JumpinJack AJ

JJFP.com Potnas
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About JumpinJack AJ

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    Suburban Kid Wit An Urban Degree
  • Birthday 05/06/1980

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  • AIM JumpinJack AJ
  • Website URL https://www.facebook.com/jumpinjackaj

Profile Information

  • Gender Male
  • Location H-town, Maryland, USA
  • Interests Hip-Hop, Comedy, Acting, Writing, Bringing positive vybes in this negative world.

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  1. REMEMBER DJ JAZZY JEFF...

    This article is pretty stupid. It's essentially for non-Hip-Hop fans who know nothing about DJ Jazzy Jeff apart from the character Jazz on FBofBA. I'm sharing it any way... http://www.providr.com/dj-jazzy-jeff-then-and-now?utm_source=MarlonWayans&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=providr
  2. PRAYER AND SUPPORT CIRCLE

    I'm sorry to hear this. Prayers up.
  3. New music - caution in the wild

    "Caution In The Wild" is better than most of the songs on the soundtrack. I got the soundtrack. It's one of those albums I have to be in the mood to listen to. I like it over all. I even find the songs by artists I don't particularly like somewhat listenable. FP's song would have fit perfectly on it. In fact, I think it would have balanced it out nicely. He probably realized he was being too picky about the song, which is why he launched it on the app. For those complaining about the sound of the song, I'm confused why it's not understood that this song was done for the soundtrack, to fit the vibe of the film. It can't be held to the standard of his regular music. The soundtrack is doing well. I wish they'd release a deluxe edition featuring the "Caution In The Wild." Even though we live in a digital age, nothing beats CD quality sound. People are unaware of the song because they are unaware of the app. If he put it on the soundtrack, released a single and/or video, it would get some kind of buzz.
  4. This is one of those "slideshow" articles with mostly common knowledge to fans, but you guys still might find it interesting. It's not very long. http://www.looper.com/15004/legend-2-never-got-made/s/image-2052/
  5. N.W.A.’s First Manager Jerry Heller Dead at 75 By Peter A. Berry September 3, 2016 10:41 AM The first person responsible for managing legendary West Coast rap group N.W.A. has died. According to the folks at All Hip Hop News, former N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller has passed away at age 75. His cause of death is currently unknown. Although Heller managed the likes of Otis Redding, The Who, Ike & Tina Turner, Black Sabbath and many more, he will be remembered most for his relationship with Eric “Eazy-E” Wright and managing the incendiary N.W.A. Heller and Eazy founded Ruthless Records in 1987. The label managed to sell over 100 million records and its platform made N.W.A. the most notorious musical act in the land. Heller definitely played a huge role in bringing N.W.A. to the big leagues, but his legacy in hip-hop is somewhat complicated. In 1991, former N.W.A. member Ice Cube released “No Vaseline,” a scathing diss track aimed at members of the group and Heller, who he claimed cheated him out of a lot of money. Last summer, the Cube and Dr. Dre-produced film Straight Outta Compton brought up a few points about Heller’s allegedly immoral business practices, and Heller was pretty upset. TMZ reported that Heller was suing Dre, Cube and other Straight Outta Compton producers $75 million for defamation. At the time Heller claimed that the film’s scenes which depicted him withholding a $75,000 check from Cube, eating lobster dinners and tricking Dre and Cube into signing bad contracts didn’t happen in real life. It’s unclear what will happen to Heller’s case now. Read More: N.W.A.’s First Manager Jerry Heller Dead at 75 - XXL | http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2016/09/nwa-first-manager-jerry-heller-dead-75/?trackback=tsmclip
  6. http://www.vibe.com/2016/08/age-aint-nothing-but-a-number-aaliyah-week/ Aaliyah Week: ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number’ & The Isley Brothers Cover That Placed Aaliyah On The Map Features Camille Augustin @JadoreCamille | August 26, 2016 - 1:15 pm Aaliyah broke onto the music scene in 1994 as a young and eager teenager, ready to finally launch her music career. After landing a deal with Jive Records thanks to her uncle/manager Barry Hankerson, the anticipated arrival of her Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number album brought a new wave of R&B ballads sprinkled in between hard knock beats. From the “Intro” to the “Back & Forth (Remix),” the sound of the ’90s was in full swing under the executive production of R. Kelly. Aaliyah’s fleecy vocals blended seamlessly while the track list transitioned from the posse anthem “Down with the Clique” to the wine-down of “Old School.” With the previous visual arrival of “Back & Forth,” the anticipation only began to build when people placed a face and stylish look of the voice behind the radio hit. And thus, a star was born. Below, former Jive A&R Jeff Sledge and original composer/writer of The Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best (You Are Love)” explain why Aaliyah was years ahead of her future musical domination. How Aaliyah’s Introduction To The Music Industry Set Her Up For Stardom Although R. Kelly was primarily responsible for crafting the sound of ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,’ Jeff Sledge had the task of sequencing the album in a way that allowed you to play the project from top to bottom. Sledge, who can currently be heard dropping industry gems on the Pop Life Podcast, recalls how Aaliyah’s debut came to be. VIBE: What did you think of the talent that Jive was home to at the time? Jeff Sledge: I always say that our roster, even up until the end, our roster was the best roster assembled. Even back then there was KRS-One, Will Smith was there at that time, R. Kelly of course, UGK, E-40, Mystikal, Keith Murray, we just kept getting more and more great artists as time went on. The roster was crazy. And Aaliyah eventually became a part of that roster. On a podcast with Billboard, you said that her uncle Barry Hankerson, who was managing R. Kelly, brought her to Jive? He had brought Aaliyah to Jive and I think he started bring her to Jive when she was probably around 11 or 12? She was young when she put out the first album, but she was like 11 or 12 when he first started shopping her to Jive. The guy who owned Jive at the time, Clive Calder, he’s also an A&R person by trade. He was basically head of the A&R department. Barry kept shopping her to him and he saw something, but he said, ‘She’s not ready, she’s still young, she needs to be developed more.’ Barry would go back and develop her more. Aaliyah was in a performing arts high school in Detroit, like the Fame kind of school, but for Detroit. She was always a creative girl, that was her path, singing and dancing. Barry kept bringing her back. I think when she was 14 was when Clive said, ‘Okay, we’re ready to take a shot at her.’ And they signed her and started to put together her work on that first album. You said that you guys didn’t sign her right away, but did you notice a star quality in her when she first came to Jive at 11 or 12? I wasn’t there at the 11 or 12 stages. When I first met her, it was probably when she first got signed. But again, 14 is still really young. She was in 10th grade or something. She grew up to be a beautiful woman, but she was a cute girl and she was very personable, very nice. In talking to her, she had ideas of her own of what she wanted to do and what kind of records she wanted to make. All that stuff that she was doing back then with the hair over the eye, a lot of that was her. Some of it was Robert [Kelly], he definitely had some influence on her style as well, but a lot of it was her. She had her own vision, her imaging grew. It didn’t fall off because she didn’t remind you of anybody. It was her knowing what she wanted to do and how she wanted to look. Even as a young kid you could tell that she had that something. CREDIT: YouTube How do you think Aaliyah’s style and sound fit into that list of artists that were on Jive? With those guys, I don’t want to say her style didn’t fit. E-40 was from the Bay Area so they had their own sound. KRS-One and A Tribe Called Quest were from New York so they had their own sound as well. I don’t know if her sound fit with them, but she was a great addition to the label because we didn’t have a young girl like that rapping or singing. A girl that was straight up R&B like that, we didn’t have anybody. It was a hole that she filled. When it came time to begin the process for her debut album, what was the brainstorming session like behind it? To be honest with you, it wasn’t really much of a brainstorming session because Barry was managing Robert. He was coming off of 12 Play so he was on fire. It wasn’t much of a brainstorm because Robert was the creative genius. Barry said, ‘Hey my guy who I’m managing, he’s going to make the record with my niece,’ and that was it. Nobody disagreed because Robert was a genius. It was like, ‘Well, of course, why not?’ It wasn’t that deep. It wasn’t that hard to figure out that that would be a good idea. R. Kelly seemed like he had that Midas Touch when it came to R&B music at that time. Absolutely, he was starting to produce for a lot of people at that time too, because 12 Play was such a big record. Even on the first record, there was still a lot of people saying he was trying to be Guy, be like Aaron Hall, and by the second record when he came out with “Bump N Grind,” “Your Body Is Calling,” that stuff started to go away and people started to say, ‘Oh yeah, this dude is the sh**,’ especially when they found out that he was producing and writing everything on his own. Him doing the album with Aaliyah was easy, that was a lay up. I’m assuming it was always the plan to have R. Kelly do the producing and songwriting or were there any discussions to bring in other producers or songwriters along the way? Not that I remember, Robert was going to do the whole record. Clive was a publishing guru, so he and Barry weren’t trying to cut a lot of people in on the album to share the publishing. They said we’re going to do this with one guy and the publishing will be easy to deal with because it’s one person. On that same podcast, you said the team at Jive didn’t hear the album until it was finished. What was the team’s reaction when you heard it in full? It was dope, it was the sh**, it was crazy. Robert and her made the record in Chicago in the summer and she was off to school. She would fly to Chicago, fly down from Detroit, and they’d make the records in the two months that she was off and she’d hang out in Chicago, pick up the vibes. Her and Robert spent a lot of time together going to arcades and bowling so that Robert could catch her vibe and write the songs that fit her and what kids her age and her friends were talking about. When we finally heard the album we were blown away because the album was dope. It was basically like listening to an R. Kelly album, but with a little girl singing. Obviously the subject matter wasn’t sexual, but the overall production and the sound of the record was like a Robert album as a little girl. It’s like the first time people listened to the first Lil’ Kim album, it’s almost like listening to Biggie as a girl. It was the same kind of thing, it was crazy. Once the album was released, what was the reaction from the masses? People loved the first single, “Back and Forth.” The first single blew and people loved the video because it was a very fun, energetic video. It represented what 15- or 16-year-old kids were doing at that time or dressing like at that time. It was a perfect depiction of what kids her age around the country were doing. But she had her own little style so it influenced little girls to start dressing like her or doing the hair over the eye thing and the sunglasses. You started seeing a lot of Aaliyah clones. It was great, it was amazing. “At Your Best” was the next single and that was dope. When Robert did the remix, it really took the album to another place. The remix was so crazy. That remix, to me, is what really blew the album to the stratosphere. Frank Ocean recently covering that song brought back that nostalgic feeling people felt when they first heard Aaliyah’s rendition. It was the Isley Brothers record originally, but her version is actually way more famous than theirs. When I got the album, I didn’t know it was a cover of the Isley Brothers. I always thought it was Aaliyah’s original song. If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think the Isley Brothers version was ever a single. It was like an album cut. A lot of people didn’t really know that because it wasn’t a big album single. It wasn’t even one of their more popular album cuts. They have a lot of album cuts that are very popular too and it wasn’t even that. It was this hidden gem. I think it was a Chicago thing. Knowing Robert, it was probably a big record in Chicago and he just liked the record and he just decided to do it over. Do you know how the title of the album came to be? With that type of stuff with the title and a lot of the creative stuff, it wasn’t even Barry Hankerson per se, a lot of it was Robert. If I’m not mistaken, but I believe Robert named the album that. He was really the executive producer. On the creative side it was him. The only thing he didn’t do on the creative side was sequence the album. I sequenced the album. Barry Hankerson let me sequence the album which was dope because I didn’t think he would let me. When I shared with him the sequence, he said, ‘You like the way this sounds running like this?’ I said, ‘Yeah it sounds dope.’ He said, ‘That’s the sequence then.’ It was just that simple. It was me and him, there was no big meeting, he came by the office one day and I wrote the sequence out to him. That was it. But naming the album, that was all Robert. He was the driving force behind it. On the opener of the album there’s a voice from a woman named Tia Hawkins, that’s also heard throughout the album. Do you know how she was brought on board? I would assume that was Robert, but I don’t remember that. It was so long ago. I’m going to assume that was Robert. If anybody was on there rapping, that was probably Robert bringing her in or maybe it was one of Aaliyah’s friends. I feel like Tia had that hard side that Aaliyah probably didn’t possess in terms of sound or vocals. What did you think about that contrast between the gritty sound mixed with Aaliyah’s angelic vocals? Robert was like a street guy so he was always going to find a way to have that street energy around. He always used to figure out a way to put a rapper on something or make the drums harder or do a remix. He was that guy, so I’m sure that was Robert wanting to balance the album out and make sure it had a hard edge to it. Aaliyah was a sweet girl. She wasn’t no prissy little girl either, so I could see her wanting to have that energy on the record as well. People, especially at that time she was so young, people thought that she was this sweet little girl. She was a sweet little girl, but she liked rap and whatever else was going on at the time like all the other young kids at the time. I could see her wanting to have that energy on her record because that’s what was hot. What did you think about the fusion between Aaliyah’s vocals and R. Kelly’s hip hop influenced beats? I think that was the genius of the record. The fact that she had that really light voice, and then at that time, he had that hard edge, and big drums, I think that was the genius of the record. He was able to marry the two. The sweet and the hard at the same time. CREDIT: YouTube When you first met her, did you have a different vision of what you thought the album would’ve sounded like? Hmm, I don’t think so. I just wanted to see what Robert was going to do. I was excited about Robert making the record because he was a genius. That’s what I wanted to see, where he was going to go with it. I didn’t have a particular vision or thought in my head, like, ‘Her album should sound like this or that.’ If someone is making your record, you trust them that they create something dope. I just wanted to see what he was going to do with it. Just from the album cover, you could tell by Aaliyah’s style that she was about to be a different type of artist. When you first met her, what did you think about her fashion? I thought it was dope. There were rumors about if she had one eye, crazy sh** because she always used to wear her hair over her eye. A lot of people used to think, ‘She’s blind in one eye that’s why she wears her hair like that.’ But obviously when you met her you realize no, she has normal vision. She was cool, a nice young girl. Her and her mom were very close, and her mom is Barry’s sister. Her mom would always be with her. They were a nice family getting it in the entertainment business. On that same podcast, you talked about the mysteriousness with her eye being covered or her sunglasses. Did you think that that style would continue onto her next album, One in a Million? She had shades on that album cover as well, and it wasn’t until her last album cover that she was bare face in a sense. I didn’t know how long she was going to continue to ride that wave, obviously it was working, but what bugged me out was how many young girls started copying her style. That’s what really blew me away. Seeing young girls wearing the ski hats with their hair out, their hair doobie down and the sunglasses and the Doc Martins and the big jeans, like the tomboy-ish dressing. That’s what bugged me out, like how many people copied her swag. Even now, it’s more than 20 years later and you still see variations of that. It’s not exactly the same, but you still see young girls with a little ski hat with their hair down and sunglasses on. It’s still going. It still bugs me out how many young girls today love her. She’s sadly been passed away for a minute, but it’s like her influence is still going. I met a girl group previously and one of them is 18 and the other two are 20. One of the girls said, ‘Our influence is Aaliyah,’ and I’m like that’s crazy. You’re only 20 years old, you’re really as old as her first album. She’s still influencing people to this day. That blows my mind. As a new artist during that time, why was Aaliyah granted that free reign to groom herself in terms of fashion instead of maybe the label inserting their opinion on how they want to market her in terms of looks? I think a lot of that is because of the way she came to Jive through Barry Hankerson and with Robert being involved, it was set up so that she wouldn’t have to [change]. The label wasn’t involved until the record got done. Then we went into marketing, promotion, getting the records on the radio, some publicity. Previous to that, it was set up so she could make her record on her own without anybody being all over her. When it came to style, it was the same thing. ‘This is what we’re doing,’ they didn’t come in really asking. It was, ‘This is how she’s going to dress, this is what she’s going to wear. It wasn’t like, ‘What do y’all think? Do you think she should do this?’ It wasn’t like that. Walk me through the process of sequencing the album, like how many songs you were presented with. Did you have to cut out any tracks? By the time I was presented with the songs, they were the songs but there weren’t in any order. The process was simple. People sequence albums all kinds of different ways. Some people like to put the hits on the front, ‘You have to put the single as the third song,’ some people do it that way. But I always like the sequence the album so that it moves and flows from top to bottom so it’s not like, ‘I like the first five and then the rest of the album I don’t listen to.’ That’s what I did. I sat with it and picked out what worked best. I know I put “Back and Forth” earlier in the record because that’s what you should do, but I said I want the next one to balance it out. At that time it was still cassette tapes so you would make a tape of the sequence, then listen to it over and over and say this song should go here, this song should go there, back and forth until it gets right. Some artists seek to tell a story in a sense, on their albums. Since you were presented with the songs, how did you seek to assist that narrative? I wasn’t really trying to tell a story. I just wanted the album to flow well and you could listen to it from the first song to the last song and not feel like it’s out of balance. I wasn’t really trying to tell a story, I just wanted people to be able to put the album on for the first song and listen all the way through without skipping or listen to the record to the point where you’re like ‘I like the first six and then I never listen to seven through 14.’ I don’t like to do that. That’s what it was, it wasn’t about a story. I just wanted it to move right. When her debut album dropped, did you and the label gain a sense that you had something epic on your hands or were you guys just living in the moment from the public’s reaction? You could tell, because “Back & Forth” was already exploding so there was a big pull from the marketplace for her record because the single was so big. Robert was on fire, he also had records in the marketplace so people realized that he was doing her record and “Back and Forth” was a big record and Robert was a big writer and producer and artist as well. It was pretty easy to see, to feel rather. Around the time of the album, the rumors circulated about her and R. Kelly and even VIBE I believe broke that news. How did Jive seek to place the attention back on the music? We just kept trying to pump the records out. It was a horrible scandal, a horrible situation for everybody involved so we tried to keep the focus on the music and the videos and it wasn’t like now with social media. Twitter wasn’t on fire with it. But once VIBE did that article, it definitely put a whole different energy around the project and about her and Robert. Previously to that, nobody even thought like that. They just said, ‘Oh, Robert produced her record,’ and that was it. What was the atmosphere like at Jive once VIBE printed that article? It was very uncomfortable and I’ll leave it at that [laughs]. Was the record label worried that the quality of the music would get eclipsed by the controversy? Yeah of course, you want people to focus on the music and not the controversy that’s going on, but it snowballed and it got a life of its own. We were definitely trying to keep people focused on the record because the record was selling. It still sold extremely well. We were trying to keep that going, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Following her debut, what did you think of Aaliyah’s musical progression? I thought it was amazing. Timbaland and Missy were incredible. It was awesome, it’s like they went to another place with it. I think people are still trying to figure out how to copy that sound and that swag now. It was great. I was a fan of hers