She Is Focused

April 13, 2010

Flashback w/ Lenny: I Belong To You

Filed under: Flashback — Felicia @ 7:21 pm

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.

Advertisements

February 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Dilla

Filed under: Chat 'bout,Flashback — Felicia @ 2:08 pm

Known as a producer’s producer, James Yancy p/k/a Jay Dee or J Dilla, wasn’t the type of  producer to repeatedly drop his name on his tracks. He’s quietly produced several popular records throughout the 90’s literally right up until his premature death in 2006. He’s responsible for providing the tracks on records such as The Pharcyde’s “Runnin”, Common’s “The Light”, De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High” and Janet Jackson’s “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” (to which proper credit has never been given) amongst several others.

Born and raised in Detroit, MI, he started his career with Slumm Village in 1988, then went on to pursue producing as his main hustle along with the Soulquarians which included fellow musicians James Poysner and ?uestlove of The Roots. He also released solo projects of his on Welcome 2 Detroit album in 2001 and Donuts in 2006, with the latter being his last work released a few days before his untimely death. Posthumous projects were released in the following years through 2009.

Dilla’s genius has been compared to the likes of Jazz heavyweight Charlie Parker, which says a lot about his work. Although he was never a household name during his tenure, and probably amongst many Hip-Hop fans today, he’s left his mark in music history that will forever be valued.

Happy Birthday Jay Dee!

The Pharcyde Runnin

Janet Jackson Got Til Its Gone

De La Soul Stakes Is High

January 7, 2010

Does Jay-Z’s Masonic Status Hold Any Leverage?

Filed under: Chat 'bout,Flashback — Felicia @ 9:37 pm

It’s no secret that for several years Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has been spewing innuendos about having Masonic affiliation, whether directly or indirectly. “Run This Town”, “Empire State Of Mind” and “On To The Next One” – the three lead singles from his Blueprint 3 album had many conspiracy theorists up in arms about the Masonic imagery showcased in the videos. “On To The Next One” is the latest video broken down bit by bit about its relevancy to the Masonry.

The first time I’ve ever taken notice to any hidden meanings or symbolism in regards to Jay-Z’s music was with his song “D’evils” from his first album, Reasonable Doubt. When I listen to music I’m typically drawn to the beat then after the first listen I pay closer attention to the actual words. I’m not going to break this song apart bar-by-bar, but after listening to it Jay definitely leaves the listener with many questions regarding the frequent mention of the illuminati and the like.

Although I enjoy reading about other’s assumptions and conclusions about Jay-Z’s Masonic status, I wonder if it would really make much of a difference if he did come out and announce his membership. Artists are known for creating false assumptions and pulling publicity stunts as often as they change their underwear. He could be playing us all like a really good game of chess. He’s proven to know a thing or two when it comes to his investments and career decisions. People linger off of every word he spits and he probably figures he’ll just run with it. However I can’t see this to be true because he has us in too deep.

The question that consistently comes back to me is the wonderment of it all making any type of impact on the way people feel about him as an artist. Would it affect his album sales? Would it affect his investments? Would people still consider him the best rapper alive and boast about his lyrical genius? (more…)

December 28, 2009

2009 Best in R&B, Hip-Hop and Dance

Filed under: Chat 'bout,Flashback,New Music — Felicia @ 12:50 pm

Musically speaking this year had some pretty good albums and loads of disappointments. I for one was looking forward to a banger from Amerie, but her album In Love & War seemed to slip the radar. So did R. Kelly’s Untitled for reasons we won’t discuss. Keri Hilson had a pretty good year with In A Perfect World… and Trey Songz finally got his due diligence with Ready. Of all the great R&B singles that were released, breakout artist Melanie Fiona still ranks pretty high on my list of favorites with “It Kills Me”.

In the Hip-Hop sector Jay-Z of course still holds the top spot with a great album from start to finish with The Blueprint 3 and Drake and his bevy of mistakes had a really great breakout year also. My Hip-Hop crown goes to Juelz Santana for “Back To The Crib”. I can’t get this song out of my head. The song was released earlier this month and features Chris Brown.  I’m sure we can expect to hear more from Juelz at the top of 2010.

I really got back into Dance/House music again this year with the help of David Guetta. The DJ from France has been around for a while now, but the release of his album One Love on Astralwerks/Gumprod received a lot of play here in the States with “When Love Takes Over” and my jam “Sexy Bitch”. The latter takes the cake here.

