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Monday, December 22, 2008

Universal Mind Control - Common

(((Rating: 3 Notes)))

Bangers: UMC, Punch Drunk Love, Announcement, Inhale & What A World.

It has been said to me that Common has re-birthed hip-hop on this album। I am a bit unsure of the validity of that statement since his album Finding Forever was considered flawless in my opinion. So, I hope you will sit back and relax with me as I explore his current project Universal Mind Control. Let's do it...track by track once again!

Intro/Universal Mind Control - As the album opens, we are welcomed in French to Universal Mind Control. Then here comes that familiar synthesizer, Pharrell's voice and the beat that gets me out of my seat every single time! "'s got that dang dang dang de bom" Awesome opener and club-banger!

Punch Drunk Love - "Ay baby, am I crazy or was you givin' me the eye, you said maybe, well ya crazy because I know I'm too flyyyy...", Kanye chimes in his sing-songy voice. And yes, the song is fly and carries with it the Common Kanye arrogance that we have gotten to know. No pun intended. Common rides the music very well as he borderline-metaphorically games a woman. Definitely a banger. :)

Make My Day - This song surely doesn't stop the party as Cee-Lo sings, "yes you really make my day". In the background we hear various sounds that are reminiscent of space sound effects and more synthesizers and bells. You will like both Cee-Lo and Common in this feel-good uptempo song. Common describes his love-interest again as his playful lyrics "drip from his lips".

Sex 4 Sugar - Hand claps. Heavy Synths. Common raps seductively as he speaks the hook, "Sex 4 Sugar, Sugar 4 Sex..." This song could be said to be sticky and sweet with the looped beat and electric vibes. Not a fav but not likely to skip this one either.

Announcement - "I'm finna take it to the tip-top baby". The beat alone and Commons announcement from the start will surely catch the hip-hop crowd and old Mobb Deep, Biggie and Lil Kim fans. This features Pharrell as well and honestly his verse makes me think of Lil Kim and how hot she may have been on this one! "This is hip-hop baby..."

Gladiator - The songs starts with an old-sample then goes into a looped bass beat and a scattered ragtime-esque piano, while horns intermittently play. Not sure who produced this one but it makes me think of 9th Wonder or J-Dilla immediately. Maybe even Kanye but I will need to research this more. Common flows with the beat very well as though he is walking over the beat in victory.

Changes - Rain. Nature. Whistles. Bird Chirping. And Commons rap sounds as though he walking thru a forest and discovering new instruments. We then hear Muhsinah sing the hook, "I know that change gon come..." And honestly, as beautiful a song it may be....makes me wanna skip it. It sounds like a dream sequence type song. Next.

Inhale - Loud synths. Very catchy beat. "Inhale" and I'm waiting to find out what he may grace my ears with and it's nice! Common raps as he is "a scribe of the streets" and drops knowledge and definition on us. We come to love Commons classic metaphors here once again!

What A World - I hear a skate/old-skool jam when I hear this song and I can't even skate! Very funky kick drums and guitar riffs! Common raps in a Kurtis Blow-'these are the breaks...'-esque way! Very catchy! :)

Everywhere - Immediately when I hear this song, I think of Studio 54, drugs, neon colors and Euro-trance. The beat alone is very techno and trance-ish although this may not be a bad thing. Common is trying something very different here. This song makes sense of the album cover which looks like he may be in a trance. The female voice is welcomed. Not a fav but interesting nonetheless.

I had to be sure that it was only 10 songs because this is an unusually short album. I have a sorta mixed bag of feelings about this album. I do not feel he has re-birthed hip-hop but I feel he may have blown fresh air on it. :) Would I buy it? Yeah, maybe just cause it's Common. :) "This is that new shit..."! :)

Big Doe Rehab - Ghostface Killah

(((Rating: 4 Notes)))

Bangers: Tony Sigel aka The Barrell Brothers, Walk Around, Supa GFK, I'll Die For You, Killah Lipstick & Slow Down.

