Arguably the standout track on Alicia’s Girl on Fire album, and one of the best R&B singles within the last year (original review here). The duo’s vocals play off each other increasingly well, and there’s more of a duet vibe than this being a simple feature, a factor which extends to the video. On watching this, you realise how rare it is for both acts in a collaborative piece to interact or both play lead roles, with the guest usually relegated to a sub-plot or unrelated scene; this one shares the spotlight, and with considerable style.
Set in a vintage New Orleans (the home of original R&B), it’s a sultry clip detailing the progressive relationship between the two, seemingly an instant attraction that blossoms. Their relationship growth mirrors the increasingly harmony and synergy of their vocals on the track, whilst the old-school styling of the whole video is superb, with the hazy tinting and great outfitting being a real throwback treat. Most importantly is the lack of physical contact between the two: it might go unnoticed, but both manage to evoke powerful feelings of attraction and massive levels of sex appeal without ever actually physically interacting much. It’s an admirable facet of the video, and another that harks back to earlier times; their only sole meaningful contact comes towards the end, which makes for a nice physical and metaphorical conclusion. It’s a smart, well-thought out video that serves to somehow enhance an already-fantastic song.
Wow. This is a collaboration that promises so much, with two of the most impressive voices in the business coming together for the very first time. Alright, I’m kidding nobody-the mere thought of new Maxwell music alone has me giddy, even if its just a feature.
This could have gone one of two ways: huge, powerful track or smoothed-out soul vibes. No prizes for guessing which one I wanted, and it’s exactly what we got. Mellow guitar licks and soft claps comprise the majority of the production, giving this one a sultry bedroom vibe that’ll make for a lovely addition to various ‘special’ playlists, whilst also being an unobtrusive backdrop for the vocalists to do their work. Alicia’s vocals are subtle and laidback throughout to complement her loved up lyricism nicely, though even with my fan bias aside, Maxwell the highlight on this. His contribution comes via his beautifully-consistent falsetto delivery, contrasting with Alicia’s verse by opting for a slightly more passionate delivery that works excellently, whilst his lyricism stays on point throughout. Thoroughly enjoying this, and I hope Maxwell’s next album is near.
Let’s be clear right from the off: I don’t particularly like this song. I always have time and respect for Alicia’s talent, but this sounds like Bruno Mars got an extra shot of oestrogen in his coffee, and though the video has some nice touches, particularly the colourful contrasts throughout and some good outfitting, it generally remains as unmemorable as the audio.
With that said, the sole reason for posting this is to highlight the transformation Alicia’s undergone in her absence. Her last album, The Element of Freedom, had plenty of pop influence but tempered it with the doses of atmosphere and surliness that give her work an addictive uniqueness, whereas this effort scraps those infusions to rely almost solely on the pop elements. The result is a much more positive and upbeat Alicia Keys, no doubt driven by her now-settled personal life with Swizz and their child, and when you lay out the roadmap of her career (go back and listen to/watch Fallin’ and Girlfriend) it’s a natural and likeable transformation. Even if it means the music is less entertaining.
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz don’t just make babies, with the husband and wife combo working excellently as Swizz lays down a beat for Alicia’s first single from her upcoming album.
The production is very lively, with a marching band-esque percussion really injecting some power and energy into the track, whilst the progressive keys and thick synths add an uplifting vibe to the track. Of course, Alicia rarely disappoints with the vocals and delivers a rousing performance, matching the positive style of the beat step-for-step with a lyrical and vocal set that moves away from her usual melodic style into a more pop-driven fare that feels much more positive than previous material. Probably one that’ll get much more club airplay than her back catalogue, this is one the mainstream heads will definitely enjoy.
This week’s episode aims to definitively prove the age-old belief that size really doesn’t matter, as whilst there isn’t as much content as usual, the artists that have turned up to the party are bringing some real quality with them.
The latest edition of #MonsterMondays is delivered in video format, and we’re treated to one of the better behind-the-scenes visuals of recent times.
The track itself was superb, and being able to really flesh out the messages, as well as seeing the work put into what seemed to just be another remix, is certainly an easy and enjoyable watch when you’re a fan of the audio.
The aforementioned audio can be walked out of here.
Believed to be a cut from Eminem’s 2004 album Encore (though some of the lyrics and delivery suggest it could be a lot more recent), we’re treated to a huge collaboration that could have comfortably stood out on any of Em’s albums, particularly Recovery.
The production is very captivating, with a solid percussion line anchoring the track, whilst wistful and orchestral-style melodies create a backdrop that suits Eminem’s thoughtful lyricism perfectly. He’s certainly on good form with his raps here, as he details his ‘addiction’ to hip-hop, and the consequential ‘side effects’ of fame on relationships and personality: hence, I think it may be a more recent track, as it fits the subject matter and lyrical style of his newer material. Alicia is on great form as ever, taking on this atmospheric beat brilliantly with her smooth vocals for both the hook and a verse of her own. Top all-round track, and it’s a huge loss that it wasn’t included on any albums…unless it’s set for an upcoming one.
Edit (Indi):Replaced with a stream, as this is an unauthorised leak that the Shady camp are unhappy with!
Swizz Beatz enlists his wonderfully-gifted wife for the latest, and possibly last, edition of #MonsterMondays. I say that as Swizzy has put up a voting system on the Monster Mondays site for fans to pick their favourite of the bunch.
