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19 November 2014

Guest Blog: Open Letter to Lauryn Hill by Evita Colon

My mom once owned this medium sized wicker basket. It resembled a snake charmers basket, but little did I know that this basket was like Pandora’s Box for me. Once I opened it, I was exposed and enlightened. The basket contained CDs; we were just entering the middle of the compact disc era; cassettes were going out of style and 8 tracks were rarely mentioned. Without asking, I exposed myself to Hip Hop and Neo-Soul: Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Jilly from Philly, The Fugees and a solo album from you, Ms. Hill. I played those CDs until my mom let me have them. The “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” quickly became my favorite. I began to fall in love with your talent. Your artistic prowess was legendary and unforgettable. Your wisdom rode your flow into the ears and hearts of multiple generations; you acted, you sang, you educated. Your music and poetic expression were something I was familiar with because of my mom’s talent. Sister Act II became one of my favorite movies. My heart still melts when Rita’s mom, a woman afraid of the thought of dreaming, walks in the auditorium in support of her daughter’s dreams as she begins to sing acapella for “Joyful, Joyful.” Your rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” was captivating and compelling. People fell in love with your aura, myself included. As I discovered more and more about you, I had yet to discover my own gift hidden deep within notebooks that only served the purpose of controlling my feelings. 

Over the years, the lyrics of The Miseducation became more than lyrics. As I experienced life, love and loss, the lyrics became a story I was familiar with. The songs became more than beats; they became a rhythmic reflection of how I viewed life. By your words, Ms. Hill, I was inspired and influenced. The Miseducation educated me and I was plugged into the acoustic sounds of Unplugged. The cries and praises critics frowned upon in Unplugged were real. I appreciated an artist sharing their humanity with the world. Your songs soothed my soul and I wanted to do the same for the world. 

Fast forward to my junior year in college. I was still your biggest fan and supporter. I watched the media drag your name through the muddiest of waters. I saw the “fans” that once loved you, give up and agree with critics that believed you lost it. Let me touch base on that. As humans, if we tell the truth, we all lose our minds once in a while. If you’re any kind of realist, seeing the world for what it is, is quite enough to sicken the sane. However, they said you lost “it.” As if your gift just got up and walked away from you. Now I wasn’t there for any live shows in the past to analyze your performance, but I do know you do not just lose a gift ordained by God. One great woman I know named L- Boogie said, “God made this word you can’t get wit’ this.” Like a queen upon her throne, there was still efficacy in your words and transparency in your stride. For that I stood for you in every debate. 

I battled in my mind with the depictions of you in the media and who I known you to be which led me to follow your case that led to your incarceration in 2013. I couldn’t keep up with all the negative commentary. It was similar to my situation in high school. I was written off by many and supported by few. I wanted to be one of your supporters as well so instead of indulging in another one of my Lauryn Hill debates with friends, I penned a letter to you. I know the power of words and the way they can hug the soul. It was a joyous moment to see your recognition of every individual that wrote you. I knew then, not only did you read my letter, but it also helped you get through a hard time as your music has done for me. Life always seems to come in full circle. 

Your personal life was as Kermit would say, “is none of my business”. What was my business was the gift you gave me: your flow with the Fugees, The Miseducation, and Unplugged; your story and wisdom packaged in a plastic disk. At first, I would write poetry and keep it to myself. Then I thought, my story could help others…so I began to perform. 

