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JumpinJack AJ

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  1. Here's an excellent article that talks about Tribe's reunion on the Tonight Show, how it lead to the album, the dynamic of the group, and how the album developed. It has quotes from Q-Tip, Jarobi, Busta Rhymes, and the group's family and crew. For some reason the forum wouldn't let me cut and paste it all here, so check the link...

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/secret-history-a-tribe-called-quest-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-for-your-service.html

     

     


  2. THIS ALBUM IS DOPE!!  I LOVE IT!!!

    Here's a great read...

    http://www.villagevoice.com/music/a-tribe-called-quests-soundtrack-to-the-resistance-9345894?utm_content=bufferb7a34&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    A Tribe Called Quest's Soundtrack to the Resistance

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 12 p.m.
     
    Q-Tip
    Q-Tip
    Gavin Bond
     

    It was the night after the doomsday election, and the renowned hip-hop band A Tribe Called Quest had turned back the clock to throw an old-school industry jam like the ones urban record labels used to do in the Bill Clinton Nineties. At MoMA P.S.1 — located in the Tribe's home borough of Queens, where rappers Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi White first met when they were Linden Boulevard boys attending the same Seventh-Day Adventist church — a dense crowd gathered to sip custom cocktails named after vintage Tribe tracks like "Bonita Applebum" and "Electric Relaxation" and listen to the group's first album in eighteen years, We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service.

    A few hours beforehand, chilling in the backstage area, dressed stylishly in jeans, black shirt, and a crisp peacoat, Q-Tip looks sharp. Smiling broadly, he greets old friends with brotherly hugs and chats with a few fans who work at the museum. This will be a night tinged with celebration and sadness. In March, Phife Dawg passed away from complications resulting from diabetes. He was 45.

    So while there's a buzz of excitement as Tip gets ready to preview tracks he's been working on for a year, there's something else as well. Tip has yesterday's election results on his mind, like every other New Yorker wandering the streets mumbling, "I can't believe Trump won." He talks about the way Trump "was able to rile up disgruntled, disenfranchised white males, and their white wives and kids, bringing them to rallies talking about 'the good old days.' You study history and all the great countries have their great time and then go out of favor.

    "With Trump being elected president, we have to look at where we are with race in this country," Tip says. "Not just a conversation, but actions that are going to instill knowledge and healing. I wish we could be really solutions-oriented in our conversation before there is more bloodshed on the streets."

     

    It's almost hard to believe that the same brothers who were damn near hippies in their youth — sporting dashikis in the late Eighties alongside De La Soul as part of the Afrocentric Native Tongues posse — could now be viewed as aural agitators making music in the tradition of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Public Enemy. But that's just what the crowd at P.S.1 finds, once the sound system starts cracking with the first tracks from We Got It From Here.

    If you've been sleeping, this is the record to get you woke. The first song, "The Space Program," is a catchy anti-Afrofuturist cut that declares, "Ain't no space program for niggas." The second track, the single "We the People," has the kind of beat ATCQ pioneered two decades ago — laid-back and thundering at the same moment — but it's charged with more urgency and fire than they've ever displayed before. It talks of the "fog and the smog of news media" and "false narratives." The chorus, sung by Tip, lays bare the chilling reality of a Trump rally: "All you black folks, you must go/All you Mexicans, you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go."

    Tip's longtime friend Gary Harris, who blogs about the music industry at Insideplaya and works alongside Tip at Beats 1 show Abstract Radio on Apple Music, describes We Got It From Here as "very Black Lives Matter." Think of these sixteen tracks as part of a musical movement that addresses politics in ways both direct and subtle, a movement that has been very much a part of Tip's life over the past two years, during which time he's worked on not just We Got It From Here, but two other crucial releases infused with the spirit of BLM: D'Angelo's third album, Black Messiah, and Solange's recent A Seat at the Table. Tip co-produced "Ain't That Easy" and "Sugah Daddy" for D'Angelo, and co-produced and appears on Solange's "Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)," a love groove that imagines the bedroom as a temporary refuge from the "war outside these walls."

    You could say the records Tip has been working on are both a broadcast system and a sanctuary — an alert and a relief. Though he has a more modest view. "We make music, beat on drums, and make raps," he says. "This record definitely has a certain spirit attached that is something else that is interesting. For now, we're going to pray and hope for the best."

    Jarobi
    Jarobi
    Gavin Bond

    They were friends from childhood. Phife Dawg (born Malik Isaac Taylor) attended grammar school with Q-Tip (born Jonathan Davis). Jarobi White lived near Phife's grandmother's house in St. Albans, Queens. In 1979, when the boys were still in grade school, "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang changed their lives.

    "That was what kicked it off," Phife's mother, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, says. "After that, the idea started to get bigger in his head. He always had a lot of dreams, and one of them was that he and Q-Tip could do it too."

    Five or six years after "Rapper's Delight," local Queens street-corner kids like Run-D.M.C. and L.L. Cool J transformed from homegrown talents into international superstars, which only encouraged Phife and his friends — now including DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad. "His father and I let him go to the studio with Q-Tip, Jarobi, and Ali, because we knew it was better than him being in the streets," Boyce-Taylor says.

