She Is Focused

November 23, 2009

2009 AMA Best Musical Performance Goes To…

Filed under: Chat 'bout,New Music — Felicia @ 11:42 am

I don’t typically watch music award shows much anymore, but I was packing for a trip and decided to turn it on to listen to the performances. Every now and then I’d stop to check out the full performance and then go back to my routine. The best performance of the night was a tough decision for me because several of the acts did a really great job. Jay Z and Alicia Keys once again did their performance of “Empire State Of Mind” from Jay’s Blueprint 3. Later on in the night Alicia performed “Sleeping With A Broken Heart” from her upcoming The Element Of Freedom album. Even Lady GaGa who I’m starting to become a fan of had a great performance with “Bad Romance” followed by “Speechless” on her follow-up album, The Fame Monster. I’m sure Def Jam is kicking themselves for letting Lady GaGa slip through the cracks only to land beside Akon’s Kon Live label; and imprint of Interscope Records.

The performance that stole the show for the night in my opinion was Black Eyed Peas. They had the whole auditorium on their feet with their melody of performances starting with “Meet Me Halfway” followed by “I Gotta Feeling” and the show-stopping performance of “Boom Boom Pow” mixed with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. They had everyone jumping like Rock fans. Even I literally jumped out of my seat and was rocking out to their performance. Even the other two members, Taboo and apl.de.ap who never really stood out in the past had a really great stage presence.  

All the performances for the night were pretty impressive and it seemed as though this award show featured more performances that usual. Other performances including Whitney Houston, Timbaland featuring SoShy and Nelly Furtado, Carrie Underwood and others were all equally great. With every good there’s always a bad, and that pretty much summed up Rihanna’s performance. Well perhaps I wouldn’t categorize it as “bad”, but they made such a fuss over her performance being her come-back performance, and it was just blah. She performed “The Wait Is Ova” and “Hard” from her upcoming Rated R album which I think was a poor choice for a come-back. No one in the crowd seemed to be familiar with that record so the feedback wasn’t as great as her entourage may have hoped it would be. I actually like that song but again, nothing about her performance was noteworthy. Then there was J-Lo, the other come-back performance of the night which included her falling on her ass. Jenny still looked fabulous per usual and her body is still in pretty good shape post babies, but again her performance was nothing to write home about. The most entertaining part of her performance was indeed that slip and fall, but like a true entertainer she got right back up and kept it moving.

Overall the performances were well worth me peeping in every so often to watch the show. Some of which I still have to watch once again because I’ve either missed them partially or entirely. Notice I didn’t even mention Janet Jackson’s opening performance. I missed her performance and definitely would like to go back and watch that most of all. From what I’ve heard about it she didn’t seem to really make much of an impression, but I’ll be the judge of that.

November 17, 2009

November Album Releases: John Mayer, Rakim, 50 Cent and Kid Sister

Filed under: New Music — Felicia @ 11:47 am

So many albums are dropping today and unfortunately people still aren’t buying them like they used to. But for you dedicated fans and there are millions of you, here are some of your favorite artists releasing new music:

John Mayer Battle Studies (Sony Music Distribution)

John Mayer releases new music just like he bags his Hollywood honeys; quite frequently. This is the 9th studio album released from the adult contemporary artist which is sure to be another standout hit. He composed 10 out of the 11 records featured on the album with “Who Says” currently in radio rotation. I haven’t given the album a full listen but I have heard “Friends, Lovers or Nothing” which in my opinion is really great.

Rakim The Seventh Seal (SMC Records)

Still dedicated to the game, Rakim Allah releases yet another album to add to his repertoire. The Seventh Seal is the emcee’s fourth solo album dropping today. Several leaks from the album and from live performances from the vet has been released since the start of this year. It’s great to see Hip-Hop return the originators the appreciation that they’ve given to the craft. Despite others still going back and forth with the “Hip-Hop is dead” theory, how can that be so with guys like Rakim still churning it out?

50 Cent Before I Self Destruct (Interscope Records)

You know 50 has new music coming soon when you start seeing him ruffling a few feathers. Whether it’s taking jabs at Rick Ross using his baby mama and child as pawns or teaming with Beanie Sigel to take aim at Jay, 50 will make sure he grabs your attention. “Baby By Me” featuring Ne-Yo is in current rotation while “Hold Me Down” has been slowly making its way to radio; or at least I’m hoping that will be the next single because it’s one of my favorites.

Kid Sister Ultraviolet (Downtown Records)

Kid Sister is best known for her record “Pro Nails” featuring Kanye West which was released last year. But the young fashionista can finally exhale as her debut album, Ultraviolet has finally come to fruitation.  “Right Hand Hi” is the latest single from the Chicago native’s new album. I spoke to Kid Sister a while back very briefly and she seems to be very dedicated to her music. In a recent interview she talked about having a tough life growing up in a low-income household and also being once 215lbs. I’ve seen seen her described as everything from a rapper to a pop starlet, but this new album is allegedly very much Hip-Hop. Haven’t heard it just yet, but her enthusiasm alone for her music is very encouraging.

November 13, 2009

Freestyle Friday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felicia @ 11:16 am

In anticipation of an upcoming Freestyle concert I’m attending, I wanted to give those who were unfamiliar an intro. Nu ShoozI’m not referring to Hip-Hop Freestyle battles but rather the huge phenomenon that trumped all other genres of music; until the Hip-Hop culture began to spread wildly.

