Monthly Archives: December 2012

I Used To Do It For The Love – How You Could Love Someone And Leave Them – Love Is Not Blind It’s Just Deaf And It Is Dumb

Standard

Image

I Used To Do It For The Love A Long Time Ago/When All I Ever Wanted Was Love/I Used To Love Without Fear A Long Time Ago When All I Ever Wanted Was Love/Then Somebody Came Around And Tried To Hurt Me — Marsha Ambrosius

I Think I Finally Understand/How You Could Love Someone And Leave Them/It Must Be Hard To Be A Man/Holding Back So Many Feelings/I You Slip Away Long Before You Gave Reasons/Couldn’t Hold You Down If You Wanted To Go — Goapele

Love Is Not Blind It’s Just Deaf And It Is Dumb/So How Could I Fool Myself Thinking You Were The One?/How Sad, How Undignified/Now I Found You Out/This Is My Last Goodbye — Lianne La Havas

One of those days during my high school years, freshly mixed CD in hand, I hop in my cousin’s car with him and simultaneously pop my CD into his CD player. We begin to drive and the CD begins, too. Here’s an example of the track list:

1.  Now Tell Me Who Wanna Fuck With Us? Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust. 2. New York To The Heart But Got Love For All. Lie And Die In The Fire Where I Learned To Ball. 3. I’ve Tried That Love Thing For The Last Time. 4. Mmm Ain’t This Some Shit? Pull Up In The C-A-D-I-Double-L, With The A-C.

Four tracks was all it took to elicit a comment from my cousin. He said to me, “What kinda mixes you make? Hip Hop or R&B? Choose one or the other punk.” His mixes will be straight hip hop or straight R&B. That shit didn’t work for me(2:55). I really can’t listen to straight hip hop or straight R&B alllllll day. I need a variation of the two. It’s just my personal style. My last two posts have featured hip hop songs, so now it’s time to take it down a notch into some R&B.

R&B songs have a way of touching my heart and soul in ways that Hip Hop songs won’t ever be able to. Maybe it all boils down to the fact that, as much as I try not to be, I am a hopeless romantic. If Hip Hop is my husband, R&B will forever be my male-mistress.

I love love love love love me some Marsha Ambrosius, Goapele & Lianne La Havas (all of which I have seen perform live) so I thought it was best to start my R&B bit with them.

Marsha Ambrosius, that name might sound familiar to you, used to be a part of the group Floetry (I’ll let you do your own research on them, and I suggest doing so). In March 2011, she put out a solo project called Late Nights, Early Mornings. This is, hands down, one of my favorite R&B albums. The track I have listened to the most is “Lose Myself” which is actually a Lauryn Hill cover. I prefer Marsha’s version over Lauryn’s, but hey that’s just me. Anyone who has ever loved, lost and then evolved into a better version of themselves — I, for one, am one of those people. Or simply, somebody who has ever been in a troubled relationship (and not necessarily a relationship with a person; maybe an addiction or anything that you have given meaning to in your life). I identify so much with all of the lyrics to this song. I will never tire of it. Her voice is heavenly, it starts out in a tone similar to one that is used when talking but don’t be fooled she can hit them high notes too! She hits the high notes in all the right times of the song. She also has a playful song about getting over an ex that, soon after the breakup, already has a new girl and Marsha sings on the track, “I hope she cheats on you with a basketball player. Hope that she Kim Kardashian’d her way up. Don’t know the difference between a touchdown and a lay up.” And I’m sure we’ve all been there on this one…you just can’t help be bitter! She recently released a new single called “Cold War,” which starts out in that high pitch voice of hers. It is a soothing song about a relationship between two people that aren’t ever really on the same page. The song was released in anticipation for her new album Friends and Lovers which is supposed to drop early 2013. Shortly after releasing “Cold War,” she released a free EP called Hors D’Ouevres which can be downloaded here.

