Rapsody Delivers a Master Class on The Exceptional ‘Laila’s Wisdom’

Whoever gave birth to the notion that women are somehow lesser MCs, lyricists, or rappers than their male counterparts was terribly misinformed.  Throughout Hip Hop history, women have proven to be more than capable of breaking through rap’s proverbial boy’s club.  Need proof?  See MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, and a countless number of others who have left their own indelible imprint on the genre. Fast forward to 2017, and you’ll find…

Daniel Caesar Displays Maturity Beyond His Years On The Serene ‘Freudian’

Just like the music scene in his hometown of Toronto, Canadian singer/songwriter Daniel Caesar is on the rise.  In a few short years, the 22-year-old guitarist released a couple of online EPs leading up to the August, 2017 release of his proper debut, Freudian.  That same month, he was also awarded the coveted honor of Apple Music’s “Up Next Artist.”  Freudian, presumably named after the early twentieth-century scholar and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, plays like a subconscious…

Tyler, The Creator Fully Blooms On The Excellent ‘Flower Boy’

“What if my music is too weird for the masses, and I’m only known for tweets more than beats?”  Among the many questions posed by Tyler, The Creator on his fourth studio album, Flower Boy, that one is the most poignant.  Not only does it bring Tyler’s critically acclaimed, but seemingly inaccessible, career into question, it also sheds light on his own insecurities and out sized personality that’s drawn more attention than what he should…

The Internet’s Syd Takes A Solo Turn On ‘Fin’

Los Angeles-bred hyphenate Sydney Bennett, simply known as Syd, is the latest among a countless number of artists who’ve stepped outside the confines of their more famous group.  Fortunately, the move is not a consequence of group dysfunction but more of a musical hunger that every artist within a collective must sate.  In fact, a couple of Syd’s comrades from the Grammy-nominated R&B band, The Internet, also set their own artistic expressions free.  Keyboardist and…

Sevyn Finds Freedom Musically And Personally On ‘Girl Disrupted’

They say, “Good things come to those who wait!”  At this this point, it could be an overly used cliché; but, R&B songstress Sevyn Streeter just might be the perfect embodiment of the commonly-used phrase.  The Florida native began her career in 2002 with TG4, a girl group that quickly dissolved after scoring a minor hit (“Virginity”) and releasing only one album (Time For The New).  Streeter then found herself in a girl group for…

‘Introducing Stokley’ Feels More like the Stokley We’ve Always Known

The question that everyone wants to know is, “Why now?” Well, after nearly three decades into an already productive career, we’re finally getting a solo album from Mint Condition-front man, Stokley Williams.  The Minnesota native led modern R&B’s quintessential band in an era where their peers were less likely to play instruments.  Instead, contemporaries like Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Guy functioned only as vocal groups with the backing of cutting-edge production techniques. One could…

Big Boi Recruits An A-List Crew To Help Expand His ‘Boomiverse’

Left-of-center thinking, uncommon originality, and constant revision are all principle traits of the legendary Hip Hop duo Outkast.  Big Boi, the more comically conscious of the duo, is the only half currently active; but, he continually carries the torch in trademark fashion.  The Atlanta native’s 3rd solo album (4th if you count 2015’s, Big Grams, joint project with indie electronic duo Phantogram), Boomiverse, is an eclectic batch of ideas that could only exist in a…

Black America’s Forgotten Superstar

The majority of our heroes are seldom celebrated while alive.  Unfortunately, the much-deserved recognition is normally delayed until after they’re gone.  Charley Pride, country music’s first (and arguably still, only) African-American superstar released his latest album, Music in My Heart, last week (July 7th).  Music in My Heart marks Pride’s first album in six years and is another addition to his vast discography that spans six decades. Pride was born March 18, 1938 in Sledge,…

Meet JAY-Z: The Husband, Father and Legacy Builder

“Daddy, what’s a will?”  That’s not a question you normally get from kids, but it was posed to Shawn Carter by his five-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy.  Blue’s inquisition could have come after hearing a conversation between her father and a business associate or her equally famous mom.  Either way, she’s definitely asking the right question.  Shawn Carter is known to many by his most-famed moniker, JAY-Z; however, these days, his given name reverberates just as…

2 Chainz Delivers His Most Ambitious Effort On ‘PGLTM’

Pretty girls like trap music and, apparently, trap houses too!  Atlanta-bred rapper 2 Chainz is just the latest in a long line of artists who’ve gone beyond standard marketing practices to build buzz for their latest project.  If you’re ever in Atlanta, take a trip to 1530 Howell Mill Road where you’ll find a once barely noticeable house that has been converted into a building that’s now fully disguised as a pink trap house with…

