Another week nearly done! Stay tuned for more posts in the next few days but for now it’s time for #ThrowbackThursday. Here are 3 songs that will have you reminiscing about the past.
Mario – How Do I Breathe (2007)
I’m a big fan of Mario and his older music. I’ve previously talked about his hit album “Turning Point”. This particular song is the first single released from his third studio album “Go” (2007) Mario’s voice is sensational in this song as he hits the high notes throughout. The song gives us the impression he has just gone through a breakup and is struggling to adjust to his life without his woman in it. I liked the pre chorus where he sounds like he is playing two people. He also plays the role of main singer and backup singer in the same verse. Overall this song is reminiscent of old school R&B and honestly the high notes are so beautiful to hear. Have a listen below!
Tion Wayne Ft Afro B – Bae (2015)
“Throw away your man he’s dispersable” is how this song starts and what a line! UK rapper Tion Wayne uses his cheekiness and sauce to deliver a bar! At the time of this release Afro B was getting more recognition for songs as well as his mixes. Fast forward to now and he has one of the biggest songs and Tion Wayne is also flourishing and shining. For me the harmonies from Afro B mixed with Tion’s pronunciation of certain words make this song unforgettable. Have a listen below;
Plies Ft Ne-Yo – Bust it Baby Pt 2 (2008)
I used to love this song when it first came out. At the time, I remember at the time, the video debuted on the BET show 106 and Park and stayed on the countdown for over a month! As a fan of Ne-Yo, I think his contribution to the song made it a hit. His verse for me was the best part of the song as it slowed it down a bit in contrast to Plies’ active style of rapping. The song is definitely not for those under the age of 16, that is for sure! Have a listen below;
Jhene Aiko Ft Kurupt – Never Call Me (2017)
This is one of those songs that if you know, you know! The song is based on Jhene’s broken relationship with her ex-husband. I’m assuming due to the title, miscommunication was a major factor in the breakup. The song also contains a snippet from American rapper, actor and former Executive Vice President of Death Row Records, Kurupt, who is also a close friend of Jhene and gave her advice while she was going through the breakup. In the song she addresses the fact that they both knew they had nothing in common “We never shared anything but the drugs, we were both numb, never had anything real between us” which is quite a sad revelation. Another fact is that Jhene actually has two video versions for this song. One is the Slauson version which explores her African American roots and upbringing. Slauson is the area in America she grew up in and the video features the late Nipsey Hussle who of course is the King of Slauson. The second video focuses more on her Asian side as she dresses up. Have a listen below;
Okay! It’s been over 3 whole years (13 May 2016) since Chance The Rapper dropped his mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ and I figured I would do a post talking about that EP in honor of #ThrowbackThursday. Here are some songs from the tape that I still love and play today.
Chance the Rapper – All We Got Ft. Chicago Children’s Choir & Kanye West
Intro tracks are so important because it is the artist’s chance to showcase a preview of what is to come. Chance even states “Hey, this ain’t no intro, this the entree“. This intro did exactly that. The fact Chance features with one of his musical heroes and use of the choir and the instruments that were used in this song are a reflection of how much work Chance puts into his music and production. The theme “Music is all we got” sits well with me as I believe it is a strong and quite realistic truth.
Chance the Rapper – No Problem Ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
“You don’t want zero problems, big fella“! Love the intro to this song. This song is dedicated to the record labels that all rejected Chance. One of my favourite lines from the song is when Chance says “Milly rockin’, scoopin’ all the blessings out my lap” as he is now the one that is winning and has the last laugh. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne fit the song so well too and yet again the production on this song is unique. The background vocals sound like a choir .
Chance the Rapper – Blessings Ft. Jamila Woods
I absolutely love this song. There’s something about Chance singing and singing with a stripped back vibe that is beautiful. Not to mention, the song is very religious as Chance sings about the glory of God. The song seems personal as Chance raves about how since giving his life to the Lord, he has received nothing but blessings and success. Jamila sings “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him till I’m gone, when the praises go up, (Good God) the blessings come down“.
