[REPOST] Remember When Whitney Houston Was Booed for Being Too White

Remember When Whitney Houston Was Booed for Being Too White

Remember When Whitney Houston Was Booed for Being Too White

Whitney Houston has been gone from us for almost three years. But as we think back about her life, she was interesting case study in the cross over appeal. Being a soul sister who cut her teeth in the traditional Black circles, her explosion as a pop diva was not always well received. This Gawker piece does a great job at detailing those contradictions.

The audible jeers came after Houston’s name was read alongside fellow nominees in categories she’d go on to lose: Best Music Video and Best R&B Urban Contemporary Single by a Female, respectively. The booings have long been considered representative of the black music audience’s displeasure with Houston’s image and output up to that moment.

Read the full article after the jump.
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NPR Incorporating More Hip Hop [REPOST] @NPRHipHop @washingtonpost

NPR Incorporating More Hip Hop

NPR Incorporating More Hip Hop

We saw it last month- T-Pain actually singing music sans vocoder. Or even earlier this year, we brought you a segment from Andre 3000 on the radio show Mic Check. It is now being revealed that this is only part and parcel to a larger effort on the behalf of NPR to incorporate more hip hop into their rotation and features. Indeed, this is a hallmark sign that the genre has matured and is entering it’s moment as a culturally venerated art form. Read the full article from The Washington post below.
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Jessye Norman: Southern Soul, Opera Queen [FULL VIDEO] @JessyeSchool @Letterman

Jessye Norman: Southern Soul, Opera Queen

Jessye Norman: Southern Soul, Opera Queen

Jessye Norman is the world renowned opera diva from Augusta, GA. Whereas we know so much of soul and power have come from down in Georgia, we often neglect to pay attention to how folks from that region have influenced more classical forms of music. Jessye Norman is that soul star who has been stirring up the opera world for years. Her new memoir Stand Up Straight and Sing details how this Southern woman grew into the opera queen known today. Watch her interview with David Letterman below, as well as her take on the classic song “Midnight Special“.
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Long Play Love: Lisa Stansfield’s Affection Celebrating 25 Years by Justin Chadwick @lisajstansfield

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Happy 25th Birthday to Affection, Lisa Stansfield’s debut LP, originally released November 20, 1989.

If there’s one musical era of my lifetime that I’m most romantically nostalgic about, it is unequivocally the four-year span that commenced in 1989 and concluded in 1992.

Not coincidentally, these were my socially formative junior high and early high school years. And as I survived puberty (including the rayon-mandated threads of those awkward junior high dance days) and embarked upon teenagehood, I was a veritable sponge for good music. Thankfully, my ears were never lacking for fun, vibrant records across so many genres during that time – from new jack swing to R&B to hip-hop to house to the birth of so-called grunge rock. Read more of this post

Sista SZA Sings “Sobriety”. And We Love Everything About It. [FULL STREAM] @sza @topdawgent

Sista SZA Sings Sobriety. And We Love Everything About It.

Sista SZA Sings “Sobriety”. And We Love Everything About It.

SZA has been capturing our heart for a while now. As the first lady of T.D.E., she is a way maker for her imprint, doing to alt-soul what the boys are doing to hip hop. This song is an anthem to her powerful independence. Her voice and style are becoming iconic and we love this track, albeit brief.
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[REPOST] TLC Marks 20 Years of ‘CrazySexyCool’ by Michael Gonzales @therealtboz @officialchilli @ @gonzomike

By Michael Gonzales

A lot of people thought we were going to be one-hit wonders,” Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, one-third of TLC, told me in 2012. “Even the executives at LaFace [Records] didn’t know if we could do it again, so I’d always be grateful to our fans.” Along with her fem-funk soul sisters RozondaChilliThomas and the late rapper LisaLeft EyeLopes, they’d formed the wondrous TLC in 1991, releasing their debut Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip the following winter.

