After a forced hiatus due to various other commitments, we can finally resume the latest weekly series from the OTU brain trust. I must admit, this is fast becoming my personal favourite series in OTU history, purely because it allows both yourselves and I to rediscover tracks that we either once loved or once forgot about, and that’s frankly a lot of fun.
Enough of the self-appreciation.
Click on below for another diversity-laden edition of SYFA, featuring a trio of prominent current mainstream names, alongside a couple of acts that have slipped away somewhat.
→ Continue Reading Sh*t You Forgot About: Episode 3
To clarify, the video itself is not invisible.
The latest visuals from the very talented Skylar Grey, and unlike the more jagged, rock-driven Dance Without You, this track feels extremely mainstream friendly and will surely be a huge hit for Skylar in the coming months. The timing is impeccable here, as whilst the track was originally premiered back in June, the bittersweet style of it is far better suited to an Autumn/Winter release, being a much closer fit to colder climates than warm, sunny days.
The video embellishes the audio well, opening with similar scenes to Eminem’s Not Afraid, as Skylar’s perched atop a skyscraper and surrounded by industrial scenery, and slowly unravelling a more human aspect with Skylar symbolically dropping her hood to fully reveal herself in amongst regular people. The video’s theme is helped considerably by its presentation through a grey filter, and it’s a solid audio-visual combination that should strike a chord with pop fans.
An edgy, off-beat sort of video that suits the audio for Skylar’s buzz single perfectly. The track had aggressive lashings of alternative and rock flavours, with that vibe being visualised nicely with an almost demented ‘character’ being played by Skylar throughout.
There are clear horror movie influences here, with influences of The Ring and The Exorcist being quite prominent, leading to the unsettling visualisation of ‘letting the inner me out’, and culminating with the more recognisable Skylar Grey breaking out and taking over towards the end. The metaphor is plain for all to see: she bided her time in a reclusive, mysterious shell, all the while developing herself and as a result has now broken out as her own artist. Still not totally convinced about the song itself, but the video is solid and is worth a watch.
Being on time is the new being late. Or something like that. Gone with a slightly different approach for this week’s episode, as I sympathise with the mainstream folk who come looking for some party/chart tracks, and leave empty handed. I’ve chucked in a few artists/tracks I don’t particularly like, but will certainly go down well with the mainstreamers, and of course there’s still a healthy dose of music that’s actually good too.
Onto the recap from this week, and three noteworthy posts: Frank Ocean dropped some highly anticipated visuals for Novacane, Katy Perry released an entertaining video for her latest single, and most importantly The Weeknd dropped off some superb new material.
Click on for this week’s punnet of healthy tracks.
→ Continue Reading R&B Fridays: Episode 105
The last 48 hours are a bit of a rapid blur, so to me it’s still Friday. Very solid new material this week, with some of the bigger names in the R&B, pop and even hip-hop world making appearances.
Only the three relevant posts to recap on, with the announcement of the Future Hits Live tour, solid new music from Drake, and a brand new EP from the talented Rocki Evans which is probably going to be worth a listen.
Click, read, download, enjoy.
→ Continue Reading R&B Fridays: Episode 104
Somewhat unsurprisingly, this is pretty fantastic. I don’t think many would disagree that Skylar’s studio version of this song was considerably better than Rihanna’s, and she proves here that it wasn’t down to a fluke or studio software: the vocals are right on point.
Accompanied by just a piano, Skylar proceeds to deliver a rousing, engaging performance of the track she originally co-wrote, and one that makes it pretty difficult to deny that she’s got an enormous future ahead of her as a solo artist. She’s had this mystery surrounding her too, which is partially peeled away by this candid video that reveals her emotional side, as well as giving us an extended look at the lady herself (can’t complain either!).
The studio version of this can be grabbed here, and most definitely should be.
One of Lupe’s better efforts from Lasers gets the visual treatment here with some powerful scenes to compliment those accusing lyrics.
I don’t particularly know much about Lupe but from the opinions I’ve heard about the LP, I’ve come to the uneducated conclusion that fans feel it’s a shame more material like this wasn’t involved on Lasers.
The video itself is shot in an intelligent way, capturing that anger towards the powers that run society. Strong metaphors are utilised throughout perhaps the most startling being the ‘human-muzzle’ whilst Lupe appoints himself as the only person able to speak his mind. Can’t help but feel the director of this took some inspiration from The Clockwork Orange.
Audio here. (Buy Lasers here.)
‘My life flashed before my eyes‘ would be the best way to describe the opening of this video. Opening up with a look back at the history of Dre’s career and life, we’re treated to a montage of both his finest moments on screen, and short clips of his highly-guarded personal life. Those short clips add a huge dose of credibility right from the off, and certainly add credence to the personal lyricism of the track.
The bulk of the video is centred around Eminem’s incredibly honest verses, with his words seemingly acting as a desperate eulogy of ‘words he never said’ to Dre. This video really highlights the passion and intensity behind both Em’s lyrics and his delivery, with the brutal honesty in both verses makes for riveting listening. This emotional outpouring results in the ‘reawakening’ of Dre, and whilst Dre’s verse probably isn’t quite as gripping as either of Em’s, it’s enjoyable nonetheless and arguably suffers from being placed after two of Em’s better verses in recent years.
The highest compliment you can pay a video is when it completely reshapes your view on the audio: it’s safe to say that’s been the case here. Previously, I was guilty of overlooking the powerful lyricism of the track in favour of listening purely for that ‘perfect’ Dr. Dre beat, but the production serves its purpose ably here in amplifying the absorbing lyrical work. Audio is available on iTunes now.
Another Grammy night performance for you now. This time we have Rihanna singing Love The Way You Lie Part II (the audio for this track can be found here), with Adam Levine on the piano (not sure why, but I’m not complaining!).
