Thursday, December 31, 2015

Song of the Day: "Auld Lang Syne (The New Year's Anthem)" (Mariah Carey)

"Auld Lang Syne (The New Year's Anthem)" - Mariah Carey
  • Writers: Robert Burns, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Johnny Severin
  • Producers: Red One & Mariah Carey
  • Featured on 2010's Merry Christmas II You

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cut: "What Happened?" (Algebra Blessett)

Back in 2008, Algebra Blessett released her debut album Purpose and while the set boasted my favorite joint "What Happened?," this was not the first time it was heard by the masses.

Semi-released, as in radio realized how brilliant this joint was back in 2007 and started playing it on their own, "What Happened?" never became a single from the famed ATL singer/songwriter, though it should've with that said, take a listen after the jump this this sublime cut from Algebra and Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rare Performance: "Anytime You Need A Friend" (Mariah Carey)

Back in 1993, Mariah Carey released her future diamond-certified album Music Box and to help promote the album, Carey held an intimate performance at Proctor's Theater and performed her future fourth single "Anytime You Need A Friend."

While the song peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, it is an often forgotten about Carey classic and this rare performance of a younger Mariah Carey cooing it out is on point to say the least. With that said, watch her powerful performance of "Anytime You Need A Friend" below as we celebrate a new peak for Mariah's holiday classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You" on the Billboard Hot 100 (#11).

Second Listen: "Dragon Days" (Alicia Keys)

Back in 2003, Alicia Keys dropped her sophomore album, the now classic, The Diary of Alicia Keys much to critical and commercial acclaim, eventually netting her three Grammys at the 47th Grammy Awards.

While this album like her debut album played like a cohesive body of work, there were several gems on this album that never saw the singles treatment that should have.

With that in mind, take a second listen to Key's mid-tempo jam "Dragon Days" below, which to me is one of the most underrated albums on her album. Listen below and Enjoy!

Cut: "Slower" (Brandy)

Co-written by Chris Brown, Brandy Norwood, Breyon Prescott, Amber Streeter, and Dave Taylor (Switch) , the Switch produced joint "Slower" is one of the numerous standout joints on Brandy's "comeback" LP Two Eleven.

With that said, "Slower" would've be a solid single for the winter months from Brandy's Two Eleven and for those who haven't picked up a copy of her latest LP, you can take a listen below to this solid Switch produced cut.

Live Clip: "I Can't Let Go" (Jennifer Hudson)

One of my favorite performance of 2015 had to be Academy Award and GRAMMY winner Jennifer Hudson gracing this year's Oscar stage with a sublime performance of her former Smash standout ballad "I Can't Let Go."

Performed on the NBC's show second season, Jennifer Hudson had a guest arch on the cancelled cult favorite show but last night brought further attention with her riveting rendition of "I Can't Let Go." With that said, peep her sublime performance from the Oscars below and Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Song of the Day: "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" (Nina Simone)

"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" - Nina Simone
  • Writer: Weldon Irvine
  • Composer: Nina Simone
  • Producer: Stroud Productions
  • Record Label: RCA Records
  • Released in 1970 from Black Gold
  • Peaked at #8 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Song of the Day: "Lately" (Tyrese)

"Lately" - Tyrese
  • Writers: Derek Allen & Tyrese Gibson
  • Producer: Derek Allen
  • Record Label: RCA Records
  • Released in 1999 from Tyrese
  • Peaked at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #12 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Video: "Give Love On Christmas Day" (Ledisi)

While Christmas 2015 is over, Ledisi has released a Christmas present to all of her fans with the official video for her holiday cover of the Jackson 5's "Give Love On Christmas Day," lifted from her 2008 holiday album It's Christmas.

Directed by Ron T. Young the festive video for "Give Love On Christmas Day" seems to of been shot in San Francisco and features beautiful shots of the city during the holidays. With that said, watch the video below as we continue to spread holiday cheer.

Cut: "Gotta Get Up (Another Day)" (Jill Scott ft 4Hero)

Back in 2001, Jill Scott released her live double album Experience: Jill Scott 826+ and while the set is best known for her live renditions and the single "Gimme," my favorite joint from the bonus studio LP has to be her 4Hero assisted joint "Gotta Get Up (Another Day)."

While the song was never released as a single and Ms. Scott has not performed it live to my knowledge, the song has such a necessary meaning and a dope beat to accompany it. With that said, take a listen to "Gotta Get Up (Another Day)" after the jump and Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rare Performance: "I Love the Lord"/ "Joy To The World" (Whitney Houston)

In honor of the Christmas holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to watch this rare performance of Whitney Houston performing a medley of "I Love the Lord" and "Joy To The World" during Celebrate The Dream: 50 Years of EBONY from back in the 90s.

