Linkin Park recently celebrated the release of their seventh studio album, One More Light. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart (as did six of their other albums). The group’s catalog even includes a mash up project with Jay Z. Their music defined a generation with hits like “Numb”, “In The End”, “Closer” and their latest gem, “Heavy”. However, the group as we know reached its completion today. Chester Bennington, lead singer, took his life at the age of 41 years old.
Chester and his group hailed from California and instantly took the music industry by storm. Their debut studio album, Hybrid Theory, went on to sell an astonishing 10 million copies in the US alone. Linkin Park’s star status could not be dimmed. The group infectiously blended Rock and Rap. They created sounds that were not previously heard before. Chester Bennington’s piercing vocals were the main attraction. His pain and angst reverberated in the atmosphere even after their songs were over. Linkin Park was an acquired taste for some. Their influence cannot be denied though.
Chester Bennington struggle with himself was apparent in the group’s last recording together. “Heavy” has some dark, disturbing lyrics that sound like a cry for help in hindsight. “Holding on/So much more than I can carry/I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down”. Nevertheless, Chester Bennington’s (and Linkin Park’s) legacy will forever be the cool guy(s) of Rock/Rap who broke the mold and set trends for others to follow.
I have been a fan of Jarrett Michael’s music for a few years. His raw and honest approach has always made me respect his craft. However, his latest album, What A Year, takes his skills to new heights. Hip Hop artists may find it difficult to carve out their own sound in today’s music landscape. Thankfully, this is not the case at all for Jarrett. His flow and delivery, coupled with his gritty tone make his rhymes unmistakable.
The six track set kicks off strong with “FU ’16”. The dreamy track is the backdrop as Jarrett candidly talks about his personal struggles and triumphs over the last 365 days. There’s something about this song that has a vintage feel, which suits the subject matter well here. He’s ready for change and forging ahead to higher heights. He follows up with “can YOU love me…” with a sing song rap flow that he pulls off very well. Jarrett is letting everyone that he is unapologetic about remaining true to himself.
“YRS. 2” rolls in with a stutter step drum pattern. There is no question that he is passionate and telling it like it is on this one. He openly talks about a topic we all can relate to: love and breakups. The story ends on a happy note as he shouts his excitement for his woman. “MIDNIGHT HR” warns us of foes who disguise themselves as friends. His rapid flow is a nice contrast to the molasses production. Plus, the ending skit is hilarious.
Jarrett opts for a more Pop and R&B influenced sound on “answered?’s”. This is the mellow love song on the album. This is the kind of song you put on when you really want to relax and chill. “1924” closes out the album on a deeply personal note. He recounts the feelings of the exact moment he found out when his grandmother passed away. Songs like this truly showcase his versatility as an artist. He’s also willing to get down in the trenches of his feelings and share them with his fans. 2016 made up for one hell of an album for 2017. Make sure you get Jarrett Michael’s What A Year on all digital music retailers.
Coldplay’s last album, A Head Full Of Dreams, still gets regular play on my iPod. The group is one of few acts who still find relevancy after a 20 year run. “Aliens” is their new single, from their forthcoming Kaleidoscope EP. The song’s production has a worldly sound, as much of their music does. The vibe of the track is very hypnotic, but should not be lost beneath the song’s lyrics. The melody of the song is upbeat. However, “Aliens” speaks about an uprooted refugee family. “We were just about to lose our home/Diamonds ate the radio/Moving in the dead of night”.
The visuals for the lyric video are eye catching and eccentric. I am really curios now to see how the music video will look. As if the new single wasn’t cool enough, proceeds from “Aliens” will benefit the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. The organization rescues immigrants and refugees stranded at the Mediterranean Sea. This grand gesture makes me have even more respect for Coldplay. Kaleidoscope will be available for streaming this Friday, July 14th. The CD and vinyl versions will follow on August 4th.