As it turns out, this is quite possibly the best of the collection. Alicia delivers some of those typically superb vocals over Kanye West’s Devil In A New Dress, a soulful beat that is absolutely perfect for her style. The original had Kanye on a strong hip-hop vibe, and for Alicia to bring her soulful style and love-heavy perspective to the track makes for refreshing and enjoyable listening. Eve adds in even more diversity with her decent verse, and this is a remix that will certainly give the original a run for its money.
19 tracks from 19 different artists this week tells you that this episode is stacked with variety. Mostly established names too (at least in the R&B Fridays series!), so this is definitely one to be getting involved with.
Two very different and constrasting takes on the track. Crooked uses the beat to air his feelings on the new Death Row, amongst other things, whilst Wale opts to stay a little closer to the subject of the original and delivers some awesome introspective lyrics. Both worth checking out.
This is the last leak from Thank Me Later that we will be posting (miiight do one more), and my word is it a good one. Picking up from Unthinkable, this is a solemn, atmospheric and thoughtful track whereby they both bring their absolute best to the table. Alicia Keys delivers a fantastic hook, Drake brings some of his most personal rhymes to date, and the choice of beat is just like those that made me believe Drake would be a big deal (Lust For Life, Houstatlantavegas etc.) 18 months ago.
Utterly fantastic song, if you’re a fan of either artist you will love this. Best leak from the album thus far without question for me. Unmissable.
R&B Fridays fans will have picked this one up a couple of weeks ago. I mentioned then that the version there was rough, and you can grab the final, mastered version below. Will definitely be worth checking out, as even the rough version was really good.
So first Mediafire doesn’t let me upload. Then, my laptop decides it doesn’t like my external hard drive anymore. Then when they kiss and make up, Mediafire just won’t work for me. Annoying.
Anyway, lots of interesting songs in this week’s episode. I say interesting as a couple of them have quite pertinent backgrounds/accompanying news, which will definitely be of interest to most R&B fans!
A whole bunch of diverse tracks in this one, I tried to keep it as mixed as possible with 15 different artists, seeing as we went Bruno Mars-centric last week. Big names (lots of these), upcoming names, collabos, singers, rappers and more: they’re all there and waiting for you after the click.
Undeniably the best track from Alicia’s album, I’ve been looking forward to a video ever since I first heard it. The behind-the-scenes footage definitely stoked that desire, and the video does not disappoint.
As with the recent Drake video there’s a really compelling story to this one, probably more so than the Drake one, with the timeline parallels creatively used as a storyline device and general depth of the song contributing to a superb visual treat. Decent acting in this too, Chad Michael Murray does a lot with very few words. Love the song (according to my Lastfm, my 2nd most played song in the last 12 months!), love the video. Keys looks pretty good in the video too, and hence I plan on proposing soon. You’re all invited to the wedding.
It’s been a superb week for really good music videos, as evidenced by the Drake one mentioned above, and also here, here, and over here.
This looks like it’s going to be rather good. Really interesting direction they seem to be taking with the track and they’re definitely putting some effort into this one, recruiting Chad Michael Murray for a role.
Can’t wait for the full video to drop, and we all the know the track itself is utterly fantastic. No sign of Drake for the video though, which sort of makes sense given that he wasn’t listed as an ‘official’ feature.
I want to marry Alicia Keys’ voice. If there was some way I could have my every move/action narrated back to me by her voice, I would sacrifice any one of you for that privilege.
A possible leak from Lasers, or an upcoming Alicia Keys track? It’s leaked as a Lupe track, but I’m not sure where this will end up. However, it is a collabo that I expect most of you will be frothing at the mouth for.
Produced by Chad Hugo of The Neptunes/N*E*R*D, this beat definitely has that classic Neptunes sound. As you can imagine, that suits Lupe just fine and it works for Alicia too. Lupe’s verses are good as ever, and he brings a great flow to this one. Alicia Keys does most of the work on the track, which leads me to believe it will end up being hers. Either way, definitely one to check out.
It’s been a Shyne-dominated week (scroll down for some throwback Shyne), and he jumps on a couple of the top R&B joints around. I haven’t checked either out yet, but Shyne fans will inevitably be looking to scout his verses (he drops two in each remix I’m told), whilst fans of the originals may like a remix to freshen up the original.
Budden takes a spin on the awesome Alicia Keys track. His flow is good on this, and he definitely uses the instrumental well. His subject matter probably doesn’t quite match with the original track at times, but I suppose it doesn’t matter as he’s only using the beat. Good one, and I’d like to see more rappers take this beat on.
The first episode of 2010 brings a nice blend of established and new artists this week, which makes a pleasant change from the recent R&B Friday domination by big names.
This episode includes a remix to one of my favourites songs of 2008, and other cracking tracks, coming in at a collective total of 19 tracks this week. There are a couple of names making comebacks in this post too, so be sure to click on and start the year off with plenty of music.
2009 was one hell of an interesting year. We saw the comeback of Eminem, albums by the 2 other big names of hip-hop in Jay-Z and 50 Cent, and once again we waited all year for Dr. Dre’s Detox which never came. It’s fair to say that despite this the year hasn’t been dominated by the big boys and we’ve seen a gradual change in hip hop – the gangsta rap of previous years has steadily evolved into what can be described as ‘Hip Hop Hipsters’. Kanye led the way back in 2004 and by 2009 the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Wale and Asher Roth have emerged.
Click on to find out what I considered the best and the worst to come out this year. → Continue Reading
Plenty of music this week from a nice mixture of current mainstream artists, and future stars. Keeping it varied with the styles too, as there’s some slower stuff and some of a higher tempo, there’s something for everyone after the click.