Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh, Whitney: It's not bad, but far from great

It's hard to come back from what Whitney Houston went through. But let's set the record straight: this was not the comeback of the century. Far from it.

Her legacy as one of the greatest singers of all-time has been tarnished by drug use and a disastrous marriage to R&B 'bad boy' Bobby Brown. I applaud Whitney for apparently putting the drugs down, divorcing Brown and trying to make an album that we can all appreciate. An all-star cast of producers and writers were the only thing that kept this album from being an absolute train wreck.

Today, Houston released her first studio album in seven years. It's not bad, but it's far from great. Her notes are not as crisp or clean, in fact sometimes she seems to rush her lyrics making them hard to understand. She doesn't take any risks by belting notes that made her a Grammy Award-winning singer. It's hard to listen to the 'I Look To You' album without thinking about her past powerhouse vocal performances on songs like "I Will Always Love You," "Greatest Love of All" and "I Have Nothing."

I grew up listening to Houston, not too far from her hometown of Newark, N.J. I went to her "I'm Your Baby Tonight" concert at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. But this album doesn't not reflect the artist that Houston was. No one should expect 'old Whitney.' That artist is dead and gone. Will she win any awards for this album? Highly unlikely. Will the album go platinum? Pretty likely. People are going to buy it because, well, it's Whitney. Duh!

"Million Dollar Bill," written by Alicia Keys and produced by Keys/Swizz Beatz, and "I Look To You," penned by R. Kelly, are the high spots of the album. The songs could have been truly great if they were performed by Whitney in her prime. Again, the theme of 'not bad, but far from great' comes in.

In fairness, "Million Dollar Bill" is the closest thing to a 'party-starter' on the whole album. It has definite two-step potential and will probably be blasting from some Labor Day cookouts. It's starting to get some good radio play. The icing on the cake would be a good dance routine to really put the song over. A good video certainly wouldn't hurt. I like the track. I can't front. You probably will, too.

"I Look To You" has Whitney written all over it. It's the heroic ballad that she would have nailed and sent it straight to the the top of the charts. But that's not the case here, unfortunately. Good effort, nonetheless.

Hip-hop artist Akon also produced tracks on the album and joined Whitney on "Like I Never Left." The odd appearance is the only guest spot on the album. And personally, we could have done without it. Why Akon?

Houston also covered Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You." This was probably the most disappointing song on the album and I don't know who is to blame. The classic song received an unjustifiable dance-inspired makeover. What a mistake! It almost made me want to eject the CD. It started like the original version and then the song went right off the cliff and into a deep dark pit when the uptempo club music started. At that point I was done.

Whitney accomplished a lot with this album. She did what many people thought she couldn't do. She returned and put out a studio album. It probably won't be remembered for much. But at least she did it. She passed the test and scored about a C+.

Her next big exam is tomorrow. A live perform in front of thousands of people in New York's Central Park. The show is free and gates open at 11 a.m. Enter at 69th Street and 5th Avenue, if you're planning to go. We'll see how she scores at that performance. Please, do not pull a 'Milli Vanilli.'

Check out the best track on the album: "Million Dollar Bill"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy B'Day MJ: More than a Mic

I loved Michael Jackson. 

Everything stopped when his videos came on.  From the scary but cool 'Thriller' to the star-studded 'Remember the Time' to 'Scream' featuring his sister Janet Jackson. The videos were always the talk of the bus ride to school. I was mesmerized by his slick and innovative dance moves.  

I practiced a lot of them and for a moment, I thought I was Michael Jackson. I could moonwalk and do some of the spins and leg kicks.  But I could never get that lean move from the 'Smooth Criminal' video. I think I fell on my face a few times. LOL.  

I also had the Michael Jackson doll. I played the Moonwalker video game for SEGA. 

But my favorite piece of MJ paraphernalia was his magical microphone.

As a kid, I carried it everywhere I went.  I sang the songs from the 'Bad' album the most. My brother loved 'Man in the Mirror.'

I think the microphone gave me super powers.  It gave me the confidence that every little kid should have.  I was going to be Michael Jackson!!  Or so I thought!! 

My uncle even videotaped a lot of my performances.  Hopefully those tapes remain boxed up.  ;-)

Well, the singing thing didn't work out.  But I'm happy that I've found that collectible microphone that gave me so much joy as a kid.

I'll probably pick it up today since it is Michael Jackson's birthday.  And maybe I'll even use it tomorrow -- to sing Happy Birthday to my mom. 

But for now: happy birthday to the King of Pop.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Remembering 'Baby Girl' aka Aaliyah

Before the death of Michael Jackson, it was the news of Aaliyah's death in a small plane crash that shocked music fans of my generation.

For me, I can remember leaving a family outing in Staten Island. We watched the Staten Island Yankees play a game and saw some family that we hadn't seen in awhile.

