously given us many things to be thankful of...and with Jam and Lewis guiding the ship, the results have been stellar. With groundbreaking songs from All For You like the minimalist funk of the initial track All for You, the emotion of Son of A Gun, and the rock-infused Trust a Try, the album, while not a blockbuster when compared to her previous efforts, was a release that signalled growth inside of the woman that is Damita Jo. The rub here? This album is a continuation of comfort and familiarity, rather than satisfying the above-the-radar expectations that is her norm. There are tracks not present on the United States release of Damita Jo as well. With Could This Be Love and Put Your Hands On missing, the album lacks more of what her fan base has been accustomed to. It's expected that videos, her performances, and interviews will boost this album as they have in the past. Now, more than ever, however, it's absolutely essential.

As albums go, this is not a bad album release from artists with a smaller fan base, and for that it, it gets a rating of 7/10. In the realm that is Janet, this release can be considered a minor setback, however, placing it at a 6/10 when compared to her other releases. There's so much that has been received in the past that has made the future so bright, I've had to wear my shades. This time, however, I didn't need to wear them. We can only hope that the next release will shine a bit brighter.

Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.


April 4, 2004 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

bravebird's arrival

bravery according to amel

past: Jamiroquai , 'Latenigttales'
present: Amel Larrieux, Bravebird
future The Grey Album, Kanye West, Jason Mraz.

She's back, that wonderful Amel. With her talent gracing Groove Theory, Sweetback, Towa Tei and then her solid debut album Infinite Possibilites, I anxiously waited for three years for her followup CD to drop. There are some gems here, but this leaves me wanting more.

I expect to hear cuts like For Real and Bravebird, with their accentuated rhythms and flow, they start the album off on a high note. Maintenance however, seems to be the weakness here placing the album in a lull until we're graced with We Can Be New, the in-your-head beats and chanting of Congo, and the solid gold Say You Want It All near the end of the CD. It ends how it starts, on a high note-- but still wanting more. It's time for me to go back and get Stanley Clarke's CD 1, 2, To The Bass graced with her presence.

My take? 6/10. It's my second take so far this year. Time for upliftment.

Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.

February 14, 2004 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

late night with jamiroquai


past: Musiq, 'soulstar'
present: Jamiroquai , 'Latenigttales'
future: Amel Larrieux

Jamiroquai, having graced us with A Funk Oddysey in 2001, has taken us into their late night musical inclinations with Anotherlatenight, which explores what's in the mind of Jason.

It's interesting to see what Jamiroquai has taken from the musical world. In listening to this CD, it's easy to see where their influences lie. While mostly backdrop music, there are some clear gems in this set.

Starting out with Pointer Sisters and The Commodores, the tunes are not quite Jamiroquai. Rufus's Once You Get Started is a cut with which Jamiroquai has utilized, but it's not nearly their best cut. (At Midnight) My Love Will Lift You Up would be a more delectable spread indicative of Jamiroquai's style.

Johnny Hammond's album released in 1975 called Gears got such bad reviews, but the song Fantasy was definitely one of those tracks that deserved to be included. Having just heard this original, it's impossible for me to say what that album was like, but the single is great and is an inspiration to get more Johnny Hammond tunes. Ramsey Lewis' Whisper Zone, a very solid track, brings us right into Leon Ware. The track What's Your Name is something that, albeit old-school, gives you pause and makes you understand just what Jay Kay has in his head when he's expressing himself. This sounds like classic Jamiroquai complete with an outstanding horn section and wonderful female vocals. It would be absolutely great if Jay and Beverley Knight would remake this tune.

The album takes a lull right up to Skyy's Here's To You and on into The Real Thing with Raining Through My Sunshine. This was very surprising, because this tune clearly fused Jamiroquai's and Loose Ends' debut album together with the songwriting and production abilities of Chris and Eddie Amoo, much to my delight- inspiring me to retrieve The Best of The Real Thing.

Finishing up the CD with Marvin Gaye, Patrice Rushen, and The White City leaves me with a generally good album, but I'm going to be tapping my foot a bit louder waiting for the next CD from Jamiroquai. Let's hope 2004 brings us the next release.

My take? 6/10.

Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.

