Saturday, December 24, 2011

Funky for You (ft Jill Scott & Bilal)

listen to this funky track HERE

The Light

The Question (ft Mos Def)

Songs of the Day

The Light:  This is by far the most popular single off this album.  I wouldn't be surprised if this is Common's most popular single - been that jam for a minute.  I love this Bobby Caldwell sample ("Open Your Eyes" - the sample used for the chorus), it's so smooth and works so well with the flow of the groove.    Love the heaviness of the 2 & 4, they really hold everything.  No surprise that this beat is a banger when Dilla produced it.  Man, Dilla was a beast.  Such a great love song - definitely not enough rap songs that paint women in such a positive light.  "I know the sex ain't gon' keep you, but as my equal is how I must treat you."  Common, where are you in my life?  Dig the slight switch up at the end.  Such a great track.

Funk for You (ft Bilal & Jill Scott):  Well, it's just a lil Philly reunion with these features, and what great features they are.  It's subtle, but Miss Scott and Bilal blend so well together - nice to hear them both on the same track.  I dig the slight futuristic undertone going on on this beat - it's a nice, new concept brought to the album.  "As long as it's funky, alright, ok" - those are words I most definitely live by.  Oh my goodness, the breakdown.  Breakin it down indeed!  Bilal - you are the man.  Common is solid on this, but for me, this track is about the features.  Poyser co-produced this one - that's wassup.

The Question (ft Mos Def):  This is another popular single off this album, been diggin this one for a lil bit now.  I wonder if the lady in the background is Miss Badu, sure does sound like her (and it would make sense seeing as she and Common were an item at the time).  "How you got high expectations, but no patience?" So true Mos, so true.  Classic rap conversation, classic track.

Time Travelin (reprise):  Such a great groove to reprise.  Happy to hear it once again.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time Travelin (A Tribute to Fela)


Cold Blooded (ft Black Thought, Rahzel & Roy Hargrove)


Songs of the Day

Time Travelin' (A Tribute to Fela) [ft Roy Hargrove, Femi Kuti & Vinia Mojica)]:  Any album that starts out with a tribute to Fela Kuti is cool in my book!  There's a subdued feeling to everything that I really like.  It's like everyone is being forced to be quiet, so the energy is still there all tight and compact.  There's also a really nice layering effect that building throughout that I dig.  Dig the distance on his voice - goes along with the effect of everything.  The long cut after "time travelin" back into the groove is sweet.  Slight groove switch at the end is funky.  Nice, mellow way to start off the album.

Heat:  Something about Common's flow on this makes it sound more like a piece of slam poetry than an actual rap, and I find that very cool.  The beat is so simple (thanks Dilla) that the poetry isn't lost in it, which I think is vital to this particular track.  It may be a little too simple though...  Maybe it's because the previous track was just under 7 minutes, but this track seems much shorter than 3:41.  I dig it.

Cold Blooded (ft Black Thought, Rahzel & Roy Hargrove):  Man, I could barely recognize Black Thought's voice on this one!  Eleven years certainly makes a difference.  No surprise that he's as on point as ever.  Really dig the groove on this one.  The occasional horn parts, and the staccato guitar line go well together.  Everything plays very well off of everything... if that makes any sense.

Dooinit:  All of these beats so far are very mellow, which I'm totally down with, but I can see myself needing a lil more punch in a lil bit.  Oh hello Mos Def!  He may not get a feature, but I can recognize that voice anywhere.  Nice lil cameo in the chorus.  Solid beat, solid lyrics - everything's solid, but I'ma need a lil some'in some'in in a lil bit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Album Factoids

Like Water for Chocolate

Released: March 28th, 2000
Genre: Hip Hop
Label: MCA/Universal Records
Producers: Questlove, J Dilla, James Poyser, D'angelo, DJ Premier, Karriem Riggins << holy moly, that's quite the list of producers!!

what a beautiful, beautiful man

Week 64: Common

So, I heard that Common has a new album out, so in honor of that, I decided to listen to his most popular album, Like Water for Chocolate.  You know, tryna get the back story before I move onto the more recent stuff (with the exception of Finding Forever, which is a fantastic album).  Common is one of the few poets left in rap today, and I really respect that - there need to be more like him.  I've heard the singles off of this album, but never the whole thing all the way through, so I'm excited.  Yay for good hip hop!

