John Legend’s Homeschool Records for the Grown & Sexy!

Last night, TVOne, that #2 venerable cable television institution of black arts and culture, is aired a hot concert billed as Get Together w/ Kenyon’s husband John Legend. It’s nice to see a live concert on TV again since the video channels seem to show everything but music. Apparently Mr. Farrow Legend has launched a new label, Homeschool Records, and this show is a promotional for the new artists he is signing to the label. He explains during the show he got the name for the label from the face that he was homeschooled as a child. It also comes from the way in which Legend and the three acts signed to the label work–in the original Motown mold, where artists worked side by side, writing and singing for each other, or competing for the hottest songs.

One of the executives of the label described the Homeschool brand will be focused on quality, over commercialism. Sure they want to sell, but artistic excellence seems to be the name of the game, instead of making tracks to sell 10 second ringtones, which is what the industry has become.

But I digress.

The concert opens with Legend singing his second single, Heaven, from his latest CD Once Again. Legend is looking good as usual, and sounding even better.

The second artist, Estelle, did two singles from her forthcoming album, Shine. Estelle, a black Brit, reminds me of the best of UK soul, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early 1990’s, like Mica Paris or Caron Wheeler with more hip-hop flavor. Her first single already gets heavy rotation on Vh1 Soul, and I am looking forward to the record.

Next up to stage is a three-man act called The James Gang. They’re part vaudeville, part Louis Jordan, part step-show performance was really something we haven’t seen before, and it’ll be interesting to see how the market reacts to them!

Lastly, there’s my brother in-law Anthony Vaughn, John Legend’s younger brother. He’s more hip-hop in his vocal attack, dress and swagger, where John is more Marvin Gaye/Smokey Robinson meets Burt Bacharach.

Check out Estelle’s video Wait A Minute (Just A Touch). I love how she gets the boy together at the end of the video.

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!!!