Next up on the playlist is Oakland born singer, Goapele. Her voice is melodic, soothing and sophisticated. Some of her past songs include, “Closer”, “My First Love” (which is one of my sister’s favorite songs), “Different” which features Clyde Carson, “Too Much The Same” and “You.” Her most recent album, Break of Dawn, was released in October of 2011. But this past November, she released Break of Dawn (Deluxe Edition) which includes all the same songs from before but with a few bonus editions, including a song that was remixed by Los Rakas! Was it even possible for the already sexy, sensual “Play” by Goapele to get even sexier? One listen to “Play” featuring Los Rakas, and your answer will quickly be, “yes!” The song “Tears on My Pillow” is one of my favorites by her. Have you noticed that I’m a fan of sad love songs? “Tears on My Pillow” is a dark, hopeless song but the melody gives it light. How sad is it when we watch a relationship end right before our very eyes? To make matters worse…there is no stopping it from happening. So what’s left? Letting your tears hit the pillow as you mourn the loss of it all. I think it’s all, simply beautiful.

Simply beautiful she is, and her name is Lianne La Havas. I’ve saved the best for last. Stay tuned for my piece on her.

Advertisements

Yo Si Soy, Yo Si Soy, Yo Si Soy R-R-R-R-R-R-aka

Standard

Image

Yo Si Soy, Yo Si Soy, Yo Si Soy R-R-R-R-R-R-aka/Tengo Mi Pistola Y Diente De Oro – Los Rakas

The first time I heard a Los Rakas song, it was September of 2011 when they were opening up for a Mos Def concert at the Independent in SF. It was actually the last time Mos Def would be performing in the Bay Area as Mos Def, as he is now called Yasiin Bey. This would be my second time to see Mos Def and my first, but not my last time to see Los Rakas.

The group Los Rakas, consists of two cousins (pictured with me, above): Raka Rich and Raka Dun. They are originally from Panama but now live in Oakland, Calif. They rap mostly in Spanish but sometimes also in English. Their songs fall into the “Bay Area” style of sound in my opinion. Meaning some the beats sound native to those of the Bay Area. I personally think, every region of the US has a distinct sound which can be recognized by paying attention (attention paid me…anyone?) to the beat. Anyways, the songs are upbeat, flavorful and catchy. They have so much energy and stage presence when they perform and there is a lot of Panamanian pride on stage as well as in the crowd. I always feel a huge sense of a community when I go to their shows. It feels to me like people in the crowd know each other and maybe even know Los Rakas, too.

I’ve seen them a total of three times and I’m already planning my next time. I met them once (when I took the picture with them, it was Valentine’s Day 2012 when they released “Raka Love” at 330 Ritch in SF) and the next time I saw them, in June for their performance at Club Atmosphere…they recognized me. (Sidestory: Right before the Valentine’s Day show, I posted something about them to my Facebook profile and one of my girl friends commented saying that she personally knew Raka Dun and that she wanted to go to the Valentine’s Day show with me. This could be part of the reason why they recognized me…but hey, I’ll take what I can get! Shout out to my girl, she knows who she is!)  Somewhere in between, they began following me on Twitter and have retweeted and replied to me several times. I began rocking their “Soy Raka” T-Shirt on trips, airports, and concerts as support and to help promote them. I’ve even gotten some of my own “raka love” from people who understand the shirt when I wear it, it’s a good feeling. I identify and agree with their vision of what exactly it means to be “raka.”

So what is Raka? In Panama, the term “raka” means the ghetto and “rakataka” is simply a person who is from the ghetto. Both terms, however have a negative connotation to them. Los Rakas’ quest in using this term is to give the word some positive power and in turn, they give it their own meaning to “be proud of where you come from.” This empowerment is also meant to help other “rakas” around the world to understand and know that they too, can be successful no matter where they come from or what circumstances they’ve had to overcome.

Some of my favorite songs by them include: “Abrazame” uses the melody of “Hold Yuh” by Gyptian, “Africana” (this link will take you to Rap Genius: a site that translates rap lyrics and you can listen to the song at the same time — I’ll probably do a post on Rap Genius later) and “Bien Ribetiao” is an upbeat, club-type song with the title translating to “swaggin.” But really, all of their song are good and are worth a good listen.

They have performed sold out shows in Los Angeles, The San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Miami, and countless other cities, as they just finished touring with Collie Buddz.

They will be performing on January 12, 2013 at Slim’s in SF and you can buy tickets here. I’ll be at the show so hopefully we’ll see each other there! They also have a show on February 13, 2013 in NYC at S.O.B.s (If I only they were performing exactly one week later when I’ll be there…) Tickets are not yet on sale but as the date gets closer, check out their events calendar for more information.

