What’s Wrong With Kissing Strangers?

I didn’t know who DNCE was, until a few months ago. Sure, I have heard several songs from their self titled debut album at the gym. “Toothbrush”, “Cake By The Ocean”, “Good Day”, and “Body Moves” all get frequent spins at LA Fitness. I must admit, I am a fan of the group after hearing their album in its entirety. Their music is feel good pop, with an edge. They are not quite as lyrically jagged as Maroon 5, but not as smooth bubblegum pop as the Jonas Brothers. Joe Jonas (formerly of the Jonas Brothers) is ironically the front man of the group.

Although I was late to the party in regards to their debut album (released in November 2016), they are already gearing up for new music. The group decided to enlist some assistance from Hip Hop’s reigning diva, Nicki Minaj. Their new single, “Kissing Strangers” is pure awesomeness. Filled with a catchy call and response hook and a witty rap verse from Nicki Minaj, this song is sure to be one of summer’s big hits.

“Kissing Strangers” speaks of finding the perfect love connection, with multiple trial and error moments along the way. It’s freshman year college spring break all over again. The song seamlessly embodies dance, sweat and seduction in just five minutes. Hear the song for yourself below. What are your thoughts on DNCE’s “Kissing Strangers”? Would you Bump It or Dump It?

Don’t Be Just Another Book On The Shelf

I am currently reading through my second novel, No Cream In The Middle. Although I am extremely excited to share this book with everyone, I am nervous too. July 7th is the official release date (shameless plug). However, I still have some things to check off my list. You may be wondering why I am reading through on my own book. I want to make sure that it’s something I would want to read on my own. We can apply this principal to our everyday lives as well. 

How many of us are truly ready to be placed on the shelf? Ironically, many of us look great on the outside. This is the book cover effect. Despite people saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it is often difficult to avoid. Thankfully, many of us have this part down pat. We look, dress, speak and smell the part. Our outer shell reflects none of our internal struggles. Only the strong survive. However, only those with substance will last. What would people say they flip through our pages? Is there anything that makes us worth reading? 

We live in a microwave society that places core values on the back burner. We shamefully compare ourselves to the next person on the shelf. There is a story behind every “best seller”. Some people may not be willing to pay the price paid by some for popularity. So, we think that outside demands lift us higher. However, holding others to high standards means nothing if we are looking up from the floor. Be those things that you desire out of life. Make the effort to stand out in your own special way. Decide this day that your story will be worth reading. Keep a set of compelling reasons why you are unique in your back pocket. 

Would you buy you today if you were on the shelf? Hopefully, that answer is yes. 

Also, stay tuned for a special announcement about No Cream In The Middle (the follow up to Fortune Cookie), coming soon! 

Katy Perry On The Chopping Block

Katy Perry has always been a persuasive trendsetter. She changed the way we view cherry Chapstick forever. She released the visuals for her new single, “Bon Appetit”, this weekend. The song follows the surprisingly lackluster “Chained To Rhythm”. The song is just ok. However, it fails to move me like “Birthday” and “Dark Horse”, from 2013’s Prism. Thankfully, “Bon Appetit” is at least a step back in the right direction.  The music video really takes the song over the top. The Migos assisted track is a pop/Hip Hop mash up, which Katy Perry usually pulls off well.

The “Bon Appetit” visual clip features Katy Perry as the seductive main course dish. The singer goes through a series of meal preparations. First, she is kneaded in a bed of flour, with stretched limbs. Next, she is transferred from a cutting board to a boiling pot of soup. Finally, she ends up as the centerpiece of a fruit platter in a dimly lit night club. Migos delivers their verse, complete edible, sexual innuendo. I expect Katy Perry to take home a few MTV Video Music Awards for this innovative music video.

She also has been teasing fans with a simple billboard in Times Square. The graphic is an eye with heavy makeup and a May 15th date. Could this be related to a new album release announcement? We will have to wait and see. However, here is the “Bon Appetit” video for your viewing and listening pleasure. Sorry, there are no taste testers here.