I fell in love with Ghost's clever lyrics and his ability to pack a story into 3-5 minutes with vivid detail and rhetoric. I originally thought FishScales would be the classic Ghost record for me but Big Doe Rehab just slapped that notion clear across the room. He is by far one of my favorite lyricists. I will give a track by track review starting now....on ur mark, get set, ready, go! :)

At the Cabana (skit) - This is an intro where we here Tony aka Ghost coming to catch someone at his table and confronting some Spanish men for money and ends up taking a mans' wife. Funny skit. Its backed by Spanish horns and guitars with some kinda exciting soundtrack music. :)

Tony Sigel aka The Barrell Brothers - This song is backed by an electric guitar loop and heavy heavy bass. On the track we have a feature by Beanie Sigel where he delivers a clever line and says, "and I'm nothin' like your father, you can't come from these nuts I got, cause C. Baltimore sucked this cock...". Ya gotta love this track and especially when Ghost hollers he voting for Obama, Oprah and Eric B.!

Yolanda's House - We have features here from Method and Raekwon backed by a heavy bass-laidened but laid back track. He tells another story here and only talented rappers can pick up flawlessly where another leaves off. In the background a woman's voice sings faintly, "leave these streets...".

We Celebrate - The song samples, in the beginning and throughout, the old song by Rare Earth "I Just Want 2 Celebrate" (1971). It's truly a celebration song as the rappers speak on their jewels and champagne. Ghost says, "we hype for just being here" all the while, the song keeps the funkiness of the old song.

Walk Around - "I walk around, like a man in a daze, people talking to me and calling my name, though I don't hear a word they say..." a voice sings throughout the song. Voice chimes in telling a story as though only he can. The old piano, guitars and horns play behind the kick drum. The music combined really makes for a very funky song. Classic Ghost record.

Yapp City - Heavy. Eerie. Robbery. Strings. Guns. Everything that you need in a song if you are going to rob someone or commit a crime. I don't rob people but this song is the perfect soundtrack for a life of crime. I love this and how Trife Da God & Sun God helps complete the story of a stick-up.

White Linen Affair (Toney Awards) - Ghost raps simply about performances in a club over a simple drum beat and a loop.

Supa GFK - "Is it a bird, is it a it's Ghost, no it's Ghost...supa man lover"! This is my absolute fav on the album. The music is funky, laid-back and has a seriously old-school feel to it and then we hear Ghost come in as he speaks of surprising those who have underestimated his presence. "Faster than a speeding bullet..." we hear a man singing thru the song, while horns start to come in. Easily a favorite and repeatable. :) A classic!

Rec-Room Therapy - "Get money! Get money Ghost!" a dark voice hollers on the hook. We get a taste of a looped drum beat and flutes throughout the song as Raekwon, U-God and Ghost reminise on their experience in the streets.

The Prayer - Ox sings, well prays to the Lord. Enough said. His voice isn't that favorable to me, honestly.

I'll Die For You - I love, love, love this song. Incredible! Ghost basically speaks about who he will and won't die for on this piano and strings-laced song. He rides the beat very nicely. My fav line..."I'll die for the prophets and I'll die for the Lord on the battlefield wounded badly holding the sword..." "For Martin Luther and my brother Malcolm (I'll die for you)....awesome song! Ghost did his thing on here for anyone who doubted his depth. He then asks, "God you want revenge on that devil Satan? We can do it now instead of waitin'. We don't have to wait for Revelations..." Wow.

Paisley Darts - Ghost knows how to flow over a beat. He doesn't spare a second as he flows as soon as the song comes in. There is another old sample here and although this isn't one of my favorites, I haven't really skipped this one either. Method & Cappadonna are featured here as well. Method's voice is suited well on this one.

Shakey Dog - Another old-school beat with cymbals and a horn. Ghost tells a story here and also features Raekwon and Lolita. But this is in no comparison to the "Shakey Dog" on Fishscales.

Killah Lipstick - I cannot recall the sample on this track but the original song was featured on "Next Friday" the movie. Ghosts' classic delivery flows nicely over the beat as he tells the story of a modern day prima donna who is beautiful yet dangerous, powerful, and rich. Method Man says in that familiar tone, "...she killin' the game cause she the bizness...killah lipstick, ka ka killah."

Slow Down - Chrisette Michelle's while not as captivating on her own songs sings effortlessly, "this life will fade away, so I'd appreciate each moment of each day, life's quick, don't flip, move slow, ur rushin' it". The beat moves quickly until Chrisette's voice pours in and then it slows down cleverly as the song suggests "slow down". A great closer to the album.

Overall, I felt this album is a classic record. Ghosts' classic delivery of his stories never fails me and the music on the album alone is outstanding. Great job! :)

Human - Brandy

(((Rating: 2 Notes)))

Bangers: The Definition, Piano Man, Long Distance, A Capella (Something's Missing) & Fall

I have looked forward to this album for the (I think) 5 years she stayed away. Ok, maybe more like 3 years but still. I feel like everyone was anticipating the real Queen B's return! So let's go...track by track!

