A petite lady with a virtuous sound is one way to describe Leela James. Another would be a soul diva whose art imitates life as each note she resonates touches you deep within. If you’ve never seen her perform live then you’re doing yourself a great injustice. Its one thing to feel an artist through their music, but to watch them perform live really showcases the joy, love and pain they lived when the song was written.
I saw James perform last year at BB Kings Club NYC and this woman lights up the room like any other artist twice her size. She’s one of those voices where after hearing one song of hers you’re a fan for life. Imagine watching her belt out such deep lyrics live.
Her 2009 album Let’s Do It Again although a covers-only album, saw her recreate past hits like produced “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and “I’d Rather Be With You”. Her debut album A Change Is Gonna Come introduced James as a voice to watch, although she never caught much mainstream attention. Since her last studio album she’s been performing live as well as finding time to create new material like new single “Tell Me You Love Me”. Like many of her other songs its easy to listen to the words and relate. She really has a way of making you feel exactly where she’s coming from with her words.
To my surprise a video was shot and released. Unless you follow Leela James and her career its easy to carry on without hearing much about her or her talent. However she’s one R&B/Soul voice you can’t let slip under the radar. Check her video for “Tell Me You Love Me“.
Artist: Lenny Kravitz
Song: “I Belong To You” (1998)
Album: 5 (Virgin)
Lenny has been pretty quiet on the music scene lately. Its been a couple since we’ve heard new music from the rocker. He was last seen staring alongside Mo’Nique and Gaborie Sidibie in last year’s Precious. Wheather new music is in the works or not, his catalog of past hits are still as fresh as when they were first created.
Other than “Fly Away” and “American Woman” amongst countless other Lenny Kravitz records, my absolute favorite song of his is “I Belong To You” from 1998’s 5. Listening to the song and getting lost in Lenny’s rhythemic trance its almost as if he’s singing directly to you. The melody is simple and repititive, which are the types that sometimes produces the best song.
Check the vid here.
Kelis releases her first video since 2006’s “Bossy” and “Blindfold Me” featuring then husband Nas. With all the divorce news that’s been surrounding her lately everyone’s focus on the Harlem-born songstress shifted from her actual singing career to her personal life. For her upcoming album Flesh Tone the new mom has enlisted producer David Guetta on the first single, “Acapella” which was written about her son Knight. The album focuses more on a Dance, Electronica rhythm and also features production from DJ Ammo, Diplo, Will.I.Am and others. The album will also be released under new label home Interscope Records via Will.I.Am Music Group.
Besides Hip-Hop and R&B, Dance is one of my favorite genres of music. The combination of R&B and Dance with Kelis as the Master of Ceremonies seems like a hit in the making. Knight also makes his music video debut at the end.
Watch Kelis’ official video for “Acapella” here.
Another week of new releases from artists old and new. Let’s jump right in:
Monica Still Standing J Records
It’s been 4 years since we last heard from Monica musically. Since her 2006 album The Makings Of Me she’s since had two children, a cameo in 2006’s ATL and lended her vocal chops to other artists. Monica is known for her immense soulful sound. The release of her sophomore album The Boy Is Mine had many comparing her talents to that of Brandy’s, when the two ladies were at the height of their popularity. Monica was recently featured on Keyshia Cole’s “Trust” and it good to see that she’s still got it. The lead single “Everything To Me” which features a sample of Deniece Williams’ “Silly” had everyone anticipating the now released Still Standing. Monica couldn’t have come back at a better time when so many of her R&B counterparts are all copying each other so much that they’re looking, sounding and dressing the same.
Justin Bieber My World 2.0 Island Def Jam
After the initial release of Justin’s 2009 EP My World, the platinum selling teen was still a virtual unknown to the masses, but clearly had the appeal to capture the attention of audiences. After winning singing competitions in his local Ontario, he began posting videos on YouTube he caught the attention of a former So So Def executive who got him an audition with Usher. Both Usher and L.A. Reid was impressed and immediately signed him to Island/Def Jam. His debut was re-released today as My World 2.0. The rest is history…literally. I really don’t know much else about the guy except that everywhere he performs there’s an army of young girls who’s screams over power his singing.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it is widely known that one of President Obama’s main focuses during his election run was Healthcare. The new bill which was recently passed and signed into law today will ensure that all Americans who currently are without healthcare receive coverage effective immediately. The House of Representatives’ vote of 219 – 212 sent the bill to the President late Sunday evening. As expected the GOP was and still is against the new bill saying that it will be very costly to everyone in the long run.