What are your thoughts on “Bon Appetit”? Would you say Bump It or Dump It?

LeToya Luckett Gets Back 2 The Music

Letoya Luckett slammed naysayers when she released her debut breakout single, “Torn”, in 2006. She rode the wave of that success with her debut album, LeToya. Her sophomore effort, Lady Love, followed in fairly quick succession. However, it took 8 years for her to release her latest album, Back 2 Life. The former Destiny’s Child songstress focused more on acting during her musical hiatus. However, an 8 year gap in between albums is an eternity in today’s music industry. Few artists can pick up where they left off after such a lengthy break.

Back 2 Life defies any doubt that LeToya can still deliver solid music. The title track and lead single, “Back 2 Life”, showcases her more mature side. She sounds sexier, more confident and composed than ever before. The song’s slick mini movie style music video continues on the sassy second single “Used To”. There’s a common thread that’s quickly detected on her latest release. Although love may have scorned her, she won’t let it get her down.

In fact, she shines brightest when she grabs love by the reigns and calls her own shots. Songs like the seductively suggestive “Weekend” and “Higher” highlight her sensual side. Ludacris serves as the sole featured artist on the call him to the carpet love song “Grey”. She calls out a lover here that can’t make up his mind to commit. Back 2 Life was primarily produced by Joseph “Jo Blaq” Macklin, which was a smart move. The album has a very cohesive, current, yet original sound. This is extremely evident on standout tracks like the catchy, unforgettable, “Middle”.

Back 2 Life is a coming of age tale from a woman who knows what she wants and needs. The album has already seen quick success with being the #1 R&B album on the iTunes charts. LeToya may have been gone from music for years. She was definitely not forgotten though. Back 2 Life is a steamy, sultry pot of audible soup that deserves to be consumed.

 

Back To Make Some Organized Noize

Organized Noize is responsible for some of the biggest hits of the 90s including TLC’s “Waterfalls”, En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go” and much of OutKast’s early catalog. The accomplished production group consists of Rico Wade, Sleepy Brown and Ray Murray. The men of Organized Noize always find a way to make it back to the music. Now, they are back to with their new self title EP, Organized Noize. There are guest features sprinkled throughout the project, including the Dungeon Family staples Big Boi, Joi and Cee-Lo Green. However, Andre 3000 is nowhere to be heard on the project. Nevertheless, the group puts forth a solid effort. Organized Noize always stood in a class of their on. The 7 song self titled EP proves they are still original.

“Anybody Out There” starts off as a reminder to who they are. They boast about the incredible 20 year plus run, while Scar and Joi provide a sultry R&B infused groove. This is the kind of song that is made to get the crowd hyped before a live show. “We The Ones”, featuring Sleepy Brown, Big Boi, Cee-Lo Green and Big Rube is a social call to action. The song urges people to stand up so their “children will never lose”. The track is a poignant wake up call, while avoiding to come across offensively. They just want us to stand up against any type of injustice. “Chemtrails” is a jazzy, upbeat offering that warns us to run for cover from “Chem”.

“Why Can’t We” picks up where “We The Ones” leaves off. The song begs to know why we can’t all peacefully coexist together. The song isn’t necessarily single potential, but a worthy addition to the EP. “Kush” is the sexy song from the EP, primarily due to Joi’s bedroom growl plastered all over the track. Actually, this is the most catchy song on the project. Rapper 2 Chainz (a non Dungeon Family member) is featured here as well. The song is so enticing, it may make some want to have their hands out waiting. “Awesome Lovin'”, a solo track from Sleepy Brown, continues the love train. I have always been a big fan of his voice. The instant vintage sound of the track pairs extremely well with his vocals here.