Human Intro - Brandy talks about being a human-being and "having the freedom to be yourself and not caring what others think and not being afraid."

The Definition - Brandy lays it on the line for us here with a bass-heavy and thumping sound here, undeniably produced by long-time friend and producer Rodney 'Darkchild' Jenkins. She sings, "the definition of love is you."

Warm It Up (With Love) - starts with the same familiar thump beat and piano 2-key loop. Brandy's voice and lyrics are more mature and you can tell as she sings in a more relaxed tone. The song progresses and gets more musical as it continues and intro's what sounds like space effects.

Right Here (Departed) - This song right from the start has the Darkchild feel to it and Brandy sings the mess out of this song but unfortunately it just doesn't appeal to me at all.

Piano Man - The song starts off with a strong Timbaland-ish synth but surprisingly it is produced by Rodney J. once again. The song is interesting but cornball-ish as Brandy sings, 'play a song for us (Mr. piano man), play a song for a love (Mr. piano man)..." But me still likey! :)

Long Distance - When I first heard this song it reminded me of a Beatles/Elton John song. The piano is soft and heartfelt and Brandy's vocals are absolutely flawless here and when she sings, "with you is where I'd rather be..." you feel her pain. The song is extraordinarily dramatic and seems to be better suited for a movie. Nevertheless, it doesn't damage the album either. Beautiful composition here.

Camouflage - This songs like a classic Brandy song as she sings about not wanting a love if she has to camouflage who she is. The beat is likable and will make you bop your head a bit. Excellent Brandy vocal delivery as always. But where is the raw emotion? Another Rodney production, of course.

Torn Down - The song opens with strings and a guitar and sounds like a song you would hear as a woman makes a journey in a movie. This song is catchy and thumps but is also fun as she sings, "so strong, don't know how, can't be torn down". We hear Brandy's maturity here as well.

Human - Me no likely this song. Her voice is wonderful here but unfortunately too perfect and produced for a song where the chorus boasts, "I'm only human...". So we beg of you to take away all of the over-produced music and vocals Brandy! Overall a wonderful concept and beautifully written lyrics and very dramatic once again.

Shattered Heart - In this one, we also get a Timbaland-ish feel with the drum beat and synths and ghostly 'ooohhhs' throughout the song. This track honestly sounds like a left over track from Afrodisiac and leaves me wondering if, in fact, it was. The beat then speeds up a bit towards the end of the song as Brandy repeatedly sings, "don't shatter my heart".

True - Brandy's voice on here and the violins go perfectly together. The beat thumps dramatically in the background and we then hear a piano faintly and fantastic harmonies and echoes. In this song Brandy becomes a victim of love as she questions her man in asking, "is it true that I'm not the only one, is it true that you're just having fun with my hearttttt". Wonderful song.

A Capella (Something's Missing) - This has to be one of the best songs on the album or the best. Brandy's voice along with an electric guitar, serves as the only instrumentation in the song. She truly sings it a Capella and the layering effect does wonders here as though there are several voices. Great concept and lovely vocals.

1st and Love - Hand claps, heavy bass and synths...and of course good harmonies. The song then goes into the hook where the beat gets even heavier and speeds up. Clever but yet nothing stands-out at all.

Fall - Brandy's voice is absolutely beautiful here as it is surrounded in the beginning with only a piano. Then a drum slides in as she sings easily, "just fall, fall, falll....". Easily a favorite here.

Overall, this album was easily a let down for me because it was more of a Rodney Jerkins album than Brandy's return. While each song had it's own 'enjoyable factor', nothing really stood out or had the qualities to make me want to press repeat. I felt like the songs would have been awesome in 1998 but it's 2008 and things needed to be stepped up. I didn't purchase this album. As a friend of mine said best, 'Brandy needs to be punished for this." :) Maybe next time Brandy.

P.S. Tracks that were leaked that weren't placed on the album but should have been were...List, 2nd Thought, After the Flood (maybe), Dig This (maybe as a bonus track), Feel So Good (hot hot hot), Porciline (maybe but still hot), This Must Be Love, Honey, What Have Ya Done For Me? and Throw It All Away.

Friday, December 19, 2008

OnMyRadio - Musiq Soulchild

(((Rating: 5 Notes)))

Bangers: Until, Someone, DeserveUMore, DearJohn, LoveOfMyLife, SoBeautiful

I am absolutely a life-long fan of this mans' work! So here goes...

