Justin Timberlake Gets ‘Filthy’ On New Video

Justin Timberlake disappeared from the music scene for just about the right amount of time since his massive success with the 20/20 Experience album. He still appeared at award shows and released the hit single, “Can’t Fight The Feeling” from the Trolls movie soundtrack. Now, he’s back with a vengeance. His upcoming album, Man Of The Woods, will be released on February 2nd. Of course, this was carefully planned right before his highly anticipated Super Bowl Half Time performance. The last time he performed…..well, I think we all remember what happened there. Let’s just say she’s Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty. 

His new single “Filthy” is honestly less lyrically dense than I was expecting. This doesn’t mean the song is bad though. In fact, it’s far from it. The production has a very futuristic sound that’s addictive yet borderline annoying with its perpetual techno dings. “Put your filthy hands all over me” he urges. The former N’Sync front man goes on to brag about a party that won’t end until 6:00 am. I’m feeling a new aged George Michael vibe here. He played it smart with this one, because it has a very current and universal sound. 

The Tennessee native just may be dabbling into Country music more on this album. The clips from his album trailer have a more mature, Pop sound and less of a Hip Hop inspired feel. Either way, fans will surely be ready for his Half Time performance and the new music. Check out the futuristic music video for “Filthy” below. What are your thoughts on it? Would you say Bump It or Dump It?

Cardi B & Bruno Mars Drippin’ In 90s Finesse

Bruno Mars arguably had the biggest success of his career in 2017. He is up for six Grammy Awards this year, including the big three (Song, Record and Album of the Year). Honestly, I’m rooting for him to take home the award for Album of the Year for 24K Magic. So, it only makes sense that the remix for his new single, “Finesse”, features the hottest woman in Hip Hop, Cardi B. She had everyone singing about their money moves and bloody shoes last year. This just seems like a musical match made in heaven. 

The song has a throwback appeal that is reminiscent of the Bell Biv Devoe hit, “Poison”. However, I would be re-missed if I failed to mention how incredibly dope its accompanying music video is. The concept centers around a theme of In Living Color. For those that don’t remember or have never seen the show, it was a sketch comedy series, similar to SNL or Mad TV. The music video features Cardi B and Bruno Mars having the time of their lives. The two are dancing around in day glow, 90s themed outfits. There’s painting, dancing, partying and just a feel good time. At one point, Cardi B gets so into it, she even slaps her own ass. 

“Finesse” was always one of my favorite songs on 24K Magic.  The video perfectly captures the nostalgic appeal and definitely brings back some great memories. Jim Carry, Jennifer Lopez, David Alan Greer and so many more stars got their start on In Living Color. Also, this is not to mention the Wayans family that created. The video takes the song to a new level and pays homage to one of the defining moments of the 90s. Oh yes, let’s drip with finesse.

So, what are your thoughts on the “Finesse” music video? Check it out for yourself below. Plus, tune in to the 60th Annual Grammy Awards show on January 28th. 

 

Seven Lessons 2017 Taught Me

This isn’t one of those prosperous New Year’s posts. This also isn’t one of those new resolution posts. I think it’s better to just focus on being the best version of ourselves each day. Now that we have that out of the way, I do want to share some important lessons I learned this year. Hopefully, they help you in 2018 (and life period). Some of these may seem like no brainers, but there was obviously still a lesson I needed to learn from them. These are my seven lessons from 2017. These are in no particular order. 

People Change Unexpectedly

It’s just that simple. You can know a person nearly half your life and they can still do something that shocks you to the core. Welp, cheers to remaining unshockable. 

The Most Unlikely People Will Cheer You Up When You Need It Most 

2017 had its share of rough days for me (as I’m sure it did for you as well). There were a few people that were outside of my close circle of family and friends that said or did something that really lifted my spirits. The best part is they didn’t even realize they did. Be open to those around you. 

All Money Isn’t Good Money 

Ok, I really hate to admit this one. I guess the year isn’t complete without a good debit card scam, right? Pay attention and even after you pay attention, pay attention again (say that five times fast). I’m still recovering from this one, but life is still good. It was a (costly) lesson learned. 

Clear Out Clutter In The Mind 

Spring cleaning is important. There are physical things that we should sift through and purge. However, your mind requires the same exercise. Clearing out clutter includes more than getting rid of tangible things. It could also be bad habits, the need to be a “busy body” and painfully, even some of the people that are close to you. 

Agree To Disagree

I’m not a very argumentative person. I usually say what I have to say and then I’m done. However, I didn’t stick to that as well as I should have this year. Grown people will do what they want. It’s similar to learning how to swim. The older you get, the harder it is to learn how to swim. It’s the same way with trying to prove a point. Sometimes it’s better to walk away knowing the truth, your truth or the lie….whichever helps you go to sleep at night. 