Gracias por leer y buenas noches mi gente.

Let These Words Be The Colors, I’m Just Painting My Heart

Standard

Image

Let These Words Be The Colors, I’m Just Painting My Heart/I’m Knee Deep In The Game And It Ain’t What I Thought. – J. Cole

How fitting that the title of my blog and now first post, is about J. Cole. But before I dive right into my J. Cole-ness (my friend, Jon coined and dedicated this term to me), I should probably start, where most good stories do, at the beginning.

I’ve always listened to a lot of music, from the times I tagged along with my dad to the golf course with my sister’s walkman and tapes in hand (to entertain me for a looooong day of golf) to the times my sister, a family friend and I would lip sync and give a show to our parents of all of our favorite songs (TLC’s “Creep”, Tevin Campbell’s “Can We Talk?” and MoKenStef’s “He’s Mine” just to name a few). This, start of a love for music, later evolved into memorizing so many lyrics to songs that my dad would exclaim to me, “Why don’t you use the same technique you do to memorize all these lyrics and do it with your school work.” Well that didn’t change either, soon I was in high school…making my own CD mixes, playlists for friends, the music that my volleyball team would run out to (Lil Flip’s “The Way We Ball), and never forgetting to leave the house with out my portable CD player and headphones. I began downloading A LOT of music, spending hours sometimes in the “dungeon” at my cousin’s house and then volunteering to go with him anywhere he was going because I knew I could play the CDs that I had just made in his car that featured, what I thought to be a state of the art sound system — you could hear the car blocks away before you could actually see it. I’ll always remember one time we were driving past a Whole Foods playing Notorious B.I.G.’s feat. Junior Mafia “Player’s Anthem” and there was a guy outside the store nodding his head to our beat as we drove by. During high school, I lived for those moments.

Do you see a pattern yet? As the technology evolved, so did my means to getting and listening to music. I’m going to fast forward a bit and give you the short version…I’ve had iPods, a few laptops (some that crashed and lost all my music, but luckily I was able to transfer from iPod back to iTunes), an iphone, and a constant access to the internet — all of this is necessary for me to stay in tuned with my music (pun intended).

The first song I ever heard by J. Cole was “Lights Please” off of his 2009 mixtape The Warm Up. I fall in love, all over again, with that song every time I hear it. But, no, that wasn’t when my J. Cole-ness was born. It wasn’t until I was walking through my college campus one day and I saw a flier for a free concert the following week, starring J. Cole. If I went, I would have to miss one of my favorite classes, Spanish. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take that risk or not so I decided that I would go to the concert and wait and see how I felt while I was there. I commuted to school and therefore didn’t have very many friends at school, but it was no bother to me…I was going to see a free concert, on a sunny warm fall day, by an artist that I didn’t really know but knew that I liked at least one of his songs.

That concert was truly a turning point for me. Soon after, I was listening to Sirius radio and J. Cole was there and they were playing songs off of his new mix tape Friday Night Lights. All the songs being played were tugging at my heart and captivating my mind like almost no other song had ever done before (with the exception of “Lights Please”).

Friday Night Lights is when my J. Cole-ness was truly born. I began researching him more, finding out what type of person he was, watching YouTube interviews and music videos of him, I was constantly on a quest to find new, unheard song by him, I created playlists just of him, counted down days until his Debut album came out, pre-ordered my copy (and when it wasn’t at my house the day it was released, I went to the record store to buy a copy), bought a T-shirt, have since seen him perform multiple times but never again for free) and I have displayed all of this J. Cole-ness on my Facebook profile.

I still post about J. Cole now, but I also post about other artists and other music that I enjoy. I frequent concerts almost once a month (except for as of recent, I’m trying to save money), and spend a lot of time on the computer: finding new artists, new songs, and listening to hours of music in and out of my iTunes library.

My sister suggested that I start a blog about my music especially because I ultimately want to work in the music and entertainment industry some day. Right away, I decided that I wanted to “let these words be the colors, I’m just painting my heart.” Hopefully, this blog gives insight to who I am as a person, a writer and, in a sense, an artist.

So I invite you to read my posts, listen to the music I post and hopefully, enjoy some of it along the way.