What’s the Best Way to Make Music?

I’m rather opinionated about music. Folks know this.

And while all that frustration criticism comes through loud and clear when I write or tweet, I’m definitely not as good at communicating that I understand and respect how profoundly difficult making music really is.

I thought about this when I came across this Tyrese quote on Singersroom.com:

“Producers these days are lazy. Making tracks. Sending emails. I’m just saying. When you make music under the same roof, with the actual artist that you’re working with, everybody is praying together, eating together, laughing together. It’s a different kind of nuance that’s created around music.”  (emphasis mine)

I do think there’s something profoundly special about the music that can come from songwriters, producers and artists spending time together crafting music that the artist feels a close connection to because that artist has had some input into making it, but with that understanding comes a deeper understanding that I think critics of black music don’t articulate nearly enough: what Tyrese longs for is the exception in the music industry, not the rule, particularly with black popular music.

In other words, a lot of people aren’t afforded the luxury of getting into a room with the best songwriters and producers and creating something that they can feel has the personal touch because that’s not the kind of artist they are intended to be, whether they know it and acknowledge it or not. We should be honest about this fact.

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Best Songs of 2011

Most people who read me or know me know that I was pretty underwhelmed by most black music released this year.  I do think this was a stronger year for individual songs than it was for albums, but even so I could literally only come up with 10 songs that I really love, that I played a lot, that I repped for hard this year.  

Before we get to those though, here are a few runners-up. These are songs I like, that are good in their own way, but didn't quite bowl me over the way the top 10 did for one reason or another.

  • Anwar Robinson, “Come Over”
  • EPMD, “Don’t Get Clapped”
  • Frank Ocean, “Back”
  • Ginuwine, “Frozen”
  • JLS, “Shy of the Cool”
  • Johnny Gill, “In the Mood”
  • LastO ft. Stern Savage ,“The City”
  • Van Hunt ,“What Were You Hoping For”
  • Teedra Moses, “To Hell Wit It’
  • Nas, "Nasty"
  • Mobb Deep ft. Nas, "Dog Shit"
  • Jazmine Sullivan, “Fly & Sexy”
  • Lalah Hathaway, “Small of My Back”
  • Common ft. Nas, "Ghetto Dreams"

 

After the jump, get into the 10 songs that I adored this year.

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Jazmine Sullivan – ‘Fly & Sexy’

A slight change of pace for the (should not be) retired soul songstress:

 

 

No one is keeping that unique brand of hip-hop soul that Mary J. Blige pioneered alive better than Jazmine. She understands both the melodic and the rhythmic demands of the tracks she's singin over in a way that recalls the Queen at her greatest.

Best Songs of 2010 (12-7)

Almost to the home stretch, folks. Twelve through 7 after the jump.

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