[R&B] “What They Do” – The Roots

The Roots

Let me tell you about one of the best shows I’ve seen so far this year… or maybe ever.

This past June, The Roots came to Toronto during the Luminato Festival, an outdoor concert series where a variety of artists come to perform right next to Roy Thompson Hall.

You may have heard about The Roots for their gig on Jimmy Fallon, where they’ve been starring as the in-house music group for the Late Night Show since 2009. But even more noteworthy is their ranking on About.com, sitting 7th out of the 25 Best Hip-Hop Groups of All-Time.

The Roots’s sounds are buried in soulful rhythms paired with smooth, funky and, sometimes, harder-hitting rap lyrics. Then you’ve got the guitar soloists, the piano player, the tuba player and the famous drummer with the token afro pick, otherwise known as Questlove. Their entire set consisted of their hits, including “Break You Off,” “You Got Me” and of course the well known “The Seed.”

And to top off an already amazing night, our group managed to meet the tuba player, the guitarist and Questlove himself at the after party.

So without further ado, here’s one of my favourite tracks from The Roots, known as “What They Do” – the perfect track on a chill, Saturday afternoon.

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Top 5 Hip Hop and R&B Concerts in Toronto this Summer

Drake

If you’re looking to get your groove thang on this summer, here’s a list of the top 5 must see hip hop and R&B shows to hit Toronto this summer.

1. OVO

Toronto’s very own hip hop king Drake is hosting his 5th annual OVO Fest this year with surprise guests. Being at last year’s show, there hasn’t been any other concert that has yet to have topped the list. With surprise guest appearances from TLC, J. Cole, Miguel, A$AP Rocky, The WeekndFrench Montana, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, P.Diddy and Mase (can you believe it!?), it’s no wonder that tickets this year sold out in 2.5 seconds.

Drizzy has made some magic this year and will reunite Outkast members Andre 3000 and Big Boi in this summer’s show. Much to the dismay of hip hop fans – Outkast went on hiatus in 2006 to pursue separate solo careers. But with their reunion in Toronto, it has been the most anticipated and talked about hip hop event this year. You won’t want to miss this.

Date: Sunday & Monday, August 3-4

Location: Molson Canadian Amphitheatre

 

2. Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill, the queen of hip hop and R&B, has returned from her hiatus (and a slight detour into imprisonment) to grace us with her unforgettable tracks. L. Boogie up in here!

With her self-imposed exile and sporadic touring in the early and mid 2000’s, there has been some apprehension and disappointment among her fans about her lack of presence. But to be able to see one of the most influential women in hip hop (besides the current queen Erykah Badu), there’s something about seeing a legend. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has to be one of the best albums ever released, and the much anticipated wait for her stage presence in our city has finally arrived.

Date: Saturday, July 21

Location: Sound Academy

 

3. Maxwell

It’s common today to refer to Maxwell as our generation’s Marvin Gaye. Maxwell has both the voice and musical talent to make the most soulful and sensual sounds. Best known for tracks like Get to Know Ya, Matrimony, Ascension and of course his recent collaboration with Alicia Keys in Fire We Make, this show is going to be one of the best soul and R&B concerts Toronto has yet to see.

Date: Saturday, July 5

Location: Massey Hall

 

4. Slum Village

Although newly familiar with this group, a friend of mine introduced me to Slum last year with the reggae infused track Closer. One thing led to another and soon hits like TaintedTell Me ft. D’Angelo and Fall in Love featuring the late J. Dilla were working their way onto my playlist. Their soulful sound, slow jams and occasional dance tracks are the perfect mix for a chill summer evening.

Date: Saturday, July 19

Location: The Rockpile West

 

5. Rakim

Also newly introduced to Rakim, Toronto is bringing back one of hip hop’s original influencers. Beginning his career in the rap duo with Eric B., Rakim shortly after became known as one of the golden age hip hop artists most famous, influential and skilled emcees ever. Nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (!), The Source ranked Rakim as #1 on their list of Top 50 Lyricists of All Time. That’s one hell of a compliment.

If Rakim is on your list this summer – which he should be – keep an ear open for Paid in Full, When I be on the Micand Guess Who’s BackYou’ll understand why he’s up there with Nas.

Date: Friday, July 4

Location: Phoenix Concert Centre

 

What other hip hop and R&B concerts will you be checking out this summer? Let us who you’re headed to see!