    The sound and spirit they developed in the studio emerged as an alternative to the harder hip-hop of the late Eighties/early Nineties — the first records from the Native Tongues collective arrived shortly after N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton. Q-Tip made his first appearance, in 1988, on the Jungle Brothers' track "Black Is Black," which he followed up in 1990 with a verse on De La Soul's bouncy single "Buddy." ATCQ were thought of as nonthreatening teenage bohemians who merely wanted to have fun on their own terms.

    But they were also musical obsessives who would move the sound of hip-hop in new directions. On their 1990 debut for Jive Records, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Tribe built their sound on jazzy loops sampled from records on the CTI and Blue Note labels that Q-Tip had copped from his late father's extensive collection. While most of their peers were still flipping the sounds of James Brown's funky drummers and basslines from the P-Funk catalog, Tribe were bouncing to less traveled beats.

    "They single-handedly put hip-hop on their backs and brought it to another level," recalls former Jive CEO Barry Weiss. Although Jive's roster would later include the Backstreet Boys, *NSync, and Britney Spears, in the late Eighties the label was an r&b/hip-hop powerhouse, with Billy Ocean, Kool Moe Dee, and Boogie Down Productions among its stars. "When Tribe's second album, Low End Theory, came into the office, that was when Phife really emerged as a force to be reckoned with," Weiss says. "He blew up when we put out the single 'Check the Rhime' — that record exploded. There was a great yin and yang between him and Tip. Phife helped keep the group grounded. But, music-wise, no one sounded like Tribe."

    "Before Tribe or Gang Starr, hip-hop was kind of stiff," Muhammad explained to crate-diggers' bible Wax Poetics in 2010. "I don't mean stiff in a bad way, but the music we created just had a different kind of movement and flow to it. Be it the basslines, chord structures, or the different time signatures, the music always moved."

    Q-Tip was constantly on the hunt for ways of changing up that movement. "There were times when I would walk into a record store and see Tip sitting on the floor with his glasses on, going through albums, looking for beats," says Pete Rock, the superstar producer who rose to fame around the same time as ATCQ. "I was like, 'This guy is serious.' Being around them made me step up and become even more serious than I was."

    It made everyone else more serious about their music as well. Tribe would become the premier hip-hop auteurs of their generation with the game-changing Low End Theory (1991) and Midnight Marauders (1993). "Those albums gave birth to neo-everything," says Kierna Mayo, the former editor-in-chief of Ebony, now at the digital network Interactive One, who has known Tip and Ali since their high school days at Murry Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan back in the Eighties. "That entire class of D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Maxwell, and Lauryn Hill — and moving on to André 3000, Kanye West, and Talib Kweli — everything that is left of everything begins with Tribe." (Fittingly, West, Kweli, and André all make cameos on We Got It From Here.)

    If Tip's obsession was sound, Phife's was slightly different. "With Phife, we connected with sports," says Rock. Calling himself the "five-foot assassin" as well as "a funky diabetic" (he'd been battling the disease since age nineteen), Phife was the everyman of the group. Anyone who knew him will tell you rapping and sports were his main passions. "As much as the Knicks didn't win, he was a fan to the end," says his mother. A poet and actress, she exposed her young son to the world of theater and verse, but it was his daddy and uncle who unleashed the sports beast. "The only thing he didn't watch, sports-related, was hockey."

    But soon a new passion emerged for Phife: After Midnight Marauders, Phife got married and moved to Atlanta. "He became more of a family man with his wife and son," his mother says. "He was married for eighteen years." Tribe went on to make two more records — Beats, Rhymes, and Life, in 1996, and The Love Movement, in 1998 — but as so often happens, what began as a labor of love turned into a source of anxiety. "It started being more about how successful a record was, how many spins it got at radio, and all that stupid **** that jades you," says Q-Tip. The group announced its split just before the release of The Love Movement. Though they continued to tour, there was a new dimension to their family vibe: They now fought like brothers. The 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest caught them squabbling, though when they put it aside onstage the results were as impressive as ever.

    Busta Rhymes
    Busta Rhymes
    Gavin Bond

    Last November, Tribe reunited on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of People's Instinctive Travels. "When we did that show, that was the starting point," Q-Tip says. "I knew if we were connecting with that kind of energy in a performance, it would be easy to go back to the studio."

    "I thought the nigga was bull****ting about doing another album, but the next day he was still with it," Busta Rhymes recalled at the P.S.1 listening party. (Rhymes — who made appearances on the Tribe classics "Scenario" and "Oh My God" — has now officially joined Tribe as a part of the crew.) Phife, too, believed it was just wishful thinking. "He thought they might be able to make a five-song EP and that would be it," his mother laughs. "He never thought they'd have enough for a whole album."

    But over a year's time, the Tribesmen worked as a team at Tip's studio, the AbLab, in New Jersey. (Ab is short for Abstract, one of Q-Tip's many monikers.) Designed with his longtime engineer Blair Wells, the studio is filled with analog equipment, including a tape machine that once belonged to Frank Zappa and preamps used on records made by Jimi Hendrix, the Ramones, and Blondie. "That studio was Tip's dream project, and it took years to complete," says Consequence, Q-Tip's cousin and a rapper who appears along with Busta on the We Got It From Here track "Mobius." "I remember when that place was just wood."

