Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is Season 2

December 27, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  
Filed under Uncategorized

I’ve never been a big on Keyshia Cole. I always respect when artists work hard to work their way from the bottom up. So despite my thinking her voice sounds like a cat being tortured, I cannot knock Keyshia Cole’s hustle.

Especially after catching several episodes of her BET celeb-reality show The Way It Is, in which we get to take a peek into Keyshia’s family life. Where last season viewers got a look at Cole rise to stardom - from her trouble past, to becoming a critically acclaimed artist - this season goes deeper into Keyshia’s family life, juxtaposing the dynamic of her adoptive family against that of her biological family.

The most entertaining bits are perhaps also the saddest. Drama ensues as Keyshia tries to mend the relationship with her mother, Franky, who was recently released from prison. Take a look at the clip below and tell me Franky ain’t off the chain…

As you can see, this mending is not easy and Keyshia is dealing with some very heavy stuff. From an outside perspective, many will laugh and talk about how crazy Keyshia’s mother is. If we watch with compassion though, and look at Keyshia Cole as a person, our hearts will go out to her as she works to be healthy and whole, and drag her family into that same wholeness.

None of this drama stops Ms. Cole from continuing to do her thing. She recently released her third full length LP entitled A Different Me, which Keysha says pays homage to her current transformation. Check out what she had to say about her new album here.

Keyshia Cole also kicked off her tour in Chicago today and will continue through January 14th. Visit Keyshia Cole MySpace for show dates near you.

Image: Newscom

Flashback Friday: Deniece Williams “Free”

December 13, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  
Filed under Flashback Fridays

Continuing my quest to rediscover no-90s music influences, I was reminded of another favorite from my mother’s record collection. Deniece Williams started out as a backup singer for Stevie Wonder and becoming a femme fatal chart topping, Grammy Award winning chanteuse. With 19 albums and multiple chart topping hits both in the US and the UK, Deniece Williams is a bona fide icon.

I’m pretty sure my mom owned every on of those 19 albums, my favorite of which was This is Niecy; the single “Free” in particular. I would go into my mother’s room, put the record on the turntable and get lost in the slow, pulsing whirlwind of the song. Just listening to Williams’ ladylike songbird voice, one would think “Free” is a sweet love song. On the contrary, it is the siren song of a conquering seductress.

Whispering in his ear
My magic potion for love
Telling him I’m sincere
And that there’s nothing too good for us

But I want to be free, free, free
And I just got to be me, me, me

This could be taken one of two ways, either she’s telling her man she loves him but she has to remain independent and in control of her own destiny, or she’s saying all she wants is a temporary night. Either way, she is going to be free to do her own thing.

Check out the video after the jump, her voice will give you chills…

Image via Flickr

Thanksgiving Flashback: En Vogue “Hold On”

November 26, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  
Filed under Flashback Fridays

Its not so much that there was always a special song played when we gathered for Thanksgiving; there wasn’t. If there had been, it was definitely white noise and no one was paying attention.

While there may not have been a musical soundtrack to our dinners, there was always a moment when my sister, younger girl cousins and myself were called to perform before the family.

I suppose we could have practiced other songs, but for years our favorite song to sing together was En Vogue’s break out hit single “Hold On.”

As the eldest I could demand the lead and pretend my voice was a crystalline as Terry’s in the intro and as sultry as Cindy’s. Our challenge was to get as close as possible, though. We did quite well for tweens (some as young as 5), matching the pitch and über precise harmonies, while dancing even. We did so well in fact that we were corralled into the great room to perform “Hold On” for several years.

En Vogue went on to be on of the biggest R&B girl groups of the 90s with a number of hits including “My Love (Never Gonna Get It),” “Free Your Mind,” and “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.”

They had a successful run, and played the make up/break up game for a while, eventually falling off in the middle of the current decade. Oh well, we’ll always have “Hold On.”

Image via Newscom

Flashback Friday: Erykah Badu “Mama’s Gun”

October 10, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  
Filed under Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu is known as a neo-soul pioneer and for displaying artistry in a time when such appeared lacking in R&B. The genre seemed to be on its way to becoming an extension of hip hop while simultaneously birthing pop artists and new sub-genres. While Badu has even admitted that she’s not sure what it is, she is probably one of the main artists whose music was instrumental in defining neo-soul.

While some would argue that her debut LP was her best, and still others will laud her vocal display on her live album, many have slept on the overall creativity of Mama’s Gun. With its conceptual and poetic lyrics, thumping grooves and smoothed out melodies, accompanied by the distinct crooning of Badu’s mezzo-soprano timbre, this album is like a shot to the head of listening pleasure in any order or from beginning to end.

Didn’t Cha Know” is heavy with Badu’s exposed vulnerability. Set to slow a pulsating baseline that elicits the feeling of a journey in time, Erykah’s takes us through her ups and downs as she endeavors to find her way through life and love. Sometimes confused, sometimes unsure which way to go, prone to mistakes but willing to take risk, you get a since of her yearning for understanding in this life uncertain when she sings:

Love is life and life is free
Take the road of life with me
Free your mind and find your way
There will be a brighter day.

Not to be taken for granted, Ms. Badu is “Cleva” and that is what makes her special. She may not be the most beautiful, the richest, most educated, the best cook, or have the biggest “Booty,” make no mistake that she is a rare treasure and could still pull your man, but doesn’t want him. With funky arrangements of wind instruments and percussion, she pines for divine love and someone to who will breath love in her air as well as stimulate her mentally in “Kiss Me on My Neck.”

If you want to feel me, better be divine
Bring me water, water for my mind
Give me lovin’, breath love in my air
Don’t abuse me, ’cause these herbs are rare.

From musings about the state of the world and her place in it in songs like “My Life” and “Time’s a’Waistin’”, to messages of empowerment in “Bag Lady” and “Penitentiary Philosophy”, to tales the of falling in and out of love in songs like “Orange Moon” and “Green Eyes”, Mama’s Gun was exhibition of poetic skill, rhythmic experimentation and abstract creativity. It is also one of the best LPs in her entire catalog in terms of really demonstrating Erykah’s depth and uncanny musical cunning.

Image via Newscom.

Up-And-Coming: Keri Hilson

July 21, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  
Filed under Keri Hilson, New in Music

Keri Hilson is up-and-coming and slated to be the next R&B it girl. Don’t know who she is? You may have heard Hilson’s voice  on Timbaland’s “The Way I Are” and seen her featured as Usher’s flame in his “Love in This Club” video. You also have probably heard her recent single, “Energy;” currently in high rotation on the radio.

The Atlanta native began writing music as a pre-teen and has become one of today’s most sought after song writers,  credited for penning lyrics for Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, The Pussycat Dolls, and many more.

A chance meeting in the halls of the recording studio seemed to be Hilson’s big break: Read more

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