Wednesday, October 28, 2009

UNDRCRWN PRESENTS: DJ Jazzy Jeff - "He's The King, I'm The DJ" [MIXTAPE]

It often seems that iconic figures are far more inspirational in death than in the flesh. The untimely passing of the King has been no exception. In the latest entry of what will likely be one of many more similar projects to come, DJ Jazzy Jeff brings us this collection of 49 MJ tracks entitled "He's The King, I'm The DJ". The project, sponsored by UNDRCRWN apparel, contains Jeff's own mix of a capellas, remixes, and original MJ cuts. Some are big, well known hits, and others are more obscure. The cover of the project is an illustrative spin off of Jeff's and Smith's 1988 album "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper". Jeff told MTV of the project:
"After Mike passed, I really started digging, and I found a bunch of stuff that I didn't know Mike had, especially with the Jackson 5. He had a whole bunch of albums that go completely past people. I think people just go for [popular songs like] 'I Want You Back,' 'Never Can Say Goodbye' — and there was a bunch of obscure albums that all had really good stuff on them. Then it was hard, because I wanted to keep it one CD and not make it a Mike anthology. I wanted to just make it something that was entertaining, that you could just play from the beginning to end... I did it exactly as I would play it out live. I kind of wanted to give a feel like you heard it in a club."
T-Shirts of the cover art above are available for purchase here. Check for the stream and download of the mixtape below.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Dame Dash Presents: The Blak Roc Project

So apparently this is relatively old news, but somehow I missed it, as I'm sure a lot of others have. Post Roc-A-Fella days for co-founder Damon Dash have been dormant and business has been sluggish. However, the man behind the ROC controversy has now risen from the ashes and gone back to where he first found mainstream success, music. It was announced in an article of the September issue of XXL Magazine that Dame recently teamed up with Akron, Ohio rock band The Black Keys for a rock/rap collaboration project titled Blak Roc. The album, which was recorded in eleven days, features artists as diverse as Mos Def, Billy Danze of M.O.P, Ludacris, Nicole Wray, and Jim Jones, among others (11 total). It's slated for a Novemeber 27th (Black Friday) release under an indie label of the same name formed by Dame and the band.

When asked why he decided to return to music after all these years, Dame told XXL the following:
“The Black Keys are about real music and all these other people that came through are really good at what they do. And it was more for love really. We didn’t know what it was gonna be, we just knew that we just liked making music. And that’s really what it’s about at this point. At least after being in the game this long you don’t wana just be doing it for money that becomes obvious…If I was to be a part of anything, it would have to be something like this."
Ok, so Dame just might be turning some heads with this one. What are the odds, really? Dame Dash and The Black Keys?? I would have never imagined it. But man is it great to see a project like this come to life! And considering Dame's stature within the industry, and the rock fan base of The Black Keys, this project looks to be a break out for both parties.

The hip folks over at Okayplayer first put me on to The Black Keys last year with their review of the band's 2008 collaboration album with Danger Mouse, Attack & Release. I've been in love with them ever since, and let me tell you, the combination of hip hop & soul artists over a Black Keys backdrop for an entire album is probably one of the most ingenious ideas I've heard in a while. The band's raw and gritty rock/blues sound, which is kin to the likes of The White Stripes and of course Jimi Hendrix, is perfect for an emcee to catch wreck over. It'll be interesting to see how Niki Wray fairs into the equation as well.

So lets step back for a second and applaud Dame for making this happen. I can't wait for this to drop. Music in the latter part of 2009 is definitely heating up!

Check out the first drop from the album and the full length trailer below.

Hoochie Coo" by Mos Def, Jim Jones, and The Black Keys


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Listen: Wale - "Inhibitions (Let it Loose)" featuring Pharrell

Wale is that dude (i.e. my favorite new artist) BUT... I'm not too sure how I feel about this one. Like the first single, "Chillin", this song does little for me. Did Wale give us false hope with his two outstanding mixtapes (The Mixtape About Nothing and Back to The Feature)? Man, I sure would hate to see those two undermined by a lackluster debut. But let me not speak too soon. Perhaps this song will grow on me within the next few days (it probably will), so I'll still go ahead and keep my fingers crossed for an album of the year.

Out of all the recent leakage from his upcoming album, Attention Deficit, "Inhibitions (Let it Loose)" is one of fourteen official tracks. Also, Wale confirmed today that J. Cole, Bun B., K'Naan, and Chrisette Michele will be featured on the album, which is set to drop November 10th. And if you so happen to be the laggard who missed the two aforementioned mixtapes, be sure to download those ASAP at Wale's official site and you'll understand why this robust new emcee is the future of Hip Hop.

