I remember a time when most popular artists all but shunned higher education and skipped school to pursue big dreams of money and fame in the music industry. But lately if you are looking for the next big thing in music you need to look on the college campus, hell even most rappers got degrees now. And now the next big college musicians to hit the scene are Morehouse’s music department alumni the Jaspects with their latest album The Polkadotted Stripe. The Jaspects have been gaining a lot of momentum on the interwebs lately and I recently heard of them through Twitter thanks to NCCU Communications graduate Phonte. Their style of music is an interesting fusion of Jazz, Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, and a little Rock thrown in for balance and is a little reminiscent of the group from illadeph that has been known to experiment with different genres.

The Polkadotted Stripe is definitely a treat, Morehouse definitely has to be proud of these grads. They created a deep and moving piece of work that takes you on a journey though a vast musical landscape. The very first track ‘2012‘ featuring the quirky and immensely talented nerd girl Janelle Monae is a futuristic funky jam that is fused with different styles and melodies, and they were able to utilize the reviled auto-tune to surprisingly amazing effect here. ‘Falling,’ is a nice groovy track that makes you think of good times chilling with friends at the Sunday afternoon jam session. The structure of the album is very orchestral in nature in that songs often linger on for a minute or two long after the lyrics are done. Most notably done on the title track ‘Polkadotted Stripes‘ is an 8 minute long anthem that is multi-layered and genre bending.

There is a lot to love about the album but sometimes all that genre mixing and experimenting can be a little over stimulating and sometimes it sounds like the album doesn’t know what it wants to be. It could be that the title ‘The Polkadotted Stripe’ is a metaphor for confusion and mix matching, like some of the music is. Often the instrument heavy music can be over powering, not to mention the way the delivery method of the lyrics. Tracks like ‘Like A Drum‘ and ‘Be Your Man‘ take the gimmicky auto-tune too far and they would have been better suited without it’s use. The album does pick back up with the smooth and sultry ballad ‘Find My Way To Love‘ featuring newcomer Chantae Cann. But then it drops you right back in the confusion with ‘Chuck Jones‘ which is bordering somewhere between genius and annoyance. It’s a rocked out fairytale song that either tries to be socially conscious or scared straight, but it does pick up in the end fading into a nice instrumental melody straight into the album’s finale.

Overall ‘The Polkadotted Stripe’ is a nice musical ride and one you should have in your rotation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well crafted the music is and you’ll find yourself nodding or swaying along with the beat. The Jaspects are definitely worth studying more, so educate yourself.

JayTeeDee gives Jaspects ‘The Polkadotted Stripe’ 6 out of 7 head nods.

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.

Purchase Jaspects ‘The Polkadotted Stripe’ from Amazon or iTunes

What are the size of your expectations when you learn that an artist’s posthumous release will be helmed by their mother and their biggest idol? Exponentially greater than if that release was handled by the suits at a record label I’m sure! If you’re reading this then I’m sure you know what I’m referring to, but if not: Jay $tay Paid, which was overseen by his mom, Ma Dukes and the legendary Pete Rock. Once again a mother lode of Dilla beats have been mined and polished and presented to you for your listening appreciation.

The album gets started with one of many instrumentals, King. The title is fitting because it shows why he is the most highly regarded beatmaker, his lack of fear when creating! King and the other beats that follow show where Dilla was HEADED with the beats; spaced out gems that are full of hip hop flavor and bang Jeeps. Even though cats are still attempting to imitate Dilla, I’m sure no one anticipated this sound! Several of these instrumentals continue before we are introduced to emcees rocking over these tasty beat treats.

Many of these artists are the usual suspects on a Dilla tune: Frank Nitti, Phat Kat, and Cue D to name a few. Jay $tay Paid also delivers some dream pairings with emcees you never thought you would hear over a Dilla beat. The first emcee to appear on the album, producer and emcee, Blu, a definite descendant of Dilla, rocks over Smoke. Smoke is one of the few tunes on the album that gives you the classic Dilla (Jaylib era) sound. I expect Madlib/Quasimoto to jump in at anytime while listening to this beat! Another dream pairing is (unfortunately only) Lil Fame of the WORLD FAMOUS M.O.P. No longer relegated to just vocal snippets in Dilla instrumentals, Fame goes hard on Blood Sport which starts out as a synth heavy head nodder and segues into a slow contemplative beat, both of which Fame more than adequately blesses. New emcees are also introduced here, most notably Danny Brown on the wildly fantastic Dilla Bot vs. The Hybrid. Brown goes in with witty wordplay, personality and a massive amount of quotables that will make you wish this duo had collaborated much much earlier.