[Funk] “Gust of Wind” – Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams

This is the year of Pharrell – 41 years in the making.

Mr. Williams began making a name for himself in the early 90s as a producer and writer, with his most distinctive sound known as the “Neptunes Sound” – coming out from his former group N.E.R.D.

Pharrell admits that he always saw himself as the man standing next to the big star. Producing hits for Britney Spears, Jay-Z, Nelly, Usher, Puffy, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani… and so many others, 2014 was the year that Pharrell now stood front and centre with the release of his latest album, GIRL. Tracks pull in influences from funk, soul, hip hop, rnb and even church – to the point where you can’t help but get up and dance.

“It Girl” is a favourite of mine, referencing the title of his album, which he goes on to explain is dedicated to all of the people that had supported him and continues to support him in his life – who were all mostly women.

Another favourite from GIRL is “Gust of Wind” ft. Daft Punk, whom he had great successes with on the “Get Lucky” track. Like most songs on his latest album, the track mixes funk, soul and smooth rnb, taking you back and giving you a little taste of the 70s with, of course, that memorable Pharrell twist.

[RnB/Soul] “Lady” – D’Angelo

D'Angelo

It’s been a long time coming – 13 years to be exact – since D’Angelo released one of soul’s (or music’s for that sake) sexiest sounds. It’s also been over a decade since the soul and RnB singer disappeared when getting caught up in a series of unfortunate events.

BUT. Michael Eugene Archer, better known D’Angelo, is making his return to the RnB and neo-soul scene. After a 13-year hiatus, D’Angelo is making his way to Toronto’s Sound Academy this coming Friday, May 31st (get tix here!). Needless to say, this post is dedicated to the countdown until I see him light up the stage.

“Lady,” featured on his debut album Brown Sugar, is my favourite D’Angelo track – it’s smooth, sensual and slow, the epitome of good soul and RnB music. It’s the type of song that’s best mixed with a scrumptious dinner, a smooth glass of wine and sitting beside a significant other. Ladies, this one’s for you!

[Soul] – “Boa Sorte” – Vanessa da Mata & Ben Harper

tructruc

If you love soulful Brazilian music, then you’re in for a treat.

Boa Sorte, meaning “good luck” in Portuguese, is actually a song about a breakup but it is sung beautifully by Brazilian artist Vanessa da Mata and Canadian musician Ben Harper.

What I love most about this song is the Brazilian influence that is subtly added to the soft, soulful vibes. While Vanessa lends her own idiosyncrasies to the creation, Ben translates every word. So don’t worry, you won’t get lost in translation:

E so isso / That’s it
Nao tem mais jeito / There is no way
Acabou, boa sorte / It over, Good luck

Nao tenho o que dizer / I have nothing left to say
Sao so palavras / It’s only words
E o que eu sinto / And what I feel
Nao mudara / Won’t change

This has to be one of my favourites from both artists, so I hope you enjoy!

[Neo-Soul] “I Want You” – Erykah Badu

erykah-badu

This post is dedicated to my new-found love for Ms. Erykah Badu, the R&B and neo-soul singer with a voice like gold. I have to thank a friend of mine who re-introduced me to her music – it’s all I’ve been grooving to this weekend.

I Want You is 10 minutes and 54 seconds of pure sex. Badu throws in a mix of various rhythms and a collaboration of soul, R&B and even electric guitar at the end. Her raw and raspy vocals add even more sex appeal – if you can handle it. It’s the type of track that you don’t really want to end because it just won’t… let… go.

This musical genius of a song is almost 11 minutes long, but who’s in a rush on a lazy Sunday? Trust me, it’s well worth your enjoyment.

I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I…

[Soul] “Pissed Off” – Angie Stone

Angie Stone

Nominated for three Grammy Awards, four top 10 albums, a number one album, ten singles and over 1.4 million records sold in the U.S. (5 million worldwide), Angie Stone is without a doubt one of the most successful R&B/Soul singers of the century.

Once a gospel singer at the First Nazareth Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, Angie Laverne Brown turned her attention to R&B, soul and neo soul. Interestingly enough, Angie dated R&B and soul singer D’Angelo in the 1990s, who also helped to produce her 1999 Black Diamond album.

When a friend of mine introduced her sound to me only a week ago, her smooth, rhythmic harmonies and slow jams were only too easy to get hooked on. You’ll see what I mean in just a second…