Favorites Friday – Chris Brown ft. Tyga and Kevin McCall, “Deuces”

Remember the days when Chris Brown acted like a deucebag? Well, more than he does now. As horrible as he was for a while, I always have to be the guy who points out at how amazing Brown’s music was around this time. His F.A.M.E. album stole the show, and much of the props have to go to this song’s success.

Can I say that this may be the only song I actually enjoy listening to Tyga rap? Of course, Kevin McCall steals the show, but the whole track is a masterpiece. Chris Brown sets the mood, Tyga opens up a bit, and Kevin McCall finishes it by not giving a single f*ck. The instrumental is spectacular and some of the best production I have ever heard to date, and this song ranks as one of the overall best songs I have ever heard for its genre.

Despite it not making my Top 50 this year, the song ranks in my all-time favorites and could easily break the cusp any year. The lyrics, the tone, everything about “Deuces” makes it a great break-up song. Overall, I would rate it at:

10/10

While this may be one of my most opinionated 10/10’s, this song is timeless and has been regarded by many as one of the best. Any RnB and Hip-Hop fan can see why “Deuces” is so critically acclaimed. And now for the quotable part: Anytime one of the artists says the word “Deuces”, I find the reflex to put two fingers in the air immediately.

Now you can check out one of my favorite songs below and enjoy with me:

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Hear It First – Beyonce, “Crazy In Love” (50 Shades Of Grey Remix)

beyonce-2While I opposed the movie 50 Shades Of Grey’s release before, it had never personally insulted me until today. This movie is responsible for doing this. It managed to take an actually enjoyable #1 hit song, and force it to be slowed down by production who could not find a microphone, so used a seven-year old cell phone to record the track on. The entire change is way over-sexualized and just feels like something that should have been thrown out after hearing the end result.

The song is not necessarily horrible, it just manages to start a new legacy for a song that had already solidified its foundation as one of 2000’s best #1 songs. Go ahead and see what you think by following the link over to Perez Hilton’s site (I profoundly apologize that you have to go there for this):

http://perezhilton.com/2015-02-05-beyonce-50-shades-of-grey-crazy-in-love-full-audio-listen-here#.VNQniNX3-iw
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Music Recommendation – Single – DJ Carisma ft. Tory Lanez, Sage The Gemini, Eric Bellinger, and Mishon, “Anyway”

anywayThe biggest reason I listened to this song, besides the success of DJ Carisma’s last collaboration (which you can check out here), was how this song managed to take three of my favorite underrated RnB singers and put them together on a track. While Tory Lanez sounds a bit too much like Jeremih for my taste, this song is gold for any modern RnB fan.

DJ Carisma does a great job of combining a unique sound with the signature DJ Mustard beat (you know what I’m talking about). It may stick out at first, but it adapts to the vocals very well. All three sung portions sound solid, if not slightly over-autotuned and the hook is almost too catchy (at least for a white boy like myself). Sage The Gemini’s verse is timed right, as I don’t think I would enjoy the song as much if it were any longer. It’s a nasty stanza, but in comparison to the other artists on the “Anyway” Team, I needed it to be quick.

Overall, I would rate this song at:

8.25/10

If you don’t like autotuned vocals, I would keep scrolling. DJ Carisma has proven now, however, that she is an expert at putting together a perfect group for a song. I love RnB, so this may be biased, but her contributions so far has been impressive.

You can check out the song below:

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Hear It First – Mike Will Made-It ft. The Weeknd, Swan Lee and Future, “Drinks On Us”

drinks-on-usDespite a less-than-relevant 2014, Mike Will Made It grabs an artist we love and two artists we cannot stand to make a song that is not necessarily terrible. Swan Lee’s verse is much better than anything I have heard by him, and Future sounded like more of the same. The beat is signature Hip-Hop but does feel a little repetitive.