regardless if she was on the label or not. She was still dope as hell. How The Original Version Of “At Your Best” Was Composed Chris Jasper lives, eats and breathes music. Since the age of seven, the Ohio native learned to play piano by ear and continued his passion to pursue music all the way through Juilliard and Long Island University C.W. Post. Throughout his academic career, Jasper formed The Jazzman Trio with family friends Ernie and Marvin Isley, and later joined The Isley Brothers, which at the time included Rudolph, Ronald and O’Kelly. With a background in music composition, Jasper was partly responsible for constructing many of The Isley Brothers’ hits including “For The Love Of You” and “At Your Best.” Frank Ocean recently covered the latter song, bringing back nostalgic feelings of when the late Aaliyah covered the 1976 hit on her debut 18 years later. Here, Jasper recalls how the original melody came to be. VIBE: How did you become a part of the Isley Brothers? Chris Jasper: Our families knew each other all of my life. We were from the same neighborhood in Cincinnati. When my sister married Rudolph Isley, one of the older brothers, the families got even closer. It was a lifetime relationship. Musically, what happened was the three of us younger guys [Marvin and Ernie Isley] when I was in junior high school and high school, we formed our own little trio called The Jazzman Trio and we would play in local areas in New Jersey, schools, even bowling alleys. Wherever we could play and the older brothers would come and see us play and they liked what they saw. At one point they wanted us to start recording with them and that was right before or right after we formed a trio. It was shortly after that because they really liked what we were doing. They took us down to a studio and recorded one of our sessions. Shortly after that we started to record and tour with them. It was a progression of things. We eventually formed into one band. You guys recorded Harvest for the World, which was a big success on the charts. What was the process behind that album? It was an album that we wanted to get messages out in. “Harvest for the World” was the lead single from there. “People of Today” was another song on there that had a message to it. I remember when we recorded “Harvest for the World,” I felt that it needed to have a setup, something to setup that song. I remember saying, give me a few minutes I’m going to try to come up with something in the studio and the prelude to that song I came up with right in the studio. It took me about a half hour, but I went back to some of my compositional skills. I took chord progressions from some of the songs and combined them, then came up with a different melody and constructed the lyrics from the songs, recorded it right there in the studio. It was conceived right there in the studio. I think that was the only idea that was conceived in the studio and recorded right after it was conceived [laughs]. It was definitely a message album in a way because of those two songs. Also on that album, “At You Best” was recorded. What was the inspiration behind that song? I read that it was dedicated to the Isley Brothers’ mother? After we did the song and after we recorded it, I think Marvin did a dedication to her. I think we just wanted to do a ballad. It started with Ernie. We wanted to do a nice ballad, a love song. That’s what we were thinking about with that song. As we worked on it, it developed more and more and it got better and better. I did a lot of keyboard work on it, which is the sound of the song basically. We wanted to do a good love song because we were known at that point, and I think that was ’76, we were known for doing R&B ballads. “For The Love Of You” was on the previous album and “Let Me Down Easy” was another one on that album. That was a strong ballad too from that album. We wanted to continue that, writing good ballads, and it turned into what it turned into. It got a lot of play, people went back and found it and said, ‘hey, this is a good song, let’s do another version of it.’ Aaliyah did a good job with that, too. What was the studio session like for “At Your Best?” I did a whole lot of the instrumentation. Once I knew the chord progression and I knew where it was going as far as that was concerned, we would start laying down those tracks. Basically we would start with, if Ernie played with the drums, we would start with the drums and whatever my main keyboard was going to be, and lay those two tracks down first and it opened up other things. Sometimes Marvin would play along with us and the three of us would lay down three tracks first and then if we need to add a guitar later we would add that. Or if we needed to add keyboards, we would add those. It was recorded in stages. That’s how we approached it because we were the only three musicians. When you constructed “At Your Best,” what type of feeling did you guys set out to convey? In my opinion, it was very a soulful and touching song. What type of emotion did you hope the song would translate to the listener? It was a song that was a very personal song lyrically. We wanted it to be a song like if a person wanted to express how they felt about another person, and in this case a man and a woman, you could just put on that song and it would speak for him. That’s how I saw it personally. I saw it like if you really want to say something to a woman, you really care about her, just put this song on and it’ll tell her how you feel. I guess that worked because a lot of people said that they like the lyrics to that song. When you heard Aaliyah’s version what were your thoughts? She began singing the opening lyrics a capella and then the instrumental comes in right after. What was running through your head when you first heard it? It was great. Every time I hear someone do a cover of anything that I worked on I’m very pleased because that means they thought it was important enough to record it. There’s thousands of songs that people can choose from to do covers of and if they single out something that I had my hand in I’m amazed. I’m like, ‘That’s fantastic,’ especially if they do a good version, which I felt her version was very, very good. I was happy to hear it. It’s like when Whitney Houston did “For The Love Of You.” That was another time I said, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ She did a great job with that one, too. I’m always very pleased when I hear that. “At Your Best” also wasn’t a single for you guys. Why do you think people gravitated towards that melody? It became a radio hit but it wasn’t an official single off of that album. That was common as far as our albums were concerned. People wouldn’t just listen to the singles. I remember when we used to put out a single, the request from a lot of the retailers were, ‘Well, okay, where’s the album? When is the album going to come out?’ Because people liked our albums. There was usually some funk on there, some ballads on there, there was a mixture. There were songs that had a guitar solo on it. There was a mixture of things in there that people could go to. What happened at radio, too, was that they wouldn’t only play the single, they would play things from the album. A song like “Sensuality” was not a single, but it got a lot of play from the previous album The Heat Is On. People would go into albums and play the other records. “At Your Best” was one that they did that with, too. They went into the album and it got a lot of airplay. If people were following the Isley Brothers, they still knew that song, even though it wasn’t a single and we would do it in concerts sometimes and people recognized it when it came on. They would recognize album cuts, as well as the singles. “For The Love Of You” was another one. That’s one of the favorite songs that we play in concert, but it wasn’t the lead single from the album. “Fight The Power” was. What I’m saying is they would go in depth and get songs out of the album. Earth, Wind and Fire were the same way. They would go into their albums. The Commodores, they would go into their albums and play stuff from their albums. Stevie Wonder was the same way. I think that’s why people could pick it out and recognize it pretty quickly and say, ‘We like this, We want to do a cover,’ because it did receive a lot of attention. You said the lyrics came from a personal place. Do you think the magic within that song lies within the lyrics more than the actual instrumental? A song is, to me, especially a ballad, is poetry set to music. It’s basically what it is. The music sets up everything with songs and I feel the music is the first thing that a person is going to, unless it’s an a capella piece. But the music is the first thing that’s going to grab the attention of the listener. The setting has to be right for those lyrics because if you put a good lyric with the wrong setting, it won’t be as affective. People won’t feel it the same way. If you put those “At Your Best” lyrics in a setting of heavy metal music, it’s not going to affect the listener the same way. That music was the first consideration, how it sounded. When that thing comes on, what is it going to sound like? I added a lot of layers and keyboards on it to make it sound really beautiful and lush so that when the lyrics come out, it has the proper effect when you start hearing the lyrics, because usually at first listening nobody really hears all of the lyrics and remembers all of the lyrics once they hear a song. But what they will do, they will remember the feeling they had when they heard it and they might remember some of the hook like the chords or whatever the main thing is, they might remember that. But they may not remember all of the verses at first listening. You have to hear it several times before you get into the verses and what it’s saying. That’s kind of the consideration when writing a song. That came from a lot of experience, what does a person take in first when they hear a song? What is the first thing that they feel? Generally, it’s the music and that main theme you keep repeating in the song. Generally, that’s what they take away first. Then they get into the verses. Frank Ocean, who’s big on songwriting, covered “At Your Best” on his Endless album recently. Did you have a chance to hear it? I like that, too. I heard his version. Not as much as Aaliyah’s, but I did like his version. I think Aaliyah’s was closer to the original. At the top of my head, I’m more familiar with Aaliyah’s because I heard it more, but I think that was the first impression I got. Aaliyah’s was more like the original. I did appreciate that it was more like the original. Sometimes I feel that if you’re going to do a cover, either it’s going to be like the original, similar in some way, or you’re going to do something that makes it different. When we did songs like “Hello It’s Me” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” those were covers. What the decision was, and again I’m the composition guy, the chord structure and everything, I changed the chord structure of those songs and made them different. Those were songs that people recognized for us now because they were like different almost. I did some covers on my upcoming album, too, and made them my own. That’s two ways of approaching covers. I tend to like the latter. I like to make them my own. I like to put my old footprint on it. That’s the difference I saw with Ocean and Aaliyah. Aaliyah’s was more like the original. How do you feel about people recognizing “At Your Best” as Aaliyah’s own? When I first heard that song, I thought it was her original melody, I didn’t know it was a cover. What do you think about people who do take it a step further to read the credits and ultimately come back to the Isley Brothers to see that’s you guys’ original song? I can understand that, a person being younger and just hearing the record for the first time, maybe they didn’t hear the original. A lot of people think the song Whitney Houston she did in The Bodyguard was the first version. Dolly Parton wrote it and there was another version. I’m sure she doesn’t mind [laughs], but it’s just what happens with generations, when something is recorded to another audience. That’s understandable. I still appreciate that she even did it. I agree, it is generational. Even now with Frank Ocean covering it, who I think has an even younger fan base, it opens them up to a wider range of music. Even when I looked up the original song on YouTube, I read the comments and a few of them said that Frank Ocean brought them there. Now they’re introduced to the Isley Brothers if they didn’t know before. What do you think is the recipe behind making that timeless music that can still in 2016 standout as it did back in the 70s or 80s? Music I feel that is timeless I can equate it to something else in another field. If you make a really nice car like a Rolls Royce and you keep it well, it’s going to look good no matter what era you see it in. When that car drives down the street, somebody is going to recognize it and say, ‘That’s a great looking car.’ They don’t care about the year. The craftsmanship is well done, you go inside it’s a beautiful interior, it doesn’t matter what year it is. Music is the same way, art is the same way. If you do something well, it doesn’t matter what period of time it’s played in. That’s proven by the classics. Beethoven sounds just as good now as he did when it was recorded. People are still performing that music. It’s because it’s a certain quality. Quality never goes out of style. If you do something well, it doesn’t matter what era it’s in. That’s where that term timeless came from. It’s well constructed. I have to say that I was a huge part of constructing that music because of my background. I’m the composer in the group and I made sure that the songs made musical sense, from the chord progression to the melody and everything flowed right. That’s true with a lot of the Motown music. It sounds just as good now as it did then. They had the same thing. They had arrangers and songwriters who put that stuff together and crafted it well and it stands the test of time. R. Kelly also remixed “At Your Best” on that same album. He gave it more of a hip-hop and R&B fusion, which was the main sound of Aaliyah’s album. What did you think when they took it a step further in terms of completely changing up its sound from its original ballad format? To me that just shows that the song has versatility. If somebody can do something else with it and it works out and it sounds good and people appreciate it, it just shows that there’s other possibilities that maybe I didn’t think of from the beginning, but if someone else can think of something else that works, that’s fine with me. That’s part of the business of music and even art. You can have different interpretations of things. I think that’s one of the beautiful things of music. I did a version on my last album of “You Are So Beautiful” and it’s a different interpretation but in its own way it’s still very powerful. That’s the beauty of music, that another person can hear something a different way and still be effective with it. I like that. Even Drake sampled Aaliyah’s vocals in the beginning of his “Unforgettable” song, so I do agree that people interpret music or art to fit their own mold. Sometimes what works vocally for one artist may not work for another one. That new artist will sometimes have to develop a new way to approach the song that fits them. That’s the beautiful thing about music.