She Is Focused’s 2009 Rewind

Filed under: Chat 'bout,Flashback — Felicia @ 12:16 pm

Happy Holidays to all! It’s already been said over and over but this year came and went like a speeding bullet. We’ve also seen many ups and downs this year. Most noticeably the sudden deaths of many of our beloved entertainers came as such a continuous shock. But the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and for good reason.

Below are some of the events of 2009 that were most memorable to me. Feel free to share some of your moments as well:

Barack Obama becomes President (January 2009)

2009 was off to an amazing start with the swearing in of our 44th president and first family, the Obamas.

Chris Brown & Rihanna Incident (February 2009)

I questioned putting this one on the list, but it was definitely a hot topic earlier this year when Chris Brown assaulted then girlfriend Rihanna. Pictures surfaced, accusations were made from both ends, television appearances were made, then albums were released.

New Mexico Abolishes Death Penalty (March 2009)

Instead of carrying out the death penalty, New Mexico instead will issue life sentences to prisoners becoming the second state to do so since 1976.

U.S. Pledge $40 Million for Afghanistan Elections (March 2009)

In any other normal circumstance this news will not even cause me to blink twice, but considering many Americans have begun losing jobs left and right in this country, and our plummeting economy, it was a little strange to see that this was squeezed into the U.S.’ budget.

H1N1/Swine Flu Surfaces (April 2009)

Swine Flu has suddenly emerged and become global pandemic. The vaccine was created and while many people were a little weary of getting treated, the two people who were treated later discovered that the shot didn’t contain a high enough dosage.  

Sonia Sotomayor Nominated as Supreme Court Judge (May 26)

Sonia Sotomayor is nominated to the Supreme Court becoming the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. She was later sworn in on August 6, 2009. (more…)

December 14, 2009

Missy’s Hot Boyz

Filed under: Flashback — Felicia @ 12:04 pm

Song: “Hot Boyz”

Album: Da Real World (1999)

Label: Goldmind

Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott emerged on the scene wearing a garbage bag in “Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and causing heads to do a double take. The boisterous producer, songwriter, singer, rapper has made quite a name for herself on other artist’s albums alongside her production cohort, Timbaland.  She initially came from behind the scenes and to the forefront with her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly followed by her follow-up two years later, Da Real World.

Although Missy never really had that classic R&B diva look, her music still broke barriers across the board. Her sophomore album produced the hit record “Hot Boyz” which still gets radio play 10 years after its release. The record features Nas, Q-Tip, Eve and vocals by Lil Mo. Definitely one of my top Missy records to date. Although she’s a bit peculiarly, she definitely has a style all her own that others won’t dare duplicate; it works for her.

October 16, 2009

Flashback To Kelis’ S.H.I.T.

Filed under: Flashback — Felicia @ 3:41 pm

Song: Sugar Honey Iced Tea

Album: Tasty (2003)

Label: Star Trak/Arista

Kelis is not your typical R&B chic. The eccentric big-haired singer has four albums under her belt and several hit records to date which earned her a Hits album. She was the first woman to scream on a hook with her 1999 debut, “Caught Out There” and has been releasing catchy records ever since. Her second album 2001’s Wanderland wasn’t released in the states although it also had several noteworthy records like “Young, Fresh n’ New” and “Popular Thug”. Kelis mentioned in the past that the label didn’t understand the album and her follow-up, Tasty was released under Arista.

I always struggle with her first three records with trying to determine which is my favorite. Her last album, Kelis Was Here is the only album that had a few too many misses. Tasty gave birth to Kelis’ biggest record to date, “Milkshake” but had other jewels on there as well. My favorite song on this album is “Sugar Honey Iced Tea” which gets constant burn on my iPod. The album was produced entirely by the Neptunes and this record definitely showcases that celestial mark the duo is known for. A video was never released for this laid back cut, but it’s one of those songs that don’t need an accompanying video to add to its grander. Check the vocals below along with the rest of the tracks on Tasty. Although Kelis’ albums don’t push as much volumes as her R&B counterparts, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth.

October 6, 2009

Sirius XM Artist Confidential: Queen Latifah

Filed under: Album Reviews,Chat 'bout,Flashback,New Music — Felicia @ 12:06 pm

Dana Owens p/k/aDana Owens known to all as Queen Latifah has built quite a name for herself from her modest beginnings growing up in Newark, NJ. Her list of accomplishments read like a resume one can only hope to attain; the first female MC to ever have a gold album, success as a mainstream artist, several movie roles, numerous awards, an award-winning sitcom, talk show host and most recently one of the new faces of CoverGirl. Like many other celebrities, she’s had her time under the paparazzi’s scrutiny, but her talent has proven strong enough to overshadow the negativity as she continues to climb further along the A-list hierarchy.  