    Tip, known for woodshedding with music, drew inspiration from an unlikely source. "I began listening to a lot of Stooges and early Iggy Pop solo albums," he says. "I just love it. I think you can hear the rock in our record too." He and Phife spoke at length about how to maintain Tribe's heritage without getting trapped by it. "We knew we had to keep the thread but also push it forward," says Tip. "With the beats, he was always quick to be like thumbs-up, thumbs-down. He was usually right dead on."

    Phife's manager, Dion "Rasta Roots" Liverpool, was with the rapper during every trip he made to the AbLab. "We'd fly up and stay at a hotel near Q-Tip's house," says Roots from his home in Atlanta. Phife needed dialysis three times a week to control his diabetes. He spent the rest of his time constructing We Got It From Here.

    "Every evening he'd go down to the house, and he and Tip would spend hours in there vibing and coming up with lines," Roots says. "Seeing them together in the studio joking, coming up with ideas, disagreeing, vibing, and trading vocals, it was pretty incredible. It was like watching a unicorn."

    "That **** was so much fun," says Tip. "We were like kids again."

    But just four months after Tip and Phife were reunited, on March 22, 2016, Phife died at his home. "I had seen him a few weeks before, so I was in total shock," says Pos from De La Soul, who has known the Tribe since they were all teenagers. "When it happened, we made our way to Tip's house in New Jersey. We cried together, hung out, and just celebrated our brother. It felt good knowing that Q-Tip and Phife had been in segue with one another and knocked out some great stuff. After all those years, Tip and Phife were finally in a good place with each other."

    Consequence
    Consequence
    Gavin Bond

    The day after the November 11 release of We Got It From Here, A Tribe Called Quest were the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Dave Chappelle. Introducing "We the People" under a banner bearing Phife's scowling mug, Q-Tip modified the hip-hop exhortation to throw your hands in the air. "If you looking at us, stand up, touch someone next to you," he told the viewing audience. "One fist in the air." Then, with his arm raised in a Black Power salute, he added, "We are all one. We are the people."

    The following Monday, Q-Tip reflected on the performance and how the political message of Tribe's new album had hit home. "When you are a citizen of this country and you see what's afoot, you could either not deal with it or deal with it," he said. "Our choice was the latter. But we also made a choice not to be heavy-handed, to still keep it in our own tongue. We certainly had good expectations, but none of us expected it would be like this."

    He paused and his thoughts went back to the state of things. "It's a trying moment. It's one of a heightened sense of desperation and unknowing. Climate collapsing, war, real shifts domestically with the past election. It's the polar opposite of what we've experienced the last eight years toward what we're looking forward to for the next four. All that has made people look at this record as a constellation, and it's humbling. We don't take this lightly."

    Tip said that a Tribe tour wasn't likely but wasn't impossible. "It's hard to think of that without Phife," he added. "But you can never say never." In any case, the message would continue.

    "I'm glad we are having this moment, but we are looking forward to others — whether it be Lauryn or André or Nas or D'Angelo — continuing to add dialogue and add their voices," he said. "Hip-hop is freedom. It's expression, it's revolutionary, it's evolved. It's bombastic. It's a place for us to thrive. A place to express."

    A Tribe Called Quest's Soundtrack to the Resistance
    Gavin Bond

  3. This is one of those posts were a lot of people will pass over it, or simply ignore it because it's new music by an unknown artist.  Don't do that this time. Click the link below and give the songs a listen, because this is the best Hip-Hop album I've heard in years. I stumbled upon these guys a few years ago because Speech from Arrested Development produced a song for them.  This is classic Hip-Hop with legit production and skilled emcees. Check it out here: http://automatic.bandcamp.com/album/marathon

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  4. A Tribe Called Quest Unveils Cover Art For Final Album

    A Tribe Called Quest Unveils Cover Art For Final Album

    As we creep closer and closer to A Tribe Called Quest‘s final outing, details of the long mythologized release are coming forth piece-by-piece. Yesterday in New York Times profile piece helmed by the one and only Toure, we finally learned the name of the new album (and first in 18 years): We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. In the same piece, the album’s star-studded roster was revealed, confirming the presence of all four tribesman along with helping hands from Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White and Elton John amongst others.

    Today we get our first look at the album’s cover art, courtesy of Complex. Those well traveled on the paths of rhythm will immediately notice the iconic Low End Theory figure kneeling in the bottom left corner, Tribe’s classic green-glow logo stamped at the top and then, oddly enough (and perhaps even poking fun at the times,) a naked woman taking a selfie of it all in the bottom right corner. There’s still no pre-order available for the final A Tribe Called Quest album, but We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service is slated to arrive next Friday, November 11th via Epic Records.

    Here’s hoping we get something in the way of a single ahead of the release. In the meantime, you can peep the album art below.

    A Tribe Called Quest Unveils Cover Art For Final Album

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/heres-the-cover-art-for-a-tribe-called-quests-final-album.html


  5. Common Blazes Through “Pyramids” on New ODB-Sampling Single (prod. Karriem Riggins)

    Common Blazes Through "Pyramids" on New ODB-Sampling Single (prod. Karriem Riggins)

    In just few more days, the world will finally be treated to the full script of Common‘s new album Black America Again. And while we’ve heard plenty in the way of politically-charged and romantic raps, today’s offering (likely our last before the album’s official release this Friday, November 4th) finds Com in mad-rapping mode, just in case you forgot how capable he is, over another slightly swung drum and synth spectacle from the legend, Karriem Riggins (who also samples the late ODB.)