With tracks averaging in at 2:27 Jay $tay Paid is perfect for this era of the low attention span listener. Although the lengths of the tracks are comparatively short, the abundance of songs can get overwhelming. In addition, some of the songs just don’t go with the overall flow of the album and makes my FF button finger begin to itch. Overall, J$P is a dope project that I think would benefit from the old adage, “Less is more.” With 28 tracks, though, there’s something for EVERYONE so pick this one up June 2 and make sure Jay Stay Paid!

DJ Rahdu gives Jay $tay Paid 5.75 out of 7 Headnods
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.

What isn’t there to say about the talented D.C. native, Muhsinah? Muhsinah Abdul-Karim aka Muhsinah has risen from all things including direction in career to weight loss. Muhsinah started out singing background for Bilal Salaam and is pinned with crews such as Low Budget (Dj Roddy Rod, Kev Brown, and Peter Rosenberg) to name a few.For those who didn’t know, Muhsinah is a very skilled piano player and studied classical music. Nowadays, you will find Muhsinah playing keys for Chicago bred rapper Common (Common Sense). Muhsinah has also been featured on projects such as Stacy Epps‘s “The Awakening” and Foreign Exchange‘s “Leave it All Behind”. Whether she is in a band or producing for others, Muhsinah still has a sound of her own that can’t be simply put into one category. She fuses modern day sounds such as hip-hop and electronic with classical,jazz,and R&B. Whether the lyrics may seem unclear and non-existent at times, Muhsinah still manages to draw you in with her uncanny and subtle voice. In 2008, Muhsinah released her album Oscillations:Sine which is the first of 2 parts. Oscillations:Triangle,which features all new music and production from producers Slimkat78, Mike Slott, Exile,and herself, has been pushed back until further notice. If you rewind back to 2005, Muhsinah released the Oscillations EP which featured songs such as “Millions” which you would find on her Daybreak and Daybreak 2.0 release. The Oscillations: Sine is Muhsinah‘s album that combines Daybreak,Daybreak 2.0, and Prelude. All which can be bought separately. Daybreak was released first as download music and then she released Daybreak 2.0 which added bonus tracks. It was also sold physically and digitally. Prelude was a Japanese release and had a few tracks on it that wasn’t on Daybreak or Daybreak 2.0. You have to love the genius behind her team (Rxlngr pronounced Rock Slinger).
What I enjoyed about Oscillations is that it was very diverse in sound yet it was so Muhsinah. Drums are hip-hop and sometimes unorthodox. Melodies are flowing and mysterious. Energy is incredible. You can’t turn your ipod,stereo,or computer off when hearing Muhsinah‘s sound.
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A.M” starts the journey off with a obvious tribute to Alice Coltrane with a synthetic harp sound and piano riffs. In a away, it represents an awakening of some sort.
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Slowly creeping in after is “Construction” her hit song, in my opinion, which I feel is very universal. The beginning of Oscillations are all favorites.
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Discovery” is a very non-defying song that I can not place. It just has a feel good sound about it and her voice haunts it superbly.
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Once Again“, another favorite of mine, is so beautiful and pacy. Muhsinah‘s vocals easily shined in this piece. Her harmonies that sat in the back of this track help to bring this song to life. The music is very simple and I was told uses a sample from John ColtranesLove Supreme“.
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Gogh” is one of those songs that I would say has limited lyrics but the music intrigues you. It’s very different. It has a electronic feel with off rhythms. It also features that dark and slowed down vocal along with the reversed vocal she puts in just about all her tracks. This is when it starts to get repetitive. That would be the most annoying thing I get out of her music,but other than that….
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Outsource” has a rock feel with some,again,off rhythms.Yet, Muhsinah pulls it off with her vocal arrangements.
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Same can also be said about “Yiy” which features Muhsinah‘s piano talent. It is very reminiscent of Radiohead and is executed beautifully.
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Mine” is a song that I can honestly tell you, I had no idea what was going on at first. It seemed all over the place and would probably be my least favorite; however, she manages to again make you pay attention with her vocals even though we could do without the not-so-good rap verse.
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Billieclub” which features soul singer Wayna, is easily a favorite and is named after a wooden club used by police in the UK during the Victorian Era. The song talks of police brutality and the words are very strong.
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Muhsinah is a very talented individual and I must say, she has come a very long way. She has much more to give and a lot more growing that is in process.

Muhsinah’s Site

FLASHBACKhoney gives this album 6/7 nods

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.

Its here once again (funny how time flies)! Wax Poetics Sundays @ Charlemagne with deejays Don Johnson, Jubal John, and 3/6 of the BamaLoveSoul crew: DJ Rahdu, JayTeeDee, and Junior Star, this Sunday May 31 – 1pm-6pm.

A bunch of vinyl has been picked up since the last Wax Po session, so be prepared for many treats..
and last but not least, be sure to pick up the latest issue #35 from the shop and grab yourself a $1 off back issue (or two) while they last. The last time I checked (about a year ago), back issue #1 was going for like a hundred bucks..

Charlemagne Records is located at:
1924 1/2 11th Ave S Birmingham, AL 35205
more info: (205) 322-5349

BTW: Don’t forget Jesica Latten’s photography show at Malcolm’s Reading Room this Sunday from 3pm-8pm, so swing by Charlemagne before or after you check her out! More Info @ MalcolmsReadingRoom.com or 205-261-9298.

I once said here before that Japan is killin‘ it right now in the music game and Tokyo Beat Science is definitely part of that movement. TBS brings you the complete future beats based from Tokyo/Japan. This project mainly features undiscovered fresh Producers/DJ’s/Artwork expected to be the next around the world. This nonsensical titled track is the first single from the self-titled project, a smooth, futuristic, funky, and soulful melody laced with vocals by Replife and my favorite crush Kissey Asplund *swoon* is one to repeat over and over. If this is any indication then TBS is definitely something you should keep your ears out for.

The Astronotes ‘Space Water Babies’ featuring Replife and Kissey Asplund

Props to NerdwithSwag by way of Moovmnt for the hookup!

My people Gypsy Soul and Briclyn Entertainment have brought “music fans the long awaited Ear Candy Chronicles Volume 1 (ECC), mixed by DJ Phaze…The cd will include some of the amazing artists that have performed or are scheduled to perform at Gypsy Soul’s live music event Ear Candy, including W. Ellington Felton, Yahzarah, Jaiden The Cure, and Jaspects – just to name a few!” Download HERE
DJ Mitsu’s album, Word to the Wise, dropped or was supposed to drop May 27 2009. The album plays well and is filled with dope, melodic, soulful beats and…testosterone. Kev Brown, Jose James, Elzhi & Maspyke all appear on & bless this album, but the one track I keep on repeat is by the lone female on the project, Ivana Santilli. I was turned on to her when I picked up her 1999 album Brown and havent heard from her since her 2008 album TO.NY so I was pleased to see her in the lineup. She does not disappoint. Pick up Word to the Wise when it drops and the last song which features Ivana Santilli is one you’ll end up Playin’ Again and again. Click Here to read Moovmnt’s thoughts on the album and to hear more tracks

DJ Mitsu the Beats – Playin’ Again feat Ivana Santilli

MORE: Here’s a Circle Research remix of Ivana Santilli’s – Still Anymore


45 AKA Swing-O
is a talented pianist/producer from Tokyo. He returns after his wildly successful first album Hello Friends (2008) which was No.1 on iTunes Japan. The Revenge of Soul sees him doing just that; bringing you the soul that you haven’t heard in a while, but we’ll come back to that. In addition to the soulful treats, he also laces emcees such as Youngs and Amphibious Underground with some nice hip hop flavor and even provides you with some AfroBeat with Marcellus Nealy. One of my favorite tracks (back to the soul) is his pairing with Jimmy Abney who I got turned on to last year. Nothing Feels Better Than You sounds like 45 jacked this one from the scraps of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going on Sessions. Don’t believe me? Press play!

45 AKA Swing-O – Nothing Feels Better Than You featuring Jimmy Abney

Blaq Poet – Hate

May 28, 2009

More of that ol’ Boom Bap produced by one of the best to ever do it, DJ Premier. Blaq Poet is joined by N.O.R.E. and the trio makes it feel like it’s 1996 coming out of your speakers! Enjoy

Blaq Poet – Hate feat N.O.R.E.

The good duo from T.O. have dropped another jewel on us with this chopped up version of a classic soul treat. Enjoy!

Circle Research – Stop, Look…Listen to Your Heart