I write about culture from a pro-Black perspective

Soul Man: Revisiting Usher’s “Here I Stand”

After the jump is a slight edit of a review of Usher’s Here I Stand – an album I have tremendous respect for, so much so that I thought was the best black pop album of 2008 –  that I initially wrote for Popmatters.com a few years ago that was never published.

I liked the review so I wanted to share it.

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Posted on July 7th, 2011 - Filed under Music
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RichGirl: What Exactly Do We Need from a Girl Group?

 

I can’t decide what angers me more: that this song is written and produced by Dre and Vidal, who are capable of way better (like this, for instance), or that so much of this song is devoted to perennial rap cameo artist Fabolous and the completely devoid of talent Rick Ross.

It’s not clear to me what it is that RichGirl offers to the marketplace as a vocal group. Or rather, nothing that they have released so far requires four singers singing in harmony, or even bothers to take advantage of the fact that RichGirl is actually made up of four singers who, presumably, can sing in harmony.

It isn’t that they should do this*:

 

 

or this:

 

 

But there doesn’t seem to be even the pretense that we’re getting music that uses multiple voices in harmony to convey some emotion or idea that can’t be conveyed in the same way with one voice (or even one voice with background singers).  I think the artist, producer, or label that figures out how to do that in this historical moment when there’s an entire generation that venerates artists whose whole appeal is the absence of any musical ability whatsoever will be wildly wildly successful.

So I guess it is the former that bothers me more. I get that the marketplace is producer-driven, dance-floor focused, and completely uninterested in vocal ability. But then – why a girl group?  RichGirl exists solely to sell the idea of a girl group, without actually being a girl group.

I mean, I can’t even enjoy RichGirl as shamelessly derivative and unoriginal – Destiny’s Child taken to its most extreme end – anymore.

 

 

*Another post for another day: how Tiny was the best vocalist in Xscape, got the best leads on all the songs, and also how Tamika Scott’s greatness was unjustifiably overshadowed by her sister Latocha.  Both of which are on display on this, their single best work.

(H/T Soulbounce)



Posted on October 12th, 2010 - Filed under Hot Videos,Music
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En Vogue is Back

Seriously – why do other groups even try?

The irony about En Vogue is that they didn’t change the game nearly as much as they probably should have.  It’s almost like every other set of girls just said “we ain’t even gonna try to compete, that ‘actually being able to all sing and harmonize and share lead vocals’ lane belongs to En Vogue and Xscape, we’ll go over here and be broke ass Supremes.”

Don’t you think?

Anywho, the point here is:

  • En Vogue is back
  • Them voices ain’t changed a bit.
  • Cindy Herron Braggs does not age (and is she taller?)
  • Dawn can sing the same song over and over for 20 years and find new wrinkles in it and make you think you’re hearing it for the first time.
  • I CANNOT WAIT FOR THEM TO BRING THE FIRE!!!!

Note: the fire is not a Timbaland, Pharrell, or Polow produced joint, ladies.  Call Mike City and Ray Ray NOW.



Posted on April 8th, 2009 - Filed under Music
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Best of the Rest: Xscape’s All I Need

Traces of My Lipstick album cover
Xscape’s relative obscurity is one of the biggest crimes in black music. They remain the only group that sings as well (both individually and as a group), perhaps even better, then En Vogue. And yet history has not given them the respect and admiration for what is a stellar, still listenable, body of work.

That said, Xscape actually made smart single choices, but the one mistake they made was not to release this song, All I Need, written by group member Tamika Scott, from their third and final album, Traces of my Lipstick.

Here Tamika and Tiny sing lead, with Tiny doing the sultry begging thing that only she can do while Tamika is a lil tougher in her phrasing. What I like about this song is that the changes are very subtle.  These changes give the song an emotional fluidity that you feel intuitively, which few songs employ.  The hook then becomes the least important part of the song as your attention is drawn to the subtle emotional shifts that happen between Tamika’s second verse and the hook, and the hook and the bridge.

More:
Best of the Rest – Full List
Best of the Rest – Explained



Posted on September 27th, 2008 - Filed under Best of the Rest,Music
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