Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's been rocking my stereo lately:

"Mayer Hawthorne - I Wish It Would Rain"
Damn, I got a major thing for this new blue-eyed soul artist. If his brilliant first single "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" was some almighty foreplay, then "I Wish It Would Rain" is a helluva climax. (Sorry about the sexual analogies, it's been a while.) Hawthorne is almost unique these days; in an age when the overt machismo of hip-hop has infiltrated R&B to its detriment, no one wants to make this kind of grown-up, tender soul where vulnerability is expressed through falsetto singing. Whereas back in the day, cats like Eddie Kendricks, the Delfonics and the Temprees had some major success with this kind of music. So in that sense, Mayer Hawthorne is doing absolutely nothing that the aforementioned artists haven't done 35 years ago, but that's not the point. This is some beautifully crafted music, and that's really all that matters. A lot of ignorant heads would dismiss this song as kinda wussy, but I figure it takes a real man to sing something this honest and delicate.

50 Cent & Mobb Deep - "Outta Control (Dr Dre Remix)"
Did I say something about macho hip-hop? This is the kind of thing I should really not like. I've always been a bit meh about Fiddy Cent, and Mobb Deep haven't done much worth hearing since last century. Yet with Dr Dre behind the boards, there is a certain synergy in this remix, which is a world away from the original version. I still think Dre is overrated, but from time to time he finds a groove that really hits the spot. It's all about the piano riff for me, its simple enough but when it finally kicks in it takes the track to the next level. This song is a couple of years old now, but hey, I'm not normally checkin' for the latest G-Unit stuff so I only heard it recently.

Dwele - "Vain"
I bang on quite a bit about Dwele in these posts, despite his latest album being not all that amazing really. But of the handful of good songs, this is everything I love about the guy's music. Smooth like butter, jazzy vocal delivery, and an immaculate arrangement.

Black Ivory - You and I
One from the vault - 1972 to be exact. I guess I got a big hankering for falsetto soul this week. If you a fan of Q-Tip's recent bit of awesomeness, "Gettin' Up", you'll recognise the main riff from this gem. I first heard both tracks on Ennio Styles' great show on RRR when he played this first, then the Q-Tip joint, and the one-two-punch made my day. Try it.

Main Ingredient - "Everybody Plays the Fool"
Was playing this a lot in my girlfriend's car in Malaysia recently. Many of you folks will be familiar with Aaron Neville's cover version, but this OG is far superior - great arrangement, great singing, and catchy as hell. Plus this video is from Soul Train, which is always great to watch, especially with host Don Cornelius in particularly pimpin' form. Oh and pop culture buffs will be interested to know that on lead vocal duties for the Ingredient is a certain Cuba Gooding, Snr.

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