Organized Noize closes out the EP with the outer space, hypnotic boogie that is “The Art Of Organized Noize”. The song is primarily void of any vocals and the message here is clearly to just ingest the production. Organized Noize is truly underrated. When you think southern Hip Hop, their just credit has to be due. They put the Atlanta sound on the map in the 90s, with a fresh new sound spread like wildfire. Their music is always funky, fresh, soulful and intentional. Who knew noise could sound so beautiful?

Check out “Kush” from their new EP, below. What are your thoughts on the song? Would you Bump It or Dump It?

En Vogue: Are The Funky Divas Still ‘Good’?

Dawn, Cindy, Terry, and Maxine ruled the Billboard charts in the early 90s. The Funky Divas picked up where the Supremes left off. They took the doors off the hinges for groups like Destiny’s Child to follow years later. No other female group sings as well as they do. Don’t agree? Name one female group where each member can sing with the equal level of skill. Yep, I’ll wait. However, we all know the story of their complicated fate. Lead singer Dawn left the group in the late 90s. Her and original member, Maxine, formed their own version of En Vogue (which later disbanded). 

Now the group has returned. Well, Cindy, Terry and Rhona have. Rhona is a newer member that was added after Maxine and Dawn’s departure. The trio has released their latest single, “I’m Good”. The new music popped up out of nowhere. The fact that the song sounds great is not surprising. Whether together or apart, the group knows how to deliver compelling music. The surprise is that the group even recorded any new music. 

The group kept their main formula, with a slick R&B sound. Raphael Saadiq produced the record. He used to be in the group Lucy Pearl with Dawn (from En Vogue) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (from A Tribe Called Quest). Their sound is classic and they should at least be commended for not trying to chase current day trends. “I’m Good” will be featured on their upcoming album, Electric Cafe. Unfortunately, that release will not feature all the original members. Nevertheless, this is a nice welcome back from En Vogue. Now if we could just get all 4 original members to reunite. 

Check out the song for yourself below and reminisce on some of the group’s highlights. What are your thoughts on “I’m Good”? Would you Bump It or Dump It?

The Truth About Good Character

We have heard it all before. “To whom much is given, much is required”. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. “A strong work ethic builds good character”. I have never heard that last one verbatim. Nonetheless, you get the point. I am naturally a hard working person. In fact, I can be dedicated to a fault, even longer than I should be. Lately, I started paying attention to people calling out certain character building scenarios in life. There is nothing wrong with putting a little elbow grease effort into certain situations. However, everything in life must have balance. More importantly, who does the hard work really benefit?

Pay attention the next time you find yourself in this situation. People often brush off hard work as character building when it suits their benefit. Again, someone has to benefit from hard work. This is inevitable. We do have to draw a line for our own sanity though. There is another old saying, “I could complain, but no one would listen anyway”. I try to think of this before I verbally vomit about what’s going on in my life. Remember that someone is always working harder. Someone is always more disadvantaged. There is always someone who is getting an even shorter end of the stick.

Work hard if you must. Work hard because you should. However, be sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. This is why I have so much respect for people who run their own businesses. Sometimes, it’s not about instant success, but rather the faith try something new. Anyone can work hard to meet another person’s bottom line. What about your bottom line though? What are you doing today that will enhance your life greatly 5 years from now. Think about it the next time you roll up your sleeves to get dirty, in the name of good character.

The Scar Speaks Volumes

Last week I had a great conversation with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. We caught up about everything from work, to personal life and business endeavors we are working on. This friend is one of those people who is great to surround yourself with. Great energy attracts more great energy. Some of us fail to exude positive energy (in relationships, friendships, etc), that there’s no wonder we only attract the negative. However, that’s another blog for another day. There is one part of our conversation that really stands out about the rest. 

I was speaking to my friend about a situation that I want to get to the bottom of. Basically, it’s a catch 22 whether I leave it alone or inquire further about it. My friend then said, “Well, they may not want to scar you once you know the truth”. I must admit, this statement stopped me in my tracks. Of course, it sounds like common sense right? This is why people say the truth hurts. Although the concept is understandable, there is still the insatiable desire to know. We want to know those things that could damage us the most. We want to know the dark secrets, true motives and reasons why. 