January 31, 2004 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

shining 'soulstar'

shining 'soulstar'

past: Kelis, Tasty
present: Musiq, 'soulstar'
future: Jamiroquai , Amel Larrieaux

The third CD from Musiq is a continuation of his soulful exchange, with some very subtle distinctions coming front and center, namely his production capabilities, both behind the boards and in the executive suite.

soulstar featuring DJ Aktiv and Carol Riddick in her spendor, graces the track with their voices, sliding into youloveme, which explores the two-sidedness of love:

I know you love me baby
'Cause I love you too
So tell me why is it I'm having doubts about you?

womanopoly slides on into forthenight which is the current release - a release that has a solid touch of 70s music revamped into this millenium. Along with being graced with AAries, it's a strong cut to start off with. infatueighties teaches us how to mack Musiq style:

We went from a spark to a raging fire
Down like a car with 4 flat tires
She my superstar, I'd be the shine behind her (ya mean)

whoknows is a very solid cut itself, complete with horns and a crescendo in the middle which, in this reviewer's opinion, would be a good choice for the second release. babymother accentuates whoknows, stating his ownership of a child on their way, sliding into The Rolling Stone's enhanced missyou. Mick Jagger should be proud.

momentinlife is an outstanding cut showcasing the talents of Cee-Lo and Kindred the Family Soul. thereason slides us into the groove of dontstop graced by the vocals of Bilal, yet another solid cut. When both vocalists are crooning to droppin' clothes, it's funky.

Dipping into the sdness of breakup, whereareyougoing gives us a thoughtful pause with good vocals, which is more expansive than his normal vocals. We are then pulled back into romancipation, a strong ending.*

This CD shows that Musiq has indeed expanded, yet he hasn't reinvented himself. It's still solid, and solid is good. Fans of Musiq will remain fans, and there will more than likely be more fans acquired. Has he stretched? A bit, but it's more on a positive vibe.

My take? 7/10.

Express yourself. eXponent. It's a good thing.

Hey, ooh, when im singing im sharing
Or rhyming I'm shining my light
And although the love is so blinding I still end up finding my wife
All I can do is reminisce cause there is no rewinding my life
But the future's so bright it's almost blinding my sight

- momentinlife

* There are two hidden tracks on the CD. In particular, leaveamessage which is very solid, replete with answering machine messages, making me replay the song continuosly. Very, very solid.

January 26, 2004 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

'tasty' wrapup to 2003

'tasty' wrapup to 2003

past: Seal, IV
present: Kelis, Tasty
future: Nelly Furtado, Musiq, Only Child, 112, Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Magoo

This is the third CD from Kelis. Many of you may remember merely two, but between Kaleidescope and the current one, Tasty, Wanderland is the unforgotten CD in the US, only being released overseas. There's something to be said about Kelis, who won quite a few awards around the globe, but was all but noticed here. Wake up.

Trick Me is a nice Dallas Austin intro to the CD, complete with guitar and a mini-rap from Kelis. 'Might trick me once, but I won't let you trick me twice'. . Milkshake has been played continuously for the better part of the fall, and as Kelis' first bonafied smash, hitting even harder than Caught Out There.

Keep It Down, is another Dallas Austin rock-soul mix that is welcome on this CD, even though Perfect Day was largely ignored by the world during Wanderland's rule.

Using fiancee Nas to describe how private sexual encounters are almost oxymoronic, as Kelis with The Neptunes asks to get it on In Public. R rated, even. Flashback, another R rated cut pulled from Wanderland, leads us into The Neptunes standard fare, the non-groundbreaking but nonetheless memorable Protect My Heart, accentuated by Pharell. Andre 3000 lands squarely on Millionaire, another Andre 3000 gem. It takes Rafael Saddiq to add his flair to the singles Glow, one of the strongest cuts on deck, and Attention.

Sugar Honey Iced Tea and Rolling Through The Hood are yet two other Neptune cuts, which should enlighten non-Wanderland purchasers, dipping into Stick Up ending with the nice finishing touch of Marathon.

For myself, Tasty is yet a redux of Wanderland. With the additional work of Rafael Saddiq and others, this gives Kelis a little more exposure for the world to realize her talent the third time around. Executive producer Kelis has shown that she is still a force to be reckoned with. Don't sleep. If by chance this enightens you, go back and dip into Wanderland.

My take? 8/10. Solid.

Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.

Had him on the train one day when I wrapped in pain
He said 'I love you' in more ways than I've ever heard
And before I got his name I thought that it might be okay
To use the service to take some pain away
- Keep It Down

December 18, 2003 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

iv - seal's not broken

past: Mya, Moodring
present: Seal, IV
future: Nelly Furtado, Only Child, 112, Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Magoo

Seal releases another CD. People take note. Since his albums are released more than two years apart, we’ve had to wait patiently for his songs. In a nutshell, this CD has hit further home. It may because there’s more introspection, and a little less than overt creativity. While this seems to be more heart-wrenching and much simpler than the last release, that’s a good sign.

Seal starts off with Get It Together, a nice cut and a perfect intro. Love's Divine, after repeated listens, gets better, and more cohesive. Waiting For You strikes major chords in that it's simply, using horns as a staccato which enunciates his words.

