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;
Music has so much meaning for me and so many memories can be attached with songs, so I’ve decided to do posts dedicated to important years for me. Aside from the usual Throwback Thursday post I do, I will focus on specific years (in random order) and songs that I have enjoyed or have meaning to me from that year. The first year in ‘Through the Years” is 2015. I chose this year because personally 2015 was one of the most important years of my life. I graduated from University, which was one of the big events and had some of the highest highs of my life as well as some of the lowest lows. I look back at 2015 as a year of many lessons. I believe it was one of the most important years of my life because due to all these experiences I think this was the year I grew up the fastest. I hope you enjoy this series and feel free to follow the Instagram account where I have daily songs of the day too. (www.instagram.com/musicandlifeblog). Here are some of the songs that remind me of 2015:
Chris Brown & Tyga – Ayo (January 6 2015)
This is one of my favourite songs of 2015. The song was officially released in January but we had all heard it towards the end of 2014. The collaboration is taken from the duo’s joint ‘Fan of a Fan’ album also released in 2015. The song was produced by Nic Nac who produced most of the songs on their joint album as well as Chris Brown’s 2014 hit “Loyal”. This song gives me memories of the last outings in University and gives me summer vibes. The best and only way to listen to this song is with the speaker on full blast.
Fetty Wap – Again (August 13 2015)
Fetty Wap was the man of the moment in 2015! He became popular with his hits “Trap Queen” and “My Way” which was released from his debut self titled album. For me, I will always love his song ‘Again’ released from the same album. Fetty was one of the first rappers from this new wave of music that sang so blatantly on a song. The song is based on Fetty trying to win back someone he had broke up with. He sings “I cannot see myself without you” serenading his mystery woman. The song is just one of many songs Fetty released this year and each one was a hit. Have a listen below:
Big Sean – Play No Games Ft. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign (February 24 2015)
Ok, so in 2015 Big Sean released his third studio album titled ‘Dark Sky Paradise’. This was one of my favourite albums from Big Sean and although this isn’t my favourite from the album, it has the most meaning for me. This is because the video which was released on June 28th features my cousin Chidi Ajufo (see him clearly on the 21 seconds mark as well as throughout the video!). The video which is inspired by and pays homage to the hit sitcom ‘Martin’ is one of the most creative videos Sean has done. Have a watch below:
Rich Homie Quan – Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh) – February 10, 2015
I remember this song became really popular in the summer of 2015 but I remember playing it repeatedly. The song will always remind me of bright colours due to the extremely colourful video that accompanies the song. The video also contains Rich doing his infamous “hittin’ the Quan” dance. The extremely catchy chorus is a feel good song that came out around a time where “mumble” rappers like Rich Homie and Young Thug were being discovered and embraced before groups such as Migos were as big as they are now. One could argue artists like Rich Homie are pioneers for this kind of genre. Have a listen and watch below
WSTRN – In2 (6 November 2015)
UK time! Okay so WSTRN will always have a small spot in my heart for many reasons. 1, the group originate from West London (hence the name), also my home town. 2, the group release consistent hits and 3, they are quite unproblematic as far as groups go. The group also contains a guy by the name of Louis Rei who happened to go to the same primary school as me..even though he was a couple years above me. I find his verse in this song on of my favourites too; “Menacin’, men have seen all the crud that I’m steppin’ with, celibate, what are these words? not comprehendin’ it”. The song was huge in 2015, propelled WSTRN into the limelight and was played pretty much everywhere you went. The video gives you a tour of certain places in West London such as the infamous Trellick Tower. Have a watch and listen below! The remix is also great too.
J Hus – Lean & Bop (October 2015)
This song is different from many of J Hus’ other songs as it does not contain any swear words. Hus has stated that that was the aim as he wanted a song that his younger brother or his younger fans could play without the worry of hearing explicit words. I remember being able to play this song at work knowing I didn’t have to worry about anything inappropriate being said! The song became a viral sensation especially with the dance move accompanied with it. Have a watch below, there’s no way you won’t be smiling and doing the dance by the end.