Keep Yourself Busy During Hard Times 

There’s a difference between useless distractions and keeping busy during difficult times. There is nothing wrong with the latter. In fact, it’s even therapeutic. Let’s just say that working on three different books of my own this year (to be staggered over the next two years) kept my mind occupied from negative thoughts. Yours may not be writing, but find something you’re passionate about that keeps you out of the slump. 

Someone Always Has It Worse Than You 

There were several points this year that I asked God, “Why me?” It was a selfish question to ask, but that was really how I felt. Almost every single time I questioned things that happened to me, I heard about someone else that was going through something worse than me. I could feel God tapping me on my shoulder as if to say, “Is it really that bad? Would you like to trade places with them?” Simply put, we should all be more grateful. 

As I mentioned before, I have been hard at work writing several books this year. The first of those books is a collection of poetry called Commissioned To Love. The book is specifically designed to inspire women, but it’s really uplifting for anyone to read. The official release date will be on Valentine’s Day next year, but stay tuned for more updates.

Feel free to share any 2017 lessons of your own that you will take with you in 2018!

The Coolest NERDs On The Block

Pharrell Williams has built up quite the legacy in the music industry. Younger millennials may believe that his super stardom began with his biggest hit to date, “Happy”. However, in the words of LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback”. He’s literally been here for years. I remember my freshman year in college in 2003. “Frontin'” was the song of the summer that carried over into the winter and the next year. He then went on to collaborate with some of the biggest stars in the music industry (Snoop Dogg, Madonna, Mariah Carey, etc). 

However, Pharrell is also part of a three man production team, simply called N.E.R.D. The group consists of him, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley. It’s been a while since we have heard a collective project from the group. Now, they are back with a vengeance on No One Ever Really Dies. Their sound can perhaps best be described as Alternative Hip Hop, with a twist of Soul. The album’s lead single, “Lemon”, features Rihanna in rare form. She raps (surprisingly well) on the song, which has an undeniably catchy chorus and thumping bass line. 

“Lemon” and the majority of the album sounds like it was meant for summer instead of a fall release. In fact, several of the tracks, like the rock driven “Deep Down Body Thurst” sound a bit jagged and unpolished. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. The group thrives under these conditions. I would be curious to find out when the process started for this album though. The lack of cohesiveness suggests it may have been years in the making. Things slow down a bit with the Kendrick Lamar assisted sure fire smash, “Don’t Don’t Do It”. The vibe here takes you back to an early 2000s sound. It’s delectable instant vintage, with some memorable verses from Kendrick Lamar. 

I must give credit and admit that “1000” is now on the short list of songs featuring rapper Future that I actually like. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have a large part in the song. I have never understood the hype around him and doubt I ever will.  Nonetheless, expect this track to be a club banger for the new year. The unlikely pairing of Gucci Mane and Wale on “Voila” actually clicks without a hitch, to offer one of the album’s best tracks. The group even managed to pull Andre 3000 out of hiding on the boastful anthem, “Rollinem 7’s”. Ah, now I just want another Outkast album, with a few tracks produced by NERD. 

Ed Sheeran stops by on the video game sounding “Lifting You”. The melody here has a very sing along feel and will likely be a big hit from the album. Does No One Ever Really Dies break new musical ground? Not really. Does it provide nearly an hour of head bobbing, sometimes oft put, eclectic music? Absolutely. As the quirky title (and sound) of one of the album’s songs says, let’s send a “Lightning Fire Magic Prayer” in the sky for more music from NERD for years to come. 

Jarrett’s New Yesterday Is Here

“Sometimes you gotta say goodbye to reach your full potential”. Jarrett Michael opens up his latest release, Had Yesterday Never Come, with this poignant line. His work ethic is uncanny and he is constantly in the studio cooking up new music. However, he has remained to carve out his own lane, without being influenced by current trends. Jarrett’s flows are inspiration without being preachy. He’s deep, yet still relatable. “Legendary”, the album’s first full length track details his recent struggles in life, love and his career. The production on this song is soothing, with a classical tough. 

Jarrett isn’t afraid to call out the snakes slithering in the grass on the transparent “sneak DISSIN”. “Everybody don’t know love/Lie to your face like they’re someone to trust”, he raps. Nonetheless, Jarrett is most impressive on the poetic moments, with no instrumentation, like the memorable standout “this is FAITH”. His calculated delivery and content suggests an artist wise beyond his years. Mickey Facts serves as one of two guest features on the catchy and somewhat dismal “Stratton”. 