Attorney Generals from 13 different states have filed proceedings right after the bill has been signed by the President to stop the reform. According to the President the bill was definitely needed saying “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see”. So what exactly does this new healthcare bill mean? Here are the highlights:
Cost: $940bn over 10 years; would reduce deficit by $143b
Coverage: Expanded to 32m currently uninsured Americans
Medicare: Prescription drug coverage gap closed; affected over-65 receive rebate and discount on brand name drugs
Medicaid: Expanded to include families under 65 with gross income of up to 133% of federal poverty level and childless adults
Insurance reforms: Insurers can no longer deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions
Insurance exchanges: Uninsured and self-employed able to purchase insurance through state-based exchanges
Subsidies: Low-income individuals and families wanting to purchase own health insurance eligible for subsidies
Individual Mandate: Those not covered by Medicaid or Medicare must be insured or face fine
High-cost insurance: Employers offering workers pricier plans subject to tax on excess premium
Although the bill will be costly in the long run for some of us, knowing that those who desperately need healthcare who otherwise would not have been able to afford it is much more important and worth the sacrifice.
French House producer David Guetta is not the new kid on the block, although it may seem that way to American radio. The beat-maker who originally started his career as a House DJ in Paris nightclubs has an extensive career background in production and has released 4 albums between 2001 – 2009; the most recent being One Love. His latest album produced several hit records which featured American hit-makers Kelly Rowland, Akon, Ne-Yo, Kid Cudi and others. The most popular being “When Love Takes Over” with Kelly Rowland. In addition to keeping the beat going with his own records, Guetta has been collaborating with many of R&B and Pop’s favorite artists; influencing a shift back to Dance music.
His collaboration with Kelis, “Acapella” will be featured on her upcoming album Flesh Tone. It will be the first album for the “Milkshake” divorcee since 2006’s Kelis Was Here. In addition to Kelis, Guetta has projects in the works with Shakira, Ashanti and most recently Estelle’s “Freak”. The song which samples Soul II Soul’s “Keep On Movin'” is featured on her upcoming album All Of Me and the video has premiered on both her website and BET’s 106 & Park.
Haven’t heard a David Guetta track I disliked, so the fusion between House music and R&B/Pop (which is already wildly popular in the UK) will be a nice addition to American radio.
I recently did an interview with producer, singer, songwriter PJ Morton which was featured on RollingOut.com. Our interview was a lot more extensive as I also got background information on his career and some of the artists he’s worked with.
Read my detailed interview with him here:
The long-standing debate over secular versus sacred music and what’s considered acceptable in the church still continues. Morton is no stranger to this topic because he once faced rejection from the church community over his decision to make the music he enjoyed. The child of gospel music royalty, the Grammy-winning producer, singer-songwriter talks about not limiting his music to one genre, his new album and why he wants his legacy to be about freedom.
For people who aren’t familiar with P.J. Morton, can you give a brief background on your songwriting and production credits?
Well I started in Gospel music when I was 15 and I started to write more and more Gospel music. When I went to College is when I got my mainstream break working with India.Arie on her second record Voyage To India in which I won a Grammy for the album. Then I transitioned and started to work with Jermaine Dupri with Monica, Jagged Edge, LL Cool J. after I worked with J.D. I worked with Musiq Soulchild, Ruben Studdard, Mary Mary. So I had my hands in a few different things over the years.
Which song brought you your first Grammy?
The Voyage To India album and I wrote and produced a song on there called “Interested”.
You also come from a Gospel Music family. Would you say you were thrust into this genre or did you genuinely have a desire to follow in your father’s footsteps and start there? (more…)
After several mixtape releases and being featured on practically every hot single that came out during the past year, Drake is finally coming close to dropping his debut album Thank Me Later. Its strange referring to Drake’s highly anticipated album as a debut because he’s been around for a little while now. The first official single from the album has been released for download today called “Over”. The Boi-1da produced track is one of 5 confirmed tracks on the album which also includes “Fireworks”, “Light Up” featuring Jay Z, “Shut It Down” featuring The-Dream and “Afrika Boombatta” featuring Young Money general Lil Wayne.
The single can be downloaded here. I’m curious to see if Thank Me Later will out-sell Wayne’s Tha Carter III.