Music You (and I) Slept On…

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.”

Imani Coppola Brings The Heat With “Black Barbie”

If you don’t remember Imani Coppola, she was the flyest Black girl with that just left-of-pop sound who made a name for herself in the 1990’s. She left the music scene for a bit to rediscover herself and what direction she wanted to take. Well, she’s re-surfacing from the deep underground with this lovely new band Little Jackie (with collaborator Adam Pallin–think Danger Mouse+Cee-lo=Gnarles Barkley), and this gorgeous new single Black Barbie. It’s an interesting critique of pop culture and consumerism. But the spin on it this satirical song and video is the fab Black girls who try to live like the fab white girls.

The new record is on SCurve Records and is due out soon. And that song is so cute, I am gonna give Little Jackie another blast with this other video from the new record called Little Jackie Goes to Outer Space

Erykah Badu Comin Back with Honey

Tomorrow Alicia Keys drops As I Am, and Seal comes with his 5th effort System. But coming on November 20th, my homie, Southern Gul Erykah Badu is coming back syrupy sweet with a new single called Honey. According to the fansite Erykah-Badu.com, the full CD will drop February 26, 2008. The album has no title a this point, but the rumor has been that she has a total of 3 albums done, and will release them 6 months apart consecutively. Check out the new single, HONEY!

New Jill Scott, Meshell Ndegeocello, Rahsaan Patterson, Chaka Khan Today!

Today should be declared official National Neo-soul day! Why? Because all the kids are releasing records today–Chaka Khan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Rahsaan Patterson, & Jill Scott. I haven’t heard any of them in their entirety, but as soon as all my consulting gigs that owe me money pay up, I’ll be able to hit the record stores, and pay some bills too! But in the meantime, I thought I’d hip you to some of the latest music out today by 5 of my favorite artists…

Chaka Khan, FUNK THIS. I think this is going to be interesting. Chaka signed to the new Sony label Burgundy Records for older artists who aren’t gonna compete with the Rihanna’s of the world. But the album is straight funk.

“The album may remind people of my early Rufus albums because I’m in a similar ‘soul space.’ I’ve been on a little journey in the last few years, finding Yvette again.” (Referring to her birth name) “I went through a period of being insecure. I’m walking a different path now. I’ve changed. This album is different from any other album I’ve recorded because it reflects what I’m about, who I am now. The album is called, ‘Funk This!’ because it’s funky!”

The collection includes fresh renditions of Prince’s “Sign ‘O’ the Times”; a duet with Michael McDonald on “You Belong To Me,” a song he co-wrote with Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies’ Man,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Castle Made Of Sand,” the soul classic “Foolish Fool” and Rufus medley of “Pack’d My Bags,” and “You Got The Love.”

FUNK THIS original’s include “Disrespectful,” the tour-de-force duet with powerhouse Mary J. Blige, a poignant poetic ballad, “Angel,” the acoustic “One For All Time” penned by Chaka and Terry Lewis, the deeply beautiful and soulful “Will You Love Me?” and self affirming “Super Life” among others.

I think this CD is gonna be great from the four singles on the Chaka Myspace page, so I suggest you pick it up!

Meshell Ndegeocello, The World Has Made Me the Man Of My Dreams. You gotta love this one for the title. It’s my new theme as of late. The album is Meshell’s first vocal record since 2003’s Comfort Woman, and it has that type of feel to it (from the track sample’s I’ve heard), with some more punk rock influences. It sounds like a typical Me’shell, boundary-breaking, luscious, sad, music to get nasty to.

Canadian Free Press says:

Meshell Ndegeocello’s “The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams” sounds like the soundtrack to a dream, a poem with a punk aesthetic, coated with thick as honey sensuality and dripping with religious, social and political imagery.

She harnesses her magic like a master, gently coaxing the listener to trip out as she pulls you deeper inside her mind. The power is in both what she says, and how she makes you feel as she says it.

Rahsaan Patterson, Wines & Spirits. Listening to the sample tracks on Amazon, I am certain this to be my favorite Rahsaan Patterson album. It’s his fourth studio recording (though he has another project with Australian musicians called Sugar Rush Beat Company) and it is his most inspired, most interesting on the porduction tip, and takes his brand of soul (I consider him a male Chaka Khan vocally) to a whole new level. This one is a keeper.

Eurweb says:

Easily his most eclectic and diverse album to date, only a pioneering talent like Rahsaan could pull off a CD that’s all over the map both musically and vocally. “Wines & Spirits” begins with “Cloud 9,” a super funky tune with uncharacteristically minimal vocals, and ends with a brilliant, masterful cover of the Janis Ian classic “Stars.”

In between, there are a couple futuristic dance tracks (“Delirium (Comes and Goes)” and “Deliver Me”), a Prince-esque, ultramodern rock cut called “Pitch Black,” a hip-hop track complete with emcee, the retro-gospel song “Oh Lord (Take Me Back),” and a few “vintage Rahsaan” midtempo grooves (“Feels Good,” “Higher Love,” “Stop Breakin’ My Heart,” and “No Danger”) included for good measure.

Jill Scott, The Real Thing, Vol. 3. The newly divorced Jill Scott is coming full force on her new record, which she calls her most honest. I love the first single “Hate On Me” and the new single “My Love.” So far, I think I am also gonna dig the new one. I am having trouble locating a review of it yet, so I can’t really give you more. Lucky for you, Jill has video about the making of this album on You Tube that’s definitely worth every minute.

Go get em ALL!!!