  7. New music - caution in the wild

    I love it. When I got the heads up about it in the middle of the night, I laid in bed getting the app to hear the new song. It's a dope soundtrack song. It's silly that some people are holding it to the standard of his traditional music. The sound is catered to Suicide Squad. With the interviews, he kind of contradicts himself. In one, he says HE didn't want to put it out. In another, he made it sound like it was rejected, though he's very much joking in that one. The feel of it reminds me of some of the experimental stuff LL Cool J did on his Authentic album. I wonder what made him have a change of heart. I think the overly critical reviews from critics toward the film had something to do with it. Think about it, Wild Wild West was unfairly criticized, and it was his song and music video that garnered praise and success. Perhaps that was the idea. I wish he'd release it so that we can download it.
  8. Props for another impromptu performance, letting us know music is very much on the front of his brain. The second video cracks me up. He doesn't seem all that bothered that "Caution To The Wind" was overlooked, but it sounds like he's telling us that it was out of his hands.
  9. Awesome impromptu performance. His flow was like butter.
  10. This was kind of funny. lol
  11. De La Soul’s Legacy Is Trapped in Digital Limbo By FINN COHENAUG. 9, 2016 From left, David Jolicoeur, Kelvin Mercer and Vincent Mason of the pioneering hip-hop group De La Soul. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times On Valentine’s Day in 2014, De La Soul did something surprising: The group gave away almost all of its work. After gathering fans’ email addresses in an online call-out, this hip-hop trio from Long Island sent out links to zip files for its first six albums. Those albums — including its 1989 debut, “3 Feet High and Rising,” a platinum record in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry — are some of the genre’s most influential and sonically adventurous, threading samples from obscure, kitschy records alongside recognizable pop, jazz and funk hooks. The links were available for a day, and the group says the response overloaded the servers hosting the music files. They also attracted the attention of Warner Music, which has owned those records since 2002, when it acquired the catalog of Tommy Boy Records, a pioneering indie hip-hop label. The attention wasn’t just because the group was giving its catalog away. It was because those six albums have never been available to buy digitally or to stream. In a recent interview, the group explained that it had reached a boiling point. “We were frustrated with people not being able to just get it,” Vincent Mason, 46, the group’s D.J., known as Maseo, said, adding that the financial impact of digital invisibility was amplified by the fact that their work with Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz had introduced them to another audience. Photo De La Soul’s first album, “3 Feet High and Rising” (1989). Warner Music Group, which controls the albums’ distribution, was quick to reach out. “They did tap on our window,” said David Jolicoeur, 47, formerly known as Trugoy the Dove (now just Dave), rapping his knuckles on a table for emphasis. “‘Hey guys, what the [expletive] are you doing?’” “We spent years and years trying to figure this out with Warner,” said Kelvin Mercer, 46, known as Posdnuos, who added that label personnel kept shifting and allies were “shuffled out” over time. But in gathering a list of dedicated fans, De La Soul may have laid the foundation for its new record. “And the Anonymous Nobody,” out Aug. 26, is a largely sample-free affair financed by a Kickstarter campaign that accumulated over $600,000 — more than a third of which was raised in eight hours, the group members say. Mr. Mason said they considered how much money they would earn from a record label and decided owning the album was worth more. “The faith, I would say, really kicked in when we gave away the music.” “And the Anonymous Nobody” is a drastic departure for the group. Rather than use samples, De La Soul spent three years recording more than 200 hours of the Rhythm Roots Allstars, a 10-piece funk and soul band it has toured with. Then the group mined that material for the basis of the 17 tracks (25 musicians ended up playing on the album). From the opening horn fanfare of “Royalty Capes” to the Queen-esque metal of “Lord Intended” to the loping cowboy funk of “Unfold” (an exclusive track for those who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign), the record explores a number of genres, with extended instrumental passages. And a wild variety of guests — Usher, Snoop Dogg, David Byrne, Little Dragon — help shift the moods. The proposed guest list was even more ambitious — Tom Waits, Jack Black and Axl Rose were also approached. “Willie Nelson kindly declined,” Mr. Jolicoeur said. Photo The producer Prince Paul, who worked on De La Soul’s early albums. Credit Donald Hight The album’s title, Mr. Jolicoeur said, represented part of the collaborative process. “This is about a person selflessly giving everything they could to make something cool or new or fun or better happen,” he said. “That became the vibe of the record. It wasn’t really about a concept of the song; it was about, out of nowhere: ‘I play trumpet. I want to contribute.’” Mr. Jolicoeur said he had learned that a similar, freewheeling approach often led to the kinds of sounds the group had sampled in the past. “When these guys from the Ohio Players to Parliament-Funkadelic were just jamming, that’s where the songs came from,” Mr. Jolicoeur said. “It was allowing something to happen organically.” In its third decade as a group, De La Soul is in a special position. Along with the Bomb Squad’s collaborations with Public Enemy and the Dust Brothers’ production for the Beastie Boys, its work with the producer Prince Paul resulted in some of hip-hop’s pioneering sounds, establishing the melodic and harmonic possibilities of sampling. Now the group is re-emerging with new music after 12 years, during which the genre has gone through sonic and aesthetic revolutions: Hip-hop has become a top-performing genre on streaming music sites, and the internet has helped coronate a new crop of blockbuster rappers. But with the exception of “The Grind Date,” released through BMG in 2004, De La Soul has not been able to earn anything off its catalog from digital services. “We’re in the Library of Congress, but we’re not on iTunes,” Mr. Mercer said, adding that when the group interacts with fans in person or online, they always ask the same question: “Yo, where’s the old stuff?” That old stuff — which also includes “De La Soul Is Dead” (1991), “Buhloone Mindstate” (1993) and “Stakes Is High” (1996) — may be fraught with problems, according to people familiar with the group’s recording and publishing history. In 1989, obtaining the permission of musical copyright holders for the use of their intellectual property was often an afterthought. There was little precedent for young artists’ mining their parents’ record collections for source material and little regulation or guidelines for that process. Photo “De La Soul Is Dead” (1991) Deborah Mannis-Gardner, a sample-clearance agent who worked with De La Soul on its new record, said that lack of guidelines could be why Warner Music is keeping the catalog in digital