"Inhibitions (Let it Loose)" by Wale featuring Pharrell


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Watch & Listen: Michael Jackson - "This is It" [Song + Movie Trailer + Traklisting]

Here it is folks. At exactly midnight tonight, Michael Jackson's previously unreleased song, "This is It", was leaked on the official MJ site. The artwork for the single (seen below) is a picture of MJ during his final rehearsal session at the Staples Center. The song will be featured on the two disc compilation/soundtrack (album cover above) for the upcoming film of the same name. A tape of a very bare naked version of the song with a piano and MJ's vocals was left in the wake of the King's untimely demise. However, the song has been reworked and enhanced with a full arrangement of strings and back-up vocals by the Jackson brothers. The newest version of the song is below, but both versions of the song will be featured on the album.


Here's the complete track list for the soundtrack (songs appear in the same order as they do in the film):


1. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
2. Jam
3. They Don’t Care About Us
4. Human Nature
5. Smooth Criminal
6. The Way You Make Me Feel
7. Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)
8. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
9. Thriller
10. Beat It
11. Black Or White
12. Earth Song
13. Billie Jean
14. Man In The Mirror
15. This Is It
16. This Is It (Orchestra Version)


1. She’s Out Of My Life (Demo)
2. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Demo)
3. Beat It (Demo)
4. Planet Earth (Poem)

As for the film, it will hit the big screen on October 28th (a day after the album's release). What's unique about the release of the film is that tickets have been on sale since September 27th and it will only be in theaters for two short weeks (trailer seen below).

Boy are people getting paid off of this man's death. And there is still much more money yet to be made. According to Columbia/Epic Label Group (Sony) chairman Rob Stringer, there are at least 100 unreleased songs in the MJ archive. So it looks like we might be flooded with a slew of new MJ albums in the near future; sure does sound awfully like the seven albums that were released after Pac's death. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. While the song above is a pretty good start, let's hope the rest of MJ's original, unreleased material isn't completely ruined in the process of being re-worked and "enhanced" for commercial usage.

Preview: Rakim - "The 7th Seal"

It's time to end the speculation for good. On November 17th The God MC Rakim will return with his long awaited solo LP The Seventh Seal. Guest appearances will include Busta Rhymes, The L.O.X., Maino, Tracey Horton, IQ, and Rakim's daughter (yes his own daughter) Destiny Griffin. Ever since "Oh my God" was dismantled back in 04, we always knew this album would come eventually. Rakim has ventured off on his own this time and will be releasing the project under his very own Ra Records (SMC Recordings) label.

As far as production goes, Jake One, Needlz, Nottz, Nick Wiz, and Ty Fife among others are locked in.

Rakim says of the album:
"The Seventh Seal is my own way of taking the best of what Hip Hop has to offer, what we as a culture and a community have to offer, putting my stamp on it and leading us forward while constantly respecting what we've already accomplished. When you've been blessed with a career like mine, you develop a deep relationship with the music, and that love is recognized by the true heads that share it with you. You'll see us keep building as we break through each Seal...showing the best of what I can do in many forms, bringing the energy and having fun, but first I'm laying that foundation and give my longtime fans the conscious fire they expect,"
Rakim is my favorite pioneering emcee, and one of my favorites of all time, so it should be nice to see the old head poke his face back into the game. Unlike some old heads- *COUGH* KRS-One needs to throw in the towel AHEM- I think the legendary emcee's return is warranted. He's managed to do fine without Eric B. in the past, so we'll see what he does this time around.

The Smoking Secion provides us with the following interview with Rakim and a 12 minute album sampler below.

Listen: Lupe Fiasco - "Fire"

In response to MTV's hottest MC list, Lupe Fiasco recorded the following song, "Fire", that recently leaked. Says Lu of the record:
"Not a diss of the list...knew I wasn't gonna make it ha!...but I'm using the fact that I wasn't on it as an excuse to just start wrecking shit on a frequent basis so by the time the next one comes out I'll be number 1,2,3,4 and 5..."
It looks like somebody is out to prove a point. And why shouldn't he be? Getting topped by Gucci Mane on such a list, let alone getting snubbed from the list altogether, would probably be plenty inspiration for just about any emcee.

Unfortunately this song will not appear on his forthcoming album, Lasers. However, I get the feeling we'll be hearing a lot more from the man on fire between now and the release of the LP.

"FIRE" by Lupe Fiasco

Download HERE<<<

Saturday, October 10, 2009

N.E.R.D. pulls a "Black Eyed Peas" and confirms female vocalist as new member

Without any solid vocal support, alternative band N.E.R.D. has managed to do just fine with Pharrell's falsetto. However, the group (Pharrell Williams, keyboardist Chad Hugo, and drummer Shay Haley) recently picked up a new singer from Toronto (is Toronto the new hot spot for music talent or what?) by the name of Rhea . She is now the new official member of N.E.R.D and will be introduced on the group's fourth album, Instant Gratification, set to drop sometime in 2010.