Can we really handle the truth though? Everyone wants to play big and bad. Sadly. most people are not equipped to handle the aftershock of the truth. We tend to look at the person or situation differently, despite our most desperate instincts not to. Some things truly are better left in the dark. The truth is a delicate balance. Knowledge is power and understanding. However, that same knowledge can take us over the edge if we’re not careful. Seek your truth wisely, because once you get it, you can’t give its scar back. 

Big Boi Rules The Boomiverse

OutKast (Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and Andre “Andre 3000” Benjamin) reunited at Coachella 2014. Many of today’s current generation remembers “Ms. Jackson”, “B.O.B.” and “The Way You Move”. Although those are some of the duo’s biggest hits, they have been around for over 20 years now. Their last studio album was the commercial juggernaut (and Grammy Album of the Year), Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,  was released in 2003. Let’s give them credit for the Idlewild soundtrack, released in 2006. However, that was still over 10 years ago. 

Big Boi has always been the worker of the pair. Andre 3000 has distanced himself from music in recent years, sparingly appearing as a guest artist on various songs. Hip Hop is still feeling the void that OutKast so cleverly filled in their hey day. They didn’t disappear because they flopped. In fact, they were as popular as ever the last time we heard from them. Now, Big Boi is back, with a brand new single called “Mic Jack”. He enlisted some help from Maroon 5 front man, Adam Levine. 

I must admit that I was leery about a Big Boi, Adam Levine collaboration. I am a big fan of both artists in their own right. However, I just wasnt sure how this would turn out. The song is the lead single from Big Boi’s forthcoming solo album, Boomiverse. Big Boi has come back to remind us of his stature in Pop music, let alone Hip Hop. His delivery is as bold and confident as ever. The song feels like the summer of 2003 all over again. Plus, Adam Levine’s edgy vocals on the hook are a perfect fit. Although the track has a definite mainstream sound, I’m curious to hear the direction of Boomiverse in its entirety. 

LA Reid divulged in his memoir, Talk To Me, that Speakerboxxx was just supposed to be Big Boi’s solo album (without Andre 3000). Miraculously, Andre 3000 called two weeks before its due date to add in his piece. I’m secretly hoping the same thing happens again this time. Either way, it’s exciting to hear music from at least one of the members of arguably Hip Hop’s greatest duo. 

Check out “Mic Jack” below. Plus,  hear “Kill Jill”, another new Big Boi track with Jeezy and Killer Mike.

What are your thoughts on Big Boi’s new music? Would you Bump It or Dump It?

Daley & Jill Scott Take The Pain Away

 

Daley is like that secret weapon that comes out of nowhere to create mass destruction. Although it’s only been 6 years since his debut EP, his voice has the maturity of a seasoned veteran. His debut album, Days + Nights, still gets heavy rotation on my iPod. He previewed his current single “Until The Pain Is Gone” last year. Daley just recently released the full version of the song. His voice alone is enough to melt the tweeter in your speakers. However, he adds beautiful insult to audible injury by adding the likes of vocal powerhouse Jill Scott. Daley says he kept hearing Jill Scott’s voice while he was writing the song. Let’s just say we should be thankful he did.

Daley claims the song is a personal story that details a stagnant relationship. “Until The Pain Is Gone” sounds like refreshing vintage soul. The song is lifted as the first single from his upcoming EP. Jill Scott’s voice is a perfect marriage with Daley’s. In fact, there are times they sound just alike on the song. I’m eagerly anticipating this new collection of songs from the soulful crooner. There is no word yet on the title or release date of his EP though. Until then, you can catch Daley on tour now with Leela James.

What are your thoughts on “Until The Pain Is Gone?” In my humble opinion, he pretty much slaughters any other male R&B slow jam out right now.