Beauty in the breakdown- The Music of 2011

21 12 2011

via Neosoulville.com

We here at Neosoulville first want to thank each and every one of you for your continued support of us through reads, participation of events like The Word & HBGD-Memphis, and concert series like The Foreign Exchange’s Authenticity Tour and most recently the Lalah Hathaway show. Your continued support encourages and motivates us to remain providing optimum events and progressive dialogue within this city and beyond. I’m sure most of you are looking ahead to 2012 (which you should). And of course there been countless countdowns of the best & worst of 2011. Well…I’m not going to do that…not exactly. Hands down…no lie and no need for co-sign…2011 was significantly one of the best years ever in terms of music. Not going to go off into a personal tirade on what you should’ve been listening to and what completely sucked, but what I would encourage you to do is go back and listen to albums of this year that had significant buzz both on the airwaves and off. You can put the superficial paper we call dollars on it that you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was. There were some artists that I wouldn’t usually give a chance in Eskimo hell a listen but the production quality alone allowed them a pass. So here’s my quick faux list of albums to check for (in no particular order)…

Kendrick Lamar- Section.80
Phonte- Charity Starts At Home
J*DaVeY- New Designer Drug
Tanya Morgan- You and What Army?
Big K.R.I.T.- Return of 4eva
Shabazz Palaces- Black Up
Zo!- Just Visiting Three
Fiend- Tennis Shoes and Tuxedos
Beastie Boys- Hot Sauce Committee Pt2
Foster the People- Torches
Bosco- Pacer
Washed Out- Eyes Be Closed

Sometimes you have to have a breakdown to realize the beauty. I want to wish you all a safe and happy holidays and a most exceptional and prosperous New Year!

xoxo kiddos…





Little Labels-Big Sounds: Westham Records

11 10 2011

I’ve never been one for chronological order. So let’s start this from the present and work our way back. I really missed doing a blog series. Of course I love throwing around my opinions on my page, but I want to have something more concrete attached to my name. This is the beginning of a month long series on independent labels. Of course I have to show love to my city and write about a rather “polished” small label. Enjoy!

My belief is that if you love music, I mean really love music; you have to appreciate more than just good bars, hooks, and baselines. I also believe that if you want your voice to carry weight on any particular subject, you should be well versed before you go shooting off the handle. With that said, for the past four months I’ve been doing my homework and researching independent labels that have shaped our musical perspective for the past fifty years. I felt it most fitting to look at a new label right here in Memphis, that’s not only challenging but changing the way we view underground music, Westham Records. With the pairing of a seemingly unlikely duo, Morris “Empee” Perry and Josh “DJ Homework” Metzger, Westham is in the business of not making just underground hip hop, but is expanding to incorporate other genres of music to revive a rather mundane scene.

 

It was refreshing to first know that these two individuals, from completely different points in music, could come together and form this creative union. This label seems to have started under the most random of circumstances. Empee decided that it was time for him to start a label and decided to hit up Josh for pointers to get up off the ground floor. Josh, just hitting the ground floor himself, suggested that they join up and create a label together, thus the partnership began. Josh wanted something simple, but polished. So he researched old English townships and Westham became the name. With the way the Memphis market is shaped, Westham doesn’t seem to be having any problems with the array of talent they have on board, including the co-owners themselves. What makes Westham not your ordinary is not just the talent, but the drive of the both men.


“We want to be known for quality…and that we worked hard at what we do.” -Homework

What makes Westham work is not just the musicians and the drive. There’s also got to be an unyielding sense of business. Everyone wants to start a label, but there’s more to a label than voicing the desire. Josh & Morris take a hand on approach to their label with not just crafting their vision, but the artists, and even right down to the name of the label itself. As for selecting talent, they’re not ones to be completely selective. They are willing to work with anyone who’s willing to put the time and effort into making quality music. With their focus set beyond Memphis, Josh & Empee rely heavily on media influence to get their sound and name out across the different markets. One thing both guys agreed on was that Westham was not to be your typical Memphis underground label. Their sound cannot be categorized into a genre and that’s just how they like it.


“We don’t like boxes…well I know I don’t like boxes period.” –Empee





Doing The Most Good: Charity Starts At Home (Phonte)

4 10 2011

I literally squealed like an adolescent girl when I arrived back at my desk to see my neat package postmarked from Foreign Exchange Music. I knew that it contained my autographed copy of Charity Starts At Home. I restrained from listening to the free download link that was sent days earlier so that I could appreciate my purchase. I’m still trying to dissect what “Batty Batty Batty!!” means, but I have not been able to stop listening to this album. Noting that this is Phonte’s debut solo release, my expectations were high…because well hell…it’s Phonte. I was not disappointed in the least. What I appreciate the most is that you get all the different facets of Phonte on this album. If you were looking for the cat that drew you in with Little Brother, you’re satisfied. If you enjoy his smooth vocals with Foreign Exchange, you got him too. Production is off the chain!!! I believe what everyone was holding their breaths on was the return collaboration between Phonte and 9th. Of course the chemistry was still there.  I honestly don’t know how this man does it, and honestly I don’t care. I’m just thankful that he’s the sharing kind. My favorite tracks are Sendin’ My Love, Gonna Be A Beautiful Night, and Not Here Anymore.