The Weeknd is the best part of the song, which makes it good that he has the most singing time. You can check out the song below and hear it first:

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Throwback Thursday – Earth, Wind & Fire, “Fantasy”

Fantasy-earth-wind-fireThis is a bit of a special installment of #tbt. One of my favorite classic RnB hits has always been Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy”. This song was one of those tunes I had heard for years but never bothered to look up its name until just a few months ago. The song reached some Billboard acclaim, but never made it into the Top 10. However, my favorite tidbit about this song is the fact that it was inspired from the movie Close Encounters With The Third Kind, a film that has always been after my heart like my one true love or Alfredo-dipped Raviolis.

The instrumental diversity and overall balance between vocals and beat is a staple in making this song so easy to listen to. Despite being a bit lengthy, I still wish the song went on, especially with how well the vocal-less introduction does in conveying the tone of the music without any need for lyrics. The words are strange, but that just proves how notable the inspiration is.

Overall, I would rate this song at:

10/10

Pacing, balance, solid vocals, individuality: It’s all there. The song is complex but keeps to the subject and makes the song interesting throughout the entire five minutes. So meet another song I consider a perfect 10. If “Fantasy” was a woman (This is RnB, I have to talk about women), it’s got a rockin’ bod and a booty you can grab but does not overwhelm (at least it did in 1977).

So go ahead and check out one of my all-time favorite songs below and enjoy a trip down memory lane:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Wale ft. Lloyd, “Sabotage”

waleWale was the next biggest rapper back when his debut album Ambition dropped. One of the highlights of the whole album was the smooth artists Wale chose to perform the chorus’. Lloyd’s role on “Sabotage” is a good example of how well RnB is executed and should be focused on many Hip-Hop tracks.

Not only was there a serious percentage of credit going Lloyd’s way, but Wale’s verses are focused and tell a story excellently. The various instruments showcased in the beat is a refreshing change in a Rap song. My biggest complaint is the number of times I feel the need to clear my throat when Wale’s voice cracks (Give him some m-fing cough drops). The talking over Lloyd’s final chorus is a bit annoying as well.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

8.5/10

This is definitely not a Wale track to sleep on, and if you have not already heard it then check it out below:

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Artist Recommendation – Years & Years

years-and-yearsElectro-Soul band Years & Years have quite an impressive list of recommendations, among them from Ellie Goulding. A tweet by the British singer was the only reason I noticed the young band, who currently have multiple EPs (Take Shelter, Real and Traps), a  and a recent single title “King”. The London-based group puts together complex but rhythmic music that conveys a sense of being separate from the earth when listening to it.

While that may be a bold claim, the sound of Years & Years is Soulful while exciting, passionate, and tailored for anywhere from an upbeat clubscene to a one-man dance party where you hope your parents don’t return home early. The vocals are presented in a high and absolutely smooth tone that sounds similar to The Weeknd. At times, the high pitch and instrumentals do not feel like a match when both try so hard to be unique, but “King” does a superb job of showing an awareness for that and finding the right match.

Speaking of “King”, that is my absolute favorite song by Years & Years and one of my favorite songs currently. Other favorites include “Memo” and “Desire”, which are some of their more popular songs (For a reason, of course). The EDM-portion of the music is more apparent in “Desire” while a sense of Soul is portrayed in “Memo”, so that gives some balance for both audiences of the genres.

Overall, I would rate Years & Years’ music at:

8.25/10

Expect a lot of sound layered upon more sound in the music by Years & Years, and the Pop-EDM vibe is always somewhat apparent. For some (like myself), this is more appealing than to those searching for a mellow EDM-Soul combo (such as MNEK).

Regardless, you can check out my favorites (and more) below. You can also purchase their music on iTunes here. Now go enjoy the entrancing and hair-flipping music of Years & Years:

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Artist Recommendation – J.R. Holmes

JRHolmesWhen it comes to Indie music, RnB can have some of the best hidden gems. Among them is R. Kelly-like (without the creepiness) singer J.R. Holmes. Holmes originates from Brooklyn and has been performing and producing music for quite a while now.