    You can hear the latest offering from Common’s eleventh studio Black America Again down below along with the album’s full track listing. Pre-order your copy of the new record on iTunes today ahead Friday’s release.

    Black America Again Track List:
    1. Joy And Peace (feat. Bilal)
    2. Home (feat. Bilal)
    3. Word From Moe Luv Interlude
    4. Black America Again (feat. Stevie Wonder)
    5. Love Star (feat. PJ)
    6. On A Whim Interlude
    7. Red Wine (feat. Syd & Elena)
    8. Pyramids
    9. A Moment In The Sun Interlude
    10. Unfamiliar (feat. PJ)
    11. A Bigger Picture Called Free (feat. Syd)
    12. The Day Women Took Over (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid)
    13. Rain (feat. John Legend)
    14. Little Chicago Boy (feat. Tasha Cobbs)
    15. Letter To The Free (feat. Bilal)

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/common-pyramids-mp3.html


  6. Herehttp://www.xxlmag.com/news/2016/11/andre-3000-kendrick-lamar-a-tribe-called-quest-new-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-for-your-service-album/Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar Featured on A Tribe Called Quest’s New Album ‘We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service’

    By Ted Simmons November 2, 2016 12:38 PM
    Alberto E. Rodriguez / Ilya S. Savenok / Theo Wargo, Getty Images (3) Alberto E. Rodriguez / Ilya S. Savenok / Theo Wargo, Getty Images (3)

    Last week, Q-Tip made a major announcement in sharing that A Tribe Called Quest would be releasing their final album on Nov. 11, writing, “It was coming together nicely and as you may know we lost our BROTHER may GOD REST HIS SOUL on March 22nd. But he left us with the blueprint of what we had to do.”

    Now, as that date approaches, more details of the album have come out, Q-Tip and Jarobi White speaking to the New York Times about what fans can expect from the record, which is titled We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service. According to the piece, all four Tribe members are features, as will be Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John, Jack White and Busta Rhymes.

    In the emotional Times piece, André 3000 credits Tip’s influence on major rappers today: “Tip’s kind of like the father of all of us, like me, Kanye, Pharrell. When you’re a kid, it’s kind of like, O.K., who am I going to be? Can I be Eazy-E? Nah. But Q-Tip? Yeah. He seems more like a common kind of person.”

    The process of making the album is also discussed, and it’s revealed that Phife was flying from Oakland to New Jersey to record the album with the other Tribe members. “Doing this album killed him,” says Jarobi. “And he was very happy to go out like that.”

    Back in April, Chris Rock posted a photo to Instagram of himself, Andre 3000, Jack White, Jarobi and more, saying they were working on Andre’s album, but it’s clear now based on the album features what was really going down. When asked about the photo and others taken at Q-Tip’s house that night, Queen Latifah said at the time, “I think it’s important for the hip-hop heads and the world to keep their eye on what’s coming out of this area in the coming months. Some good stuff happening.”

    We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service drops in nine days.



    Read More: Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar Featured on A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service’ Album - XXL | http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2016/11/andre-3000-kendrick-lamar-a-tribe-called-quest-new-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-for-your-service-album/?trackback=tsmclip

  7. A Tribe Called Quest’s Final Album Features Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White + More

    On November 11th, A Tribe Called Quest will release their final studio album, according to a heartfelt, handwritten note Q-Tip delivered last week. The announcement alone was enough to send the music world into a frenzy, but today new details arrive by way of a New York Times profile, written by the ever-intrepid ToureFirst, the album has a name, We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service, approved by the late Phife DawgThe piece also reveals a star-powered guest list for Tribe’s coup de grace, including Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Elton John and, of course, honorary tribesman, Busta Rhymes.

    The piece sheds light on how the group rallied following their Tonight Show performance late last year and recorded the entirety of the record in Tip’s home studio with no phoned-in verses from anyone, confirming the presence of all four members on their final record. The piece itself is more than worth your time and will surely invoke a strong emotional response. Again, the final A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here, Thank You For Service, arrives via Epic Records on November 11th. We’ll have more details as they arrive.

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/a-tribe-called-quests-final-album-features-andre-3000-kendrick-lamar-jack-white-more.html


  8. A Tribe Called Quest Will Be Coming Out With A New Album Next Month

    Hear Pharrell's Waves-For-Days Remix Of A Tribe Called Quest's Classic "Bonita Applebum"

    A Tribe Called Quest will be coming out with a new album on November 11th, yes this November 11th, 2016. In case you didn’t catch that, I’ll repeat it: A Tribe Called Quest will be coming out with a new album on November 11th. Just one more time: A Tribe Called Quest will be coming out with a new album on November 11th. Yup, it’s really happening. Back in August L.A. Reid talked about how a Tribe album was in the works. And now we got some more confirmation. Q-Tip, in a post to Facebook, which you can read in full below, made the announcement along with giving some details to the album’s background. Q-Tip writes about how after the group’s performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon late last year, they collectively felt the need to get back in the studio, so they did. The performance was their first on television in eighteen years. Watch it below. A few months later in March Phife Dawg passed, but not before leaving “the blueprint” for the group’s latest and what is to be their last album. Q-Tip also detailed that there will be features from the likes of Busta Rhymes and Consequence. Peep the message from Q-Tip below.

