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JumpinJack AJ

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Posts posted by JumpinJack AJ

  1. Terry, Cindy, and (now with) Rhona are back!

    En Vogue Is Back with a New Album & Sound

    The award-winning R&B group on their decades-long career, the one ’90s trend they’ll never wear again, and their upcoming tour.

    Photography: Tristan Kallas

    “Oh my gosh, we’ve been making music from analog to digital recording,” Cindy Herron giggles as I ask her how things have changed for her and fellow En Vogue-ers Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett over their 27-year-long career. We’re in the penthouse suite at The Jeremy in West Hollywood, the sun is setting, and the “Don’t Let Go” vocalists are wrapping up a day of back-to-back press. With 20 million records sold to date under their belts, En Vogue is about to release their seventh studio album, Electric Café—their first in 14 years—on April 6th, and are embarking on a European tour early next month.

    You would never know they’ve been up since dawn by the way they work the camera. But, then again, with a thriving career that spans over two decades and one that’s racked up countless accolades, they quite literally are the ~definition~ of pros. As the golden hour faded and we snapped our final shots, I sat down with the R&B group to talk about their new sound, how they’re prepping for their international tour, and their personal style.


    en vogue
    en vogue

    On their new evolved sound:

    Terry Ellis: “Initially our album was going to be EDM-inspired. But as we got into the studio [and] we started to create, the sounds just started to evolve. We started with Denzel Foster and Thomas McElroy—the original founders and producers of the group. The through line is definitely the En Vogue signature sound, but you’ve got some punk soul now. We’ve got regular straight up and down R&B, we’ve got some EDM twinges. There’s an eclectic blend of sound right now. Each time we went into the studio we’d say, ‘One more song.’ Finally landed on a ‘Rocket’—we were like, ‘It’s time to take off.’”

    What it was like creating the “Rocket” video:

    Rhona Bennett: “It was really great. We worked with the director Damien Sandoval. And we were out in El Mirage dry-lake desert.”

    CH: “We got there just before sun-up. It was freezing [Laughs]. We got into hair and makeup, and then we got out there, and the sun was hot. It was a really great experience and something new for us. Damien, the director, used a drone. He was just standing there playing with it like a kid, but he was getting these amazing shots. We’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, video-making has changed [Laughter].’”


    en vogue

    How the industry has changed over the years:

    CH: “Oh my gosh, we’ve been making music from analog to digital recording. There weren’t that many record companies [in the ’90s].

    TE: “Of course cassettes are out of the door [Laughs].”

    RB: “Vinyl is coming back.”

    TE: “There are no record stores anymore. The tools: auto-tune, the way you record, the sounds that you can put on your recording while you record, sending it to Melodyne—it can sing for you now, it can change your vibrato. It can straighten your note…”

    RB: “Although we don’t use those.”


    CH: “Thank goodness we all came up old-school, so if you need to go in there and earn a note, we can go in there and earn a note.”

    TE: “Also social media—it allows you to stay directly in touch with your fans and be more accessible, which is really cool.”

    en vogue
    en vogue
    en vogue

    Their tour essentials:

    [in unison] “Alkaline water [Laughter].”

    CH: “Veggies; having a veggie plate.”

    TE: “Makeup remover towelettes.”

    RB: “Workout clothes, so that we can work out. And that’s pretty much it. And trying to get some sleep—it’s a luxury.”

    Favorite way to chill out and unwind:

    RB: “I’m going to take myself to dinner. I love taking myself out to a nice dinner when I’ve been working. There’s a bomb sushi spot near my house. I have my palate worked up for it.”

    Their pre-show rituals:

    TE: “We pray and we vocalize. Before we go onstage, we tell each other to go out and have fun with your friends.”


    en vogue
    en vogue

    How would you describe your style:

    RB: “I wear a lot of black. I wear jeans and combat boots and my jewelry. I wear my gemstones—I love what they represent. Whatever I see in them, that’s what they remind me of. And so that’s what inspires in me.”

    TE: “I’m a moody dresser. It fluctuates. But my general attire usually is a baseball cap, blue jeans, white t-shirt, and some Converse tennis shoes.”

    CH: “When I’m at home and in town, you can catch me on almost any day in workout clothes. Because I’ll go to the gym in the morning, and then I kind of just stay in those clothes all day, just running errands and doing stuff. I stay in them all day [Laughs].”

    The look from their past they are retiring for good:

    TE: “Yes. Biker shorts. [Laughter]. There is a video of us when we performed at Oprah Winfrey’s show, and the style at that time was very tailored fitted jackets and biker shorts. I don’t even know how, to this day, that was in style, but we have this look, and it’s on video. And I would never, ever do that again.”


  2. When I heard this on his Instagram, I just listened to it looping.

    It's lyrically sharp while being classic Fresh Prince. The beat is dope too. The vocals on the hook are the perfect touch. I feel that the St. Patrick's Day theme kind of distracts from from the song, but it hooked a lot of people  who were trying to see what he was doing in the video. From the lyrics we've heard, it reminds me a lot of the songs on Lost + Found.  Not a single lyric is wasted. Each one adds to the story.