Soon, the colorfully dressed girl-group was soon blaring from every radio station across the nation. Read more of this post

Celebrating Ol’ Dirty Bastard 10 Years Later [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Celebrating Ol' Dirty Bastard 10 Years Later

Celebrating Ol’ Dirty Bastard 10 Years Later

It’s been 10 years since the passing of the legendary member of the Wu-Tang. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – aka ODB- was a zany member of the crew, gesticulating about and using colorful language and technique on the mic. In celebrating his life, Gummy Soul, a producer/sound engineer/record company based out of Nashville, Tennessee, created this gummy soul remix to ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya“. You can watch the colorful video below and download the full track too!
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J. Cole’s New Mini Doc Announces Album, Touches Home [FULL VIDEO] @JColeNC

J. Cole's New Mini Doc Announces Album, Touches Home

J. Cole‘s New Mini Doc Announces Album, Touches Home

Jermaine Cole, better known as the Friday Night Lights rapper J. Cole, has been rocking our minds and spirits since 2009. At the time, he was one of the most buzzed about newcomers in the rap industry for his witty foreplay and his amazing background story from the streets of Fayetteville to the heart of New York for college. Two major album releases later, J. Cole is easily identifiable as of the strongest voices in the modern hip-hop renaissance, certainly being the greatest descendant of East Coast rap geniuses (like his longtime idol Nas and the conglomerate Wu-Tang)

This stirring new mini-doc takes us on a stroll through Cole’s hometown, giving us a slice of life for him that helped to make him who he is today. It is also said that this is the lead up to his new album, of the same same name, 2014 Forest Hill Drive. After Cole’s release this summer of his song “Free” following the death of Michael Brown and the related events in Ferguson, MO, we already saw Cole stepping up to the plate of being a rapper on the vanguard. If Forest Hill Drive channels even just a bit of that energy and conviction, then this will be an album worthy of buzz for years to come.

Watch the video below!
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Long Play Love: Method Man’s Tical Celebrating 20 Years by Justin Chadwick @methodman @wutangclan

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Happy 20th Birthday to Tical, Method Man’s debut LP, originally released November 15, 1994.

One year after the Wu-Tang Clan unleashed their now-legendary debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Method Man served up the first in the proliferation of solo Wu-Tang member albums that would follow in the years to come. Liberated from the crowded shadow of his multi-dimensionally talented Wu-Tang brethren, Tical solidified Meth’s polished rhyme skills and unique vocal cadence as dominant forces in their own right. Read more of this post

Fall in Love With the “People of Today” by the 1978ers [FULL STREAM] @MelloMusicGroup @yuthe78er @Slimthe78er

Fall in Love With the People of Today by the 1978ers

Fall in Love With the “People of Today” by the 1978ers

MelloMusic Group never fails to impress. The latest band they are presenting, the 1978ers ooze a very specific soul. A type of jazzy reminiscent of early hip-hop, this duet is brilliant with their rhymes and styling. Directly from their mouths:

Music is an exchange of ideas. This album is something for those exhausted with the shuck and jive of pop culture, who believe in the purification rituals offered by hard snares, funky drum kicks, soul-coughing bass, and deeply rooted vibrations.

Steadfastly infusing their songs with spirituality and positivity, yU and Slimkat are everymen with preternatural talent. Over the years, they’ve tirelessly built a rep in the DMV, collaborating on yU’s The Earn and Before Taxes, which OkayPlayer called “one of the best hip-hop albums released in the last few years.” In 2009, yU released In the Ruff as the philosophical heart of super-group Diamond District, a record hailed by MTV as “arguably the best hip-hop ever released in D.C.”
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Len Xiang Cover of Citizen Cope’s Pablo Picasso @lenxiang @citizencope

Len Xiang

We are so happy to expose more people to this amazing artist, Len Xiang. soulhead founder, Ron Worthy, met him 15 years ago at the Lafayette Avenue subway station in Brooklyn. After walking up the stairs from the train, he faintly heard a moving rendition of Sam Cooke‘s “A Change is Gonna Come” and had to find out where it was coming from. Since that moment, they have been friends.

When we came across this video, we had to post it. Not only is Len Xiang one of our favorite singers, but we also love this version of another favorite artists, Citizen Cope. It is great to see so much Fort Greene, Brooklyn love out there.

Enjoy!