‘Melodrama’ Shows Progress, But There’s Still Room For Growth

Nearly four years ago, New Zealand pop star, Lorde, disrupted pop’s upper echelon with the inescapable, international smash “Royals.”  The multi-platinum hit powered her debut album, Pure Heroine, and earned two Grammys along the way.  Yet, the more impressive feat was her reaching a level of stardom that many artists never do, and she was only 16.  She became a global star instantly but soon retreated from the spotlight.  Lorde returned in March 2017 with…

SZA Gets The ‘Ctrl’ She’s Always Wanted on Her Landmark Debut

Why is it so hard to be honest?  That’s a question we should all ask ourselves at some point.  Depending on the circumstances, the truth can be difficult to reveal; but, quite often we either don’t know or forget the respect and credibility that comes with it.  Many musical acts build guarded careers restricting their access to those who seem most interested. That’s unfortunate, because it establishes a permanent disconnect between artists and their fans. …

LeToya Refuses To Settle For Less On ‘Back 2 Life’

When a person knows their true worth, they make a conscious decision to never settle for less.  Recognition of self-value can sometimes be difficult, but it is a powerful asset that will take you a surprisingly long way.  Just ask LeToya Luckett!  We last heard from the former Destiny’s Child star and burgeoning actress on her 2009 sophomore effort, Lady Love.  In the nearly eight years since, the platinum star has landed several roles in…

Harry Makes It Clear That He’s Bigger Than One Style

In the span of five years (2011-2015), One Direction held a unique position in popular music’s sprawling ecosystem.  The five-member boy band continued a rich legacy of similarly structured groups that came before them.  Just like the rest of those groups, the inevitable was sure to come.  History has taught us that groups usually don’t last, primarily due to infighting over creative and personal differences.  As it turns out, One Direction proved to be no…

Logic’s ‘Everybody’ Is Evidence That We’re All Created Equal

For years, Hip Hop has mostly been a vehicle for black artistic expression, whether good or bad.  The genre has been sprinkled with a fair amount of MCs from other races, but the opinions of distinctly biracial rappers have rarely been heard.  The late 2000’s ushered in two of modern Hip Hop’s most elite figures, Drake and J. Cole, who fully embraced their biracial identity.  However, the two have yet to thoroughly tackle the dichotomy…

‘Shine’ Proves That Great Mental Space And Good Music Aren’t Always Synonymous

In life, acceptance is something we all want; whether it be from family, friends or whichever social group holds the most influence at the time.  Wale, the highly skilled MC from our nation’s capital, is one of the more ambitious lyricists of his generation.  He even titled his sophomore album, Ambition.  J. Cole, a good friend and contemporary of Wale, even noted his buddy’s frustration with his seemingly undervalued standing in music.  On J. Cole’s…

John Mayer’s ‘The Search for Everything’ Is A Beautiful Mess Despite Its Despair

Heartbreak is a feeling we all experience at some point in life.  For some, the sorrow festers internally and others choose to share their struggle openly with the rest of us.  John Mayer, one of modern music’s great inter-genre talents, falls in the latter group.  His seventh studio album, The Search for Everything, is the story of a heartbroken man seeking answers after losing the one he loves most.  The album lacks necessary specifics, which…

Mary J. Blige Finds Herself On ‘Strength of A Woman’

“Truth can be the sweetest pain.”  Take a second, and think about it.  What could be so sweet about pain?  Those last two words directly contradict each other.  Yet, they simultaneously represent joy, distress, and an understanding of a hard-to-accept reality.  If you are wondering, those are the words of Mary J. Blige, The Queen of Hip Hop Soul.  For much of Blige’s 25-year career, she has been attached to a specific narrative that has…

‘Tremaine’ the Playboy Is Up to Business as Usual

Prior to releasing his 7th studio album, Trey Songz, R&B’s resident playboy, teased a reality television show based around a concept similar to other music stars (Flava Flav, Bret Michaels, Ray J) that also searched for love.  As it turns out, the reality show, dubbed Tremaine the Playboy, was actually a ploy designed to promote his latest effort, Tremaine the Album.  The marketing plan resulted in a series of videos to accompany the project.  Considering…

On ‘DAMN.,’ Kendrick Lamar Positions Himself Among The Greats

DAMN, what is he really trying to tell us?  Is he expressing his frustration or, even worse, condemning us all to ruin.  A long stare at the album cover might answer the question, but only Kendrick Lamar knows.  Draped in a plain white t-shirt, Lamar appears defeated with his head held down and a blank gaze in his eyes.  The art appears basic upon its surface, but Lamar’s deflated disposition reveals much more than its…