I highly suggest that you don’t free whore this. It’s available at FE Music (http://theforeignexchangemusic.com )

Reminder: The Foreign Exchange Authenticity Tour hits Memphis, November 15th at The Rumba Room. Tickets are selling fast! Don’t miss out on this amazing event! Visit Neosoulville for more information.





September 13, 1996

13 09 2011

Today marks the 15th year anniversary of Tupac’s death. While most hip hop aficionados will spend the day spinning Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. and reminiscing about what they were doing the moment the news broke about Pac being shot, some like me will awkwardly stand in the background looking down at our shoes for the proper words to convey to those so moved by his life and legacy. See I was not a fan of Tupac’s music, and while I did respect him as an artist, his messages did not touch me like it did most. But that is not to disparage the ones he did move and inspire. I would, however, call Tupac a musical conduit.  He not only influenced his listeners, he motivated and shifted a change in the music we listen to today.  And as you reflect on his musical legacy, please don’t forget that he was more than an artist. He was someone’s child, someone’s friend, someone’s brother.  And he will be always missed.

 

“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” – Tupac  Shakur





Beyond the Spectrum: Bosco- Pacer (EP)

9 09 2011

via neosoulville.com

 

Two years post Spectrum; [Brittany] Bosco has dropped her first name and emerged with a new look, sound, and EP cleverly titled Pacer. If you are not familiar with this Savannah-native songbird, Brittany has imprinted a sound uniquely hers and transcended her influence into the Atlanta music stream. This album is representative of her ever-constant evolution as an artist. I, being a Bosco fanatic, was not disappointed. The album was well worth the wait. “Yea-Yay” is one of my favorites on the album as well as “Kids” that feel reminiscent of youthful days past. This conceptual album features production by Dogbite, with the band Washed Out. You can’t help but feel the freedom and whimsical vibe of this album. The production work is superb and a definite breath of fresh air. Please don’t leave without clicking the free download below.

Free Download Pacer

Also check out her website here

and follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/helloBOSCO





Coming Back: Leave It All Behind-Revisited

18 08 2011

 

We all have that one great album that forever changes our perception of music and life. The one that really did it for me was Foreign Exchange’s Leave It All Behind. For me the album signified not only completion, but the beginning of something new, different, exciting, and groundbreaking. This album was the follow up to the successful debut of Connected, four years in the making. I was not expecting this album to touch my soul the way that it did. I cannot say enough how much music has influenced my life. It has carried me on a many great journeys. It has made other less than glamorous experience less painful. It’s just a fantastic expression of art. This was one of those flawless assemblages of talent. Nicolay is a phenomenal producer and arranger and Phonte is light years beyond with his diverse style. It was hard to believe that this was the same guy who was slaying cats alongside Big Pooh just years earlier. I was completely wrapped up in each song… each key, cord, note, and word.  I was familiar with both Yahzarah and Muhsinah due to my heavy Myspace days. The new faces were Darien Brockington and producer Lorenzo Ferguson (Zo!).  The freshness of this album was on the heels of an otherwise desolating outlook on the future of music.  This album granted the duo not only the just due recognition, but also a Grammy nomination for the song Daykeeper, which featured Muhsinah.  Since this album, Foreign Exchange has released their third studio collaboration, Authenticity and, a live DVD and audio affectionately titled Dear Friends: An Evening with The Foreign Exchange. This album is one of the very few that I will never tire of playing. It always reminds me of what’s great about music.

 

Please check out the official Foreign Exchange website:

http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com

Also follow on Twitter for the latest happening with all of the FE+ crew

http://twitter.com/FEOfficial

as well as their official Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/theforeignexchange





Blah blah blah…Watching The Throne…blah blah blah

16 08 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I said that I wasn’t going to write about Watching The Throne but something kept gnawing at me…the title of the album. It takes me all the way back here. Although it is perhaps a bit presumptuous of anyone to claim the title “Greatest of All Time,” it is more so peculiar to not claim to be so. So as I’m glaring at the screen with what I’m sure was a strained stink eye, I was more caught up in the notion of watching two “notable beasts” share the spotlight. As if we had not seen this attempted last year with Eminem and Lil Wayne,  Jay & Ye attempt to revive the passion of music…hip-hop. Ummm…okay. I’m still holding on to the belief that hip-hop never died so this is not working that angle for me.  The only thing that does it for me is the homage they pay with the sampling. I mean let’s be completely honest, if it were not for artists like Ye sampling classic funk, soul, blues, and whatnots, some of these kids would still believe Otis was a muffin. I did bust a gut reading Ghostface’s opinion about WTT. I had to go bump some Chinatown Wars after that.  I’m sure that the buzz will die down in a couple of months because we will have some new Lil B or Odd Future having us praising based Basketball Wives and wanting to run out and show our love with donkey punches and jelly donuts. So there.