I don't know about you, but a viewing of The Preacher's Wife always rings in the holiday spirit for me and revisiting the music from the soundtrack also does the trick. With that said, watch Whitney belt it out below as we count down to the holiday!

Cut: "Joy" (Whitney Houston)

Back in 1996, Whitney Houston released the accompanying soundtrack to her film "The Preacher's Wife" and the gospel heavy album would go onto become one of the most highly successful gospel albums of all time.

With that said, one of the cuts from the album for me is her Kirk Franklin written joint "Joy," which Houston co-produced with Mervyn Warren. Therefore, take a listen below to Whitney Houston performing "Joy" along with The Georgia Mass Choir and Enjoy!

Live Clip: "O Holy Night" (Tiffany Evans)

Back in The 8th Annual Soul Train Christmas Starfest back in 2005, Tiffany Evans at the tender age of thirteen offered up one of, if not the best live performance of O Holy Night.

Putting her once in a generation voice on display, Tiffany really belts it out between 4:19 - 4:35 mark. With that said, as we begin to gather with family on this Christmas Eve, I thought it would be nice to revisit her powerhouse performance.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Song of the Day: "Come Back to Me" (Janet Jackson)

"Come Back to Me" - Janet Jackson
  • Writers: Janet Jackson, James Harris III, Terry Lewis
  • Producers: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
  • Record Label: A&M
  • Released in 1990 from 1989's Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814
  • Peaked at #2 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs

Live Audio: "In My Mind" (Heather Headley)

On the deluxe edition of Heather Headley's sophomore LP In My Mind, she featured two piano-led renditions of her biggest hits, one being the title track to her second album. With that said, Heather just nails it for me in this ripped live audio of her stunning performance of "In My Mind" and luckily for you, you can listen to it after the jump!

Live Clip: "O Holy Night" (Amber Riley)

Three years ago, Amber Riley took to Not Another Open Mic Night in Los Angeles to help ring in the holiday cheer, and during her time at the event, Amber offered up a rousing rendition of the holiday classic "O Holy Night."

Amber of course shuts it down and continually proves why so many consider her to be the best voice to of graced our ears during her time on Glee. With that said, watch her sublime performance of "O Holy Night" below as we prepare to celebrate Christmas Eve!

Amazing Cover: "What A Wonderful World" (Ledisi & Stevie Wonder)

Ledisi never fails to offer up a phenomenal performance and whenever she touches a cover, she always brings her own into it, which in my opinion takes it to the next level.

With that said, during the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication two year ago, Ledisi let into a spirited performance of the Louis Armstrong classic. So impressed with her take on the song, Stevie Wonder brought her back out to duet with her on "What A Wonderful World" and the two of them really broke it down.

Watch it all go down below and Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Live Clip: "Joe" (Brittany Howard)

Last week the telecast of Billboard Women in Music aired and the performance of the night hands down for me was Brittany Howard's powerhouse rendition of "Joe." The frontwoman of Alabama Shakes offered up an effortlessly powerful rendition of the band's single "Joe," proving why she is considered by many as one of the most exciting, freshest, and robust voices in music today.

With that said, watch Brittany's sublime performance of "Joe" from the Billboard Women In Music telecast below and Enjoy!

Live Audio: "O Holy Night" (Mariah Carey)

It's not the holidays in my household without a little Mariah Carey music in the background. With two Christmas albums under her belt, Mariah Carey is the epitome of holiday spirit and her live rendition of "O Holy Night" lifted from WPC in South Central Los Angeles is a great example of her vocal prowess.

Take a listen below to Mariah's sublime live rendition of "O Holy Night" lifted from her holiday collection as we continue to get into the holiday spirit.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Second Listen: "This Christmas" (Donny Hathaway)

Back in 1970, Donny Hathaway co-wrote, produced and released "This Christmas" as a special single release for the holiday season.

Though it only peaked at #11 on the Billboard Christmas Singles Chart in 1972, the song has gone onto become a Christmas standard and classic having been covered by numerous high profile acts including Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Chris Brown, and Patti LaBelle.

With that said, take a first or second listen to this holiday jam below and Enjoy!