Chris Brown – Back to Sleep (November 5th 2015) & Little Bit (2015)
The songs taken from Chris Brown’s 7th studio album ‘Royalty’ are two of my favourite songs on the album. ‘Back to Sleep’, which is very explicit feels like a serenade while ‘Little Bit’ also explicit, is a nice bop to vibe to. The beat in ‘Little Bit’ is sensational and with the right speakers, you could easily get lost in the music. Have a listen to both below:
Stormzy – Shut Up/WickedSkengMan 4
Stormzy is one of the UK’s best. These songs in particular opened the gates to the future and progression of UK rap. ‘Shut Up’ was originally a freestyle Stormzy recorded and put on youtube but ended up being the first freestyle (recorded in a car park haha) to chart independently. For the culture, this proved that we had so much power than we originally thought and it was possible for someone like an unsigned rapper to chart in the UK charts, let alone the top 10. WickedSkengMan 4 is the B-Side to ‘Shut up’ and the fourth edition to is WickedSkengMan phase. I remember how everyone joined together to get Stormzy this top 10 single and this is a moment that showed how powerful we can be when we all support one another.
Justin Bieber – Sorry (October 23, 2015)
Lat but not least, this song reminds me of the end of 2015 which was a very hectic time for me. However, when the song was released I genuinely loved it. It felt like a new and improved Justin Bieber debuting a new sound. The song from his fourth studio album ‘Purpose’, was seen as an apology song to his ex Selena Gomez however Justin stated many times that it was an apology to the world as well as about Selena. I love how the beat changes in this song when it gets to the chorus. Have a listen below.
Happy Valentines Day everyone Hope you all had wonderful days/nights!!
Just a quick one. Here are 5 of some of my favourite modern love songs. I’ve focussed on the theme of the beginning of the relationship when everything is all rosy and fresh. I have also included my current slow jams and throwbacks Spotify link. I am in the process of filtering out some songs from there and as soon as I have a new an improved slow jams mix you will all know. Have a read and listen below.
1. Fantasia – When I See U (2006)
I’ve written about my love for this song before and boy is it perfect for a day like today. Fantasia sings her heart out in this song and you can’t help but feel the love. The opening verse describes how it feels when you have that crush or first love for someone; “I put your picture on my mirror, start to blush when somebody says your name” a feeling many of us know. The main reason I love this song so much is because of how relatable it is. It’s one of those songs that will have you thinking of a particular person as you belt out her verses. Fantasia’s voice in this song is sensational and the video is just as beautiful. Have a listen and watch below.
2. Beyoncé – Dangerously In Love (2003)
Okay so this is one of my favourite Beyoncé songs of all time. I love the sentiment behind the song and the calming vibe it provides you with. The opening lines “Baby, I love you, you are my life..my happiest moments weren’t complete if you weren’t by my side”, beautifully sung. Beyoncé harmonises with her own voice in this song and I feel like we are intruding on a duet between herself and herself! The lyrics are beautiful in this song.
3. Usher – U got it Bad (2001)
If we’re being honest 99% of Usher’s discography can be featured in this list. I picked this one because it plays on the theme of the beginning of falling in love. The song plays on the idea Usher is ready to leave his player ways as he has found the woman of his dreams. Again, this song focusses on the honeymoon period; “You got, you got it bad. When you’re on the phone, hang up and you call right back”, the beginning of the relationship when you’re in looooooove. Have a listen below.
4. Jennifer Lopez Ft. Fat Joe – Hold U Down (2005)
“You don’t know how much you mean to me, whenever you’re down you know that you can lean on me”, wiser words have never been spoken. I love how wholesome this song makes me feel. The idea that in a relationship you both help and support each other. I like how the partnership is demonstrated with the merging of verses with JLo singing her verse and Fat Joe rapping his but sometimes linking together.
