Friday, June 24, 2011

Lil Wayne's "How to Love": Brandon vs. Brandyn

Lil Wayne's "How to Love" is a pretty good song, but have you ever wondered how great it could have been if someone with actual singing talent performed it?

Well, two young singers have stepped up to the challenge of turning a "pretty good" song into a "great" song.

Meet our first singer.

Brandyn Burnette, a virtual unknown from New York, posted his Weezy cover on June 12 and it's already picked up nearly 100,000 views on YouTube. Not bad.

However, his views haven't translated into Twitter followers - his account is still sitting around 1,100 and his Facebook fan page has a mere 500 likes. But that all should soon change for the 20-year-old singer, who is actually signed to Warner Bros.

Who is Brandyn? According to his bio:

Brandyn Burnette has been playing music since the age of 7 and writing songs since the age of 13. He credits his father, O'Bryan, as a main source of inspiration. "My dad was signed to Capitol Records at 18. Now, im signed to Warner Bros Records at 20 and my goal is to make him and whoever else believes in me proud."

Brandyn, who plays the piano, guitar, ukulele and drums, dropped out of NYU on a full scholarship for acting after a semester in 2009. "I'll go back one day... after im filthy rich of course. NYU is so expensive... I need a couple hits first. Once this music takes off my next goal is acting- i'd love to do film. After that, world domination... what else?"

He's currently recording his debut album in Los Angeles this summer.

His Twitter: @brandynburnette

Brandon Hines, a Detroit singer who is signed to Jermaine Dupri's So So Def, is also getting a lot of attention for his soulful rendition of the Weezy ballad.

Just released on Wednesday, the song already has 20,000 views, but that shouldn't last long as B-Hines 18,000-plus Twitter followers start retweeting the song. His Facebook fan page has over 11,000 likes. Hines is no stranger to being a YouTube sensation - his cover of Maxwell's "Pretty Wings" has surpassed 1 million views. He's also currently featured on Da Brat's new single, "Get It, Get It."

Who is Brandon? According to his bio:

Brandon Hines released his first independent album in 2006, and he captivated a quite a fan base since his days at Howard University - where he was elected "Mr. Howard University."

Hines has already worked with some top talent, including Trey Songz, Ryan Leslie, Bryan Michael Cox, Troy Taylor and Mario Winans. He was also the opening act on Estelle's 2008 "American Boy" tour.

He has yet to release an album since joining Dupri's label.

His Twitter: @BHinesTheReal

Question: Which version of "How to Love" do you prefer?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Wonderful Night: Stevie Wonder honored at the Apollo

Simply put: it was a wonderful night.

Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame last night in what was a star-studded tribute to a living music legend.

Performers - who all sang classic Stevie songs - included Melanie Fiona ("Higher Ground"), Yolanda Adams ("Love's In Need of Love Today"), Take 6 ("I Wish"), Raphael Saadiq ("I Was Made to Love Her") and Kim Burrell ("Knocks Me Off My Feet").

There were a few surprises as well - Tony Bennett honored Stevie and they put on an impromptu performance of "For Once in My Life." Paul Shaffer, Questlove and Chick Corea also joined the Ray Chew led band for a tribute.

Rap legend Doug E. Fresh also hit the stage as he beat-boxed for Stevie who sang "All I Do" in one of the night's most memorable performances.

Stevie also performed "Fingertips," "My Cherie Amour," "Do I Do," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" and he closed out the show with "Living for the City."

Other guests included Spike Lee, Phylicia Rashad, Gabourey Sidibe, Anika Noni Rose, Wyclef Jean, Sherri Shepherd, Martha Reaves, Rev. Al Sharpton and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

The celebration didn't stop with ceremony.

Wonder, Lee and Fresh joined DJ D-Nice in the deejay booth for the after party held in a giant tent behind the world famous theater.

Wonder sang "Jungle Fever" and "Ribbon in the Sky" while Fresh beat-boxed. And of course, Lee was there recording the whole thing on his iPad.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hot 97 gives the gift of Summer Jam in your home

My Summer Jam experience was the best I ever had - and I wasn't even there!