     

     

     

    A Tribe Called Quest

     

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/a-tribe-called-quest-will-be-coming-out-with-a-new-album-next-month.html


  9. Ummmm....what's up?  This was on Eric B's official website and twitter.

    Rakim Rep Says Claims Of Reunion w/ Eric B. Are “Completely False”

    Rakim Rep Says Reunion Rumors Are "Completely False"

    Photo by Michael Ochs

    Sad to say, but it turns out that those Eric B. & Rakim reunion rumors were, in fact, a joke. Not a funny one, but one that was perhaps made a little too soon. We reached out to Rakim’s management and learned that even though Ra and Eric have been speaking and remaining close in recent years, “Any statements pertaining to an Eric B and Rakim reunion are completely false.” So there’s no tour and no new music to speak on for the time being. And don’t get us started on those Lord Quas rumors. As much as the very thought might eat away at your true-school loving brain, Madlib‘s squirrel-voiced mad-rapping alter-ego has nothing to do with any potential reunion of Eric B. & Rakim, painful as it is for us to write. 

    But don’t worry folks, all hope is not lost. Ra’s management assures us that it’s all love between the two legends and Rakim himself delivered a statement of gratitude to his fans:

    “It’s always a blessing to feel that love and support from the fans and I’m definitly going to be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Paid in Full in 2017 even if I’m not sure how yet.”

    Their debut album hits 30 laps around the sun in July of next year. There may be movement by then, but in the meantime, we’ll all be playing the waiting game.

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/rakim-rep-says-reunion-rumors-w-eric-b-are-completely-false.html


  10. C+C Music Factory was one of the dopest things about the early 90's. It was a well oiled machine of insane talent overseen by Robbie Rob and David Cole. The way they blended genres and their individual talents (producing, DJing, keyboards, emceeing, singing, dancing, visuals, writing, etc) is in a class all its own. After David Cole passed away, impacting the industry way beyond C+C, the group kind of dissolved into compilation albums and a virtually unknown 1995 album. Freedom's solo attempts haven't done well, or even landed on the radar. Anyway, to anyone else who loves the group, here's a good, but unfortunate article on the legal action Rob (owner, producer, DJ) will be taking against Freedom (the lead emcee on their debut album).

    https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/cc-music-factory-everybody-dance-now-copyright-battle-freedom-williams?utm_source=vicefbusads&utm_campaign=posteng

    The Depressing Story of America’s Favorite Pump-Up Jam

    October 4, 2016 Katie Bain

     

    cc-body-image-1475608657.jpg?output-qual

    C&C Music Factory's Robert Clivillés, Zelma Davis, Freedom Williams, and David Cole (Photo courtesy of Robert Clivillés)

    In 1991, there were few musical groups hotter than C&C Music Factory. Launched into the stratosphere on the power of their breakout single "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," the New York-based act solidified their white-hot status when they won the 1991 Billboard Award for Best New Pop Artist, beating out Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd, EMF and others. After performing an elaborately choreographed medley of their hits, representatives from the group—co-founders Robert Clivillés and David Cole and vocalists Zelma Davis and Freedom Williams—assembled at the podium to accept their award.

    Williams, who rapped the two verses on "Everybody Dance Now, appeared longhaired and shirtless onstage. His ripped abs glistened with sweat. He closed out the group's acceptance speech by pointing to himself and declaring, "This ain't the C&C Music Factory." He then pointed to the screaming audience. "That is the C&C Music Factory!"

    It was one of the last appearances C&C Music Factory would ever make together.

    The Untold Story of Joey Beltram, the Techno Titan Behind the 90s' Most Iconic Rave Anthems

     

    26 years after its release, everyone knows "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)." The song, which spent more than six months on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after being released in October 1990, helped solidify the post-disco, dance-pop era of the early 90s, joining a barrage of club-oriented Top Forty hits by artists like La Bouche, Haddaway, Technotronic and Black Box.

    With its instantly recognizable staccato guitar riff and soulful, core-rattling refrain—"Everybody dance now!," scream-sung by 90s vocalist Martha Wash—the song has become something of a pop music cliché. Today, it's still a go-to anthem for basketball games and wedding parties, and has soundtracked countless movies and TV shows over the years, including Space Jam, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Simpsons, and The Office; it even appeared on a 2013 compilation of dance music released by Ellen DeGeneres, and in a 2016 Applebee's commercial.

     

    But the story of the song's rise to prominence—along with that of the group that made it—is a far less straightforward affair. Since the late-90s, "Everybody Dance Now" and the name "C&C Music Factory" have been the subject of a bitter battle between the group's co-founder, Clivillés, and the now 50-year-old Williams, who left the group shortly after C&C Music Factory's Billboard Awards appearance to pursue a solo career.

    Though he departed from the group in 1992, Williams legally trademarked the C&C Music Factory name in 2005. According to Clivillés, Williams has been performing shows under the C&C Music Factory moniker since the 90s, including recent shows in United States, Australia, and Brazil. Now, Clivillés is saying that Williams is profiting unfairly by positioning himself as the group's main (or only) member—when he was merely hired on contract as an ensemble player.