Live Audio: "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" (Whitney Houston)

During Whitney Houston's My Love Is Your Love World Tour back in 1999, she had a two night stint in Los Angeles at the Universal Amphitheater and of course during her set, Houston performed her #1 hit single "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," which would sadly go onto be the legends last #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

On this special July night, Whitney was jointed on stage during her "shoop segment" by none other than her dear friend BeBe Winans who added his tenor vocals to Houston's Babyface penned chorus of "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)." With that said, take a listen after the jump to this live audio of Whitney's live rendition of "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" from her My Love Is Your Love World Tour and Enjoy!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Song of the Day: "If You Love Me" (Brownstone)

"If You Love Me" - Brownstone
  • Writers: Gordon Chambers, Nichole Gilbert, & Dave Hall
  • Producer: Dave "Jam" Hall
  • Record Label: MJJ Music, Epic
  • Released in 1994 from From the Bottom Up
  • Peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 & #2 on the Hot R&B songs chart
  • GRAMMY nominated in 1995 for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Duo or Group

Cut: "Don't Walk Away" (Jade)

Back in 1993, R&B trio Jade released their second single "Don't Walk Away," which proved to be one of the biggest singles of the year. Peaking at #2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and climbed all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, the song's success pushed their debut album Jade to the Max to platinum status.

In addition to selling over a million albums with their self-titled debut album, the trio scored several high profile appearances on The Tonight Show, The Arsenio Hall Show and UK's Top of the Pops. With that said, a listen below to the cut "Don't Walk Away" and Enjoy!

Second Listen: "A Sunday Kind of Love" (Etta James)

"A Sunday Kind of Love" was a popular song composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes, and Louis Prima and became a pop and jazz standard, recorded by many artists. The song was first recorded though by Claude Thornhill and his Orchestra on November 11, 1946.

Claude Thornhill released the song as a single in January, 1947 and it became permanently identified as the signature song for its vocalist, Fran Warren. Louis Prima and his Orchestra released his recording of the song in February, 1947, though the version I am most familiar with, and I am sure you as well is Etta's poignant rendition.

Lifted from her 1961 album At Last!, which is probably best remembered by Etta's sublime cover of "At Last," "A Sunday Kind of Love" is also another standout from this classic work from James and warrants a second listen below!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Song of the Day: "I Have Nothing" (Whitney Houston)

"I Have Nothing" - Whitney Houston
  • Writers: David Foster & Linda Thompson
  • Producer: David Foster
  • Record Label: Arista 
  • Released in 1993 from The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack
  • Peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100

Album Stream: "#LoveJo2" (JoJo)

Yesterday as an early birthday gift from JoJo to her fans, she dropped a new EP #LoveJo2, which serves as the follow-up to her 2014 EP.

Composed of four cuts including a remix to her single "When Love Hurts," that  mixes some of Mary J. Blige's iconic "Real Love," a cover of  Soul II Soul's "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)," as well as the full version of "Thinkin Out Loud," which she has been performing live on tour, #LoveJo2 is a solid EP to hold us over until JoJo releases her highly anticipated third album.

With that said, take a listen below to JoJo's #LoveJo2 and Enjoy!

Second Listen: "Soon As I Get Home" (Faith Evans)

Written by Faith Evans and Diddy, this classic 90s ballad from her debut album Faith is still such a killer joint and still goes as if it was released just yesterday, although we are approaching  20 years since its release.

With that said, you can take a hopefully second listen to "Soon As I Get Home" below!

Cut: "Dear No One" (Tori Kelly)

Tori Kelly has really been making a name for herself over the last few months and while I rushed to purchase a copy of her sublime debut album Unbreakable Smile after her tribute to Smokey Robinson at the 2015 BET Awards, it was her 2014 bonus track cut "Dear No One" that has really caught my ear.

Released in 2013, "Dear No One" is a sublime mid-tempo and why this buzz single never really popped is beyond me because the lyrical content is on point and of course Tori's vocal delivery is spot on. With that said, take a listen below to Tori's "Dear No One" and Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Song of the Day: "Un-Break My Heart" (Toni Braxton)

"Un-Break My Heart" - Toni Braxton
  • Writer: Diane Warren
  • Producer: David Foster
  • Record Label: LaFace
  • Released in 1996 from Secrets
  • Peaked at #1 on  the Billboard Hot 100 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Second Listen: "Rhythm of the Night" (DeBarge)

Back in 1985. DeBarge released what would become their biggest hit to date entitled "Rhythm of the Night" and I don't know about you, but this classic is still in rotation for me.

Written by Diane Warren, "Rhythm of the Night" would go onto peak at #1 on Hot Black Singles as well as #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Take a second listen after the jump and Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cut: "Sex for Breakfast" (Christina Aguilera)

Though Christina Aguilera's 2010 LP Bionic was deemed somewhat of a commercial and critical disappointment, I found that her album offered up some solid jams including the cut "Sex for Breakfast."