What are your thoughts on “Aliens”? Will you be streaming Kaleidoscope this Friday?
My latest novel, No Cream In The Middle, will officially be released in just 5 days! I’m so excited to share the follow up to my first novel, Fortune Cookie, with everyone. Chelsea takes center stage in No Cream In The Middle and we really get to find out what makes her tick. She has really been dealt a bad hand of throughout the majority of her life. Here is one of the reasons she’s not too stable in No Cream In The Middle.
Plus, don’t forget there are 2 book signing events this weekend to celebrate the No Cream In The Middle release:
Saturday, July 8th atI CE NY Dallas(2625 Old Denton Rd. Suite 812, Carrollton, TX 75007), from 1 to 3 pm.
Sunday, July 9th atHalf Price Books(5803 E Northwest Hwy, Dallas, TX 75231), from 1 to 3 pm.
Mel’s phone rang five times before he answered. He was an early riser, so Chelsea was surprised she was about to miss him. When the phone finally picked up, Chelsea beat him saying hello. “Hey babe! I’m so glad I caught you. You won’t believe what happened to me this morning while I was leaving for work.” There was dead silence on the other end. Chelsea looked at her phone to make sure her reception was fully available. All bars were up, but still no sound from Mel. “Mel, baby? Are you there? Hello???” Chelsea asked.
“Ooh baby, yes right there. Hell yeah! That’s how I like it. Move it just like that,” Mel said. His statement was followed by several loud slaps of flesh. She could hear a woman whimpering in pleasure in the background. “Yes, deeper! Deeper Daddy! Spank it! Oooh…right there. Bite it! Suck it! Don’t stop! I’m about to….” the woman screamed.
“What?” Chelsea whispered in fury, with clenched teeth. Now her curiosity set in and she held the line to see just how long it would take to for Mel to realize that he accidentally picked up the phone. She couldn’t believe it. She trusted this scumbag. Chelsea could have kicked herself for even believing Mel was the man she could see herself marrying. She didn’t want to believe it was true. But the proof was right there. She was hearing it first-hand.
Get your signed copy of No Cream In The MiddleHERE
Jay Z’s latest album is being touted as the response to his wife’s blockbuster album, Lemonade. However, the album does not focus entirely on his infidelity. 4:44 (produced by No I.D.) is a celebration of his cunning business prowess. The album is exclusively available for Sprint and existing Tidal customers. It makes perfect sense considering Sprint bought 33% of Tidal this year. 4:44 allows us to be reacquainted with Sean Carter. Pop rapper Jay Z takes a backseat to personal anecdotes.
4:44 kicks off strong out of the gate, with “Kill Jay Z”. He recounts all of the criticism he has received over the years. He even dedicates a large part of his verses to Kanye West. Perhaps it’s all a gimmick. Nevertheless, it’s entertaining. Jay Z calls himself out for cheating on Beyonce, claiming that he almost “went Eric Benet”. “The Story of O.J.” is a politically poignant and racially charged track. He calls out O.J. Simpson for famously saying “I’m not black….I’m O.J.”. The song samples Nina Simone’s “Four Women”, which is a song that details struggles from four Black women of different hues. He slams the notion that he has sold out. Jay Z’s mindset is creating wealth to leave behind for future generations.
“Smile” also features a sample of “Love’s In Need Of Love”, from the legendary Stevie Wonder. He openly speaks out about his mother’s lesbian lifestyle. The song is uplifting, yet sad. His mother, Grace Carter, closes out the song with a rousing spoken word piece. He’s stripped of pop hooks here and has a hunger like his first album. Ironically, 4:44 is not even 40 minutes long.