The day they found me asleep on the floor
Engine running, closed garage door
Was the day the For Sale sign arrived on the lawn
Two weeks later, and we were gone

While My Vision and Don't Make Me Wait are songs reminiscent of Seal's past, Let Me Roll steps out of the introspection and rocks the joint, dipping right into Touch. Very memorable, and simply a song which expresses the anxiety of the joys and pains of life: Still, I need to know / What time itself will really show. Loneliest Star dips even further into the spin and continues the introspection where Touch left off. The album then finishes with two songs not as strong as the three previous, Heavenly and Tinseltown.

This is standard Seal with all of his strengths and frailties. This is not to say that the CD is not memorable or that it's uneven...to the contrary, it's sublime and generally something to listen to. It won't knock you out of the box, but it will satisfy you and prepare you to wait for another three to four years for the next release.

My vibe? 7/10.

Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.

I'm your fall in winter
I'm a wanted sign
And if you don't read me baby
You might lose your mind

- Let Me Roll

Don't you know that I'm free and I'm young
I'm the loneliest star from the sun
And I feel that I'm close to than one
Who will stop me from coming undone

- Loneliest Star

December 7, 2003 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

mya flashes her 'moodring'

joss' blue eyes

past: Joss Stone, The Soul Sessions
present: Mya, Moodring
future: Nappy Roots, Mya, Only Child, Rhian Benson, Seal

Mya's been a pretty busy lady. She dances and performs in the blockbuster movie Chicago. Seeing her being an all-around entertainer gives me enough pause to purchase her third CD, Moodring. Having listened to the last 2 albums and not being overly impressed, I expected her to have some decent tracks, but not something earth shattering.

She starts out with My Love Is Like Wo. Although somewhat entertaining, it fails to keep my attention. Falling is a bit more on the feel-good side and stays inside your head. Why You Gotta Look So Good grooves well. So does Step...but by this time the tunes start to blur. Sophisticated Lady featuring Rick James' Cold Blooded as a backdrop blurs me even further.

No Sleep is a standout. Although it's constructed with a cute intro, noncomplicated lyrics and beats, and a simple background chorus, it's just catchy and insidious enough to be one of the standouts of the CD. The Jam & Lewis track Anatomy One On One is nice, but certainly not a blockbuster. Mya and Gunz grace the track Hurry Up. It's a good track, and would be a catchy, in-your-face cut if it were not for DJ Clue and Desert Storm continually upsetting it. DJs as a rule provide a beat, not talk over it.

After finally getting through Hurry Up, Sean Paul floats into the next track, Things Come and Go. His fan base will no doubt be pleased with this track. You is a splendid track with organ and strings, generating a strong love song. After The Rain speaks of a love affair gone wrong with an interpolation of Voyage To Atlantis included. It's intentions are good, but it misses the mark. Mya's vocals are varied in this song, raising this song a bit near the end. Late has a very simple beat and vocals, but's it's accentuated with lyrics, knocking it right outta the box.

I'm sure that Whatever Bitch is thrilling, but I missed it. The bitteness of Taste It pulls it back up ("It's like I'm sleepin' with the enemy/What's up?") but I'm sure Mary Had a Little Lamb would pull it up just as well. Take A Picture leads us into Free Fallin', a remake of Tom Petty's cut, by name only.

The CD ends with the track Compared To What graced with Common, a nice track used in a Coca Cola commercial. A very, very nice final note to her CD.

Moodring eases well into the backdrop of any event. It's no blockbuster, but has enough tracks and beats to be entertaining. 5/10. Next.

Express yourself with eXponent. It's a good thing.

You give me all the love I ever need
You always bring it home to me
I betcha don't get no sleep tonight.

- No Sleep

'Cuz it takes more than flippin' burgers & fries
Smokin' dro, playin on the XBOX & hangin' at the strip club is gonna have to stop

- Late

November 8, 2003 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

joss' blue eyes

joss' blue eyes

past:: Anthony Hamilton, Coming Where I Come From
present: Joss Stone, The Soul Sessions
future: Nappy Roots, Mya, Only Child, Rhian Benson, Seal

S-Curve records presents Joss Stone, a girl from Devon, England. Blue eyes? She's got 'em. Her age? 16. Her voice? Strong and soulful.

The Chokin' Kind is where Joss tells us That hat don't fit my head/It's the chokin' kind. Sets the tone for the entire album. Supa Dupa Love is solid. When Joss tells you that she Fell In Love With A Boy, remember: don't go tellin' all the lies on Sarah. She then warns about the bitterness than can bring a love affair down with Victim of a Foolish Heart. Back to rekindle a relationship, a past love of her partner tries to break their relationship apart.