Though the joint never received the single's treatment, the Aguilera co-penned slow jam is a standout on what I think is a rather underrated album. Take a listen below to the cut "Sex for Breakfast" and Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Second Listen: "This Christmas (Could Be The One)" (Ledisi)

I told y'all that Ledisi's It's Christmas is a holiday standard CD at my place and one of the other standout jams from the album besides her take on "What A Wonderful World", is Ledisi's original "This Christmas (Could Be The One)".

This is a future standard waiting to happen and if people would give it a first or second listen they would realize the brillance not only in Led's vocal performance but the sentimental lyrics. Therefore take a listen below as we all get into the Christmas spirit!

Live Audio: "You Give Good Love" (Whitney Houston)

I don't know about you, but I have still been jamming to Whitney Houston's live album Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances since it was released last year. With that said, one of the standout moments from the CD/DVD combo that was curated by her long-time mentor Clive Davis was her sublime performance of "You Give Good Love."

Lifted from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on April 5, 1985, Whitney Houston's stunning rendition at the start of her career propelled her to superstardom with the #1 R&B hit even reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite the segregation of the early charts.

With that said, take a listen below to Whitney Houston's powerhouse rendition of "You Give Good Love" below and Enjoy!

Cut: "In Vain" (Jazmine Sullivan)

Back in 2010 Jazmine Sullivan released her sophomore album Love Me Back and while the disc didn't receive the same commercial success as her debut album, it is just as good, if not better than its predecessor.

With that said, the set boasted a ton of great vocal performances and lyrical creations from Sullivan and the iTunes pre-order bonus track "In Vain" is one of the numerous standout joints from the set. Therefore, take a listen after the jump to her cut "In Vain" and Enjoy!

Set: "Live In New York City" (Adele)

Last night, NBC aired their Live In New York City concert special, taped last month at the Radio City Music Hall, with the phenomenal Adele. At the time, it was served as a preview for the then-unreleased 25 for the lucky audience, and a meaningful return to the stage given Adele's hiatus.

With that said, Adele's set pulled from her chart-topping hits including "Hello," "Someone Like You," "Rolling In The Deep," "Set Fire To The Rain," in addition to her oscar-winning ballad "Skyfall" as well as some new material from 25.

Watch Adele's set Live In New York City below and lookout for her world tour which kicks off next year in the U.K. and will come to North America during the summer of 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Song of the Day: "Knockin' Da Boots" (H-Town)

"Knockin' Da Boots" - H-Town
  • Writers: Keven Conner, Solomon Conner, Darryl Jackson, Stick, Roger Troutman, and  Larry Troutman
  • Producers: Keven Conner, Solomon Conner, Darryl Jackson, and Stick
  • Record Label: Luke 
  • Released in 1993 from Fever for da Flavor
  • Peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot R&B Singles chart

Live Clip: "Believe in Yourself (Erykah Badu)

Earlier today I was reminiscing with my friend Christopher about how Erykah Badu truly has the best rendition of The Wiz's "Believe in Yourself" I have ever heard.

With that said, I found one of her numerous standout performance of "Believe in Yourself" from a concert in Boston back in 2013. Watch her powerful performance of "Believe in Yourself" below and Enjoy!

Live Audio: "Amazing Grace" (Whitney Houston)

Whitney Houston's rendition of "Amazing Grace" during The Bodyguard Tour is one of the numerous sublime performances that The Voice performed during the apex of her career. With that said, below you will find a recording of Ms. Whitney Houston performing a spirited rendition of the gospel hymn from her last performance of The Bodyguard Tour in the US from NYC's famed Radio City Music Hall back in 1994.

Houston thanks the fans for coming and talks about taking a break from the business for a while before launching into a vocally riveting performance at 2:16, Whitney proves as she always did why she was considered The Voice. Listen below to her sublime rendition of "Amazing Grace" and Enjoy!

Cut: "Joy" (Whitney Houston)

Back in 1996, Whitney Houston released the accompanying soundtrack to her film "The Preacher's Wife" and the gospel heavy album would go onto become one of the most highly successful gospel albums of all time.

With that said, one of the cuts from the album for me is her Kirk Franklin written joint "Joy," which Houston co-produced with Mervyn Warren. Therefore, take a listen below to Whitney Houston performing "Joy" along with The Georgia Mass Choir and Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Amazing Cover: "Silent Night" (Ledisi)

Ledisi's Christmas album It's Christmas is one for the record collection as Led skillfully reinterprets several holiday classics while adding a few new holiday tinged gems to the holiday discography.