Eminem then comes out to thunderous applause, and lets rip on his final verse to the Love The Way You Lie saga. This is followed by the fantastic Skylar Grey (who coincidentally was the original singer of the aforementioned song) as she opens I Need A Doctor with stunning vocals, outshining Rihanna in my opinion. Em keeps his end of the deal, giving a typically passionate performance on this one, with all of this leading up to the appearance of one Dr. Dre…
All good things come to an end, and my recent run of posting these on time has been broken. The football fans out there will also note that another streak was broken today, but we are NOT getting into that.
A quick round-up from the week gone by: UK upcomer Talay Riley grabs Wretch 32 for a remix of his single, Timbaland’s latest weekly instalment, Trey Songz’s take on Chris Brown’s latest single, and finally a medley of incredible Michael Jackson covers from the fantastic Patrick Stump.
Lots of big names in this week’s episode, and many that will certainly catch your mainstream eyes. Click below for a sweet-smelling blast of R&B to your sweaty, sweaty face.
→ Continue Reading R&B Fridays: Episode 86
Revealed on Lupe’s website a little earlier, alongside the pre-order packages for the album. Nice to see we’ve only heard (versions of) 3 of the tracks so far, meaning the rest will be nice and fresh!
1. Letting Go (Feat. Sarah Green)
2. Words I Never Said (Feat. Skylar Grey)
3. Till I Get There
4. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now (Feat. MDMA)
5. Out Of My Head (Feat. Trey Songz)
6. The Show Goes On
7. Beautiful Lasers (Two Ways) (Feat. MDMA)
8. Coming Up (Feat. MDMA)
9. State Run Radio (Feat. Matt Mahaffey)
10. Break The Chain (Feat. Eric Turner & Sway)
11. All Black Everything
12. Never Forget You (Feat. John Legend)
Premièred on Lupe’s official website earlier today, here is the much anticipated single from his much anticipated album, Lasers. Judging by the recent trailer that had the instrumental for this track, I had this nailed on to be incredible and thankfully my judgement has proved to be correct.
With brash lyrics, Lupe doesn’t hold back on his thoughts over the last few years, over a thunderous Alex Da Kid beat and with Skylar Grey’s voice supplementing the energy that the whole track emits, I think it’s safe to say the real Lupe Fiasco is back.
Hopefully this is the standard that the album Lasers will keep to.
Some more dope artwork for your eyes (after Lupe’s yesterday!). Here we have the artwork for Dre and Em’s collaboration, I Need A Doctor. A rather rough and very much unfinished version of this leaked a little while back, which Murray talks about over here (link to the mp3 removed out of respect to Dre) thanks to certain hackers out there, but it’s a song that sounds like it has a lot of potential.
A finished CDQ version of this track will apparently be released January the 25th.
Another very fitting video from the Dirty Money trio. Diddy, Dawn and Kalenna put together a deserted, lonely and searching video that fits with the bittersweet nature of the audio, and adds a well-rounded set of visuals to their most ‘complete’ song to date.
The isolation adds further emphasis to Diddy’s rhymes, which as mentioned when reviewing the audio, are surprisingly heartfelt and sincere. Not packing videos with complex storylines and thematics tends to retain the identity of the audio/lyrics, and doesn’t muddle that image with additional messages: it’s the right move for this track, as the simple and effective visuals add weight to the tone and vibe of the track.
Audio can be found here.
I think my eyes, ears, fingers and laptop are going into meltdown. So music is (are?) like buses, huh?
Where to start with this. Well after a pensive intro which sounds remarkably like Rihanna (*prepares to offend R&B heads*) the beat, which is unexpectedly unusual, kicks in and Em dominates the mic with a passionate Love The Way You Lie type verse of which he dedicates to his long-time mentor and friend: Dre himself. The hook follows with equally powerful vocals thus rendering the track much more wholesome and listenable then, after another quick few bars from Em, Dre takes centre stage with a pin-point (presumably ghostwritten – hmmm Royce?) delivered verse.
This is utterly brilliant, but not 100% finished yet and (Indi tells me) it’s not been mastered yet. Patience people, if we could get you the moon, we would do that too.
Eminem & Dr. Dre-I Need A Doctor
It’s always exciting when this happens. Although this demo actually leaked before the final Dirty Money version, it only struck me what it was after listening to the DM track.
Aside from having Cole on the verses in place of Diddy, the track is the same from a production and hook standpoint. It’s interesting how a change of personnel can really alter the feel of a track: it feels much closer to a hip-hop track with Cole involved, and it’s a shame they didn’t retain at least one of his verses. Quite surprisingly though, Diddy’s 2nd verse is probably stronger than Cole’s by virtue of having a much more personal touch. However, Cole does a great job with his first verse, and as previously stated adds a much stronger hip-hop vibe.
J. Cole-I’m Coming Home (Demo) ft. Dirty Money
Premiered at a Major League Baseball game earlier today, the latest release from Last Train To Paris represents a marked change in direction for the trio.
Production-wise, a strong pop/R&B undercurrent manifests itself as an uplifting, motivational effort, with that core built on by some bittersweet raps from Diddy: many of the lyrics are regretful and reflective, particularly in the first two verses, but are delivered with a positive inflection that masks the gravity and emotion of them. Creatively, it’s the best move for this track as it meshes with the upbeat flavour of the production, adding consistency and flow to the track and allowing for a better segue into the comparative optimism of the final verse. It also builds to a well-delivered hook, as Dawn and Kalenna come through with uplifting, memorable vocal work. One of the stronger tracks from the trio, and probably the most rounded as a song.
Dirty Money-I’m Coming Home