I like to think I’m cutting edge. There’s no new music worth hearing that escapes Kenyon Farrow, no-sir-ee! Whether overground or underground, my finger is on the pulse.
But even I miss some things sometimes. And the older I get, the more new music slips through the cracks. But I recently came upon three recordings that have come out over the last few years that I knew about, but just slept on. But I got em now, and you should too!
Ray Ray, Raphael Saadiq. Saadiq, one of the most successful music producers of our time (and former frontman for Tony, Toni, Tone, & Lucy Pearl) release this, his second album, in 2004. It was on his own label, Pookie Entertainment, and was the follow-up to 2002’s Instant Vintage. The disc is both funky and slickly produced at the same time. Saadiq’s production here is like a reigned-in late Parliament/Funkadelic sound–rubbery bass lines, spaced-out synthesizers, but with much more pop-sensibility. He’s jouned by guests artists including Joi, Teedra Moses, Allie Baba, Babyface, Dwayne Wiggins (Tony, Toni, Tone) and Dawn Robinson (Lucy Pearl). Standout tracks are “Detroit Girl,” “Chic,” and “Ray Ray Theme.” It’s not groundbreaking, but its a really good record!
Trip the Light Fantastic, Ladybug Mecca. Ladybug was the woman MC in the the group Digable Planets. She stepped out in 2005 to release this really interesting and sonically diverse record that spans hip-hop, rock, pop and bossa nova. In addition to showcasing her skills as an MC (which are still impressive), she also reveals a raspy rock/pop singing voice on this album (Think RES/Nelly Furtado/Imani Coppola). The standout tracks are “Don’t Disturb The Peace,” “LadyBug Come Outside,” and “Suicidethol.”
The Hollywood Recordings, Sa-Ra Creative Partners. This CD can be called nothing short of brilliant. Sa-Ra consists of three (really hot) nerdy producer types from Detroit, Michigan who show us why the Motor City has become the vanguard of electronic music of the last 20 years. The CD’s production is hip-hop in it’s orientation (think Pete-Rock, Ali Shaheed Muhammad & the late J Dilla), but they trio also lays down some really nice baritone vocals with with interesting lyrics to boot. Guest stars include Dilla himself, Erykah Badu, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Bilal, Talib Kweli and Capone-n-Noreaga. The biggest disappointment of this disc is it’s sinking to typical dude-ish misogyny, even on tracks I like (admittedly). Standouts (and it’s hard to pick just a few here) are “Glorious,” “Fly Away,” and “Fish Fillet.”