[SLEPT ON SOUL] Jesus Wept – P.M. Dawn by Michael A. Gonzales @gonzomike @OfficialPMDawn

Slept On Soul : P.M. Dawn Jesus Wept by Michael A. Gonzales

Jesus Wept - P.M. Dawn by Michael A. Gonzales

Back in the early 1990s, when so-called “realness” began reigning supreme over rap music, most anyone not subscribing to the sinister outlook of street narratives was perceived as a fake punk just asking for a beat down. The equivalent of young Black kids being teased by their peers for “talking white,” the rules of rap realness kept the music as grimy as possible, caught up in a trick bag of ghetto demands. Real men, according to macho hip-hop mythology, represented and rapped about the streets, their honey booty sweeties and “playing the game” with the precision of hustler.

Unable to be merely content doing their own thing, some artists were determined to tear down any aural agitators who dared not to embrace the soiled imagery of crack infested buildings, pissy projects staircases and dope boys slinging rock on park benches until the break of dawn. While a few bohemian crews, namely De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and whoever else was down with the Native Tongues, was given a ghetto pass, perhaps because they socialized at the same spots (Union Square, The World) or recorded at the same studios.

Without a doubt, many hardcore hip-hop fans never really gave P.M. Dawn a chance. With their hippy clothes, surreal lyricism and Dr. Strange personas that reeked of Black mysticism and white witchcraft, P.M. Dawn wasn’t hanging in deathtrap hip-hop clubs, banging out beats on abandoned cars or worried about their baby mamma’s hounding them for child support. Indeed, as Prince Be later explained on the hypnotic single “Reality Used to Be a Friend of Mine” (1992), “What is real, a positive plane, reality and life are not the same.”

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Gilles Peterson Presents: Brownswood Bubblers 11 [FULL PLAYLIST] @gillespeterson @brownswood

Gilles Peterson PresentS: Brownswood Bubblers 11

The British taste maker is at it again! Gilles Peterson is renowned in his native U.K. and across the globe at having a particular knack for discerning music that possesses a certain soul je ne sais quoi. All of the picks that he makes really embody the spirit of soulful eclecticism, all with artists who have recorded tracks worthy of our attention. Brownswood Bubblers 11 is the aptly named 11th volume in his collection of songs meant to be discussed around the workstation water cooler. With 18 tracks, this collection is incredible! Whereas you can pre-order the album now to download it, Brownswood Recordings has been so kind to include a free streaming playlist of the tracks. Check them all out below!
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Long Play Love: Madonna’s Like a Virgin Celebrating 30 Years by Justin Chadwick

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By Justin Chadwick

Happy 30th Birthday to Like a Virgin, Madonna’s 2nd and arguably most iconic LP, originally released November 12, 1984.

Just a young buck of seven years when the album was released, my pop music palette was admittedly rather shallow at the time. Growing at full-speed, mind you, but certainly not as extensive as it would become in the years to follow. But despite my musical naiveté, upon hearing Like a Virgin – both the lead single and album – for the first time, my ears instantly registered that this was pop of a totally different and thrilling breed.

Sure, at its core, it was pop music unabashedly designed to make bodies move and dominate radio playlists. Nothing overly cerebral was on offer here – this was Provocative Pop with a capital “P.” An arousing collection of songs that challenged the listener to contemplate not just Madonna’s overt sexuality on full and glorious display, but also his or her own feelings about sexual freedom, repression and the thin line that often separates the two.

So yeah, it’s safe to say that Madonna was my first bona fide pop star crush, and this album – coupled with the ubiquitous images of the 26 year-old Ms. Ciccone that pervaded MTV and virtually all other media in the year following its release – sealed the deal for me. Granted, at seven years old, I didn’t really understand the point of it all, the more subtle innuendos and subtext in the lyrics were largely lost on me. What I did appreciate was that Madonna commanded a stage and screen unlike any performer that came before her, and most importantly, her songs were catchy as all hell.

It’s this latter point that still resonates for me, thirty years on from Like a Virgin’s inception. For such a blockbuster mainstream record – one that has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide – Like a Virgin has aged so well, as it still sounds as fresh and exciting now as it did then. Hold this up against any contemporary pop artist’s albums (think Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, et al.), and Like a Virgin still makes for a more deeply addictive and rewarding listen.

And while Madonna’s dynamic persona was unquestionably the driving force behind the album’s appeal, the overlooked secret weapon behind the songs’ appeal was prolific mega-producer Nile Rodgers, of Chic co-founding fame (you’ll also recognize him from his much more recent contributions with Daft Punk). Rodgers uncanny knack for crafting danceable pop songs with irresistible hooks and unforgettable melodies ensured that the album commanded and sustained the rapt attention of its listeners.