Jay Z reveals his close relationship with Prince on the Frank Ocean assisted, “Caught Their Eyes”. “4:44” is his new age “Song Cry”. This time it’s all about Beyonce. He wrote the song in the middle of the night (at 4:44 am to be exact) at home….on Beyonce’s studio microphone. Kim Burrell offers a memorable chorus that is reminiscent of ambulance sirens. Clearly there was trouble in paradise. Beyonce drops in for a guest appearance on the misleadingly named “Family Feud”, which samples The Clark Sisters’ “Ha-Ya (Eternal Life)”. The song deals with the divided state of Hip Hop, not their relationship. He asks for old school and new school to come together.
“Bam” featuring Damian Marley is one the most laid back and radio friendly tracks on the album. “Moonlight” cleverly samples The Fugees classic, “Fu-Gee-La”. He criticizes the stagnant state of Hip Hop. “Even if we win, we lose,” he says. Overall, it’s one of Jay Z’s most cohesive and thought provoking albums in a long time. There you have it; the summation of 4:44 in 444 words.
It’s been a long time coming. Yep. When it comes to TLC, that’s definitely an understatement. The sexy (Chilli) and cool (T-Boz) members of TLC have pushed forward as a duo since the loss of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. Despite several tours, a juicy biopic and sporadic single releases, TLC is the first studio album from the group in 15 years (since 2002’s 3D). The new, self-titled project came later than fans expected. Their 2015 Kickstarter campaign blew the doors off their funding ask. However, the album took “a long time coming” to create. Here is my take on each of the songs from the new album.
Well, hello there. This song will keep the rock the tweeters of your speakers. They proudly boast that they, “Forever keep it crazy, sexy, with the AC blast” and “play in every country”. So many groups couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have the audacity to make such a bold introductory statement. But, it’s TLC and they pull it off well.
The album’s first single has an infectious backyard boogie. The smooth harmonies of T-Boz and Chilli (along with Snoop Dogg’s rap) will easily take you back down memory lane. It feels like 1995 all over again. There’s also an extended version of the song on the album, which is better than the short version because it includes Chilli’s saucy bridge.
An upbeat, positive song about being on the brighter side of life’s struggles. The song samples Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic hit, “September”. Add in some live horns, drums and a hint of disco, and it’s instant vintage greatness.
My least favorite track on the album. I must admit this one has grown on me though. Plus, you have to give it to TLC. They know how to make people feel better about themselves. This song reiterates the notion that haters are irrelevant and shouldn’t be given any attention.
Just think “Unpretty” 2017. This song tackles self image issues, specifically with the current social media trends of filters, selfies and enhancements. TLC urges us to let it all go, be real and love yourself.
Left Eye’s sole presence on the album is lifted from a TLC interview from MTV’s Past, Present and Future (filmed over 20 years ago). The eerie thing is just 3 years before her untimely passing, her voice was taken from another piece of that same interview to create pieces of the Fanmail album’s title track. This reminds me of how much her energy is missed.
Start A Fire
I wasn’t ready. What kind of sticky, sultry, acoustic neo soul seduction is this? You have to hear it to understand it. Even after 25 years, this song proves TLC still has some musical tricks up their sleeve. Hands down one of the best songs on the album.
TLC gut punches us right after they hand us the cigarette we needed after “Start A Fire”. This song reminds us why TLC still matters and always has. They sing, “I lost some stars/My heart bleeds red, white and blue”. The song pays tribute to fallen soldiers and calls out the injustice happening in America today. “American Gold” (one of several songs co-written by T-Boz) is the most intense offering on TLC.
TLC has always spoken boldly about their bedroom requirements. “Scandalous” continues that trend. They still ain’t too proud to beg, but only if it’s worth it. T-Boz and Chilli drift into trendy waters, with the techno trap tinged production. They pull it off exceptionally well though.
Well this one likely won’t be played on the radio. However, it’s not due to lack of potential. In fact, this is another one of the album’s great standouts. This must be what happens when a scrub persists to the point of insanity. This time, they just simply say, “aye mutha%$^&*” and walk away. Left Eye would have delivered a hot, fiesty rap to this one.