In December 2013, my fiancé bought me a ticket to your concert in Washington D.C. at the 930 club. The feeling of euphoria warmed me as I stood outside for two hours with a friend in the chilling December weather. When we finally got inside, we waited for you to grace the stage. We sang acapella renditions of your songs to get crowd going and then DJ Rampage amped the crowd with his blends from old school Hip-Hop to Go Go music. When you finally hit the stage, I was in awe of the experience of your live performance. First I watched as a fan, I took hundreds of pictures and sang along to your updated versions of my favorite songs. Then I watched as an artist, I took in your creative process. The way you sought perfection and kept pushing for that until everyone on stage produced the vision you had in
your head. That was beautiful. At some point in the concert I turned to my friend Denija and said, “We are going to meet her”. After your interactive performance of Doo-Wop, the show ended and the crowd slowly moved out. We stayed. We spoke to everyone until we got a hold of DJ Rampage who handed me a set list. I told him I wrote you during the time you were down and he agreed to see if he could get me access to you. When my friend and I was brought to the back to talk to you, I didn’t know what I was going to do or say aside of thanking you. I was grateful for you sparing the time to talk to us. I saw it as an opportunity to show you my gift and when I was given the chance, I took it. I was floored by your excitement as I performed “Speak to my Soul.” I fumbled over my words as I realized I was living some kind of dream. It is not every day your inspiration tells you that your words inspired them. What you do not know is I was going through a rough patch in my life. I was at the beginning of a battle with myself about my dreams. I wanted to give up on them and seek other options after failing time and time again. I always worried about being wasted talent. I was uplifted knowing my words moved such a powerful woman and I knew then “my destiny’s manifest.”I remember our conversation and the words you spoke that night to my friend and I. I had wished I gave my contact info directly to you when you asked. 

However, a year later we would meet again, in the same chill of the winter, after you tirelessly worked the stage for 2 hours at the Philly Electric Factory. Again, I was just expecting a hello but you humbly stopped and talked to each of us in the 30 degree weather. You took pictures, you listened to my friend sing, you dished out advice and out of the millions of people and faces you have seen in the past year, you remembered me and “Speak to my Soul.” You inquired about my life and what I’ve been up to as if you had all the time in the world. You accepted my Speak to my Soul shirts and took pictures with them. You made time for the people that supported you most. During these moments, I felt as if I won every Lauryn Hill debate. You didn’t just talk to talk; you meant what you said and you lived your words. You have rebranded yourself, as we all do after a rough patch in our lives. You, like I, have risen like the Phoenix over adversity, over naysayers, over doubt and contentment. Like myself, you have begun to write a new chapter after people wrote you off. 
Ms. Hill, you have inspired me by giving me the opportunity to inspire you. You are one down to earth queen and I look forward to learning more from you as we continue to get to know each other. 

Thank you, for speaking to my soul. 

Sincerely

Your fan and friend, 

Evita Colon 


04 November 2014

Event Review: Power 99 #Powerhouse2014 (With Trey Songz, Chris Brown, J. Cole, Jeezy and more)