Chance the Rapper – Same Drugs
This song is quite relatable for many people. Despite the title, the song has no affiliation or relation to drugs. The song is based on the concept that Chance and the woman in question no longer have the same interests anymore. Chance uses the analogy of Peter Pan in this song to describe the situation; “When did you change? Wendy, you’ve aged…I thought you’d never grow up“. The idea that like in Peter Pan, Wendy got on with life and changed/grew up. The song basically focuses on the reality that that with some people, you both move on and take different paths and it is just a part of life. I like that Chance mostly sings in this song as I genuinely believe his singing voice is so unique.
Chance the Rapper – Juke Jam Ft. Justin Bieber & Towkio
This is one of my favourite songs ever from Chance. The flow, the feeling I get listening to this song is unmatched. The song is basically Chance reminiscing about the past and a relationship. Apparently “Juking” is a Chicago term for a form a dance similar to grinding. Justin Bieber’s feature on this song was sensual too, his voice when he sings “We got so much history baby” was perfect for the theme of the song. The song is the type of song you could have on in the background and vibe to as it feels very chilled and laid back.
Chance the Rapper – How Great Ft. Jay Electronica & Nicole Steen
Not much to say on this song but Chance follows the religious theme and delivers this beautiful worship song featuring his very own cousin Nicole. The song gave me chills when I first heard it and the feeling has not gone away. Please have a listen and prepare to be inspired.
Chance the Rapper – Smoke Break Ft. Future
Another one of my favourites from the tape. I like the sound from Future on this song and the way they both compliment eachother. The song is Chance saying how much more free time him and his girlfriend need to make for eachother since the arrival of their baby. One of the most memorable lines is when he sings “We way too young to get old“, words to live by! Future’s verse sounds very shady but one of my favourite lines has to be “Please don’t get lost in the sauce, please don’t get lost in the sauce“. Typical Future lyrics!!!! The production on this song is amazing too!
Chance the Rapper – Finish Line/ Drown Ft. Noname, Eryn Allen Kane, T-Pain & Kirk Franklin
This is the longest song on the tape but is split into two. Part 1; Finish Line is based on the success and blessings Chance has received as he sings; “But who would think the raps would turn into racks? don’t matter, matter fact, it could happen to you”. Chance tries to show that his blessings can happen to anyone with faith. The flow switches up in the second verse where he speeds up while still maintaining his joy at his blessings. all demonstrating his versatility. Part 2; Drown is where Noname talks about how God has been there for her despite the fact she is going through a tough and horrible time. The common phrase repeated in this part of the song is “The water may be deeper than it’s ever been. Never drown“. This is the idea that no matter how hard life gets, never give up and always have faith because God is real and he is all powerful. He will always find a way to get you out the water.
It’s nearly the end of what has felt like a very long week! Hope everyone has a nice peaceful end to it. One of the features of Spotify I enjoy is the “Daily Mix” playlist. Today’s one for me brought back some memories of some classic throwbacks I thought I’d share with you all based on one of the best Donell Jones. I’m talking about some songs from his second studio album ‘Where I Wanna Be‘ as well as some other songs. I’ve been thinking and I genuinely believe Donell Jones could be considered to be one of the pioneers of R&B. When you read about how he has written music for acts like Usher, it makes so much sense.
Donell Jones – U Know What’s Up (1999)
Possibly one of Donell’s most well known tracks and literally his biggest hit to date. This song has been cemented in slow jam and romantic music history. “Ooh say what, say what, say what…Ooh girl, you know what’s up” are lines I’m sure most music lovers know very well. I can’t even talk too much about this record because the song literally does all the talking. If you somehow weren’t aware of this song, please have a listen. Also check out the remix featuring the late Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez.
Donell Jones – Where I Wanna Be (2000)
“But when you love someone, you just don’t treat them bad” another classic line from Donell that is reused in many of our songs today. The song itself is quite sad as it can be argued to be a breakup song as he sings “I’m not saying I’m gone, but I have to find what life is like without you”. Throughout the song he explains how much he cares for her and how sad he is that he has to eventually hurt her. The main message is that he is putting himself first and he is being honest about it.