This song is the obvious choice for the album’s closer. It’s the curtain call that reminds us of the bittersweet reality that TLC is done (at least making albums). They thank the fans for sticking by them the whole time. Although the mood of the song is upbeat, you can’t help but feel a melancholy chill in the air after it ends.
Will TLC go down as their greatest album ever? Probably not. CrazySexyCool will still hold that title in the hearts of many. However, T-Boz and Chilli don’t try to recreate their past successes here. That alone is what makes them so legendary. This is not to say that they don’t recognize their brightest moments themselves. The album artwork and CD packaging even borrows from their past.
There are bright colors, like O000oh On The TLC Tip. The inside of the CD jacket has similar formatting to CrazySexyCool. Their outfits have a futuristic flare, much like the Fanmail era.No other girl group’s legacy has mattered as much. They simply speak from the heart as they’ve always done and deliver some kick ass music along the way. It seems a piece of TLC is better than none at all. Sounds like they still have too much great music left in them to totally call it quits.
Let’s face it. Everyone loves the summer, but we hate the heat. Well, I will speak for myself. I hate the heat. During the warmer months, it can be difficult to find refreshing drinks without a ton of sugar. However, Trader Joe’s has made sure that is not an issue this summer. Watermelon Cucumber Cooler is here to the rescue. This drink has apparently been on the market for quite some time, but it’s new time. I thought it was worth sharing today, since it may be new to many of you as well.
Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler is refreshingly sweet, without the overkill. For starters, it’s made with organic watermelon juice. Plus, it’s only 90 calories per 8 oz serving. The sugars and carbs here are more natural, since they come straight from the fruit. But let’s be honest. This drink is so good, I would sill indulge in it even if the calorie count was high. There’s just the right hint of cucumber here to really quench the most intense thirst.
You didn’t hear this from me, but it might make a great mixer for those adult summer beverages. Trust me; you won’t be disappointed. The Watermelon Cucumber drink can be found at your local Trader Joe’s. This drink is so good, you should probably by 2 containers at a time.
Bottoms up…..it’s Thirsty Thursday!
Plus, don’t forget to pair a little Cream with that thirst. My new novel, No Cream In The Middle, is available HERE. Get your copy today!
John Patrick Adams is an accomplished gospel songwriter, musician and producer. Some of his most notable songs include “Why Did He Do It?”, “Created For Worship” and “He Never Stopped”. In addition, he is the author of two self improvement books, Naked and How To Win The Dating Game. John is also a life coach, blogger and visionary. Check out the video of our recent interview below, discussing his uplifting new single, “My Everything”. First, here are a couple of questions that didn’t make the final cut.
Tell us about your songwriting process. Is it more organic or does it differ from song to song?
Yeah it does differ from song to song. But I’m one of those songwriters that may take months to finish a song. A melody may come to me, but I don’t immediately begin to work on it. My motto is if it sticks with me, that’s the song I should work with. I normally drive without the radio on. My car is silent. That’s my decompress time. If a song comes to me in the morning and I’ve slept on it and it sticks with me, that’s where I need to go.
Recently, I was commissioned to write a song for an artist. I challenged myself to write a song quickly. The song actually turned out great. However, during that time I did have to shut myself off because I wanted to hear what God wanted me to give to His people. I didn’t want to feel the pressure of trying to write words. I just wanted to let it happen and it worked. I may venture out into that in the future (being commissioned to write), but I do prefer for it to flow and naturally happen.
What is the legacy you want to leave behind musically or even just as a person?
My goal is to never die. I know eventually my life on Earth will expire. I want to leave tidbits of me here for my family, friends and everyone to always remember me by. Whether it’s music, a book or a blog, I always try to do things with a spirit of excellence. The sky is the limit. Anybody, regardless of who you are and where you come from, with consistency and drive, can achieve any and everything. I would have never imagined I would have songs recorded. I didn’t know that was the plan for my life. I was just a kid. My mom originally taught me how to play. I knew three chords and that was it.
