[Hip Hop & Dance] “Ready or Not” – The Fugees vs. Lucas Chambon Remix

This trend of mixing old school hip hop and R&B tracks with new dance and electric sounds is on the up, and this mix I found is an absolute GEM.

French producer Lucas Chambon takes The Fugees‘ “Ready or Not” and creates higher vocals to start the verses and then switches to an alto in the chorus. The more laid back, chill beats sends you into some awesome, ambient trance, making you question whether you’re still at work at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon or inside a lounge somewhere on the beach in Miami…

One can only dream!

 

[R&B + Dance] “No Diggity” – Blackstreet vs. Bondax Edit

The Friday before the much anticipated August long weekend deserves the right kick off, so we’re mixing an old school classic with new school electronics today.

English group Bondax throws their familiar piano tones and transcending vibes against Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” track to make one cool and sexy remix. Hey-o hey-o hey-o hey-ooooooo!

[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.

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.

[Rap] “The Recipe” by Kendrick Lamar Ft. Dr. Dre

Kendrick Lamar

I only discovered Kendrick Lamar this past year but I quickly became a fan shortly after, hearing tracks like “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Poetic Justice,” “Swimming Pools,” “Collard Queens,” “She Needs Me,” “No Makeup” … the list could go on. But when I found “The Recipe,” I think I had this song on repeat for a week.

The one and only Dr. Dre makes an appearance on the track, which debuted as a single from his first major label good kid, m.A.A.d city in 2012. The song gives props to some of Lamar’s favourite cities, but his main focus is on L.A. and the best of what it has to offer: women, weed and weather. The bottom line? There’s nothing like Cali.For.N.I.A.

Wha-what more can I say, w-welcome to L.A.!

[R&B] “Yonce” & “Partition” Beyonce Remix

Beyonce

Beyonce‘s surprise album has only been live for just over a week and djs are already all over her music – they liked it so they put a remix on it.

Music producer, dj and songwriter Yashar Gasanov mixed Beyonce’s “Yoncé” and “Partition” singles into a slow-moving, deep house and techno twist. With the bass in tact and the piano adding to the rhythm, Gasanov’s crafts a remix to be obsessed about.  As Queen B puts it, he “sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker, Yoncé y’all on his mouth like liquor.”

[R&B] Beyonce’s Surprise Album Drop on iTunes

Beyonce

Can we just talk about something real quick?

Let’s first talk about the fact that Beyonce just released an album at 12am on Friday, December 13th – with NO HYPE. No publicity, no stunt, no warning, no build up… no nothing.

No one knew that Queen B was about to drop a bomb as arguably one of the best – if not THE best – albums of 2013. No other musical artist has done this, “this” being one of the smartest “campaigns” for an album release. The rest of Hollywood is probably shaking her head right at this moment…

After the album drop, Queen B stated, “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it, I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”

Along with this surprise album, Beyonce gives fans a list of 17 tracks to bounce too – including a music video for every track. This is probably B’s greatest holiday gift ever. Here are some of my favourites:

1. Rocket

2. Yonce / Partition

3. Mine ft. Drake

4. Blow

5. No Angel

Full of confidence and sass, Bee really amped up the sexiness on this album. You can also get a sense that Jay-Z lent a hand to Beyonce on the self-titled album “Beyonce,” with tracks like “Drunk in Love” (which features Jay-Z) where B takes a shot at spitting her own rap game.

While the hype around the surprise album release was starting to sky rocket in the social realm, Beyonce casually uploaded a picture of cupcakes on her Instagram. The girl didn’t even blink at the millions she just made overnight. And all she’s sayin’ is “H-Town vicious, bow down bitches!”

[Top 40] “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz

Macklemore-Ryan-Lewis-400x300

If you have yet to hear this song, please remove the rock you’ve been sitting under. Kidding! But seriously.

Thrift Shop was brought onto the scene by newcomers Macklemore, a rapper hailing from Seattle and his producer Ryan Lewis. This song, which is about shopping, is a fifth and final single from their album The Heist. And yes, it’s actually hilarious. The chorus goes something like this:

“I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m hunting, looking for a come-up
This is f*cking awesome.”

Then there is a reference to R. Kelly’s bed sheets smelling like urine and then something about your grammy, your aunty, your momma and your mammy. A classic really, which still made its way to #31 on Ryan Seacrest’s Top 40 charts and the Billboard Top 100. Word.

What could be more entertaining than two white boys spitting rap, riding around on a bicycle and bearing $20 pimp jackets?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

[Hip Hop] “Lost Ones” – Lauryn Hill

dread-locked-like-lauren-hill-then-get-in-here.jpg-466x300-wplok

To kick off the launch of this blog, I wanted to make a bit of a bold statement. I chose to go out with Lauryn Hill and play a song of hers that shows off her edgier side, expressed through raw lyrics.

The song I chose is called “Lost Ones,” a song that was put on her breakthrough 1998 album titled The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. My take on it is about people’s claims to purity and good intent, but don’t practice what they preach. They judge and criticize others and expect to receive positive feedback in return.

I think this is Lauryn’s way of teaching people about delusion and the truth of karma in the music business – and everyday life.

On one of her tours in October of last year, Lauryn said the following before performing “Lost Ones” in Dallas:

“Be careful how you judge.  A lot of deception out there. A lot of misunderstanding out there.  A lot of miscommunication out there.  A lot of false information out there.  A whole lot and notice after all the people that just talk, talk, talk, who’s the silent one?

And you know why? Let me tell you why I don’t really chat back.  Because I know that my brothers and my sisters are often times pawns in a bigger scheme.  So when they, under pressure, attack me…. I love them still.

You know I know I’m not crazy, which is why I can use the word so freely…. Crazy like a fox.  Ahead, ahead of the curve.  People don’t like people necessarily who are ahead of the curve, but unfortunately that’s not my problem.”

And no it ain’t.

So without further ado, L. Boogie in the house!