Last night (October 31st) was the annual Power 99 Powerhouse Concert in Philly and I must admit they showed up and showed out! The whole Wells Fargo Center was lit wondering one thing, if Meek would surprise everyone and make an appearance. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But, you couldn't tell that he was not there because every artist, fan, celebrity showed the utmost respect to the Philly native who's still incarcerated. 
The show was one of the best in years as seats filled up by 8PM. Ne-Yo got the crowd going with his electrifying dance moves and slow ballads that we've all known to love him for. Migos, of course with their crunk down south style, got the crowd going and out there seats with songs "Hannah Montana," and "Handsome & Wealthy." As the night progressed and went on, backstage were the Taney Dragons. You may remember them from the Little World Series and the pitching phenom of Mo'Ne Davis. They were brought on stage and honored for their amazing journey.
Then comes Jeezy. You don't have to say too much with him because he does his thing and when they introduced him the crowd went NUTS. He performed "Lose My Mind," "Trap Star," "Go Crazy," and "Seen It All" to name a few. He also showed love to Meek Mill with a tribute. 
I've heard so much about J. Cole's live show as was impatiently waiting to see if he lives up to my expectations. He had a live band, which made the performances even better! Cole had his guitarist do a very Slash-ish solo. To say the least..he killed it; his whole set was dope! After Cole's performance, I went back to the green room where T.I. was doing media and red carpet. After the interviews, it was his turn to hit the stage. I watched his performance on the monitors backstage. What can I say? T.I. lives up to the name KING. The King of turn up had everyone off their feet with songs like "Mediocre," "What You Know About That," and the hit "If It Ain't About The Money". He then did his own tribute to his former artist and label mate Meek Mill by bringing out Meek's Dreamchaser Records artist Omelly. Omelly gave a performance of songs off his mixtape and as that set went on the whole Dreamchasers camp came out. Troy Ave and Trae-bun also came out to show the homie Meek Mill love. 
Followed by that set was the performance the ladies were really waiting to see all night....Trey Songz & Chris Brown. These two also need no introduction. Trey came on stage, did a verse from a song, stopped the music and just looked at the crowd while the ladies screamed as loud as they possibly could. Trey's catalog of music is impeccable, having everyone singing every song word for word and even having the crowd doing some of the songs acapella. He also brought out J.Cole to perform "Can't Get Enough". Chris Brown is by far the best entertainer of this generation. He came out with a varsity jacket and a Michael Jackson-like fedora and again the crowd went CRAZY. He opened up his set performing the single "X." He breaks it down from the gate with his dance team making everyone, including the fellas, get up out their seats and dance. Best performance of the night! Chris' energy fills up the room when he performs. He performed all of his hit singles including "Loyal," "New Flame," "Show Me" w. Kid ink (who also performed earlier that evening) and bringing Trey back out to do other artists songs that they've remixed together.

Bobby Shmurda and Philly's Own Quilly Mills rounded out the show. Shmurda's "Shmoney Dance" set the mood. bringing a couple of well known Philly folks on stage to do the dance as well as acts that performed earlier in the show as well. 
Overall Powerhouse 2014 was another successful event and I look forward to next years show. Maybe we can get Jay-Z? #Justkidding #ButSeriouslyTho

- EMack


06 October 2014

New Video: Beyonce feat. Nicki Minaj - ***Flawless

Posted one hour ago from Beyonce's YouTube page is the video for ***Flawless featuring Nicki Minaj. The clip is the final edit from the Paris On The Run Tour show. No word on if this will act as the official video for the song. It's still dope to watch nonetheless.



24 September 2014

Album Review: @IAMJHUD - "JHud" (Track By Track)

Jennifer Hudson has been on my radar since her 'Dreamgirls'  days. She gave me all of life with her portrayal of Effie White and that soundtrack is a staple in my car even now. Those songs got me through many a road trip.

I have been here for her career ever since and her first album didn't disappoint in the least. I loved every single track. Her second album kind of flew over my head though...but here we are. JHud has released her anticipated third solo album and it's a different sound for her. We're so used to the powerful, ballad filled, JHud releases yet this is more of a dance album. But not just any dance album. This album is giving me "Saturday Night Fever" type old school tease. This is for sure a blast from the past. She's dabbled in disco before but she's all in this go round. As far as public opinion? Not really sure how much the teeny boppers of this generation will appreciate it.  

Check out this "track-by-track" review of "JHud":

1. "Dangerous"

This track sets the direction for the album. Low key singing along to a variety of instruments. Old school, disco feel. I like it.

2. "It's Your World" (Feat. R. Kelly)

This track is a lot smoother than the first track. Her vocals are still on point and the background vocals are dipped in gold. SLEIGH. I'm not sure why R. Kelly refuses to go away though. He made ZERO impact on this song. This is a time where you drop a part 2 and remove the featured singer. You have my full support in this. R. Kelly, sir, as far as listening to ANY MORE tracks with you on them?

3. "He Ain't Going Nowhere" (Feat. Iggy Azalea)

Iggy doesn't fit on this track at all. GWORL. Why did you choose her? I get trying to broaden your audience and expanding your horizons by whyTF did you go down under to Australia? Like no. Return to sender.

Work harder.

