Archive for Music

Album Review: Akala ‘DoubleThink’

From the classical music that hits your ears on the intro, to the sickeningly insightful and observant lyrics and the gentle piano that signs the album off; DoubleThink, the latest offering from UK Hip Hop artist Akala, is not what you’d expect.

This is Akala’s third album and he’s come a long way from where he started on the underground scene back in 2004. He’s always been a highly lyrical rapper, with complex rhymes about widespread issues that would label him as a ‘conscious’ artist. A label that, on some levels, has been both a blessing and a curse for him, as conscious Hip Hop is effectively an oxymoron within mainstream music.

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Album Review: Jaheim ‘Another Round’

2010 marks the return of the singer/songwriter with the unmistakeable deep baritone voice, full of soul and nostalgia. In a class of his own amongst his soul singing peers, it’s Jaheim!

With his impressive first release Ghetto Love back in 2001, he conjured comparisons to greats like Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass. It’s this mature sound in a youthful package that makes Jaheim the old soul voice for the new generation, so his latest effort and fifth album Another Round is a welcome return. After a three year break since Makings of a Man in 2007, it seems Jaheim is continuing in the vein of the refined gentleman we began to see then, and it’s definitely working for him.

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It’s not right, but it’s OK

I’m sure you know by now that here at Phresh Mentality, we blog about the IMPORTANT stuff! Nah, we don’t make much mention of life changing things like the new government, the volcanic ash or the oil spill in Mexico. No. We’re here to talk about the stuff that REALLY matters. And right now, that’s WHITNEY!

Those of you on twitter are probably aware, from my frantic blow by blow account of the evening, that I went to see Whitney Houston in concert at the end of April. I think Twitter is part of the reason I haven’t been blogging because I feel like I’ve put it all out into cyberspace once already. But anyway, you can hear it again!

It was a thrill to see Whitney live but as expected, she wasn’t her best at ALL. That voice of hers has most definitely left the building and got lost somewhere, cause it ain’t coming back! What made matters worse is that she did the whole live thing of changing up the melodies to the songs. That sounds good if your voice is still on point but when you’re singing classics like ‘Greatest Love of All’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ the audience doesn’t wanna hear an alternative version, they wanna sing along dammit! You’ve already heard in my earlier post how she killed Donny Hathaway all over again with a disgraceful version of ‘A Song For You’. In tribute to MJ, no less. I could just see him shielding his eyes and ears, squealing at her to stop.

I will admit that I felt something when she starting singing ‘I Love The Lord’. That’s one of my favourite songs from ‘The Preachers Wife’ and I actually had a feeling she might do it. It was a nice moment. Her encore of ‘Million Dollar Bill’ was good too. She’s still a great performer and as always, the sweat was dripping within minutes!

Anywho, I realise all of this is about a month too late, but I wanted to write this post to address the whole issue of people wanting their money back.

I will say this:

You have nobody to blame but yourselves for spending that money.

Here’s why:

If you’re a big enough Whitney fan to buy tickets in the first place, then you must follow her career somewhat. Therefore, you would have seen her recent performances on Good Morning America or X Factor and realised she wasn’t her old self. Knowing this, you would be somewhat disillusioned to believe that she would sound any different on tour so you purchased tickets KNOWING Whitney wasn’t the old Whitney. Basically, don’t expect a racehorse when you bought a donkey. Even if it once looked like a racehorse and you paid racehorse prices for it, it looked like a donkey in the brochure. So quit complaining! Either way, they’re not getting their money back! Clive Davis has already spent it!

That is all.

[Photo source: My camera]

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I’ve been so many places in my life and time

Heyyyyy YOU! How are ya?!

First of all, regarding the title of this post – this Donny Hathaway song (A Song For You) seems to be following me EVERYWHERE at the moment, and I mean everywhere! It’s either becoming really popular again or I’m just noticing it after hearing Whitney murder it at her concert. I swear Donny must have been rolling in his grave. Michael too, as she was singing it as a tribute to him.