Meanwhile, at my house there were clothes and bags all over the place because I was getting ready to begin college. All freshmen had to be down at school on Aug. 26, 2001.

But it was the car ride on Aug. 25, 2001 from Staten Island to my New Jersey home that I will never forget.

Word came across the radio that R&B singer Aaliyah died. I remember my cousin calling me and asking me if I heard the news. We couldn't believe it. Aaliyah was 22 and had only released three albums (her third self-titled album had just come out a month prior).

Of course, we hoped that it was a bad rumor. But then we realized it had to be true because all the New York radio stations were playing her music that night. It was surreal. And I still had to finish packing for college! I made sure I grabbed a Word Up! magazine with an interview with Aaliyah inside that had I had recently bought. How crazy!?

When I got to school in Delaware it was all people were talking about. "Can you believe Aaliyah died?" Almost everyone had the same response, "I heard about it while I was packing last night."

Once I got settled in my room and my stereo was plugged up with my sheets on my twin-sized bed, I took the Word Up! magazine and taped the pinup of Aaliyah on my wall.

R.I.P. to 'Baby Girl.' Gone, but never forgotten.


What was my favorite Aaliyah song? Easily it was "One in a Million."

I call that song the official lunch room table banger because I remember being in junior high school and my classmates were always trying to make the beat on the lunch tables or lockers. Or whatever was around! It was a hot track, written by her pals Missy and Timbaland, who also produced the single.

Listen to track below. I'm sure it will bring back memories:

Message to Omarion: Stay in your lane!!

Omarion, the former B2K singer turned solo singer for the girlies, has hit rock bottom with his latest single, "I Get It In."

But what's more important is that the track, featuring rapper Lil' Wayne, is a prime example of WHY Omarion was not a good fit for Young Money Entertainment.

Young Money -- Lil' Wayne's label -- recently announced that Omarion joined the group and then shortly after word spread that he was dropped. Omarion has since said that he decided to part ways. Whatever the case, "I Get It In" is a disaster.

Omarion failed miserably at trying to sing (I think) in the lazy Lil' Wayne-like voice. The track could have have actually been hot if Omarion wasn't on it.

Omarion found his calling since B2K disbanded and made tracks like, "Touch" and "Ice Box." They were pretty big hits for the singer/dancer. Why join Young Money and try to drastically change your swag? Stay in your lane and everything will be fine. You can evolve as you get older without changing why people like you and your music. Usher and Bow Wow have been able to do it. Omarion, you should be able to do the same.

I'm glad this relationship between Omarion and Young Money was scratched. It saved R&B/hip-hop fans from listening to some truly awful music. Good job to whoever pulled the plug.

If you haven't heard "I Get It In," check it out below:

Monday, August 17, 2009

BIG's daughter all grown up; celebrates Sweet 16

T'yanna Wallace, the daughter of the late Notorious B.I.G., celebrated her 16th birthday in a BIG way last night.

Click here to read the story: HERE.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Famed YouTube spoofer becomes "Drake"

You remember this guy from his Barack Obama spoofs during the election/inauguration season.

Now, he's back, this time spoofing emerging hip-hop/rap star, Drake.

Iman Crosson became a viral celebrity when he did Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance routine as "Barack Obama." The three-minute YouTube clip has surpassed 11 million views since the video was posted in January.

His latest target is the popular Canadian rapper, who has also been the subject of many jokes since videos were released where he appeared to be reading "freestyles" off of his BlackBerry.

Crosson's transformation into Drake didn't take much. He put on some thick stick-on eyebrows and moved his hand erratically while he performed his spoof of "Best I Ever Had."

In one portion of the video, he falls out of a wheelchair, poking fun at Drake who previously starred on TV show, Degrassi. In the show, he played a basketball player who got shot and was restricted to a wheelchair.

He joked about how bad the Kanye West produced video for "Best I Ever Had" was saying things like: "When my video dropped ladies watched it and called me sexist, and the fellas would watch it too, but only watch it for the breastssss."

The video is clever and pretty funny. Someone needs to get this guy a variety or sketch comedy show. It could be as big as the hilarious sketch show, In Living Color. Or maybe Saturday Night Live could use him?

His "Drake" spoof, released yesterday, already has 44,000 views and will certainly be another big hit for the YouTube superstar.

What's next for Crosson? Well, he's taking requests on Twitter. Maybe you can decide.

Check him out @alphacat1

Here is his Drake spoof:

Eminem disses Mariah Carey in new song

This might just take the cake in terms of diss records.

I've never heard of a high-profile male rapper dissing a high-profile female pop singer quite like this before.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

Eminem verbally destroys and embarasses Mariah Carey in his new song, "Warning." It's an apparent response to Carey's song, "Obsessed," where she talks about someone being obsessed with her. Apparently, Mariah was talking about Em?