4. "Walk It Out"

Wait. LMFAO. Did JHud just curse? I don't think I've ever heard that. I actually love this song. She's giving us just enough. She does tend to overpower songs. This track is PERF. Kind of reminds me of "Pocketbook" in terms of quality. The cursing though. You better show your hood roots.

5. "I Can't Describe (The Way I Feel)" (Feat. T.I.)

This song just viiiiiiibes. I feel like this is what Jhene Aiko attempts to accomplish but she lacks the vocal prowess to make an impact. T.I.'s chill ass rap style compliments this track completely. Finally! A feature I support.

6. "I Still Love You"

The way JHud is singing on this track I'm not sure if she really loves them or hates them. The passion is real. I'm a little scared though. Don't mess with her. She got me feeling like you better love her ass back...or else.

7. "Just That Type Of Girl"

Solid track produced by Pharrell. We're still in dance fever mode but I'm still vibing. JHud is killing the adlibs. I'm looking at you boy/I'm thinking about the things we can do and explore. Well, okay then. It's all about what she wants.

9. "Bring Back The Music"

The first ballad! I've been waiting for this track. I missed my Jennifer. I'm not sure why she strayed so far from what her fans love to appease the masses. She beautifully croons Somewhere along the line we lost sight/ And it made the music go away and the way she utilizes her falsetto on this chorus??? I fell TF out. Won't you say that we're bringing back/Gotta bring back/Bring back the music...Mission ACCOMPLISHED.

10. "Say It"

Michael Jackson and afro funk all in one track?!? I am in HEAVEN! JHud implores "Do you want me? Do you need me?" I don't know about you but I want AND need more of this on the album! I promise the "The Way You Make Me Feel" tease had me like

11. "Moan"

TAKE ME TO THE KING JHUD!!! If this ballad isn't beautiful? LORDT. She better dammit sing! I'm every bit of slain in the blood right now. Long tracks usually piss me off but I wanted all 7 minutes of this, mmkay? EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. She was giving me Effie White. You better channel heavyset Jennifer!!!

This album was solid. It wasn't typical JHud so I'm slightly disappointed. I know people like to complain that she tends to scream a lot but I need some screaming in my life. Outside of the final track she didn't give me the vocals I've come to expect and love. You happy people? She's toned it down. But I'll take loud ass JHud over this tame one any day.

Purchase "JHud"  online and in stores NOW!

Natasha Marie


New Music: @KeyshiaCole - "Remember Pt. 2"


I, personally, am a proponent of letting great songs remain that. No remixes and for sure no part twos. This track is definitely no exception. In fact, it is the rule. Keyshia Cole is giving me everything that I didn't ask for on this track. Please, by all means, do not listen to this song at a high volume in headphones. She is pitchy, shrill, and TF hurt. I mean, we all know she could stand to take voice lessons and we've come to expect mediocrity from her in the vocal department but this is a new level of IDGAF. Like did you even try? Keyshia, GWORL, you better sing through that pain, and from the sound of it, tears. You gotta be choking on somebody's emotion to have produced this garbled mess. But alas, the "Hurt THOTS of America" are going to be praising Black Jesus for this abomination of a track. Meanwhile myself, and the other sane women (and gays), will just stick to the original "Remember".

Listen to this new butt ass hurt anthem below. THOTS unite.



Video By Singersroom.com

Natasha Marie


23 September 2014

New Music: @kendricklamar - "i"

King Kendrick Lamar has finally released his anticipated single following the release of his 2012 debut album "good kid, m.a.a.d. city" which proved to be highly successful...although he was ROBBED at the Grammys but we're not going to talk about that sham of an awards show. "i" is a very different sound than we're used to from Godrick but I can dig it. I was already a fan of his work but ever since his verse on "Control" I've been waiting with bated breath for his next release. He literally had thee entire rap universe like 

He has yet to bless us with his album title or cover art. But until he does take a listen to his newest track and relish in his new sound, courtesty of Rahki:








 
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