limbo. “My understanding is that due to allegedly uncleared samples, Warners has been uncomfortable or unwilling to license a lot of the De La Soul stuff,” Ms. Mannis-Gardner said. “It becomes difficult opening these cans of worms — were things possibly cleared with a handshake?” An added possible complication lies in the language of the agreements drafted for the use of all those samples. (There are more than 60 on “3 Feet High and Rising” alone — the group was sued by the Turtles in 1991 for the use of their song “You Showed Me” on a skit on that album and settled out of court for a reported $1.7 million.) If those agreements, written nearly three decades ago, do not account for formats other than CDs, vinyl LPs and cassettes, Warner Music would have to renegotiate terms for every sample on the group’s first four records with their respective copyright holders to make those available digitally. In a statement, a person speaking for Rhino, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group that deals with the label’s back catalog, said: “De La Soul is one of hip-hop’s seminal acts, and we’d love for their music to reach audiences on digital platforms around the world, but we don’t believe it is possible to clear all of the samples for digital use, and we wouldn’t want to release the albums other than in their complete, original forms. We understand this is very frustrating for the artists and the fans; it is frustrating for us, too.” A number of people interviewed say the legal phrase “now known or hereafter discovered” may determine De La Soul’s digital future. It ensures that samples cleared in the past are legal for use on streaming services and for digital music retailers. Photo De La Soul in 1993. From left: David Jolicoeur, Vincent Mason and Kelvin Mercer. Credit David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives, via Getty Images Michelle Bayer, who handles De La Soul’s publishing administration, said that phrase’s potential absence on the group’s contracts for samples could complicate matters for Warner Music. (Warner Music would not provide details about the sample contracts.) “It’s tricky because someone could deny the sample use now, or negotiate high upfront advances, maybe even higher percentage or royalty than was originally negotiated, which lessens what the label can earn,” she said. “Before, people were like, ‘Oh yeah, whatever you want to do, we don’t even know what you’re talking about, sampling, who cares, whatever.’ Now, it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s a big piece of real estate.’” Ms. Bayer added that people are still filing copyright claims on samples from De La Soul’s early records. “Two songs from the first album just came up that had never come up before,” Ms. Bayer said. “I think when Warner got the catalog, I think people started making claims, people were kind of coming out of the woodwork going, ‘Oh, well now it’s a major label involved, and we can possibly get more from them than we might have gotten from an independent label like Tommy Boy.’” But others, including Paul Huston, the producer known as Prince Paul, who worked closely with the group on its first three albums, say they did their due diligence. “Sampling was obviously new, but we were told, ‘Hey, here’s some sample-clearance forms — you have to fill these out,’” Mr. Huston said, adding that Tommy Boy became much more careful after the success of “3 Feet High and Rising.” “It got to the point where it was like, ‘What is that scratch!?’” Photo “Stakes Is High” (1996) Tom Silverman, the founder of Tommy Boy Records — which also put out albums by Digital Underground and Queen Latifah — said that making the group’s catalog available digitally would not be difficult, considering that Warner Music should know the copyright holders who have been receiving royalties for the physical sales of the records. Mr. Silverman said: “Cutting a deal, you would think, to give them more money, shouldn’t be that hard, especially if you’re fair and logical and say, ‘Let me pay you the same percentage that we’ve always paid you on physical on digital, too, so you can make that much money.’ So it doesn’t really make a lot of sense that they’ve haven’t even tried.” For De La Soul, Warner Music and the owners of the copyrighted samples, the catalog’s absence from digital media can be felt in an absence of income. That money would have come from downloads (the iTunes Music Store opened in 2003); streaming; ringtones (Mr. Silverman points out the group’s 1991 single “Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” as a potential ringtone windfall); and deals with television, movies and advertisers. The cultural loss, said Ahmir Thompson, the Roots drummer known as Questlove, is just as significant. “Unless Warner’s illustrious history is so disposable that they can let one or two classics just fall by the wayside,” Mr. Thompson said, “and live in this sort of storied folklore — I mean, ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ is very much in danger of being the classic tree that fell in the forest that was once given high praise and now is just a stump.” Photo “Buhloone Mindstate” (1993) Lonnie Lynn, the rapper known as Common who has appeared on De La Soul albums, said the lack of a digital presence is a blow to available hip-hop history. “It’s obviously disappointing, because I feel like De La is timeless music, and I feel like there’s a 16-year-old that would find De La and be like, ‘Aw, man, that’s cool.’” The group says it volunteered to bear the administrative burden of making the catalog available but that Warner Music was not interested. Mr. Jolicoeur acknowledges the potential task Warner faces is “a lot of work,” but Mr. Mason argues the time to do that work is now. “When I try my best to tap into the psyche of record execs and how they think, they know there’s some value — that’s why they’re not letting go,” he said. “But on this side of the fence, you’re like, ‘I’d appreciate you don’t wait until one of us die to do this.’ Can I enjoy some of the fruits of my own labor, while I’m alive? Obviously, we’re in the music industry — more people are more valuable dead than alive, you know? Can we change that landscape?” “It really financially hurts these guys,” Ms. Mannis-Gardner said. “If Warners won’t license it, perhaps they could sell it back to the band members.” Mr. Huston said that several independent labels had approached him about releasing these records but that interest fizzles when he directs them to Warner Music. “It’s like almost when you’re a kid and somebody says, ‘Hey, can I borrow your bike?’” he said, laughing. “And it’s like, ‘I don’t know, my mom won’t let me; you can ask my mom,’ and they go: ‘Ohhh, that’s all right. I don’t need to borrow it.’” Mr. Silverman, who still runs Tommy Boy, hopes to obtain his label’s entire back catalog from Warner Music, and making De La Soul’s disputed albums available digitally is the first thing he said he would do. “They’ll be making a lot more money when that stuff becomes available,” he said. “Not the download part, the streaming part. It’s like they missed the entire era of downloads.” Given the success of its Kickstarter campaign, De La Soul hasn’t ruled out turning to crowdfunding to free its catalog. “Maybe that’s what’s next,” Mr. Jolicoeur said. “This music has to be addressed and released. It has to. When? We’ll see. But somewhere it’s going to happen.”