In a recent interview with MTV, Pharrell promised fans a fresh, new, and enhanced sound from the group with the addition of the new talented vocalist of Guyanese decent:
"Musically, we're just somewhere else [with her]. The music is now very 3-D. It's something you have to hear. But you'll see. We're definitely somewhere else. I want to leave that impact moment for when you purchase your download and you purchase your CD. The music is very three-dimensional. We're just really excited. We feel like N.E.R.D. has always been the punks of hip-hop and the outcasts of alternative music — just a little different. But this time, we're taking no prisoners...We can go in so many more directions, because we have the vocal support."
Now we've seen this done before. However, the outcome wasn't so great. In my opinion, the addition of Fergie completely wrecked the Black Eyed Peas. But hopefully the same won't happen to N.E.R.D. From the looks of things, I think we have little to worry about. Unlike Fergie, Rhea seems to be a legit vocalists with true talent.

After being introduced to the group by a mutual friend, Rhea gave a mind-blowing performance of her rendition of the song, "His Eye is on The Sparrow". "It was just a really good time," Rhea says. "When I came in there and I met them and they heard me sing, I think they decided it was the right fit". "Don't be bashful," Pharrell chimed in. "We lost our minds. We thought she was great." (Quoted from MTV).

As for the remainder of 2009, N.E.R.D will be performing with Jay-Z on his "Blueprint 3" tour.

Rhea is shown in the clip below performing live with Pharrell and Shay at Lovebox in London.

Watch: Melanie Fiona - "Ready For Love" + "It Kills Me"

Still not convinced that Melanie Fiona is the future of Neo Soul? Maybe these two videos will finally win you over. The first video is footage of Fiona's cover of India Arie's beautiful song, "Ready For Love" in a Backyard Summer Jam Sessions in Toronto. Joining Ms. Fiona is Miss Jade on guitar. I'll be honest, I think she kills it and outdoes her predecessor. What do you think?

The second video is her second single, "It Kills Me", from her debut album The Bridge, which is now set to hit stores November 3rd. Melanie Fiona is the full package. She's beautiful, very charismatic, has a deep appreciation for all music, and most importantly, she can sing her heart out. Oh, and did I mention that she's beautiful? Perhaps drop-dead-gorgeous is a more fitting description.

Watch: Q-Tip - "Life Is Better" (featuring Norah Jones)

2009 is just about ready to wrap up, but were still feeling the heat from 2008. Here's yet another refresher from The Renaissance, one of the highlight albums of last year. Q-Tip's video for "Life is Better", with Norah Jones, was released just a few days ago. Better late than never right? Also be sure to check out Tip's latest album "Kamaal The Abstract" in stores now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rewind That: "The Romantic Warrior" (1976)

So while I take a minute to finish up my longer and more thorough posts, I decided I'd keep the momentum going with this buried treasure (recently listening to this song on repeat was of course plenty inspiration as well). Return to Forever is a band that is well ahead of my time. However, I tend to do my research, and it helps that my mother and I share similar tastes in music (Return to Forever was popular during her law school days in the 70's). Their album and song Romantic Warrior are among my favorites of all time. For those of you who don't know, Return to Forever- composed of Stanley Clarke (bass), Al Di Meola (guitar), Lenny White (drums), and Chick Corea (piano)- was known for pushing the envelope of the infamous Jazz fusion, a rock/jazz mash-up genre that a lot of Jazz purists love to hate.

The video below is footage of a 1976 performance of the song mentioned above not too long after the album was released. I actually got a chance to see them perform it live last summer for a 2008 reunion show. While the one I saw live was much more dramatic than the performance in this footage, I'm not exactly sure how the two measure up (it's a close one). For the sleepers out there, go back and do your homework on this legendary band. Oh, and Lupe fans might find something awfully familiar about this one. Can anyone guess what it is? (No cheating).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

West Coast Flavor: Pac Div

There's something going on in Hip Hop these days, something that feels a bit nostalgic. The 90's, arguably considered the golden era of Hip Hop, may seem like a distant memory, yet there's something oddly familiar about the current times. Since Nas announced the death of Hip Hop in 06, creating an awareness of the lack of originality in the music, emcees have been crawling out of the woodwork attempting to prove otherwise. There's now yet another group that can be added to the list of emcees who support the claim that Hip Hop is alive and well just as it was in the 90's, and they go by the name of Pac Div (short for Pacific Division).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Watch: Raphael Saadiq performs on NPR's All Songs Considered