    The Best Dance Tracks of 20 Years Ago

    On July 2, 2016, Clivillés posted a 1,382-word, public open letter on his own Facebook page addressed to Williams, threatening legal action to get the C&C Music Factory name back. In the letter, Clivillés indicates that he's prepared to take Williams to court and asks, "Why must you profit/steal and distort from our hard worked & earned history? [sic]" The post racked up over a thousand likes and hundreds of shares, including hundreds of comments from friends and fans echoing Clivillés' outrage. But Clivillés told THUMP that Williams' responded by simply blocking him on Facebook. Williams has also repeatedly declined requests from THUMP to comment on this story, responding over Facebook message on August 29, "I'm way to [sic] busy at the moment to be bothered with that aspect of my business."

    This is not the first C&C Music Factory-related controversy over how its members are credited. In 1991, Martha Wash, who sang the huge vocal hook in "Everybody Dance Now," sued the group after another C&C Music Factory vocalist, Zelma Davis, lip-synced her parts in the song's music video. The case was settled out of court, with Sony requesting that MTV add a disclaimer to the video crediting Wash for vocals and Davis for "visualization." According to Rolling Stone, Wash's fight for proper credit set an important precedent for artists' rights in intellectual property law; following her case, federal legislation was created to mandate vocal credits on all albums and music videos. Had this legislation been in place when Wash recorded her vocals for "Everybody Dance Now" she likely would have been properly credited in the video for her contribution to the song.

     

    cc-body-image-1475607642.jpg
    Clivillés and David Cole met in the mid 80s, when Clivillés was DJing at New York City club Better Days. Before they had their big break with "Everybody Dance Now," they worked behind-the-scenes, co-writing and producing songs for artists like Chaka Khan and Grace Jones, co-producing remixes, and acting as managers for various groups. Together, they wrote and produced four songs on Mariah Carey's 1991 album Emotions, including the smash hit title track.

    According to Clivillés, who spoke to THUMP on the phone from his home in New York this past August, he originally wrote "Everybody Dance Now" for Trilogy, a New York-based freestyle act he and Cole also managed. After Trilogy passed on it, Clivillés and Cole decided to use the track to launch their own collaborative project, C&C Music Factory. Clivillés said that when he presented the instrumental version of the track with Wash's vocals to Sony/Columbia execs Tommy Mottola and Donnie Ienner in 1990, they "immediately" signed the duo to a five-album deal. "Everybody Dance Now" would be the lead single from their 1990 debut LP, Gonna Make You Sweat.

    The Musicians Behind one of the Most Sampled Songs in History Finally Got Paid

    Clivillés said he and Cole were "C&C," while the vocalists they recruited to sing on their productions were their "Factory." "It was a group created to feature new, unknown acts, or acts that maybe had a few hit records but were not known worldwide," Clivillés explained. Over the years, C&C Music Factory included, Clivillés said, more than a dozen singers, including Martha Wash, Deborah Cooper, Zelma Davis, members of Trilogy, and, of course, Freedom Williams.

    A lot of the time, Robert would forget The Factory. It was like, 'Dude, we're the Factory. How does the Factory run without any workers?"—C&C Music Factory featured artist Duran Ramos

    Born in Brooklyn as Frederick Williams, Freedom Williams met Cole and Clivillés in 1989 at New York's Quad Recording Studios, where the pair were working on various tracks and remixes. According to Clivillés, Williams' had a job sweeping the hallways and cleaning the bathrooms at the studio, and was also going to school to become an audio engineer. Clivillés said he helped get Williams promoted to an engineering assistant position at Quad. It was during this time that he and David Cole also heard Williams rap for the first time.

    Then in his mid-20s, Williams had a rich, baritone timbre and a rhythmic flow that was at once deadpan and bombastic. "I thought he had a good, deep voice for the mic," said Clivillés, who recruited Williams to rap on "Everybody Dance Now." Williams has a writing credit on the song; according to Trilogy member Duran Ramos, Clivillés wrote the first two lines of the rap—"Here is the dome/back with the bass"—and Williams wrote the rest of the two rap verses. (According to Discogs, Williams also has writing credits on four other tracks from Gonna Make You Sweat. Wash was listed as a backup singer on the album, though not the lead singer). Clivillés claimed that's as far as Williams' contributions went. "He had nothing to do with the photo or video sessions, the creation of the music, or the rest of the songs in the [C&C Music Factory] catalog," Clivillés said.

    According to Clivillés, Williams signed a contract to become one of C&C Music Factory's featured artists. Under the terms of the contract, which was essentially an open-ended development deal, Cole and Clivillés would provide Williams with opportunities to record and perform with C&C Music Factory as well as other groups that Cole and Clivillés managed, like the female dance-pop trio Seduction. Speaking with THUMP, Clivillés stressed that the agreement framed Williams as one of C&C Music Factory's many featured artists, but not as a founder or owner of the group, a designation reserved exclusively for himself and Cole.

     

    cc-body-image-1475609211.jpg?output-qual

    Robert Clivillés (Photo courtesy of C&C Music Factory Records, NYC)

     

    Ramos, who had a featured artist contract similar to Williams', explained in a phone call with THUMP that each person recruited to be a featured artist with C&C Music Factory had a similar contract. "Pretty much everyone had the exact same agreement," he said. "We were featured artists... it was like getting hired for a part."