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers Ft. Lauryn Hill -Turn your Lights Down Low (1999)
Last but not least one of the greatest songs from Bob Marley or Lauryn Hill in my opinion. I know I’ve written about this song before but I will always bring it up when talking about love songs! This remix features the two legends’ voices merging like it was meant to be. My favourite lines have to be when Lauryn raps “Loving you is a like a song I replay, every three minutes and thirty seconds of every day”…I mean what better analogy to express love than with music! Haha! Honestly the harmonies in this song are heavenly! Check the song out 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;
Drake has recently announced his European tour dates & it got me reminiscing on his incredible discography. Here are my personal favourite top 10 Drake songs (in no particular order) released before 2013. I will be releasing a list for more favourites further down the years. A big shout out to some people that gave me their suggestions, it’s easy to forget some of the great songs Drake has released when there’s such a big library.
Drake – Closer/ Closer To My Dreams (Comeback Season Mixtape) – 2007
This is one of his earliest tracks and boy isit good! The feature from Andrea is beautiful too. For me my favourite thing about this song is the rawness you get. There are no gimmicks on this song, just a lyrically great song. Drake before he became Drake.
2. Drake – Over My Dead Body (Take Care Album) – 2011
The first verse on this song is personally one of my favourite Drake verses. I’ve mentioned my love for this song before but everything about this song to me is spot on. The beat behind the track, Drake’s flow, the background vocals…everything! Despite the background vocals and amazing simple beat, there is a stripped back feel to this song. This is the kind of song you just close your eyes and feel.
3. Drake – Best I Ever Had – (So Far Gone) – 2009
This is a classic Drake song and one of his biggest hits. The reason I personally love this song is because it demonstrates his vocal range. Drake hits the high notes and lowest of notes in the same line. This song feels like Drake verses Drake. Throughout the song it genuinely feels like you hear every version of Drake and to me that proves his versatility.
4. Drake – The Real Her Ft. Andre 3000 (Take Care Album) – 2011
Even though Andre 3000 has possibly one of the best feature verses of all time…the song wouldn’t be what it was without Drake.
5. Drake – Shut It Down Ft. The Dream
Singing Drake will always be a pleasure to listen to. Drake has the ability to have different sounds depending on your mood. This song is best when you’re relaxing or chilling. Drake & The Dream’s voices blend so beautifully on this track too. “I feel like when she moves, the time doesn’t” is one of my favourite lines in the song.
6. Drake – Shot For Me (Take Care Album) – 2011
“I can see it in your eyes, you’re angry”…those lines are legendary. Another song from my favourite Drake album.The outro for this song is one of the best. “May your neighbours respect you, trouble neglect you, angels protect you & heaven accept you”. The instruments used in this are perfect for the moodespecially as it leads into Headlines…..
7. Drake – Headlines (Take Care Album) – 2011
Pure rap. This song is just filled with bars. A hit every-time you listen.One of my favourite lines is “I guess it really is just me, myself and all my millions”, simply because it shows a different side of a Drake, a more confident side. Drake is known for being sensitive and making songs for women stereotypically. This song reminded everyone that he can do both; slow and sensual songs but also rap hits filled with bars.
8. Drake – The Motto – (Take Care Album) – 2011
I picked this song mostly for the impact it had. This song had everyone learning the lyrics word for word. His line “25 sitting on 25 mill” were iconic at the time as well as the term “YOLO” (you only live once). Listening to this song you can hear the growth in Drake over the years. His confidence has grown and it provided his raps with a different perspective.
9. Drake – Replacement Girl Ft. Trey Songz – (Comeback Season Mixtape) – 2007
For this song, Drake was the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have a video premiered on BET. This song despite being released over 10 years ago and from his second mixtape, is still a hit. Drake’s little freestyle he drops towards the end of the song is my favourite verse.
10. Drake – Uptown (So Far Gone Album) – 2009
I hear a lot of this song in Drake’s later song from his “We’ll be Fine” on his “Take Care” album. I like the slow pace in this song. Drake has the ability to slow a song down without ruining the flow. There is a line that sticks out for me which is “And when they call you the answer, you are hardly questioned”. The idea that no one is really questioning Drake because he is “the answer” to what is missing. This is so fitting because honestly I don’t think we have a better artist in terms of consistency and versatility about. I like the feature from Bun B & Lil Wayne too.