Looking at where I started and where I am today, I am tremendously blessed. Everything is orchestrated by God. There is a divine plan for everybody. You just have to be ready and connected on the flight when it takes off. Everyday I wake up, I take no encounters for granted because I never know who’s there to open up that next door for me.
Download the sensational new song,”My Everything”, by John Patrick Adams (featuring Otis Washington), on all digital retailers on July 18, 2017!
A piece of Outkast is better than none at all. We thought a new album was coming after Big Boi and Andre 3000’s 2014 Coachella show. Andre 3000 offered a stellar verse on Erykah Badu’s “Hello”, lifted from her But You Can’t Use My Phone mixtape. However, we should thank Big Boi for all those times he talked Andre 3000 off the ledge of not recording another OutKast album. In fact, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was originally supposed to just be Big Boi’s solo album. Andre 3000 added in his music right before the record label’s deadline.
Fast forward to 2017. Boomiverse is Big Boi’s third solo album. The self proclaimed business half of OutKast is obviously not resting on his laurels. Songs like the repeat worthy “Kill Jill” featuring Killer Mike and Jeezy prove he still has some stellar hits left in his repertoire. The 45 minute, 12 song set finds Big Boi reunited with Organized Noize (OutKast’s longtime production team). He also makes room for some unlikely collaborations, such Adam Levine on the infectious single, “Mic Jack”. The song also features appearances from Scar and Sleepy Brown.
Big Boi proves he’s still close to his southern roots on syrupy, molasses boogie “In The South”, featuring Gucci Mane and the late Pimp C. Big Boi gives supreme ATLiens flavor on songs like “Order of Operations” and the Snoop Dogg assisted “Get Wit It”. However, “All Night” is void of any features and is hands down one of the catchiest songs on Boomiverse. He even tries his hand at house music on the comical and dance-able “Chocolate” featuring Troze. “Freakanomics” would make funk legend Bootsy Collins proud. The album’s closer “Follow Deez” is a low rider bouncetastic offering, that features memorable verses from Killer Mike and Curren$Y.
Big Boi seems more focused and streamlined this time around. His first two solo albums are definitely worthy listens. However, they lacked a common thread or direction. Boomiverse has more of a solid conceptual presence. Big Boi is one of Hip Hop’s pioneers who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Let’s just hope we can at least get a new OutKast song before the end of 2017.
Albert Johnson, a.k.a Prodigy, was one half of the influential New York rap duo, Mobb Deep. Kejuan Muchita, a.k.a. Havoc, completed the duo. Sadly, Hip Hop has lost another great talent. Prodigy passed away today, at the young age of 42. He was born with the sickle cell disease. Complications from a sickle cell crisis, following a Mobb Deep performance in Las Vegas, ultimately took his life. Although Mobb Deep, disbanded in 2012, they reunited to record 2014’s The Infamous Mobb Deep. Prodigy and Havoc continued to tour and even record together since then.
I can still remember that feeling the first time I heard “Shook Ones Pt. II”. The production was dark, grimy and magnetic. Then throw Mobb Deep’s verses in and you have a surefire hit. Nevermind the fact that I was too yound to be listening to anything from Mobb Deep back then. “Shook Ones Pt. II” went on to be their biggest hit. although they had a string of popular songs including “Quite Storm”, “Get Away” and “Survival of the Fittest”. Mobb Deep deserves respect for a career that has spanned nearly 25 years.
Prodigy released an autobiography in 2011 entitled My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. One little know fact from his biography is that Puff Daddy would have originally signed Mobb Deep as his first rap act, not the late The Notorious B.I.G. What happened? Mobb Deep didn’t exactly jump at the chance for the deal, so he signed The Notorious B.I.G. instead. The rest is history. A part of Hip Hop’s history will always have a place for the fiery New York rapper Prodigy, who delivered some of the genre’s wittiest lines.