    "C&C Music Factory was always clearly David Cole and Robert Clivillés," said Zelma Davis, who was one of C&C Music Factory's lead vocalists. "Freedom and I were told that we were featured members of the group, not owners of the band."

    The "Happy Birthday" Song Has Finally Been Freed from the Greedy Grips of Copyright

    "Everybody Dance Now" skyrocketed the members of C&C Music Factory to fame, with the song getting major play on MTV and earning the group a number of accolades, including the aforementioned Billboard Award. Gonna Make You Sweat also generated a number of other hits, most notably "Here We Go (Let's Rock & Roll) and "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm..." In February of 1992, Clivillés, Cole, Williams and Davis appeared with actress Susan Dey in a commercial promoting their appearance as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.

    But shortly after this performance, Williams was gone. According to Clivillés, in 1992, Williams asked C&C to release him from their contract together so he could launch his own career. "We featured him on C&C Music Factory to establish him as an artist, so he could then take it solo," Clivillés said. "The group blew up so fast that by the third single, he was like, 'Yo, I'm good. I'm out.'" Clivillés and Cole let him go, recording their sophomore LP, Anything Goes!, without him. The album generated a few successful singles, although nothing would match the massive success of "Gonna Make You Sweat." Then, in 1995, David Cole passed away from spinal meningitis at the age of 32. After releasing a final album, 1995's C+C Music Factory, Clivillés dissolved the group.

    Williams' 1993 solo album, Freedom, had stalled on the charts, with its lead single—the synthesizer-laden "Voice of Freedom"—peaking at number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains his only solo album to date. Williams also tried acting, performing in a 1996 episode of the Showtime erotic drama The Red Shoe Diaries before eventually vanishing into obscurity. In a 2014 video interview, he talks about making income as a construction worker.

    But in the late 90s, Clivillés received an odd piece of news from his friends: Freedom Williams, he was told, was performing solo shows across the United States under the C&C Music Factory name, even though he had left the group years ago. Clivillés said he asked Williams to instead bill himself as "Freedom Williams formerly of C&C Music Factory" and that for a while, Williams did so. Clivillés said that it wasn't long, however, before he started seeing William playing shows in which he presented himself as a member of C&C Music Factory. Then, without notifying Clivillés, Williams legally trademarked "C&C Music Factory" under his birth name Frederick Williams in 2005. In 2015, he trademarked "C&C Music Factory" under his company Freedom Williams Entertainment LLC.

    According to Colorado-based intellectual property lawyer Shirin Chahal, Williams was able to claim C&C Music Factory's trademark rights because he had toured with the name in the late 90s and early 2000s. "If Williams was touring nationally and his music under the C&C Music Factory name was getting national-wide play—radio, clubs, wherever—he would have a great position that he established common law trademark rights," Chahal explains.

    Williams has played at least eleven C&C Music Factory-related shows in 2016. On his most recent tour flyers, Williams sometimes positions himself as "Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory" and "C+C Music Factory Feat: Freedom Williams." Another says "Freedom Williams, the original frontman, face and voice of C&C Music Factory"—with "the original frontman, face and voice" in almost comically tiny font. A few just say "C+C Music Factory." Williams often appears at clubs and casinos alongside other 90s nostalgia acts like Snap!, Corona, and Tone Loc, performing shows that are energetic, if somewhat disjointed. When he performs "Everybody Dance Now," he typically has a female performer singing over Wash's hook. Clivillés estimates that Williams makes between five and ten thousand dollars per booking.

     

    cc-body-image-1475609101.jpg?output-qual

    A poster from one of Freedom Williams' shows as the front man of C&C Music Factory (Image courtesy of Robert Clivillés)

     

    "[Williams] is profiting from the name," says Clivillés, who notes that the name "C&C Music Factory" was never trademarked in the 90s. "He's intentionally telling people that he's the actual creator of the group... It's time that something is done about it."

    Former C&C Music Factory-featured artist Ramos believes Williams' actions are motivated by issues deeper than money. According to Ramos, Williams and Clivillés often clashed back in the 90s, with Clivillés frequently reminding Williams that he wasn't anything without C&C.

    "Freedom has strong disdain for Robert," said Ramos, who claimed he remains friendly with both sides. "He would tell you that Robert is controlling, manipulative—that Robert thinks he's the man and didn't see how everyone else made it happen, which I would agree with. A lot of the time, Robert would forget The Factory. It was like, 'Dude, we're the Factory. How does the Factory run without any workers?"

    Clivillés remembers the situation differently. "The only disagreement I ever had with Freedom was that he wasn't humble when the success came to him," he said. "He immediately thought he was the man, and that cost him his career overnight."

    Ramos believes Williams is now attempting to get back at Clivillés, and lining his pockets in the process. "It's revenge," Ramos said. "Absolutely."

    Still, Ramos thinks Clivillés is ultimately in the right. "By taking the name of C&C Music Factory," Ramos said, "[Williams] is taking bread from the table of people that were a part of it, like Trilogy, Zelma, Deborah Cooper and so many others. He's performing songs like 'Do You Wanna Get Funky?,' which he had nothing to do with. That was a song I wrote, and he's doing my rap."

