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.
Hey everyone! So today is Thursday which means it’s the perfect day to reminisce on some older songs. Today’s feature contains three songs that are oldies but still goodies and all seem to have one thing in common…New York!
1. Jay- Z – Anything (2000)
I mentioned this song earlier in the week on my instagram story and I have been playing it repeatedly since. I love this song because it is living proof that music can be made from any sample. It also shows how and why Hov is considered one of the greatests with the ability to make a great rap song with a sample from the musical ‘Oliver‘. This was the second time Hov sampled a song featured in a musical after using “Hard Knock Life” from the musical Annie in his 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”. The song could be considered quite motivational as Hov regularly spits words of wisdom throughout the song. It seems as if Hov is reminiscing on the lessons he has learnt from people in his life; “Strive for what you believe in, set goals and you can achieve them”, this one from his mother. The standout lines for me in this song and the words that resonate are; “Don’t listen to your crew, do what works for you”…Standing back from situations gives you the perfect view”. The song feels like Hov is writing an open letter to young people teaching them all the things he has ekarnt from growing up. Have a listen below!
2. Lil Kim – No Matter What They Say (2000)
Following on the theme of life lessons, the second throwback song is by the Queen Lil Kim. The song is song expressing that in life you have to ignore what others may say “Who cares about what they think” and live your own life. The song alone has three different switches in the song. The beginning, the verses Kim provides us with her hard hitting taps while the chorus sounds more playful. The third switch up (my favourite bit) is after the second verse when the song changes tone and Diddy has a small interlude. Kim has a little freestyle where she states that she is “highest, your highest title, numero uno”. There is even a reference in the third verse to “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. Another rap song using references in such an amazing way. Have a listen to the classic Kim below.
3. The Notorious B.I.G. – Would You Die For Me Ft. Lil Kim & Diddy (1999)
Following on the theme of Kim & Diddy features, this song by one of my favourite rappers is an old school vibe. The beat of this song, Biggies unique flow and wordplay, Kim’s signature voice, & Diddy’s calm but catchy hook all make a match in heaven. I don’t know many other pairings other than Biggie and Kim that can consistently make hits. Check out the song below and get that nostalgic feel!
It’s Monday again! & the weather in London is miserable so I’ve made a list of 5 songs, new and old to listen to and set you up for the week. Have a listen below;
1. Quavo – Swing Ft. Normani & Davido
It’s nice to hear Quavo on a different kind of beat & the features from Normani & Davido fit so well. The soothing voice from Normani provides the song with a feminine touch. The vocals and broken English from Nigerian artist Davido provide the song with an afrobeats vibe. Definitely a song you’ll be doing a little shimmy to.
2. WSTRN – Round Here Ft. Skrapz.
I will provide an album review of the new Wstrn album shortly but for now this song is a good pick to start your week! The mix of Louis Rei spitting his usual talented bars, the sensual voice of Haile & the ‘rough’ sound of UK rapper Skrapz is a great match. Definitely a song I’ll be playing all week.
3. Shakka – Long Ting (Produced by Jae5)
OK, I’ve mentioned before Shakka is one of my favourite UK artists & Jae5 is also one of my favourite producers. Together they have already made the 2018 hit “Man Down”. Shakka has a regular event called “Tribe Tuesdays” where he collaborates with someone or himself to create a song within the hour. A few weeks ago he did with Jae5 & this is the song they created. I wish it was longer but hopefully these two work again in the future.
4. Octavian – 54321 Ft. Swift.
British rapper Octavian brought out a really cool tape earlier this year called ‘Spaceman‘ & this is one of the stand out tracks. His unique singing style is a nice song to have in the background when chilling or relaxing. Have a listen below.
5. Ella Mai – Whatchamacallit Ft. Chris Brown
Ella Mai album review coming shortly but in the meantime, have a listen to this beauty. R&B royalty Chris Brown features in a song with R&B newbie Ella and the song is great! It will definitely have you singing “it’s a Whatchamacallit” all day. Both Ella and Chris suit this song and I hope this is the beginning of more joint music from them.
Today’s throwback entry is from the legendary Destiny’s Child called ‘Emotion’. The song released in 2001 explores song of the emotions associated with a breakup; betrayal, loss and loneliness to name a few. The first line of the song “Its over and done but the heart ache lives on inside”, reminds us that even though the relationship is over, the pain is just getting started. Anyone who has gone through a breakup or had their heart broken will relate to this song unfortunately. The idea that when you break up with someone you love, you can never find better 8/ expressed; “Don’t you know there’s no (no body left in this world to hold me tight)”. One of my favourite lines is “Cry me a river that leads to your ocean” The symbolism in that line is overlooked. The idea that she wants him to be as sad as she is as long as it means they can be together again one day.
Overall although the song is not written by the girls or originally sang by them, I love the emotion (No pun intended, haha) they exude from the song. It also reminds us that sometimes our emotions are out of our control. The song is a beautifully presented song about the negative symptoms of the drug we call love.