Donell Jones – If U Want Ft. Bun B. (2006)
I’ve previously talked about my love for this song. I feel this is most likely my favourite song from him. The intro rap from Bun B; “Now if your man ain’t lovin’ you right, you need to roll with a ‘G’, get a thug in your life” grabs your attention straight away. The contrast of Bun B’s playful rapping style and Donell’s sweet voice work well. The song gives us the impression Donell is singing to a woman who is currently in an unhappy relationship with another guy. Donell encourages the woman to leave him so he can take car of her. The idea of him repeating the phrase “If u want” indicates that he is making sure she does not feel pressured to do anything. I enjoyed mostly the flow of this song, it’s very upbeat and vibrant.
Donell Jones – This Luv (1999)
This is another song embedded in my personal ‘Slow Jams Mix’. “Do you mind if I take this seat right here cos you’re sitting alone”….fist part of the song is my favourite. Donell has the ability to story tell in a song that just flows with his tone of voice which is so soothing. Something Usher also does so well. I think this is my most preferred love song from this album if I’m honest.
Donell Jones – I Wanna Luv U (1999)
Wow! Another contender in the battle for best Donell Jones love songs This song is so sensual and soft on the ear as Donell pleads how much he wants to love the woman. The lyrics are definitely very love fueled; ” You are the reason why I live, a newfound joy I can’t contain, yeah”. Whew! Love is sweet!!
Here is the album link below;
I could go on all day talking about Donell Jones songs! I will do another post soon with more recent songs of his.
In honor of Throwback Thursday, today’s theme is dedicated to hits from the Bad Boy franchise! The Label was founded by Diddy in 1993 and is one of the most known African American labels. The label is the home for so many greats including Biggie, Mase, Lil Kim, 112 and many more. During the 90s, it’s safe to say this label dominated many of the charts and even in 2019 are still consistent!! When you think about some of the hits released from Bad Boy, they were pioneers in the rap and hip hop scene. Even till today, their songs are being used as samples . I have left out songs originally by Biggie as I have previously written a post just for him and wanted to focus on some of the other Bad Boy artists.
Here are just a few classic hits from the Baaaaaaaaad Boooooooooyyyyy franchise!
Craig Mack – Flava In Ya Ear Ft. Biggie, LL Cool J, Rampage and Busta Rhymes. (1994)
The original of this song was actually the first song released from the Bad Boy label. The remix is my favourite version. The song contains a sample of “We’ve Only Just Begun” by O’Donel Levy. However, this song was also sampled in the Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule single, “Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix),” as well as the song “Don’t Leave Me” from the Backstreet Boys. R.I.P Craig Mack!!
Mase – Lookin’ at Me Ft. Puff Daddy (Diddy) (1998)
‘Lookin at Me’ was the 3rd and final single released from Mase’s debut album ‘Harlem World’. The song was produced and features Diddy (he was known as Puff Daddy at the time). The song is based on the idea that when these men go to the club with their ladies, their “ops” always stare not realising that the woman is just as fierce. It’s funny because I always felt like Mase sounded a lot like Diddy so hearing this song it takes me a while to realise who is rapping in the verse. The infamous first verse contains “Now what the hell is you lookin’ for? Can’t a young man get money anymore?” which has been referenced in so many modern songs including Kanye West’s song ‘Theraflu’. Have a listen below;
Diddy – Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down Ft. Mase (1997)
Can you believe this the first single from Diddy?! The song is possibly one of the most important Bad Boys songs as it signalled the beginning of dominance for this record label. If you’ve heard Drake’s song ‘4PM in Calabasas’, you’ll recognise that Drake uses the Diddy sample in some of the song. He also sings “They look at me like the golden child…Can’t nobody hold me down” (in the same tune as Diddy did). This is further proof that Bad Boy records were the starting point for many of the songs released nowadays. Have a listen to both songs below;
112 – Peaches & Cream Ft. Diddy (2001)
Peaches and Cream!!!! What a classic song! This is one of those songs that can never get old in my opinion. As soon as you hear “From the car to the bar, from the bar to the telly, your neck to your bra, your bra to your belly”, you know what time it is!!!. I prefer the remix with Diddy but the original song is also great! Have a listen to both below;
112 -Only You Ft. Biggie & Mase (1996)
I feel like this is one of those songs that most people my have heard and not known who sang it. This was the debut song for group 112 and what a song to burst onto the scene with!! For me, growing up this song was played a lot and I loved the video which was filmed in Times Square. The infamous line “Bad Boy get more money than you can count” still gets me today.