In the next track, she rids herself of the Dirty Man: I'm a good housekeeper/I'm gonna take broom and sweep all the dirt in the street. The dirty man gets replaced with a man who is Some Kind of Wonderful, a nice upbeat track to lift the spirits. She uplifts it even further with I've Fallen In Love With You. She talks about the slumber last night with I Had a Dream.

The downfall of love is told in All The King's Horses:He fell, I fell/There's nothing else left to tell. Joss then ends the CD solidly with For the Love Of You, the Isley Brothers classic. She makes it even more mellow, with simply her voice - no keyboards, no drums, just her voice and chords in the background which is merely a superflous backdrop.

Joss is solid. These selections are definitely classics which she puts her shine on gracefully. This is a great introduction. Now that she's put her spin on classics, it's time for her to shine more in her own light.

e-scale: 7/10

ej wants you to share your world. Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.

Can't think of anything to do
My left brain knows our love is fleeting
He's been looking for something new
I've said it once before but it bears repeating

- Fell In Love With A Boy

October 25, 2003 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

anthony hamilton's southern hospitality

anthony hamilton's southern hospitality

past: Outkast's Speakerboxxx and The Love Below
: Anthony Hamilton, Coming Where I Come From
future: Joss Stone, Nappy Roots, Mya, Only Child, Rhian Benson

Southern hospitality has always been a strong suit in rhythm and blues, albeit more in the blues and less in the rhythm. Enter Anthony Hamilton.

Anthony has had his trials and tribulations in the past to be sure. After being on various levels, recording songs, and and releasing XTC, an album which was released and all but forgotten, Anthony has used his time wisely. Touring with D'Angelo and providing vocals to Nappy Roots, Eve, Tupac, and Xzibit, he's been around. Thanks to Jermaine Dupri, Anthony has been able to record and release under So So Def an album which has brought the southern sound to the forefront.

Introduced by Jermaine Dupri, Mama Knew Love ("Mama I'm gonna struggle with ya/I'm gonna help you see the big picture") sits in the front. The mix of the samples with the vocals reminiscent of Al Green lets us know what to expect as the album progresses. In case we missed it the first time however, Anthony pulls in a guitar as he introduces us to Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens, which he will provide to the girl who's in need of his love, with one condition: she straighten herself out. "Cause I'm a pimp girl/Come on let me rock your world".

Organs slide us into the splendid track Since I Seen't You, and soothe us into a cut that's fly, sensual, and full of heart. Simple and to the point, and this is key.

Since I seen't you
We been peoples
You're my equal
This love is see through
I wanna keep you
I wanna be with you

Having acquired the love he wanted, he seemed to have lost it in Charlene ("Come on home to me Charlene"). But don't let him stop spilling his heart here. He loses his best friend and lover in the next track, and as he lets you know in "I'm A Mess". Coming Where I Come From brings you into his world and the challenges that he goes through ("Sometimes I gotta cry a little bit louder"). This release and the accompanying video lets you know what he's all about.

Better Days brings us back from the blues and allows him to express more of his love. With himself providing primary background vocals, this track is more intrinsic and definitely powerful. However, when he starts out with Lucille, he turns his exasperation into "My old lady's on the other side of town with her ex-boyfriend/Drinkin' again". Seems that life is producing more tricks.

A guitar intro brings us into Float, a sensual track that encourages his love to vibe with him: "Baby come float with me/Let me take you to a place on high". Sensual and definitely on the positive, no-holds-barred tip. The song, however, ramps up and gives more energy....enough to make you sway in the chair. ("Baby grab ahold/Feel me in your soul/Forevermore").

He then slides us back into a duet with LaToyoia Williams with My First Love, a solid cut which we would have come to expect in this album, and he doesn't dissapoint. However, he then comes back with Chyna Black ("Soothes a body/Like Mom's old rolls"). This energetic track is a nice switch, which then leads us into the heartbreaking final track, I Tried.

This album is on a vibe that we rarely get to hear in this day and age. It's not hip hop, and it's not rap. It's tracks with enough funkiness, lyrics, emotional battles, scars, and celebration that brings the young and old into the same circles and can keep us all grooving. If you're expecting rap here, you'll be dissapointed.

But instead of being dissapointed, go back out and sit in the rocking chair sit a spell, and listen.

e-scale: 8/10

ej wants you to share your world. Express yourself to eXponent. It's a good thing.

I'm a pimp girl, I'm a pimp girl
With juicy juice and Jheri curls
Drip drip one sip and you'll be punch drunk
- Cornbread, Fish, and Collard Greens

October 13, 2003 in review - audio | Permalink | Comments (88) | TrackBack