The Queen sat down with Sirius XM Artist Confidential before a live audience to answer questions about her career as well as perform songs from Black Reign, the album that brought her to light as well as her current album Persona.

Latifah talked about going to choir rehearsal with her aunt at a young age which initially peaked her interest in music. She described watching her aunt orchestrate her church’s choir as “seeing all these colors coming at me in the form of music”. Both her parents played musical instruments and often had mini sessions in her home growing up. She also described being introduced to Hip-Hop and having it bite her like a bug; immediately grabbing her attention. Although becoming a rapper wasn’t her initial interest, she was consumed by the culture itself and wanted to take it all in. She talked about singing being her first passion saying “Hip-Hop definitely put me on a different road and I’ve always tried to figure out how to blend them together once I started making music.” She added, “beats and rhymes wasn’t enough because I had all these other melodies in my mind”.

To differentiate herself from other MC’s, she adopted the name ‘Queen Latifah’ rather than ‘MC Latifah’ and also incorporated an awareness of being a descendent of Africa to her look. All Hail The QueenShe describes Hip-Hop as “a platform to express yourself. It wasn’t singing it was speaking. You can not only rap to brag and boast but you can actually say something.” This was something she picked up from other groups like Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One, Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy having described them all as not only creating hit records, but using their music to deliver a message.  

Soon after All Hail The Queen was released under Tommy Boy records and Latifah described having House Music be a heavy influence on the album. A couple years later under the same label, Nature Of A Sista was born which was the first album where the acting bug began to buzz. “How Do I Love Thee” was more so her reciting a poem as rapping over the beat didn’t seem to be fitting. “I just allowed my mind to go and make it jazzy and do some sort of rifts and scatting on it as opposed to making it a Hip-Hop record”.

One thing that was in Latifah’s side from the start of her career was her fan base. She didn’t necessarily have strictly urban fans which was a challenge to her record label at the time. Especially having a record like “Latifah’s Had It Up To Here” on the same album with “How Do I Love Thee”; two completely different extremes. Black ReignBlack Reign was released under Motown Records and there were many transitions going on during her life at this time with the recent loss of her brother. She felt like every record she created was a way for her to be free and creating records that she really enjoyed. Her first performance of the evening also from this album was “Just Another Day…” as the audience vibed along with the hook and live instruments performed by her full house band.

Latifah has earned several awards throughout her career and described the time she won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance for “U.N.I.T.Y.” “It meant a lot because it was legitimizing Hip-Hop. Everybody used to say Hip-Hop was some kind of fad except for us who already knew it was not going anywhere.” By this time she was well into her acting career having appeared in movies such as Jungle Fever, Juice, and Will Smith’s Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Then what may have been a turning point in her acting career was when she was presented with the opportunity to have her own hit sitcom, Living Single also starring Kim Coles, Erika Alexander and Kim Fields. Living Single“When Will [Smith] got his show we were like man, if Will can get a show we could get a show”, describing a brainstorm session she had with her partner Shakim back in the early 90’s. Her show became so successful that it surpassed Martin in urban households which was a popular show at that time. Soon after her role as Kleo came in the hit movie Set It Off which also solidified her skills behind the big screen as well.

Shortly after around 1997 her focus turned once again to her music. And throughout the years she went on to create three additional albums and more film roles came her way including one of her biggest roles as Matron “Mama” Morton in 2002’s Chicago. This role earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and also rightfully led to a Star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. Star on Hollywood Walk Of FameAs if her list of accolades wasn’t lengthy enough, she also signed on to become one of CoverGirl’s newest faces.

Earlier this year Latifah released her latest album, Persona where she returned to her joy of singing. She performed songs from the new album including “Cue The Rain”, “The Light” People” and “Fast Car”. Before Artist Confidential with Queen Latifah came to an end, she performed her Grammy-winning hit “U.N.I.T.Y.” where she included Reggae and Go-Go interjections much to the audience’s delight. With all her accomplishments she’s earned thus far in her career and the many more bound to come, it couldn’t have happened to a more humble, deserving star such as Dana Owens.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.