The folks at Hot 97 decided to live stream the entire concert and well, it was very well done.

The video and audio was, to my surprise, pretty superb. I had a brief moment during the Lil' Wayne performance where I lost the video, but it came back.

I was among more than 55,000 web users who comfortably watched artists like Wayne, Drake, Chris Brown and Rick Ross rock the stage at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The web users got as high as 57,000 plus during the Wayne set.

Of course, the best part was that I could watch Summer Jam while still keeping an eye on the NBA finals.

While the UStream of the concert may have been a huge plus, the show overall was still pretty uneventful and underwhelming.
Summer Jam used to be something that people talked about the next day. I'm not sure what people will talk about after watching this concert. Dip Set having 500 people on stage? Diddy coming out with Ricky Rozay and eventually leading the crowd as the Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance" played? Um, Mobb Deep performing during the Lloyd Banks set? Again, a very uneventful night.

But at least I got to watch it all go down from the comfort of my home.

Thank you, Hot 97.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kanye West performs at Gil Scott-Heron memorial

It's no secret that poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron is among the musical influences of rapper Kanye West.

If you listened to West's last album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, you heard Scott-Heron's unmistakable voice.

West, who included a portion of Scott-Heron's "Comment #1" on "Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America," brought the poetic words to a new audience on his fifth album.

West clearly respected what Scott-Heron stood for and 40-year music legacy that he left behind.

Maybe that's why he decided to attend the Scott-Heron memorial service on Thursday morning at Harlem's Riverside Church.

West quietly sat in the front left of the church, wearing all black and dark sunglasses. He nodded his head to performances by a trio of Scott-Heron's long-time band members.

And then it was his turn to take the floor.

He performed "Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America," which included a recording of Scott-Heron's words. Following the performance, West hugged Scott-Heron's daughter, Gia, and hung out with the family after the memorial.

But in typical West fashion, he dashed out of a back door of the church and hopped in a shiny silver Maybach.

For more: check out the story at the New York Daily News.


The service also included a moving poem by Gil Scott-Heron's daughter, Gia, 31.


We use clocks and watches to watch time
But time is not a machine, it doesn't let you rewind.
Time can have a way of being so unkind!
It slows down when you're at work, and when you're having fun it flies.
It never lies, but it has this way of tricking us, and leading us to our own demise.

Youth is wasted on the young, because only time and experience can make you wise.
We treat time like a commodity, and there's never enough to go around.
Time's always runnin' out, and always runnin' you down.
Yeah the clock is tickin' and waits for no man!
Time can make you feel like you're sinking in quicksand.
Time snatched my Father's life right out of his hands!
But you can't sue, or prosecute time.
It peacefully marches on, and that's not a crime.
But I thought he had more time y'all, I thought he had more time!

He was legendary
A visionary
An illuminating luminary.
There will never be another like He.
Made of stuff usually only seen in Mythology.
And although I'm biased,
I still say he's a genius!
Much more than an ordinary man.
Deciphering the media mumbo-jumbo jargon into something the masses could understand.
And for this he was treated like an informant, and a spy.
Just for helping us see when someone was telling us a lie.
So we gotta' honor him, by keeping his vision alive!
We gotta' "work for peace," stay away from "the bottle," shoot the breeze on "125th and Lenox," "shut down the plants," and pick up the pieces when we see "pieces of a man."
He was a man who kept it realer than life.
I thought he had more time y'all, I thought he had more time.

But because he was before his time, and because time is unfair...
We weren't even aware,
That his time was up!
But time can never diminish the bonds of unconditional love!
So though your demise is publicized,
This new revolution will be televised.
Both our dreams, are already realized.
Just like in the album REAL EYES
I realize
That I am forever yours
Your daughter for all time.
Time can't erase that! Time can't even touch it.
Our relationship wasn't perfect, but who's is?
I still love him!
Pop, I love you in life and death.
Until the day that I die.
But until that time, I'll just look to the sky
'cuz I know you'll be shinin' on me,
And be shinin' on in my memory,
For the rest of my life!
So it's see you later Pop, not goodbye.........................Love you Daddy, Gia