This Weeks Album...

I'm in the mood

Monday, December 19, 2011

Final Grade: C

Man, it really pains me to give this album such a low grade, but I gotta do it.  I almost wish this album hadn't come out, not that it's terrible, but I would have liked to have kept Back to Black Amy as my final impression.  "Half Time" is by far the best tune, and being the first that I heard off the album, I was hoping it was a reflection of the rest to come, but that wasn't the case.  Over filled with washed up covers of her own tunes and others, some of the tracks were hard to listen to.  Not to say that Amy sounded bad (with the exception of "A Song For You"...that wasn't happenin), but in comparison to her previous works, it was hard to ignore the effect drugs and alcohol had on her once unstoppable instrument.  I think singles should have been released here and there instead of the whole album, really focusing on the songs where Amy could shine.  So sad that such a talent was lost.  May she rest in peace.

Best Friends, Right?

Body and Soul

A Song for You

Songs of the Day

Best Friends, Right?:  Not my favorite song here.  I don't know exactly what it is, but something about this tune - maybe the way she's singing it - sounds kinda corny.  For me, it's how she says "too" in that first line "you hate me too" - it's over annunciated, and comes off weird.  She also doesn't sound that hot on this track.  The "right" on "we are best friends, right" is pretty flat, and noticeable.  The groove is ok, but nothing to write home about.

Body and Soul (ft Tony Bennett):  Oh hey there, Mr. Bennett, what a nice surprise!  Well, not really a surprise because I knew they had been working together prior to her death.  It's sad to hear that this 85 year-old man's voice is in better condition than hers was at 27 - it's pretty evident.  It's not that she doesn't sing well, but she is nowhere near her best.  And this cover isn't all that...  but, hey, way to go Tony...

A Song For You:  Taking on the Donny classic...don't know how I feel about it.  Something that's so great about the original is the simplicity to it, and this groove is not abiding by that principle.  Definitely way too much going on here.  And what kind of feel is she trying to accomplish here?  I'm very confused.  The vocals are breathy, and don't sound like they're super supported.  I can barely understand what she's saying for parts of it.  "And I'm singing a song for you" is just not happening.  Oh, Amy... if only you'd stayed healthy.  So tragic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Girl from Ipanema

Half Time

Wake Up Alone

Songs of the Day

The Girl from Ipanema:  I'm not gonna lie, I find the fact that this song is on this album pretty funny.  Kind of seems like a cop out.  I mean, how many times is this song done?  Granted, Amy does the song justice, there's no question or surprise there, but of all songs to cover, this seems a little old.  I also don't sense much of a connection in the song.  There's disconnect between her and the instruments, and it's evident.  I do dig the groove rendition, but I think a new original, or a less popular cover would have been better.

Half Time:  Okay, now this was the first tune I first heard off this album a couple weeks ago, and it made me so excited - this song is ill.  A little birdie told me that it's ?uest on the drums, which would make sense, but I'm gonna have to ask myself before I hold that claim.  This song has such a great soul feel to it that I feel is missing from today's mainstream soul/r&b artists, which is refreshing to hear.  It's got a light feel to it that I dig.  Love that the beats drops after "and when the beat kicks in" - so perfect.  This is also one song where Amy doesn't sound like she's pushing her vocals - she's in a nice sweet spot, which she should have stuck in for the rest of the album.  If only all the tracks were like this one...
**?uest is, in fact, holdin it down on this one.  Confirmed.

Wake Up Alone:  I must say, it's pretty disappointing that so many of these tracks are covers, and covers of her own songs at that.  That being said, I actually might like this version better than the that on Back to Black.  This wasn't one of my favorite tracks on the previous album, but this stripped down version seems more appropriate with the lyrics.  Amy's vocals sound pretty good on this one, but it's hard not to compare, which only makes me notice the decline drugs and alcohol had on her voice.  I like the groove of this one better, but her lyrics better on the previous.  One of the better tracks so far.