I realise the whole ‘I’m back’ post is redundant here because I’m totting up so many of them it’s shameful! Let’s just get over all of the welcome back awkwardness and keep it at “hey!” shall we? Great!

So since you last heard from me, a lot has happened! A cloud of ash threatened the holidays of millions, the country got caught up in voting mania and we now have a Tory government. Big things! The biggest news around these parts though, is that I added another year to my age. I’ll admit, I forgot it was my birthday in the morning and had a positively average day. Birthdays just aren’t the same when you’re older! I did, however, have a lovely meal in the evening with my nearest and dearest which I enjoyed thoroughly (even though what we were eating was supposed to be ‘soul food’ but could have been described as anything BUT. I guess that’s what you get for having dinner at a ‘soul food’ joint in Camden rather than South Carolina… or something.)

Yah, that’s me looking pleased as punch with my cake – which wasn’t made by the restaurant and was incidentally the best part of the meal! Ooh and I got to drink about 5 cans of root beer – my all time favourite soft drink! I think I overdosed cause I felt very sick afterwards, and probably gained 3 pounds from the 165 cals in each can, but it was worth it

What else? I’ve been doing a LOT of poetry this month! May is proving to be a great month for me! OH MY GOD, I performed at RONNIE SCOTT’S! THEEEE Ronnie Scott’s Jazz bar in Soho! (If you don’t know – get to know!) That was a total ‘career’ highlight for me! Oh and Roy Ayers (yes, THE Roy Ayers) was playing downstairs at the same time!

I was nervous at first because I was the first and only spoken word artist this particular event had ever featured. Also, the audience talked shamelessly through the first artist’s set so I thought I was a goner! However, when I got on stage and started to do my thing the crowd quietened down to a pin drop silence – I couldn’t have asked for more. So all in all, a wonderful experience!

I’ve had another little ‘poetry career’ highlight this month too, (like I said, May has been good to me!) I was interviewed on Colourful Radio by the lovely Elayne Smith! I’ve gotta give all thanks to Adelaide Mackenzie from the amazing event Blessed Souls for that one, as she was kind enough to let me share the spotlight with her for the radio show. My first experience of radio went very well and I got to perform two poems live on air too! (That’s me with Elayne in the photo)

I also went to see Fantasia in concert. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while, but not to the extent that I bought all of her albums. I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t got a free ticket but I’m SO glad I did! It was one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a while and being right next to the stage really helped! I was near the front barriers when she requested that people come into the photography pit (which was reserved for press). Obviously the crowd went out of their minds trying to get into that metre wide gap in front of the stage. Yes, I was one of them! I was in such a prime position, I wasn’t gonna waste the opportunity! I wish I could say I swiftly jumped the barriers however I can’t. I tried and failed several times to hoist myself over them. I finally succeeded with a little help from my friends (who came to my aid after I nearly went head first over them). I’m a bit bruised and battered after the experience but it was worth it! Fantasia is a true performer and she really showed it! I got some fantastic pics too! Check out one of them on the right.

I’m just realising that not blogging for so long is very detrimental to the diary aspect of this blog because too much has gone on for me to possibly fit it all in. This post is already long enough to have you drooling with boredom onto your keyboards (if you even got this far) so I’ll wrap it up now… The following posts will be some nail art pics (which I HOPE you missed ;). There are WAY more to come but the pics are on my mums camera, which she just took with her so I can’t upload them! That can be something to look forward to I guess.

I’m gonna try to update more regularly as, aside from you knowing everything that’s going on in my life, it’s nice to be to look back and remember what I’ve been up to if I write about stuff WHEN it happens and not months later when I can’t remember much of it!

’till then my friends!

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New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the NAIL ART!