With that said, take a listen below to her sublime rendition of the holiday classic "Silent Night" and if you don't have It's Christmas, it's a perfect stocking stuffer as we enter the ten day countdown until Christmas.

Song of the Day: "Soul Holidays" (Sounds of Blackness)

"Soul Holidays" - Sounds of Blackness
  • Writers and Producers: Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, James Harris III, and Ann Bennet-Nesby
  • Record Label: Perspective Records
  • Released in 1992 off of The Night Before Christmas: A Musical Fantasy

Second Listen: "Wish I Didn't Miss You" (Angie Stone)

With Angie Stone back in the news, I thought it might nice to revisit some of her classic hits and albums and of course there is her sublime sophomore album Mahogany Soul which featured Angie's infectious hit "Wish I Didn't Miss You."

Sampling the O'Jay's "Back Stabber," the song was therefore written and composed by Ivan Matias, Andrea Martin with sampling credit going to Leon Huff, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead. Peaking at #79 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #31 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, "Wish I Didn't Miss You" would become her third biggest chart hit, but probably her most iconic song when it comes to her discography.

With that said, take a hopefully second listen below to "Wish I Didn't Miss You" from Angie Stone and Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Podcast: "To Pimp A Grammy" (The BackBeat)

In this week’s episode of The BackBeat, we talk about the GRAMMY Award nominations where Kendrick Lamar dominated with 11 nominations, Ayesha Curry's politics of respectability tweets, Twitter's #BlackestSongsEver, Wu-Tang Clan album being sold to pharmaceutical villain for $2 million, as well as Erykah Badu's Twitter chat. We also discussed how Chance the Rapper isn’t here for Chi-Raq and Spike Lee's response.

Also make sure you tune into the end of the episode where Marcus and Kyera share their Songs of the Moment.

Cut: "Missing You" (Jill Scott)

Jill Scott's The Light Of The Sun is still in heavy rotation at my crib and I can't wait to add her forthcoming Lullaby album to the fold in addition to her upcoming fifth studio album. While fans like me eagerly await the release of new album from the poetic mind of Jilly from Philly, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit one of those cuts from The Light Of The Sun.

Featured on 2011's The Light Of The Sun, "Missing You" was produced by JR Hutson and features that grown-and-sexy vibe and bpm that gets us grown folk feeling a type of way. With that said, after the jump you can (re)visit Scott's "Missing You" and hopefully within a few months we will be rocking to some new music from Ms. Jill Scott!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Second Listen: "I Want You" (Avila Brothers)

This is clearly one of my favorite underrated gems and always leaves me wondering what the Avila Brothers are up to as this was one of the best joints of the 2000s in my opinion. Back in 2005 the Avila Brothers released The Mood: Soundsational and one of the standout joints from the set was their reinterpretation of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You."

Using the perfect sample from Marvin's classic "I Want You," the Avila Brothers craft their own "I Want You" which is one of the most underrated songs to drop in the 2000s. Take a second listen to the Avila Brothers' "I Want You" below and Enjoy!

Cut: "Mary, Did You Know?" (Cee-Lo Green)

Last year, Cee-Lo released his debut holiday album Cee Lo’s Magic Moment and while I didn't buy it to add to my holiday collection, I did add "Mary, Did You Know?" from Cee-Lo after hearing it on the radio which made me take notice of this brilliant cut from his LP.

With that said, take a listen below to Cee-Lo's sublime cover of "Mary, Did You Know?" as we move into the last few days of the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Song of the Day: "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (Mariah Carey)

"All I Want For Christmas Is You" - Mariah Carey
  • Writers and Producers: Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff
  • Record Label:  Columbia
  • Released in 1994 from Merry Christmas
  • Peaks at #1 yearly on the US Billboard Holiday Songs

Cut: "Green Eyes" (Erykah Badu)

Back in 2000, Erykah Badu released her critically accalimed and commercially successful sophomore studio album Mama's Gun. While the set is best remembered for its single's "Bag Lady, "Didn't Cha Know?" and "Cleva," one of my favorite joints from Badu's classic Mama's Gun has to be her smooth soulful joint "Green Eyes."

Spanning the over ten minutes, the tempo-changing "Green Eyes" is one of the numerous standout joints from Badu's LP and you can take a listen to this sublime cut below!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Song of the Day: "More & More" (Joe)

"More & More" - Joe
  • Writer: R. Kelly
  • Producer: R. Kelly
  • Record Label: Jive Records
  • Released in 2003 from And Then...
  • Peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #15 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts