This new video from Jesse Boykins III will be premiering on BETJ on May1. Sneak Peek. Enjoy!

There haven’t been many hip-hop groups as influential and innovative over the past two decades as De la Soul. Now the trio from Long Island continues to push artistic boundaries with a 45-minute groove written specifically to power your run. Are You In?:Nike + Original Run is the group’s first original material released in three years, and it’s a musical journey that will really get you moving.
Available at Nike Sport Music on iTunes. Album purchase includes the continuous-mix track and a digital booklet.

So, it’s me, Constantine the Emcee and S. Fly heading back from the studio in Atlanta with Vic the Truth. S. Fly asked, “ya’ll heard Jaafar’s CD yet?” We popped it in and…
First of all, let me apologize to Jaafar. I was “surprised” at how good it was. I must admit, I’m a product of my environment and in my environment, we’ve been conditioned to think that “if it’s from here (i.e. B’ham, Alabama), it can only be [so] good…it can’t be great.” This project is one of the best I’ve ever listened to…period. From the over-all production quality, to the musical prowess, to the lyrical content & concepts, to the vocal performances…[Travel Light] is a testament of what is possible… and that is great music from your backyard.
Even though you can just put this one in and let it play, I do have some favorites. Can You Make Time/track 2 is a classic song about the working man making time for his lady. The melody will have you singing along with the hook by the end of the first time you hear it. At times it has the same feel of New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain” to me…but it’s in no way a knock off. How I Feel/track 3 really shows off Jaafar’s vocal range as an artists. How do you get up so high dude? Definite classic groove. Now on to my personal favorite, Hard to Say Goodbye/track 7. It starts off as an unassuming groove, “…it’s so easy to say hello, it’s just as easy to spend some time but it’s so hard to say goodbye, it’s so hard to say goodbye.” Then @ 2:20 in the song, it transforms into an entirely different song for like a minute, “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never love at all.” Then, in true autobot fashion, he gets back to your regularly scheduled program…classic. Now, if there’s a joint that surprised me even more than the initial over-all sound is Ms. Mary Mac/track 9. Great song, cool concept, and is that Jaafar beatboxing in the background? Well, who ever it is, they’re holding it in the road on this one. And it’s SO refreshing to hear a brother get his “Prince” on in 2009! Struggle/track 11 shows that Jaafar can “scream and scat” with the best of ’em.
[Travel Light] by Jaafar is a classic musical entry that I think is ushering in a new era of music for musicians and fans from not only Birmingham but the south in general.
I give it 7 out of 7 Head Nods*.
I’m Thed Weller and I approve this review.

*Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.

I was introduced to Michelle Amador’s voice on the 2006 Rainbow Soul compilation and became reacquainted on Phuturistix’ 2007 album Breathe Some Light. Her voice and control over its intonations really made an impression on me then, and I was highly determined to hear new music from her. Two years later I get my wish with the release of her new album, Higher. Her bio describes her as an electronic/acoustic singer, and those styles are presented on Higher, but what stands out to me is the jazzy way she sings. This comes from an extensive jazz background; she learned to play piano at the age of 6 and went on to study with critically acclaimed jazz musicians. Michelle’s voice is truly the stand out on this album; even when singing in another language (Madrina) and placed against some great musicians that could easily overshadow a novice, her voice excels.

In addition to her great voice, Michelle has some really great producers and live musicians on Higher. They take many genres and merge them together to create a sound that sounds great around its vocalist. There are some songs that bear a resemblance to jazz and electronic tunes, but it’s the others that are a merging of those 2 genres and more that prevent this album from becoming monotonous. Take for example, In and Out, with its hip hop feel and Dilla-esque hand clap snares (reminiscent of Bahamadia’s One4teen) or the bouncy feel of Because of You. It’s these tracks that create a contrast between more traditional tracks like the jazzy R&B soul of Prayer For the Confused or the broken beat of Eager For the Years.

Of the 11 tracks on Higher, 3 were on previous releases. However, this in no way detracts from the work as a whole. Higher, with Michelle’s insightful lyrics will definitely take you there; higher. Pop this one in and get prepared for the journey…

DJ Rahdu gives Higher 6.5 out of 7 Headnods

Release Date: May 25, 2009 Exclusive advance through iTunes: May 11, 2009

Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.

Ever just “hear” a song before? Not listen, but hear? You may the artist, or the beat but you’re really not paying attention to what they are saying for whatever reason. Your brain just doesn’t connect the lyrics to the rhythm. But the left catches up with the right eventually, and when that happens it’s like an epiphany. I had that tonight.

While messing around with my new mixer scrolling through my recent downloads for new music to mix I came across a new song by the Rapper turn sanger turn back rapper and obscenely expensive shoe designer Martin Louis The King Jr. ‘Magic Man’ is from the upcoming compilation ‘G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night.’ When I first heard it I was just glad Kanye was rapping again and good, so I cued it up. But when I actually listened to it, I was amazed. No its not a great song, but its a cool one and worth a listen. Kanye along with Malik Yusef, and Common, tell the story of domestic violence in a creative and intersing way that I haven’t heard since ‘Love Is Blind.’

Just focusing on Kanye, I think this is him at his best; really going in and dropping knowledge on the track, something that has been lacking in his flow since ‘The College Dropout’ he’s definitely the standout. And if he continues down this path, I can’t wait to listen to more.

DC Producer/Emcee Oddisee will be dropping his new album Mental Liberation on May 5 2009. The album features everyone from J-Live and Phonte to Invincible and Georgia Anne Muldrow. With such a diverse array of artists, Oddisee creates beats that compliment his artists styles/flows. Take for example The Don’t Sleep Remix featuring Invincible and Finale, who are both from Detroit, which sounds as if Detroit beatsmith Black Milk was behind the boards. It features only one instrumental, the incredibly dope, When Everything Changed which makes you wish he had included more instrumentals for your listening pleasure. He more than makes up for it, though, with the beats selected for the plethora of great emcees that grace this project, so make sure you go support on May 5 2009.

Oddisee – Don’t Sleep Remix featuring Invincible & Finale

Smokey Robinson is one of the greatest singer/songwriter/producers of the 20th Century! Take for example this 1974 album, Pure Smokey, which was released on Motown. The whole album will have you yearning for the days when you would hear REAL music on the radio, or as Tracy from OTV put it, “music…for tomorrow and not just for today.” I AM I AM is one such great tune from this album. It’s as sweet as Smokey’s voice and makes you want to go sit on the porch on a beautiful day and sip some fresh squeezed lemonade! In addition to Smokey Robinson, Pure Smokey also features production from Gene Page and Willie Hutch, so if you see this one in CD form or in the record bins, scoop it up!

Smokey Robinson – I AM I AM

Leela vs Womack & Womack

April 24, 2009

First Angie Stone sampled Baby, I’m Scared of You for I Wasn’t Kidding and now Ms. James has redone it on her latest album, Let’s Do It Again. One of my good friends moved to Chicago from Birmingham a few years ago and told me that the Womack & Womack version was a staple in the clubs there. Is Leela’s version capable of doing the same? Leave us a Love Note and let us know what you think.

Womack & Womack – Baby, I’m Scared of You

Leela James – Baby, I’m Scared of You

KRS-ONE & BUCKSHOT unveil the first song off their highly anticipated album “SURVIVAL SKILLS” in stores August 25th on Duck Down Records.
ROBOT, produced by Havoc of Mobb Deep, is a hard-hitting track that showcases KRS-ONE & BUCKSHOT in true form, highlighting the current auto-tune trend in Hip-Hop and exposing the copy-cat mentality that has rappers hiding behind “the program.” Stepping outside the factory that Hip Hop has become, the duo lead the charge in the battle for originality

KRS-One & Buckshot – Robot

Rhonda Thomas returns with her first single, Best Intentions, from her upcoming album, Listen. Best Intentions isnt a monotonous track AT ALL, beginning with some strings which are followed by drums and rock guitar which all funnel into a dancefloor ready tune that’s gonna make you move whether you intend to or not! If this is a precursor of Listen, my ears are perked!

Rhonda Thomas – Best Intentions