  12. Rakim Drops Timeless Wisdom In A Powerful New Collaboration With Stephen Marley Rakim verses are rare these days. But, when he speaks, he does so with intention and wisdom, and Hip-Hop listens. Rakim’s latest effort is a powerful contribution on Stephen Marley’s “So Unjust,” also featuring Kardinal Offishall, from Marley’s new album Revelation Pt. II: “The Fruit of Life.” Marley and Rakim spoke with Complex at length in a video about the making of the song and its meaning. “‘So Unjust’ is speaking about [the world being] unjust, so you have to be careful of who you trust and who you put your trust in,” Marley said. “See things through, rather than bargaining for the fish that are still in the water. Wait till they catch a fish and then bargain,” he added. The themes Marley articulated resonated immediately with Rakim. “The song content and the conversation on the song was something that I love dealing with,” he shared. “Somewhat political, conscious record…something to wake up the masses, and that’s right up my alley.” From the outset of the song, Rakim embraces the concept, rapping “Since history, it’s been depression and misery, racism, greed, deception and bigotry. They make you choose. You a prisoner or a soldier, but once you fall victim to the system, then you over.” The final version of “So Unjust” is a heavy Reggae groove that is true to the Marley family sound, however, it started off very differently. Marley plays the original beat saying “where it started was really kind of more straight Hip-Hop…The track evolved from where it initially started to where it is now.” Rakim adds that songs often go to a different level when two creative forces are brought together. “That’s what good artists do when you get a collaboration, the two artists respect each other and the two artists bring the best out of each other,” he says. The MC also shares a bit about his writing process, noting “usually it’s a slow process for me. I like to dissect the music first and see what the music wants me to do. So, when I pen it out, it kind of fits hand in hand.” Of the final result, Marley says “Doing a song with Rakim, I couldn’t do it lukewarm.” Though the “making of” video only features Marley and Rakim, Kardinal Offishal’s contribution also is outstanding. As Marley says, the Canadian legend’s vocals “seal it.”
  13. R.I.P. Kenny Kelly of 90s R&B group Riff (August 1, 2016) We are very sad to inform SoulTrackers of the bad news of the death of Kenny Kelly of the fine 90s vocal group Riff. As the group posted today on their Facebook page: As many of you may already know, we lost our brother Kenny "Damn" Kelly last night. Our hearts are heavy and broken. We send prayers and love to his wife Yolanda, his mother Mrs. Kelly and his brothers and sister, Terry, John and Pearl. There are no words to describe the loss of our brother. We are truly devastated and he will remain in our hearts forever. Please keep his family and us in your prayers. To think, we were just talking about planning our reunion concert here in Paterson this past Thursday. We will never forget that he called our harmony the "Riff Sound". He was the best and funniest cat we knew. Rest In Paradise...until we sing again. The New Jersey based group joined together in the 1980s, and came to the attention of music lovers when they sang in the hit movie Lean On Me in 1989 when they were called The Playboys. They changed their group name to Riff and were signed by SBK Records in 1990. They came out of the box with a self-titled album and the top 10 hits “My Heart Is Failing Me” and “If You’re Serious.” Riff followed two years later with To Whom It May Concern, but it was less successful. By the late 1990s, the group disbanded, and members Anthony Fuller, Dwayne Jones and Michael Best went on to be part of the group Men of Vizion. Various members of Riff reunited from time to time in the new century. Kelly’s tragic death at such a young age is another particularly sad blow to music fans in 2016. He will be remembered for his role in one of the talented male vocal groups that helped usher in a new period of vocal harmony excellence a quarter century ago. Rest in peace, Kenny.
  14. What Are You Listening To? XXII

    DEBORAH COX - It Could've Been You (self-titled) (1995)
  15. http://thesource.com/2016/07/28/why-hip-hop-should-stand-up-together-support-method-man/ Why Hip Hop Should Stand Up Together & Support Method Man Shaq Cosse July 28, 2016 A rapper wants to keep his private life private, and the world won’t comply—go figure. Wendy Williams first made light of Method Man‘s wife Tameka Smith having breast cancer back in 2006. At the time Meth earnestly said, “I just want to make Wendy Williams aware of exactly what it felt like to be sitting in that hospital room, watching them pump this poison into the one you love.” Now against family wishes, a photo of Tameka has surfaced online via Farrah Gray, a self proclaimed celebrity entrepreneur and self-made millionaire. Method Man pleaded with the man via Twitter to remove the photo, stating “if you have any decency..”, but his efforts were to no avail. Following a quick exchange, Meth unfortunately said he was done with social media until further notice. What does this mean for Hip Hop? Method Man leaving social media symbolizes one of our own being in a state of hopelessness. “I’ve lost faith in all human decency and I will not feed the trolls any longer. F*ck u all. 1,” he wrote. Trolls being the internet’s weirdest weirdo, and a true thorn in the side of some of our most legendary icons. Method Man is Hip Hop royalty, and should be respected as such. But we have people like Farrah Gray who can’t respect a simple request, to remove a photo of someone who didn’t even ask to be a part of celebrity culture. She married someone in the culture (a legend we might add) and that legend chooses not to expose his family to the hatred that comes along with being in the spotlight. Hip Hop should rally, and use this situation as a chance to shine light on the fact that none of their families deserve to be exposed to this type of injustice. If they choose to keep their families out of that light, then that should be a right of theirs, especially in the midst of a sickness or serious situation. How can Hip Hop take a stand? While Method Man was respectively asking Farrah Gray to remove the photo, a few more heavyweights should’ve chimed in, in his defense. A lot of times the masses conglomerate on pointless, petty issues and actually put a dent in a situation. Sometimes the issues we tackle together are serious, and this was one of those serious matters that could’ve been tackled as a collective. Method Man has entertained us all, given us his life on wax as well as on screen and for that, Hip Hop owes him a certain allegiance. We owe him an allegiance that should’ve warranted an uprising from the entire community. It’s not too late. Meth said that he was quitting social media until further notice, so we’ve put together a list of campaigns to run during his absence: List of Campaigns 1. Wu Tang Forever: Bring Meth back to Twitter 2. Bring the Pain: Flood Farrah’s TL 3. All I Need: Hip Hop speaks for Meth to remove the picture 4. Shame on a Nigga: Who TF is Farrah Gray? 5. C.R.E.A.M: How much does a picture cost? Hip Hop is a family, and it’s always going to be a family. When one is down, it’s the responsibility of the remainder of the community to lift him up. With Meth being one of the biggest stars in Hip Hop, this is the perfect time to show unity in the community. Simple request, to have his wife’s photo removed from the internet. Let’s rally behind him, and show him the support he needs so that he can return to social media, and continue to entertain us with a clear head.