Mase – Feel So Good Ft. Diddy & Kelly Price (1997)
“Bad, bad, bad, bad boy (Yeah), you make me feel so good (Bad boy)”…This song could be argued to be one of the most popular Bad Boy songs! This is Mase’s first single from his debut album Harlem World. Honestly Mase sounds exactly like Diddy, this is another song I had to double check who was rapping. Mase’s style of rapping was so chilled and laid back which is a big difference from some of the rappers today. He had one of the cleanest and smoothest flows I’ve heard from a rapper.
A review and reflection on the classic album “Confessions” by the one and only Usher.
Hello everyone! Today we are going back to basics. I previously started a theme based on reviews from older albums. Today’s feature is the classic and legendary album from Usher titled ‘Confessions’. I will be referring to the original released version of the album. The album which was released in 2004 and was the fourth studio album by US singer Usher and is possibly one of his most celebrated pieces of work. Timeless music is when regardless of its release date, anytime you listen to it, feels like it’s the first time. This album ticks those boxes. For me this album is my favourite album of all time. It’s an album that I can recite lyrics from every song, an album with a story, an album with everything I love about music. Most importantly, this album provides nostalgic feelings for me that provide me with elements of joy.
As we are all aware I’m sure, the album takes the theme of a series of
confessions as he explains to us in the intro. The album cover
shows Usher in a Confessions booth and throughout the album we are given
reasons why Usher is confessing. As I’ve previously stated, music is considered
therapy for a lot of people and Usher used this album to reveal some of his
darkest and painful secrets making this possibly one of his most personal
albums. I remember reading somewhere that while the album is an R&B album,
he wanted us to also experience a hip-hop vibe which could be argued to be in ‘Yeah!’.
‘Yeah!’ features Lil Jon and Ludacris (who has my favourite verse on the song). Ludacris’ line “We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed” is probably one of the most memorable lines in the song aside from the chorus. The three of them also have a great collaborative effort on East Side Boyz “Lovers and Friends” which is a favourite of mine.
The third song on the album is “Throwback“. It’s funny because I had the album for a long time before this song stuck with me. “You never miss a good thing ’til it leaves ya & finally, I realised that I need ya, I want you back”. These lines set precedent for the rest of the song. Usher sings about wanting his woman back after she leaves him for admitting his cheating. The whole song is dedicated to his anguish at the fact she has left him and he misses her. On reflection, he regrets all the bad things he did and said. I love the uses of instruments in this song, it would have been great to have heard this song live back in the day.
‘Confessions Interlude/ Part 1‘ and ‘Confessions Part II’ art possibly the most infamous songs on the album. The interlude is Usher preparing his woman and us, the listener for what is to come. Interludes on R&B albums were popular around this time and I like the added touch of them. After a while the interlude was turned into a full fledged song. Part II is Usher outright confessing about his infidelity and expressing his regret. Usher sings “Just when I thought I said all I could say, my chick on the side said she got one on the way” confirming that he has gotten the other woman pregnant.. The song is apparently not exactly true but is based on Usher’s friends similar experiences. The execution however is flawless and you really believe Usher is living this life. Throughout the song we can hear the stress in Usher’s voice as he sings “Man, I’m throwed and I don’t know what to do, I guess I gotta give part two of my confessions” implying that this is the conclusion to this first version and interlude. There’s a part in the song when Usher hits a high note; “I said one second, baby, please hear me“, at a part where he is trying his best to let his girlfriend hear him out. The high note feels like desperation from his part and Usher incorporates it into the story so well. This song told us a story with Usher being the narrator and main character. The song writing, production and vocal performance in this song will forever make it a classic.