Holmes has been performing since age 7, from singing in choir to swooning with sensual lyrics. The biggest asset to his sound is how appealing it is to so many senses and how much it sets the mood. While the vocals can come off a bit shakey, his harmonies can balance out any voice cracks and his sound is pitched very well.

My favorite songs by Holmes are “Cloud 9”, the EDM-based “Remember Me” and his new single the follow up his Hold On EP, “The Truth”. Overall, I would rate his music at:

 7.25/10

J.R. Holmes does RnB/Soul quite well, and can even pull off Hip-Hop and EDM. However, his voice shows signs of weakness and this may hold him back most. “The Truth” shows how well he carries a deeper note and how much good just a teaspoon of autotune can do without outdoing talent.

You can check out his music below. I recommend at least listening to my favorite songs. Check out his full biography on ReverbNation here and on MuzicNotez.com here. Enjoy the smooth RnB of J.R. Holmes below:

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Favorites Friday – Destiny’s Child, “Say My Name”

Destiny's_Child_The_Writing's_on_the_WallI actually forgot how much I loved this bloody-awful song until hearing it again recently. The weirdest part is that I cannot get past about two and a half minutes everytime I listen to it. Let’s rewind about three years; I am the cool reverse-hipster who will discover old music and treasure it years later. While I am proud of the man – nay, boy, who made it to his 18th birthday, I cannot confirm nor deny that he was for the longest time, how you say, a dimrod.

So I found “Say My Name” under the category “Songs featuring the girl from Destiny’s Child who I happened to be obsessed with at the time.” Believe it or not, I am not referring to Beyonce; For the longest time, I had a massive love for Kelly Rowland and her music. Beyonce does do the most work in the song, even when it was incredibly unneeded.

I never said “Say My Name” was a great song; I just think it is stupid catchy and has an essence of empowerment to the point I wish just one time I could be right in an argument. One of these days…

Have I even discussed the song? Overall, I would rate it at:

8.25/10

This song truly came close to making my Top 50 list this year, but nope. The bridge is incredibly lazy and the repetitive nature of the song means that the perfection that is “dat dope hook” as the urban teenager would call it, is the reason the song is so massively appealing.

Check out one of my favorite songs below, or just listen to it because you have a couple of minutes to kill:

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Artist Recommendation – Equals

EqualsEDM meets Soul in the musical duo hailing from East London named Equals. James Low and Ade Omotayo (which has to be one of the coolest names I have ever forced myself to utter out loud) come together to make music that finds a way to focus on both thick vocals and complex beats.

The blend is hardly standard but has a sense of familiarity for me, mostly due to the similarities between this group and fellow Brit MNEK. These two are not inexperienced in the music industry, however, as Omotayo has worked with the likes of Mark Ronson, Basement Jaxx, Amy Winehouse, and recently moved to teaming up with Low to create a mellow and entrancing style of music.

Equals released an EP titled Single Soul, whose tracklisting included two of my favorite songs by the duo: “Trap” and the title track, “Single Soul”. However, their new release “Black On Gold”, which goes in a more upbeat direction, feels to me like their best song to date and resembles the vocals of Aloe Blacc.

Overall, I would rate the sound of Equals at:

8.25/10

The music seems to be developing still and finding its balance between focus on vocals and the beats’ intensity. The songs all have a catchy yet elegant tone to them, and provide beautiful harmonies. While the transitions from Soul into pure EDM can be a bit too quick on Single Soul, “Black On Gold” seems to be a step in the right direction when it comes to resolving that issue while still tempting me to go from a foot-tap to a full-body dance-out.

You can check out Equals on SoundCloud to hear their Single Soul EP and new single, and learn about the duo’s collaboration history since their formation in the summer of 2013. I recommend at least checking out my favorites below:

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