    "I think it's very arrogant, what Freedom is doing," Ramos concluded. "He'll say Robert is arrogant, but what he's doing [by performing as C&C Music Factory] is the same way."

    In June of this year, Williams performed "Everybody Dance Now" on longstanding Brazilian variety program Domingão do Faustão. In Portuguese, the show's host asks Williams about the history of the song. Williams replies that he wrote the song for a group he produced for back in the day—when it was actually Clivillés who wrote and produced the instrumental track and laid down Wash's vocals for Trilogy—and that he was homeless at the time of the song's creation. "He's really talking about me, which is weird," said Ramos, who himself was intermittently homeless between 1987 and 1990. "You've gotta be a little nuts to position yourself that way."

     

    cc-body-image-1475609499.jpg

    A poster from one of Freedom Williams' shows under the C&C Music Factory name (Image courtesy of Robert Clivillés)

    Though Williams declined to comment for this piece, he did make what appeared to be a public acknowledgement of the accusations leveled at him on Instagram, posting an apparent response shortly after Clivillés' open letter. Amongst selfies, travel photos, concert videos, and event flyers promoting C&C Music Factory shows, Williams shared a text image stating, "One of the most annoying things you could do is get into an argument on social media with a person who makes no sense and watch people agree with them."

    While Clivillés said that he and Williams are not in contact, a few months ago, Ramos claimed he attempted to broker peace between them in conjunction with a television show about C&C Music Factory he was planning to pitch to VH1. (Ramos said the show didn't pan out.) Meanwhile, Clivillés said he has requested all of the original C&C Music Factory contracts from Sony and is interviewing potential lawyers as he gets organized to sue. According to Chahal, his legal options for cancelling the trademark are narrow: because the original trademark was issued more than five years ago, Clivillés will likely have to sue for trademark infringement.

    Beyond his Instagram posts and performances, Williams remains silent. He doesn't have any current tour dates on the calendar as C&C Music Factory, but his most recent performance under that name happened on September 17, in Fresno, California.

    Despite the taste of worldwide fame C&C Music Factory experienced two and a half decades ago, it seems a judge will now decide who's free to get onstage and relive these past glories. Regardless of the legal outcome, this situation serves as a reminder that behind many of the enduring tracks in the pop culture canon, there are often small armies of artists and producers fighting over credit and money. Spotlights fade—often sooner than musicians hope—and everyone is left scrambling for a piece of the legacy.


  11. Okayplayer just posted a short article on it...

    by William Ketchum III

    Eric B. & Rakim Announce Reunion, Upcoming Tour

    Eric B. & Rakim Announce Reunion, Upcoming Tour

    It ain’t no joke: iconic rap duo Eric B. & Rakim have announced a reunion and an upcoming tour.

    On Oct. 20, the duo released a simple message from their @EricBandRakim Twitter account: “It’s official. You heard it here first. We are back.” But on Saturday, they released a poll giving their followers four choices of where to launch their upcoming tour: New York, Las Vegas, London and Australia.

    They also offered Eric. B for president – a choice that many would likely love over either of this year’s candidates. “Vote @EricB because our Great Country deserves a POTUS who can MOVE THE CROWD,” the account tweeted. “@realDonaldTrump cannot and @HillaryClinton will not. EB will!”

    Eric B & Rakim were the premier rap duo of the 1980s: Rakim being the God MC known for his innovative, literally state-of-the-art rhymes, and Eric B.’s stripped down production and DJing. With classic cuts like “Eric B. Is President,” “I Ain’t No Joke” and “Paid In Full,” and their huge chains, they essentially ushered in rap’s first golden era – and Rakim rightfully remains in many rappers’ top 10 lists.

    They parted ways around 1993, and continued their careers separately. After a brief trial run with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment in the early 2000s, Rakim released 2009’s The Seventh Seal, which is his third and most recent solo album. He announced a new album last year, though he hasn’t delivered one yet.

    Complex reports that their last time sharing the stage was about six years ago, at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame’s Induction Gala.

    Whether this reunion results in new music or not, it sounds like a tour full of memories to be made when one of the most iconic rap duos of all time hits the road. Stay tuned to Okayplayer for more updates on the reunion, and watch the videos below for a couple reminders of their greatness.

    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/eric-b-rakim-announce-reunion-upcoming-tour.html


  12. I don't think any of us saw this coming!  They announced it on their official Twitter account. They also have an official website. I get the impression these were Eric B's and that they are in the process of being updated.

    Most people know that after they released four dope studio albums and because an iconic group, they a business fall out and weren't really on good terms for decades. It looks like they finally patched things up. Eric B & Rakim was one of FP's favorite groups. Perhaps seeing this will prompt him to realize he needs to stop dragging his feet on the JJ+FP tour. After all, he's always gotten inspired by artists he's admired.

    Here's the website: http://ericbandrakim.com/

    And their Twitter: https://twitter.com/EricBandRakim

     


  13. "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.
     


  14. 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


  15. 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-age-aint-nothing-but-a-number

    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.

    back-and-forth-aaliyah
    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.

    51LhBgOIp4L

    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.

    Back-Forth-aaliyah-
    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.

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    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.


  16. 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.

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