Before I became a fan of Hip-Hop and R&B, Freestyle was my genre of choice. Artists from Nu Shooz, Full Force, Lisa Lisa & Cult JamLisa Lisa & Cult Jam and others were some of my favorites. Some of the artists I knew by name and others I came across later on. Even artists like Paula Abdul and Vanessa Williams dabbled in Freestyle earlier in their careers with chart-toppers “Cold Hearted” and “The Right Stuff” respectively, although it’s easy to confuse Freestyle with Pop/Dance mixes which were closer to their category of music.

The thing I probably liked most about Freestyle back in the 80’s was the genre’s seemingly free-spirited nature. To piggyback on my love of this style of music I also enjoyed the movies that came out around that time as well. Vanity 6Purple Rain is an all-time favorite movie of mine and the movie featured Prince’s onscreen and off-screen love interest Vanity. In the movie Vanity 6, a group which she led, became popular during that time for their hit song “Nasty Girl”. Shortly thereafter my love for Hip-Hop slowly crept in after watching movies like Beat Street and later on Crush Groove.

So in anticipation of the concert here are songs from Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam and Nu Shooz that still get heavy rotation in my iPod.

Nu Shooz “Point Of No Return”

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam “Head To Toe”

F*ck The Industry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Felicia @ 10:51 am
Solange

Picture from Honey Magazine Feature

Solange Knowles said it best herself: “I’ll never be picture-perfect Beyonce”. This wasn’t a stab at her accomplished big sis. Solange is probably her sister’s biggest fan and at the drop of a dime will defend her sister to the death. Unfortunately she piggy-backed into an industry where people will compare, tear-down and write off their least favorite sibling.

I’ve always digged Solange ever since her single “Feelin You” featuring Noreaga. She has a bit of an edge and a ‘don’t hold back’ attitude which makes her shine as well as give her an identity of her own. She released her second album Sol-Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams which included the popular hit “I Decided” and “T.O.N.Y.”.

Solange may not have a voice comparable to that of her sister’s, but I still appreciate her music and appreciate her genuine sense of doing it strictly for the love of the art. She recently severed ties with her label home Geffen most likely due to album sales. Her talents extend far beyond recording albums as she’s done favorably well as a songwriter contributing to Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied”, “Flaws And All” Solangeand Michelle Williams’ “Break The Dawn” amongst other songs.

Her message in the song “Fuck The Industry (Signed Sincerely)” which was recorded around the time she made Sol-Angel but didn’t make the final cut, pretty much sums up her feelings towards what anyone has to say about the younger Knowles sister. It also features Philly up-and-coming rapper Wale. Check Miss. Knowles below and the words she delivers to any naysayers.

November 3, 2009

November Album Releases: Amerie, Carrie Underwood, Precious (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Filed under: New Music — Felicia @ 2:06 pm

Amerie In Love & War (Def Jam)Amerie

Def Jam’s newest inductee releases her fourth studio album, In Love & War today. There hasn’t been much promotion or press for Ms. Roger’s album, but I’ve always been a fan of hers since 2002 and she’s very much deserving of a mention. Amerie released “Why R U” this summer and there have been other leaks as her release date drew near. Hopefully her new label home will be her final nesting place and the new album proves to be as good as her previous releases.

CarrieCarrie Underwood Play On (19 Recordings Limited)

So I’m not a huge fan of Country (although some of these newer artists like Carrie, Taylor and Miley makes me tap my feet when I hear their songs). Carrie Underwood is one of the top success stories of “American Idol”. She came onto the scene back in 2005 and shut down the Country music arena with her debut album Some Hearts and was also named 2005’s World’s Sexiest Vegetarian by P.E.T.A. She’s since released her sophomore album Carnival Ride which either didn’t make much of a wave as her first album, or I’ve been too focused on other genres of music to notice. Little Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus may give Carrie a run for her money, but vocally the Country Carrie-baby outshines them both vocally.

Precious (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Precious

I’m seriously looking forward to watching this movie. The soundtrack alone features an array of artists from Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Mahalia Jackson, Nona Hendryx, LaBelle and others. Haven’t heard one song from the soundtrack, but the features alone caught my attention. Go see the movie!

Amerie’s Return

Filed under: New Music — Felicia @ 9:32 am

In Love & WarAs music continues to evolve with the times, it’s becoming universal to see artists release singles weeks ahead of the album’s release date. A new trend is also beginning to develop where music videos are being played out like movie previews. Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” video had more than 3 sneak-peaks and several video stills before the actual video premiered. Certain artists don’t get that luxury unfortunately and R&B’s overshadowed voice Amerie is a prime example.

Although Amerie’s full length albums has never quite been consistently packed with hit records, she has a lengthy combined catalog of really good music. Her 2007 album Because I Love It wasn’t released in the states but the album brought Amerie back into the spotlight, transparently.

Today Amerie releases In Love & War under her new label home Def Jam. The album’s lead single “Why R U” made a buzz during the summer, but it was the only record from this album in rotation. The 14-track album features productions and writing from Rico Love, Jim Jonson, Bryan-Michael Cox, Teddy Riley, Sean Garrett and others.

The album features a remake of Mint Condition’s “Breaking My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”. I haven’t given the album a complete listen just yet, but like typical Amerie albums it’s filled with both up-tempos and ballads. She never usually disappoints with her music.

In the below video she talks about creating the album’s lead single. The video follows.

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