Well, the Detroit rapper wasted no time in retaliating against Mariah. 

Your jaw will certainly drop with this one.  I had to re-play portions of the track a few times because I couldn't believe the things Em was saying.  Did he just say that!?  This guy went IN!

He even had some choice words for Mariah's hubby, Nick Cannon.

"You think Im scared of you? / You gonna ruin my career you better get one," Em said.

In Em's "Warning," he also threatened to release phone messages and pictures of the pop diva [or Mary Poppins, as she is referred to in the song]. Not to mention, he recalled the explicit details of some alleged intimate moments the two shared. Talk about putting someone on blast!!

For her own good, I hope Mariah doesn't respond and just keeps her mouth shut.  As for her hubby, he should just continue to 'Wild Out' because this is one battle he won't win. This ain't Drumline, Nick.

You have to hear this for yourself [lyrics listed below so you can follow along]


Here are the lyrics:

Only reason I dissed you in the first place is because you denied seeing me,
Now Im pissed off.

Sit back homey relax, infact grab a six pack, kick back while I kick facts,
Yeah Dre sick track, perfect way to get back
Wanna hear something wick wack?
I got the same exact tat thats on Nicks back
Im obsessed now,
Oh gee, is that supposed to be me in the video with the goatee,
Wow Mariah, didnt expect her to go balls out,
Bitch, shut the fuck up before I put all them phone calls out, you made to my house when you was wild n out before Nick,
When you was on my dick and give you somethin to smile about,
How many times you fly to my house? Still trying to count,
Better shut your lying mouth if you dont want Nick finding out,
You probably think cuz its been so long if i had something on you I woulda did it by now,
Oh on the contrary, Mary Poppins, Im mixing our studio session down and sending it to mastering to make it loud,
Enough dirt on you to murder you,
This is what the fuck I do,
Mariah, it ever occur to you that I still have pictures?
However you prefer to do and goes for Nick too, faggot
You think Im scared of you?
You gonna ruin my career you better get one,
Like Ima sit and fight with you over some slut bitch cunt that made me put up with her psycho ass over 6 months and only spread her legs to let me hit once,
Yeah, what you gonna say? Im lucky? Tell the public that I was so ugly that you fucking had to be drunk to fuck me?
Second base? What the fuck you tell Nick, pumpkin?
In the second week we was dry humping. Its gotta count for something,
Listen, girly. Surely you dont want me to talk about how I nutted early 'cos ejaculated prematurely and bust all over your belly, and you almost started hurling and said I was gross, go get a towel youre stomachs curling.
Or maybe you do.
But if Im embarrassing me, Im embarrassing you and dont you dare say it isnt true.
As long as the songs getting airplay Im dissing you.
Im a hair away from getting carried away and getting sued.
I was gonna stop at 16. That was 32. This is 34 bars. We aint even third of the way through.
Damn, Slim. Mariah played you. Mariah who?
Oh did I say whore, Nick? I meant a liar too.
Like Ive been goin off on you all this time for no reason,
Girl you out ya alcholic mind. Check ya wine cellar. Look at all the amounts of all the wine,
Like I fuckin sit around and think about you all the time,
I just think this shit is funny when I pounce you on a rhyme.
But fuck it now im about to draw the line.
And for you to cross it thats a mountain that I doubt you wanna climb.
I can describe areas of your house you wouldnt find on an episode of Cribs,
A blow below the ribs if I hear another word so dont go opening your jibs cos every time you do its just another load of fibs,
I aint saying this shit again, ho, you know what it is.
Its a warning shot for I blow up ya whole spot,
Call my bluff and Ill release every fucking thing I got,
Including the voicemails right before you flipped your top,
When me and Luis were tryin to stick two CDs in the same spot,

(Slim Shady I love you)
I love you too
Let me whisper sweet nothings into your ear, boo. Now what you say?
(Its nothing)
Yeah so what Ill do?
Is refresh your memory when you said I want you
Now should I keep going or should we call truce?
(You think youre cute, right? Hahaha)
You bet your sweet ass I do
(Im Mary Poppins, b)
And Im Superman, ooo
(Mary P. Slim Shady)
Comin at you
So if youll still be my (babygirl)
Then Ill still be your (Superhero, Wilma M.)
Yeah, Im right here
(You like this)
Nope. Not anymore, Dear.
It cuts like a (knife) when I tell ya get a (life)
But Im movin on with mine
Nick, is that your (wife)
Well tell her to shut her mouth then Ill leave her alone,
If she dont (sing this script?) then Ima just keep goin.
(I see Mary Ann. Mary Anns saying cut the tape, cut the tape. Knife!)