Madonna has made a handful of fantastic long players since her sophomore LP – Like a Prayer, Bedtime Stories and Ray of Light come immediately to mind. But for me, Like a Virgin is and will always be her crowning achievement, the apex of her impressive and inspired career.

My Favorite Song: “Angel”


Tracklisting:

Side A

  1. Material Girl
  2. Angel
  3. Like a Virgin
  4. Over and Over
  5. Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

Side B

  1. Dress You Up
  2. Shoo-Bee-Doo
  3. Pretender
  4. Stay

 

R.I.P. Henry Jackson AKA Big Bank Hank from the Sugarhill Gang (1957-2014)

We are very sad to deliver this news.  Despite some being critical of the Sugar Hill Gang, we are forever grateful for their impact.  Big Bank Hank (born Henry Jackson) was a superstar and always commanded your attention when he was on the MIC.  He will be missed.
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Aretha Franklin Talks Frankly About New “Divas” And New Album [FULL INTERVIEW]

Aretha Frankling Talks Frankly About New Divas and New Album

Aretha Franklin Talks Frankly About New “Divas” And New Album

Aretha Franklin is a force of nature and soul and she is not to be taken lightly! Her newest album Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics is the top debuting album of the 72-year old star’s career. To acknowledge and discuss this feat, she sat down with the Wall Street Journal‘s Christopher John Farley for an interview. Not mincing her words, Franklin opines on the state of music, including ranking the talents of Whitney Houston, Taylor Swift, and Nicki Minaj. She even offers up details about her forthcoming biopic as well as a recent biography written about her (which, spoiler alert, of the latter she claims to be “lies, lies, and more lies”)!

Watch the full interview below
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Lupe Fiasco Delivers Haunting Truth [NEW SONG STREAM] @LupeFiasco

Lupe Fiasco Delivers Haunting Truth

Lupe Fiasco Delivers Haunting Truth

A name once synonymous with conscientious hip-hop, Lupe Fiasco has been something of a music recluse as of late. Making occasional appearances with artists like Ab-Soul, for the most part Fiasco has seemed to retreat from the scene. His early music, particularly the classic Food and Liquor, established him as this artist who could rap brilliantly about social issues over a dope beat. More recently, his lyricism has become a lot heavier handed, with the argument being that he sounds more pedantic than cool. The new song “Delivery” could give off that preachy-feel, but it’s been so long since we had a quintessential Lu track, that this just feels and sounds right. Check out the full song below!
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Long Play Love: Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s The Main Ingredient – Celebrating 20 Years by Justin Chadwick @peterock

Pete Rock and CL Smooth - The Main Ingredient

By Justin Chadwick

Happy 20th Birthday to The Main Ingredient, the sophomore LP by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, originally released November 8, 1994.

The dynamic producer/lyricist duo’s 1992 debut LP Mecca and the Soul Brother – which rapidly and deservedly achieved classic album status within hip-hop circles – was two years old at the time, so the tandem had big shoes (albeit, their own) to fill. Not to mention a swelling, eager fan base to satisfy with this follow-up songset. Read more of this post

Introducing “Long Play Love” and Justin Chadwick as soulhead’s Newest Contributor

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We are really happy to welcome super knowledgeable music fan, Justin Chadwick, to the growing soulhead family.   Justin has been lighting up social media with his timely insights and recommendations and now we welcome him to share with our global community of music lovers! Read more of this post

Living Legend Herbie Hancock Discusses His New Memoir [FULL INTERVIEW] @herbiehancock @CBCRadioQ

Living Legend Herbie Hancock Discusses His New Memoir

Living Legend Herbie Hancock Discusses His New Memoir

Herbie Hancock is undoubtedly one of the greatest influences of jazz music. Still living to tell the tale of a special era in jazz music, working with Miles Davis and other greats, Hancock’s name is synonymous with musical genius. In this special interview with Tom Powers from Canadian “Q” radio show, Hancock recounts his decades in the music industry, as well as the issues that matter to him like Civil Rights, chanting, and an African connectedness. He also discusses his new autobiography, Herbie Hancock: Possibilities, which is available now. Listen to the interview here!
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