So, which song is my favorite? That honor would have to go to “pennywise”. The song not only takes a stab at the recent resurgence of Stephen King’s classic, It, but he exudes an infectious swagger here. The circus tinged production only compliments his flows here. He’s not afraid to admit that he’s in love either. “Today, Tomorrow, Forever” is a track that finds his girlfriend singing his praises and letting her know she supports him. She cites him as her inspiration and standard for achieving greatness. However, Dracula featuring Lemi Vince, is one of the most lyrically dense songs on the project. The song’s content is creative and not as eerie as its title suggests.

Jarrett Michael closes out Had Yesterday Never Come with the nostalgic and celebratory “Cheers”. He mentions missing his family, friends and even his haters. This album is different than his previous work, because it’s the coming of age tale of a man. I’m already anxious to see what new concepts will be explored on his next album. Get your copy today on all digital retailers. 

Cheers to reflecting on yesterday, living in the now and preparing for tomorrow. 

 

Miguel’s Intricate War & Leisure

Miguel could have easily titled his latest album Easy Rebel Soul. He has solidified his signature sound on his fourth studio album, War & Leisure. This time, he has perfected his marriage of soft, melodic vocals with heavy, jagged guitar riffs. Miguel recognizes that he shines brightest when he’s in his soulful Rock element. The new album, produced primarily by Miguel and Happy Perez, is sure to bring him some more classic singles. 

Take the album’s unofficial buzz single,”Pineapple Skies” for instance. The song is a feel good reassurance that tells a woman he loves that everything will be ok. Rick Ross drops by with a memorable verse on the slow thumping confirmation of loyalty, “Criminal”. “Sky Walker” featuring Travis Scott, the album’s official lead single, has an infectious hook and addictive bass line. Part of Miguel’s musical appeal is that he has never tried to be someone he’s not. He proves he functions well when he marches to the beat of his own drum. 

Of course, the stakes are high this time around. “Adorn” has been played at virtually every wedding since it’s release. That song is arguable the most influential male R&B song of the last decade. However, if you think he has stopped there, think again. “Banana Clip” treads in similar waters, with clever lyrics (“M16 on my lap/Korean missiles in the sky/No Matter where I go on the map/You got my protection”) and a promise to his woman that he has a banana clip on their love. The song is simultaneously smooth, gangster and vintage. Hands down, it’s the best offering on the album. 

Miguel is more intentional this time around. The theme of War & Leisure is much more cohesive than his previous works. Nonetheless, he manages to dodge monotony thanks to the bluesy Raphael Saadiq produced “Wolf” featuring Quin and the eclectic boogie of “Told You So”. Miguel is one of many artists who clears sculpts his style after Prince. Thankfully, he pulls it off well and in good taste while still keeping his own identity. “Told You So” sounds like a carefully calculated love child of Prince and Kelis. 

“Caramelo Duro” (which means Hard Candy in English) featuring Kaliuchis is a sure fire Spanish hit. Think of it as a sexier version of the hit”Despacito”. The song’s first verse is in English and then finished out in Spanish. There’s really no way you can sit still to this one. Salaam Remi is featured along with J. Cole on the slow groove, “Come Through And Chill”. Salaam Remi, who is one of the most underrated producers, also produced the track. The guitar and bass laden track is simple, yet one of the most poignant tracks on the album. 

Whether he’s at war or reveling in leisure time, Miguel plays both sides well. He has not only become one of the most popular singers of the last decade, he is also an in demand songwriter. His music gets better like a fine wine. “Now” the album’s closer, really highlights his growth and maturity. The ballad directly speaks to the conditions of the world today, natural disasters and politics. I don’t think the world will be ready by the time he reaches his sixth studio album. War & Leisure sneaks in as one of the most solid albums of 2017. 

 

Will The Responsible Men Stand Up?

2017 has definitely been a great year for 7th Sign Publishing. Besides my own two books, Stingrays and No Cream In The Middle, Miss Doggette (Love Alters Life) was released last month. However, that’s not all. Now there’s another addition to the 7th Sign Publishing family, Men = Responsibility by J. GibsonThere couldn’t be a more appropriate way to close out the year and look forward to 2018. Now, more than ever, men are in need of a reality check. Ladies, don’t worry, there is something for you here too. 

Men = Responsibility tackles real life scenarios and lessons that are applicable to any age, race or gender. The book details how men are the foundation. A shaky foundation means instability. Men are tasked with being responsible. There is no way around that. Men have a duty to be financially responsible to themselves and their families, their girlfriend or wife, to God and even to their word. There is something here that everyone can learn from. 

Some men may read certain chapters of the book and think, “I’ve got together. That’s not me”. That is great news if you do. However, there is something here that you can learn from or improve upon. Plus, we all know someone who could stand to step it up in the responsibility department. Men = Responsibility is the perfect guide for men (and actually women too) to get their life on track and in order. Get your copy of Men = Responsibility today! Trust me, you will not be disappointed. 