This album is so well thought out and composed that it will make you think Musiq has some type of hidden formula or secret touch every time he makes an album. He consistently hits with a dance number to let us know he is back (b.u.d.d.y., just friends, forthenight, radio), an R&B classic (ifuleave, teachme, halfcrazy), an inspirational love song (dontchange, love, whoknows, someone) and he is thus far very successful and consistent and genius in his approach. This album proves that no matter how much the industry changes he will always be consistently on top of his game. So please sit back and I will give a song by song analysis and introduce my opinions on my first listen:

backagain - We find Musiq sorta intro's himself here but he is really speaking to a woman, over what sounds like an old school Curtis Blow/Run DMC hip-hop type beat while a piano slowly eases into the song. The hooks goes, 'I thought it was over but here you come back again, welcome back, welcome back girl...'. Catchy written all over this one.

until - The old sample of a female voice catches your attention along with the nice looped-beat that repeats and Musiq sings with ease on how he will love his woman until...and the beat continues just the same. "loving you until...2073...2084...2093...until, until, until..."

ifuleave - The piano comes melodically while the strings follow effortlessly and Musiqs' voice just pours into the song. Mary also holds her own and her voice seems to be more contoured and mature. I love the hook and laid-back feel of the song especially when the strings claim more space.

deserveumore - Classic Musiq delivery! The song starts off with snaps and a serious old school prom night slow dance vibe and the 'ooo, ooo, ooo' harmonies definitely make the magic happen here. Musiq's sped up vocal delivery is incredible as he comes in subtlely with the chorus. Awesome song!

special - This one reminds me of his previous work and albums (especially his first) where he combines a woman's harmonies over his talky-singy-raps. Not a favorite. However, I wouldn't skip it either.

dearjohn - The song comes in where Musiq's very soon-to-be ex-woman gets a rather cowardish "dearjohn" text. We are intro'd to a beautiful piano once again and this thumps with a powerful 'dearjohn' message, classic ATL snap beat, and sad lyrics and wonderful melody. This one has definitely been on repeat for me.

loveofmylife - Amazing harmonies open the song and makes me think of a musical production, then Musiq slides in and does harmonies on this track like no other....almost sounds like he played with auto-tune but it's his natural voice along with some rather outstanding female vocals. Towards the end you realize this song is also a wonderful Musiq classic and flows right into the next song with great harmonies! My fav line, "I could lose a car, even body parts, but still I'll live but still can't live without the love of my life..."

moneyright - Cute dance song, almost sounds like someone should be cheering to this one. Nevertheless, the piano at the end is outstanding. Not a fav, but not skippable either.

someone - This song opens with beautiful strings, a piano and cymbals which you know immediately that this is the whoknows, love and dontchange of this album...classic love song! Enough said, beautiful song! Sounds like Raphael Saadiq is doing some of the background vocals...I need to research this. :)

iwannabe - Opens with Damian Marleys voice and becomes an instant feel good song with a vintage beat hiding thru the song! Musiq's voice is effortless on this one and has a Donny Hathaway/Stevie Wonder-ish vibe! Damian Marley u gotta love him!

sobeautiful-Pure soon as the song starts you know this is for the lovers! It comes in with an EP piano and this is where a female listener falls in love with Musiq and a male listener wishes he penned and composed this song. He sings his verses in falsetto and goes into the chorus in a lower key. Throughout the second verse, we start to hear subtle but heavy breathing which further lets us know this song is made for lovemaking. The way he caresses the notes, leading to the bridge sounds like a melodic climax especially when we hear the horns. Then, Musiq's vocal riffs near the bridge and ending will knock your socks and shoes completely off...he goes from a high note to a low note in a single melody...AMAZING! Undeniable one of my favs. :)

radio-A lot of people haven't favored this song but I can appreciate it because this beat is crunk and hits hard and its extremely catchy. You could catch me dancing to this one in a club scene or my room, bouncing my shoulders up and down more than likely! My fav line, "just turn up the radio..."

Overall, Musiq Soulchild will always get my $9.99 (or whatever the cost not to exceed $25.99 per album) lol, as long as he continues to make music like this. He has musically saved 2008 for me! Well done! He has surely stood the test of time! Another classic! :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Point of It All - Anthony Hamilton

(((Rating: 4 Notes)))

Bangers: The News, Diamond in the Rough, I Did It For Sho', Hard to Breathe, Soul's On Fire, Please Stay, The Point of It All

I will be truthful. I downloaded this album from my favorite blog and gave it my first listen and to be completely honest only one track stood out to me. Then the next night I was experiencing a case of insomnia and scrolled to his album on my iPod and was blown away.