  3. Craig on TLC's So So Def Remix of "Kick Your Game"


    Craig Mack on Boyz II Men's "Vibin'" remix with Treach, Busta Rhymes, and Method Man

    Craig in a live performance with Brownstone on the Street Vibe Remix of their hit "If You Love Me," which features Mimi in her last performance with the group (not even singing the end of the song) and the member that replaced her, Kina


  4. Rapper Craig Mack was on the verge of a comeback before death

    “Lyrically, he was about to be something,” Erick Sermon told Billboard.

    Craig Mack helped launch Sean Combs' Bad Boy

    Craig Mack helped launch Sean Combs' Bad Boy Records. Photo Credit: WireImage / Johnny Nunez

    By Glenn Gamboa glenn.gamboa@newsday.com @ndmusic March 20, 2018 2:38 PM

    The saddest part of the death of Brentwood native Craig Mack earlier this month is that the “Flava in Ya Ear” rapper seemed poised to make a comeback.

    Mack, the 47-year-old rapper who helped launch Sean Combs’ Bad Boy Records, had just appeared on “Come Thru,” the first single from Erick Sermon’s forthcoming album “Go.” Ronkonkoma’s Sermon, best known as the “E” from EPMD, says there will be more Mack appearances on the album, which he expects to release in April.

    “Lyrically, he was about to be something,” Sermon told Billboard. “I can put him up with the whole hit squad. When you hear the stuff that he did, you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, why didn’t we get to hear that?’ ”

    His verse on “Come Thru” backs that up. “My outrageous wild style will prove I’m the greatest,” Mack raps. “Mr. 3000, back in the majors, hit an inside curve ball 9,000 acres.”

    On the day Mack died of heart failure, Sermon tweeted, “The mood over here at #DefSquad is upbeat despite the recent passing of our brother Craig . . . We playing his music.” Sermon said Mack’s contributions to “Go” are impressive. “This sounds crazzzzy!” Sermon tweeted. “God bless you Craig!”





  5. Man, this one has been weighing on me. Craig Mack truly is one of the best to do it.  Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" established Bad Boy. Without that hit, who knows what would have happened. I'm going to anger some people with this next part, but this is how I see it. Craig Mack wasn't even a Bad Boy artist. He came from the EPMD camp and his debut album was almost entirely produced by himself, his right hand man Alvin Toney, and Easy Mo Bee. Other than seeing Puffy's name as an executive producer and his adlibs on the Tumblin' Dice produced "Making Moves with Puff," Puffy did nothing for the project. Craig Mack was straight Hip-Hop and always stayed true to himself. Biggie's lyrics weren't always authentic he mellowed his style out for mainstream success.  Mack was the real deal. Next thing you know he's collaborating with Boyz II Men, TLC, BLACKstreet, SWV, Sounds of Blackness, and Missy Elliot's group Sista, after initially being featuring on a Mary J. Blige remix.  Puff definitely favored Biggie though. Biggie was likely easier to work with.

    Craig Mack was unstoppable for a couple years, but he walked away from it all. He never hated Puffy, but Bad Boy's greed made it an environment that he wanted no part of. Puffy lied about his support of Craig Mack (ever see Craig's reaction in that interview where Puff says they were working on a second album?). He started working with Eric B and was going to be on Deathrow East, but when 2Pac was kill and Deathrow crumbled, he went the indie route.

    While not a gritty, his second album was dope, but just didn't enjoy the success it could have since it wasn't on a big label. Coming and going at the outskirts of Bad Boy, he shined on that G-Dep "Special Delivery" remix in 2002, and then peaced out.

    For years he dropped promo singles, but nothing came of it, though the third album was to be titled "Who I Be."   If you get The Mackworld Sessions, which was just released this past September, it features most of those songs.  Craig was said to be tired with the world, which is why he joined that secluded church that some people have called a cult. Erick Sermon said Craig new his days were numbered. That church he belonged to didn't leave the campus. That's why he didn't get medical treatment. It makes me wonder if that project was released just to finally get that (mostly) old music out and to support his family.

    I know he was working on a documentary to tell his story. I hope it comes out so his better understood. I also can't wait to hear the work that he recently did with Erick Sermon. The song they did with Method Man and Mr. Cheeks is DOPE!

    I've been playing a lot of his stuff lately.  Such a loss. Easily one of the most under rated emcees of all time.


  6. Yes, LTI's R&B Remix is the last one in that video. I looked at my CD singles and it was one two non-US versions of the CD single (one in a jewel case and another in a cardboard sleeve, as well as vinyl. I have extended and shorter radio versions on a rare promo. I like the R&B Remix, because even though it's similar to the album version, it's not as polished.

    I agree that "Chasing Forever" would have been a good single choice. They put too much space between singles. The album did so well that the could have had another video/single or two.

  7. "Just The Two of Us" is an excellent song.  The lyrics personal, heartfelt, and occasionally comical. The video was touching and artsy.  The media often portrays black men as poor or absent fathers, and the video featured so many cameos of black fathers. It was brilliant. The remixes of the song were great too. It was the perfect follow-up to a radio-ready song like "Just The Two of Us." I wish he would have followed it up with a better single though. "Miami" is the least interesting song on Big Willie Style, in my opinion.  I have the "Just The Two of Us" book that was inspired by the song.