Why Q Tip Is Blasting The Grammys

The Grammys released the complete list of nominees earlier today. Many categories caused controversy among fans an industry insiders. Perhaps the most talked about category is for Album of the Year. The nominees are Jay Z (for 4:44), Childish Gambino (for Awaken, My Love), Bruno Mars (for 24K Magic), Lorde (for Melodrama) and Kendrick Lamar (for Damn). Notice anything different about the nominees? Well, Lorde is the only female nominee. However, there is a bigger conversation piece here. This is the first time in Grammy history that a white male has not been nominated for this category. 

Let’s rewind back to Outkast winning Album of the Year for Speakerboxx/The Love Below in 2003. It was the first time a Hip Hop artist won the coveted title. No other Hip Hop act has taken home the Grammy gold since. This makes this year’s nominee list that much more special. If you think it’s all peaches and cream in the industry regarding the unveiled nominations, think again. Rapper Q-Tip posted several Instagram rants today detailing his disgust at the Grammy committee. He was infuriated that his group, A Tribe Called Quest, was not nominated for their final studio album, We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. He pointed out that legends like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley never won Grammys. Ironically, Q Tip was recently awarded with the honor of being the Kennedy Center Artistic Director. 

Did Q Tip go too far in his message to the Grammy committee? Possibly so. Q Tip does make a hell of a point though. ATCQ’s final studio album was just as good (if not better) than some of the nominees for Album of the Year. I can’t help but wonder if many award shows now, including the Grammys, are picking winners based on a popularity contest. True, there are some exceptions to the rule and moments where genuine artistry are rightfully recognized.

Nonetheless, am I the only one that remembers Jay Z boycotting the Grammys back in 2002? He stated, “Rappers deserve more attention from the Grammy committee and from the whole world. If it’s got a gun, everybody knows about it; but if we go on a world tour, no one knows.” That mantra has since flipped over on its back now. However, Jay Z also boycotted the Grammys in 1999 and 2011. Wouldn’t it be such the poetic justice if he were to make his 22nd Grammy win (yes, he was won 22 times) for the biggest award of the night? Only time will tell. Tune in to the live broadcast of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on January 28th at 6:30 pm CST. 

Who do you think should win Album of the Year? Check out some of the biggest Grammy moments in Hip Hop. 

 

 

Introducing Ms. So Fine

I have always been a fan of music with a big brass sound. Don’t mess around and throw a deep, bass guitar line in there. There’s something about that type of music that really lifts your spirits and stirs up your soul. That’s exactly what I experienced when I first heard Raphael & The Ivory Jean’s new single, “Ms. So Fine”. The song also features lead vocals from Geno Young and Bobby Sparks. The band and the lead singers are definitely helping to further the Dallas, TX stamp on R&B music.

The music on the track alone is enough to make Bootsy Collins give a standing ovation. Not to mention the smooth, jazzy vocals from Geno Young and Bobby Sparks. This song puts me in the mind of being at a parade in the middle of Bourbon Street. “Ms. So Fine” has all of the elements of a savory, audible gumbo that leaves you wanting more. The object of affection on the song is a beautiful, mysterious woman that exudes an untouchable persona.

I am definitely excited to hear more music from Raphael & The Ivory Jean. I can only imagine how great “Ms. So Fine” sounds live as well. However, for now, I’ll be putting the single in heavy rotation. Check out the song for yourself. Would you Bump It or Dump It? Plus, take a listen to “You & Me” below.

 

Lil Kim: “The Break Is Over”

Although Lil Kim has remained to keep her legacy vibrant since her last full length studio album (The Naked Truth, 2005), she has remained quiet. Motherhood seems to have calmed her down. Nonetheless, she is still touring, making music and reminding Nicki Minaj where her style originated from. So, it’s not much of a surprise that her new single, “Took Us A Break” finds the Queen B getting back to basics. The song is said to be featured on Lil Kim’s upcoming album. However, many pundits wondered if she still had those fiery bars after all these years.

“Took Us A Break” flaunts a trap style flow with a little auto tune. The music video matches the song’s guttural, street appeal. There are no fancy backdrops; it’s just Lil Kim in her brightest element. Her raps are definitely still intact as she weaves in and out of the catchy production with ease. Thankfully, she doesn’t openly address Nicki Minaj here (only subtly). The truth is there would likely be no Nicki Minaj if it weren’t for the groundbreaking antics and flows of Lil Kim.

You can also catch the Queen B herself on Remy Ma’s new single “Wake Me Up”. The song will be featured on Remy Ma’s forthcoming new LP. New music from Lil Kim is definitely exciting. She should have enough material to release a double album. Either way, her presence will definitely be welcome as one of the premier female MCs who consistently pushes the envelope in music and fashion.