The other day I was listening to my husbands high school reunion CD and while I happily bopped my head to the likes of Queen Latifah’s Ladies First and De La Soul’s Me, Myself and I- I had to ask myself- what in the world happened to hip-hop? I will show my age when I say this but here it goes- the first album (album, not CD) that I ever purchased was Run D MC’s sucker MC- I listened to that record until I knew every lyric and nuance of the song… Fast forward to my days at Howard U- the music of Notoroius BIG, and hell even the west coasts’ Snoop was in heavy rotation. You see the thing about this music is that it was lyrical- and told stories of people much like me who grew up with very little but were able to make it- by any means necessary; for me that meant having parents that sent me to magnet schools outside of my hood- they ensured I learned to the play the violin and when I got a little older and it became clear that I could outrun my male cousin- I had track. In any case; the music told stories of female empowerment, encouraged safe sex and yes sometimes it was gritty and raw, but more often than not it was music with a message. I remember when my HU friend Tracy Lee created the simple yet powerful Party Time and everyone would rush to the dance floor not only because we loved Tracy, but because he created music that made you wanna dance. Fast forward to today and I have to say beyond Kendrick Lamar- I have very little use for most of the music that is labeled *hip-hop* these days. Most of it is likely only taking strippers to the poll versus prompting anyone to run to the dance floor. I will readily admit- I often have to google half the shit that’s said in music nowadays…. If it weren’t for Lamar, I would chalk my general distaste for the genre to me just getting old- but hip-hop and it’s originators have grown up yet somehow the way that was paved for this generation hasn’t produced anyone who can generally claim the crown as the King/Queen of hip-hop. I won’t give up hope- perhaps the next BIG is in the studio spitting fire and preparing to take over the crown.
If Janelle Monae is not on your radar, she will be. This natural hair beauty has a fashion sense that can be best be described as “quirky”. She apparently walks to the beat of her own drum and is unapologetic if you miss the rhythm of her beat. The Kansas City native originally set out to pursue an acting career, but her love of music quickly took over, and a move to the ATL, and introduction to OutKast’s Big Boi led to her founding Wondaland Arts Society which is a consortium of artists and a turn to pursue yet another passion- music.
Monae received a Grammy nom for her initial release Metropolis in the category of best alternative/urban artist. She is now signed to Bad Boy, and her latest offering The Arch Android is slated for release on May 18th.
If neo-soul has a monarchy, then the reigning queen of the genre Erykah Badu is back with a vengeance with the release of her newest album New Amerykah Part 2: The Return of the Ankh’. As the name suggests, this album is the second installment of her 2008 New Amerykah release. The internet has been buzzing all weekend about the controversial video where Ms. Badu shows off her sizable assets for her Window Seat single.
The album artwork is haute, and from what I’m hearing, Ms. Badu will continue to retain her crown as the Queen.
New Amerykah Part 2: The Return of the Ankh will be released on March 30th.
The dynamic duo known is Mary Mary is back with a vengeance. There new cd “ The Sound” features artists ranging from David Banner to Kiki Sheppard and though the albums message is clearly focused on saving souls, the majority of the cuts are extremely radio friendly. This is one of the reasons I really like these soulful sisters. They are beautiful, talented, and they make no bones about the fact that they are all about ministry through music. Stand outs on their latest offering include “Get-up”, “Seattle”, and “Forgiven Me”.