Words by Lester Briggins:
10) Best Production Duo: Gamble/Huff or Rodgers/Edwards?
Now we’re talking. Philly vs New York. in this corner, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, the Jacksons. “Me and Mrs Jones”, the Sound of Philadelphia. in that corner: “Le Freak”, “Good Times”, Sister Sledge, Diana. This gets tricky because after ’83 Rodgers went solo and then through the 80s pop stratosphere. From Bowie to Madonna to Duran Duran to the B-52’s.
If we can go tit-for-tat, it’s Gamble and Huff. But what if we add on Rodgers’ solo work? It could be a toss-up.
soulhead pick: This is very difficult but I would give the nod to Nile and Bernard by a very slim margin. We feel their sound was more far reaching.
9) Best Blue-Eyed Soul Artist:
Adele is killing it right now. She might be the one solely responsible for the recent uptick in overall digital sales. We can go down the list from Dusty Springfield to Joe Cocker to Michael McDonald to George Michael to Joss Stone to the Bee Gees to Hall & Oates, but atop that list sits Teena Marie. Alone.
soulhead pick: We agree.
8) Biggie vs 2Pac.
The beef that made people 3000 miles apart hate each other. The beef that would eventually kill 2 of the game’s biggest stars in their prime. As much as I hate discussing it, I have to put it on this list.
soulhead pick: 2Pac. This is not a popular choice but I feel Pac was ultimately more prolific and the impact of his death is still being felt. Biggie was an incredible artist but he simply did not have the depth of material nor the inclusion in posses to the extent Tupac was. From Digital Underground, his early uplifting solo work, and his allegiance to Death Row, he made an indelible mark on the music landscape.
7) Who won the Nas/Jay-Z battle?
“The Takeover”. “Ether”. Hova. Escobar. Brooklyn. Queens.
Personally, I thought “The Takeover” was a better song, but “Ether” was a better diss. Who do I think won?
Ether is now a verb in the hip-hop lexicon.
soulhead pick: Ether by Nas. We love Jay but Nas got with him on this one. However, Jay-Z won the war and ultimately signed Nas’ pay checks.
6) Best Stevie Wonder Album:
a) Music of My Mind b) Talking Book c) Innervisions d) Fulfillingness’ First Finale e) Songs in the Key of Life. or f) all of the above. (The discussion) makes me think of that Eddie Murphy stand-up bit. Songs in the Key of Life is probably the one. Not to mention that is also double album of greatness, but not by far… over any of the others.
soulhead pick: We agree. However, Hotter than July is up there as well.
5) Best New Edition Spin Off:
Bobby Brown or Bell, Biv, Devoe? People forget that it took Bobby 2 tries, but Don’t Be Cruel was a breakthrough album. We then stopped questioning the group’s decision to kick Bobby out and wondered about the fate of the rest of the group. With “Poison,” Bell Biv Devoe got it right on the first try. “Never trust a big butt and a smile.”
soulhead pick: We agree. BBD defied expectations and come out of nowhere to redefine R&B.
4) What’s the difference between Parliament and Funkadelic?
Funkadelic was more of a psychedelic hard-rock band whereas Parliament was more rooted in soul and r&b.
Parliament was assembled first and then Funkadelic was assembled as a backing tour band.
soulhead pick: We agree.
3) Best A Tribe Called Quest LP:
Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders? This is a top debate among hip-hop nerds, and it will never end. Listen, Midnight Marauders is one of the greatest things ever recorded in any genre let alone hip-hop. But I’m going with Low End Theory. They stepped out of the shadow of De La Soul and came into their own. Plus, the album marked the emergence of Phife as a stellar MC.
soulhead pick: We agree. Low End was just perfect. It redefined the game.
2) Best Michael Jackson Solo Album:
Greatest selling album anywhere ever. 8 Grammys. “Billie Jean.” “PYT.” Yeah. yeah, but Off the Wall was Mike’s solo coming out party. Thriller is THE pop crossover album if there ever was one. Off the Wall had elements of pop, but also soul and disco. Off the Wall, Diana by Diana Ross, and Bad Girls by Donna Summer, I often argue, are the 3 albums that closed out the disco era and ushered in the soul classics era.
soulhead pick: We agree
1) Best Prince Album: Purple Rain or Sign o’ the Times?
Ok. I’m a hypocrite. I give it to Off the Wall over Thriller; the artistic album over the commercial success. Sign of the Times is a diverse masterpiece that has everything but the kitchen sink: funk, jazz, pop, electro. It actually sounds less polished than a lot of his previous work and he did it single-handed. But dang: I own Purple Rain on every conceivable medium, save 8-track. I know every lyric, every adlib, every movie quote. And when it comes out in 3D i’m getting that too. Ahem, Lake Minnetonka.
soulhead pick: Purple Rain was awesome. Sign of the Times was awesomer. Period.
What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below!