The first song "The News", bass-heavy with a Curtis Mayfield/Marvin Gaye-ish sound thumps hard with horns and a piano lacing the track as Anthony sings in high and mid-tones with grit and feeling. He tells a story that will make you imagine walking down a dark alley in the late 70's early 80's. The song is a great opener for an impressive abum.

He then follows with "Cool" featuring David Banner and it has a looped guitar and a nice laid-back but danceable beat. He speaks about being "cool" with just love alone. Nice song.
"The Day We Met" also comes in thumping a tad reminiscent of "The News" with piano lacing and a heavy beat but this time we hear Anthony singing in a more relaxed tone in the verse and then the hook is undeniable as he sings higher and the horns make their presence known. I'd imagine riding in a car, mid-summer with the windows down, listening to this one.

"Diamond in the Rough" is definitely one of my favorites on the album as it takes me back to how R&B used to be as he croons, "you're a diamond in the rough girl and I'm here to make it better." And he surely did thus far. On this track we hear our faithful piano and what sounds like a light sprinkling of an electric guitar. Nice.

"I Did It For Sho"
comes in like a lullaby very light with snaps and a nice 1,2 beat and it makes me think of something Andre 3000 might do. He sings about a woman sleeping on his love and how he has found someone better now. He did it "fo sho" on this one.

Next, we flow into "Hard to Breathe" which puts me in the mind of Dave Hollister and old R&B once again. The hook is what will definitely catch the listener if the first verse doesn't and the darkness of the music makes you feel the storm of his pain as he sings, "it gets hard to breathe...".

He follows thru wonderfully with the looped cymbals and drum beat and piano on "Soul's on Fire"as he sings, "y'all know that happiness aint free" and forces his audience to understand his struggle once more. This one inspires courage and yet you still feel his pain.

We are then introduced to another side of Anthony on "Please Stay" as the horns come in quietly but surely, the music and old-school feel reminds you of the American Gangster classic song, "Do You Feel Me?" and begging for understanding. This one is surely for the lovers, whether love lost or found. Anthonys' voice caressing the lyrics as though he is making love to the verse. The breakdown in this song alone is impressive in how he captures a timeless vibe. Lyrics like, "...and if I had my way, I would go down on my knees and ask my God to make you stay...", would make any woman in her right mind turn back around. Needless to say this is a fav for me. As we would expect on a perfect album, he follows up with "The Point of It All", the title track with enticing lyrics right from the start, "I can't stay away from you to long...". And neither can we from this album. The slow beat and our old-friend the piano is back here and we realize as he sings, "the point of it all is I love you...".

"Fallin' In Love" comes in with a beautiful piano melody and then very hard uptempo-drums and an old record effect throughout the track. He sings in his classic voice with grit and the down home feel we have come to love. The hook is also pretty catchy. "I feeel like fallin' in love." "Praying for You/Superman" sounds like it should be in an old country movie like "Life" and it is certainly not a favorite of mine. The church clap beat kinda makes me want to skip it and the wah-wah guitar doesn't help either. "Superman" sounds like a juke-joint song. Skippable.

Anthony gets sentimental on "Her Heart" with the airy-ness of the song and theme of forgiveness and cherishing his woman's heart. Nice song but not really a fav. "Fine Again" has a nice, laid-back thump to it and you hear faint sounds of a guitar, definitely a song to let play out. "We'll be fine again...". Nice closer to the album, as it sounds like a farewell and well-wishing track!

Overall, this album was incredibly good and very well produced. There was maybe one song I didn't care for but not because it wasn't sang well, it just wasn't my type of music. Anthony's lyrics and vocal ability is classic and will definitely take you back to what old-school R&B sounded like and how music should feel. Needless to say, I bought this album legally! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008


Welcome to Sincerely Music! In this blog I will review albums, introduce new music and bring back old classics as well! Sit back, relax and enjoy! :) Thank you for visiting!

Coming Soon...

Album Reviews on Musiq Soulchild, Brandy, Robin Thicke, John Legend, Common, Anthony Hamilton, Keyshia Cole, and Jamie Foxx.

Stay Tuned,
Tiffany :)