If by some misfortune you missed the memo, The Way I See It was a stand out album of 2008. Even though the album was released well over a year ago, the promotional grind never ended for Raphael Saadiq. The singer recently made an appearance on NPR's radio show, All Songs Considered, and performed three hits off the album ("Sure Hope You Mean It", "100 Yard Dash", and "Love That Girl"). I understand that a lot of artists often sound less than great in live performances, but the clip below boasts Saadiq's raw talent as an exception. Saadiq is joined by his music partner Rob Bacon on acoustics. For the slow ones out there who haven't checked out the album yet, let this be your motivation. For the rest, here's something to make you want to go back and play the album from start to finish.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Naked Music - "Re-Creation" [Album Review]

Time for a change in scenery. While all music is related in one way or another, we're going way left of the spectrum with this review. Hip Hop is my heart, and covering everything I stumble upon would be a daunting task, but I couldn’t help but take note of this wonderful work of art.

Taking its first breath of life as a music production label headed by writer/producer Jay Denes (aka Blue Six) in 1998, Naked Music soon thereafter grew into an underground staple in the House music scene. The company later gained mainstream notoriety with high profile remixes of music by artists such as Sade, Maxwell, and Britney Spears. Ten years later, Co-founder Dave Boonshoft and Jay celebrated their decade anniversary and recorded the occasion, leaving us with this 11-track masterpiece featuring songs completely produced and written by the mastermind himself and crooned by the label's longtime collaborating vocalists (Lisa Shaw, Aya, Tabitha Fair, and Catherin Russel).

"Re-Creation" is a blissful journey through beautiful saxophones, funky guitars, soothing vocals, and possessive rhythms that keep your head nodding through out the entire experience. While marketed as House music, the album is a brilliant melting pot of funk, soul, electronic, mellow Jazz, and smooth R&B. That’s a whole lot bunched into one package, but like a lot of great music, you can never really contain it. It flows through so many genres at once that it can sometimes only be simply classified as good music. "Re-Creation" is no exception. Not familiar with House music? Don't worry, I was never too hip to it either, nor can I really call myself a big fan. But I must say, this album had me from start to finish on the first listen.

What really stands out about "Re-Creation" is its remarkable flexibility. Whether you’re in the mood to dance, lounge with friends, or even sleep, this album works well in all three situations. There aren't too many, if any, albums I can think of with that kind of versatility while retaining the strong sense of consistency that "Re-Creation" does. Through and through, this album is a diamond in the ruff. Even if you aren't necessarily big on House music, be adventurous and check it out anyway. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beatnick & K​-​Salaam Present: Never Can Say Goodbye [FREE DOWNLOAD]

As you can imagine, there is an overwhelming abundance of great music out there, and as I discover more great music it might be hard to choose what to give priority over the rest. However, I've had this one in my possession for about a week now and upon recently giving it a good listen, I figured it was time to go ahead and give it some shine here on The Music Elixir.

Ladies and gents I present (er Beatnick & K-Salaam Present) "Never Can Say Goodbye". This remix project is a funky 21st century sort of Hip Hop rendition of some classic soul songs by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and MJ in his Jackson 5 days. The engineers behind the magic, Beatnick (Producer/instrumentalist) and K-Salaam (DJ), have been on the scene for a minute now recording mixtapes and working with big name artists ranging from Talib Kweli and Pharoahe Monch, to Lil Wayne and Young Buck. This latest project of theirs is a break out for the duo and has garnered the type of buzz they just might need to set in motion a long run of even greater success. In an interview with Okayplayer, K-Salaam had the this to say about the project:

"I know people are gonna say this is arrogant and I gotta give Nick the credit, but we made it better than the original song and I know that’s a bold statement, but I really feel that way. I don’t think it’s a biased opinion. In any other situation, it would just be like promotion or ego. I challenge people. If you don’t believe us, listen to it. See if it’s as good as the original “What’s Going On”. If you feel like it’s not as good as the original, let us know. We want to know as producers. To me, that’s what makes me proud to work with Beatnick. When you take a classic song by Michael, Marvin, or Stevie for something else and make it as good or better than the original song, that’s more hip-hop bragging rights than producing on someone’s album."

Whooaa brotha! That was indeed a bold statement. Regardless, this album/EP/mixtape (or whatever you wanna call it) is definitely nourishment for the ears (and soul). Get your serving here, or click on the album cover above for the free download. Beatnick & K-Salaam have recently been focusing on their live shows, but expect more great projects from these two in the near future. Their album, Whose World is this? is also available in digital format.


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