‘Burn’ is another R&B hit from Usher. He sings the ballad with such passion. The video for this song is legendary and I can’t think of the song without seeing Usher with trees burning beside him. Verse 2 is my favourite part of the song. The song is based on the conflicting feelings of a breakup. He sings “Cause the feeling ain’t the same, find myself calling her your name“, One one side he is trying to move on but he keeps being reminded. The other feeling is feeling regretful as he sings ” What I gotta do now to get my shorty back? Oh oh oh oh”. The song is one of the best R&B vocal performances on the album and definitely a fan favourite.
‘Caught Up‘ is a more upbeat Usher song as he sings about catching feelings for a woman. The song is Usher singing his confusion as to how the woman “has a hold on him”. My favourite line is when he sings “Her body was so tight, I’m looking for her in the daytime with a flashlight“. What a funny analogy. While the song takes a more upbeat mood, the production does too, there are more uses of drums and brass instruments.
‘Superstar Interlude’ and ‘Superstar‘ are possibly my personal favourite songs on the album. He sings “I won’t stop until I see you sugar”, on the interlude to again prepare us for what is to come on the main song. On ‘Superstar‘ he sings about a woman who he idolises and puts on a pedastool. He has no shame expressing his love; “I’ll be your groupie baby ‘Cause you are my superstar, I’m your number one fan, give me your autograph, Sign it right here on my heart“. The irony of this song is that Usher himself is the Superstar and is used to having fans and groupies who are usually in awe of him however he has found a woman he is in awe of. He uses the metaphors of being a fan he claims to “show you just how I adore you“. He hits the high notes in this song with ease I love how he flips the script throughout to show us his vulnerable side. “Girl you’re one of a kind cos they don’t make em like you anymore”….a beautiful ode.
‘Truth Hurts‘ is another underrated song on the album. The song can be considered karma based on the topic of the beginning of the album. In this song Usher sings about how the woman in the relationship has ruined the relationship due to her “infidelity; “Baby, everything we built on trust, you’re tearing it down“. The irony is that we find out that all of these “fears” are really a projection of how Usher really feels. He confesses he’s only been accusing his girl of cheating due to his guilty conscience. Usher sings “I’ve been blaming you when I’m the one that’s doing wrong” once again admitting he’s the one who’s been unfaithful.
‘Simple Things’ is another one of my personal favourites. I feel this is the song with the most important message from the whole album. It can relate to relationships, love, jobs, family and pretty much life in general. In the song Usher advises us that it’s really the simple things in life we always underestimate. Those are the things that are the most important. The song has incredible advice from the beginning; “Just copped your girl a brand new Rolex but you can never find the time to spend at home“. He proceeds to sing my favourite line; “But you don’t know you’re chasing a dime, losing a treasure” telling us to appreciate what we have already. He advises men to understand that splashing the cash on your woman is great but what is more important to her is you, not the materialistic things. “You hear her talking but don’t hear what she said“, sometimes we hear what we want to hear rather than what the person is trying to say. Usher ends the song by stating “Man, I tell you, cars, clothes, and fancy things don’t mean a damn thing” advising men to give them things money can’t buy, their time, love, appreciation and affection.