It’s no secret that I LOVE Badu, and after seeing the fabulous artwork for her equally fabulous new album ‘New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh’ I HAD to replicate some of it on my nails! So here they are:

I used a gradient of a lighter pinky purple (by Barry M) to a darker purple as the base. Essies Cove Copper was used for the Ankh and other symbol, then China Glaze’s Four Leaf Clover, Barry M’s Royal Blue, white and yellow for the flowers.

It surprisingly didn’t take too long and I’m loving the result!

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Erykah’s butt in that video about a window and a seat…

Don’t let the title of this post fool you, that is NOT all I saw when I watched the video for Erykah Badu’s new single ‘Window Seat’. (If you’re one of the few people that HAVEN’T seen it yet, go to www.ErykahBadu.com and click on the Ankh. It’s exhilarating)

I’m not gonna go through all of the things people are saying about it. Just watch, and try to look beyond the nudity and all of the SURFACE things and please look to the deeper meaning of the video. The JFK references, the location, the way it was shot and the concept behind it. Also, the song is wonderful but I recommend listening to it without the video in order to appreciate it fully.

With regards to the whole GroupThink movement. Saying too much about it and this video seems to me to be perpetuating it, but I will say this: I see what Erykah’s trying to do, it’s effective, but I do think her efforts are going to inspire more GroupThink from the individuals trying to BE so individual. For example, even me liking this video, commending it and blogging about it in an effort to get others to watch it, is, could in itself be GroupThink.

However, GroupThink has also reared it’s ugly head in the form of the massive criticism the video has received. If you’re one of the people that doesn’t like or doesn’t get the video, listen to what she says at the end and think about your thoughts on the piece. Is GroupThink (in another form) leading you to judge the video before you’ve even thought about it? Nudity is not just a means to sell records or to gain attention. It’s natural, does not have to be sexual and can be an art form.

That being said, yes, my eyes were on her butt for a large portion of the video and yes, she looks great naked! LOL

P.S. Her album is out in 1 day, can’t wait!! (GroupThink THAT!)

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Phresh Music Picks: DivaGeek – Sunday

I do a little writing for SoulCulture.co.uk and the editor sent the link to a new song from Vula Malinga (Lead singer from the Basement Jaxx) and Ben Jones, who together make up the duo ‘DivaGeek’ (she’s the Diva, he’s the Geek). I love the name and this song, ‘Sunday’ is pure perfection! I haven’t stopped listening to it since I got the link last week. The electro-ness of it gives me a kinda Erykah Badu feel, especially at the beginning and as you all know – if it’s Badu, I love it!

It’s the kind of music that I love listening to, any time, anywhere and I think it has a nice twist as an electro version of a Gospel song. Positive lyrics + soulful music = PHRESH!
Vula actually said, when talking about the track, that:

“There’s times when I’m so thankful for the life I have what with my singing taking me to many countries that I had to at least dedicate one song to the Man upstairs! Ben isn’t a Christian but he loves the song, so I wrote it in a way where it can be interpreted in other positive ways not necessarily in a Christian way. It’s my way of saying, ‘Thank you’.”

I love that because I’m not a Christian but I LOVE Gospel music and songs that are positive and relate to a higher power.

TAKE A LISTEN:

Vula’s vocals have always been crazy. I saw her live at the Jazz Cafe once and she was AMAZING! There was one song that she sang, I can’t even remember the name of it but remnants of the tune have lingered in my mind, and I’m still singing it to this day.
Not only does she have a great voice, she’s lovely too. She was just milling around the venue before her performance that day and I had a brief chat with her, not actually realising who she was or that she would be performing. The penny dropped once she got on stage!

Vula released an EP in 2008 called ‘If U Want It’ which I’m ashamed to say I haven’t purchased. That will be rectified soon enough! As for her current goings on, apparently the duo will be gigging more and I’m eagerly awaiting their album which they will be releasing through their independent label, DivaGeek Records. Keep your eye out!

[Photo from Vula's Myspace Page - myspace.com/vulavocals]

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