‘That’s What it’s Made For’, ‘Can U Handle It?’ and ‘Do it to Me’ are all songs that could be considered slow jams. These songs are classic Usher, stripped back, pure vocals. It can be argued that all songs have the same theme; sex. ‘That’s What it’s Made For’ is Usher singing about his manhood and the use of it, to pleasure women. The song explores how him and a woman are partaking in consensual sexual activity. ‘Can U Handle It?’ is Usher seducing and teasing a woman. ‘Do it to Me’ is another one of my favourites from the album. I don’t think it’s possible to hear this song without feeling the need to move. I like the production on this song. The big Base and what feels like a large bang(drums?) played throughout adds to the intensity. Usher hits the high notes effortlessly as usual and one of my favourite lines; “Squeezing, holding, biting, scratching, spanking, screaming, pulling my hair when you need me” with his high vocals is just 😍. Yeah this song is the one! Whew!‘Follow Me’ is Usher being real. In this song he sings about the fact he’s finally found a woman he can be himself with. “Sometimes I gotta smile (smile) when I don’t feel like smiling”, his lifestyle is tiring but he doesn’t need to pretend with the woman
What an album. I won’t lie, I don’t think since this release there has been
an album that has provided me with so much joy and love. Hopefully real R&B
can be born again because it will be a shame.
I am aware there are more songs after from the special edition version of the album. Songs like “My Boo” which I have reviewed before among a few more. Check out the special edition version below;
It’s that time of week where we reminisce on older but still classic songs. Here are a list of 3 throwback tracks. Have a read and listen below.
1. Usher Ft Alicia Keys – My Boo (US – 2004)
I was listening to this song on the way to work today and suddenly the song had a different meaning. The song taken from his HIT album Confessions I’ve always considered the song a love song and a song about two people singing about their love for one another; “You will always be my boo” especially sticks out. However, after listening to it today the penny dropped that the song demonstrates two people who still have feelings for each other despite no longer being together and both being in different relationships. The idea that “There’s always that one person that will always have your heart ” is common however the idea that that person may always be there even when you are with someone else is quite scary. How can you give your all to someone if someone is already occupying space? In my opinion there is a difference between a “first love” and someone “who always has your heart”. Despite the realisation of the meaning of the song, it is still one of my favourite Usher songs and the duet with Alicia is beautiful. They both hit harmonies angelically. Have a listen to the track below.
2. NSG – Referee (UK – 2016)
UK group NSG who are on fire at the moment with their smash hit ‘Options’ have been grinding for a while. This track which was featured in their EP “Grown Up” is still a banger today. The JAE5 produced track is also accompanied by cool visuals. NSG have been working hard for years but its great to see them shine and get the recognition they deserve. Have a listen and watch below.
3. Kendrick Lamar – LOVE – (US -2017)
The final entry for Throwback Thursday is from US rapper Kendrick Lamar. The song from his 2017 fourth studio album is one of my favourite songs from him. The song is quite soft in comparison to his usual work and focusses on the love and devotion he has with his fiancée. The vocals from Zacari blend very well with Kendrick’s rough but unique rapping style. Have a listen below;
Here are some songs I’ve been listening to over the past weekend, some new and some old. Have a listen below;
1. Normani & Calvin Harris Ft. WizKid – Checklist:
I’m beginning to enjoy a lot of the music Normani has been featuring in recently. I like her R&B tone of voice and this particular song is another catchy banger. Have a listen below.
2. Papoose Ft. Remy Ma & Angelica Villa – The Golden Child
Pap & Remy are soon due to have their first child together (they both have kids from different relationships). They have always been honest with the struggles they have faced trying to concieve so it is no surprise they are celebrating this pregnancy. I like the honesty in the song and you may notice the babys heartbeat in the song which is a very personal touch.
3. Big Tobz – Black Girls
UK rapper Big Tobz is back with another one of his songs. This time this song is about uplifting black women at a time that maybe being black can be challenging. It is refreshing to see a Black man uplifting his own and it is reminiscent of a song by Bashy called “Black Boys”. The beat is great and Tobz maintains a good flow throughout the song, even singing the chorus! Check it out below.
4. Young Greatness – Moolah
There was sad news that US rapper Young Greatness unfortunately was killed. ‘Moolah’ is probably considered one of his most popular songs and I just wanted to bring it to light again. Such a shame when such a talent is taken away like this, but may he rest in Peace. Have a listen below.