Take 5 Friday: Dismantling Thrones, 'Mashing Up' Whitney Houston, & Audio Diva Elsewhere

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reheating leftovers of the week...

1. Dismantling The Throne: Mos Def Yasiin Bey has never been one to come silently and his social commentary cannot be matched on "N****s In Poorest", his slam back at the quasi-insensitive nature of Kanye West and Jay-Z's current smash, "N****s In Paris". The gritty (and terribly homemade) visual for it is just as impactful as the rhymes and knowledge he's pulsing out, as Bey puts into perspective about how the term 'all that glitters isn't necessarily gold' is all too common place at this current time, especially in this piss poor economy where we've lost sense of "living within our means". Though we often don't like it when music and politics mix, I do enjoy the fact that there are some musicians, like Yasiin (I want to call him Mos Def so badly...), who aren't sugarcoating the issues we continue to face on the daily and express through the power of song. Though Yasiin Bey has been vocal about his political beliefs to some criticism, I still think he's on the ticket about the need to 'dismantle the throne' and not put ourselves above bigger (higher) beings. Spot on.

2. On the 1992 Tip!: I didn't make an official announcement (because I'm sneaky and non-gloaty like that) but I'm giving a heads up that I'm now on the writing staff at Soul Bounce!! *throws confetti in the air*

Don't worry, Audio Diva isn't going anywhere, but just think that there is double the fun with me being elsewhere! You can follow all of my posts over there here and I also put a link in the Contact & Info page--so bookmark if you care! Currently Soul Bounce has revived their Class Of...special (where we recap albums celebrating 20 years of shelf-life) and has now made it a year-round affair. I've already dished out memories about CeCe Peniston and TLC's debut albums, so you can check them out at their respective links and get on the 1992 tip with me. More is to come in the next year so stick around!

3. Not A Bird Or A Plane, But Super Madonna: I'll say it once and I'll say it again---Madonna knows how to open up a damn show. Which is why I wasn't surprised at her going all out in the opening of her Superbowl show. Her beginning with "Vogue" was flat-out amazing, and breathed life into a 20-something year old tune. I spent a good week rewinding her elaborate entrance (feathers! Roman warriors! That headpiece!) and just marveled at it's sharpness. It was purely diva, and purely Madonna. The rest was good, but once the guest spots started to come in, things sort of waned making me realize that "assistance" is not in Madonna's vocabulary. I didn't get a real chance to express my feelings about the performance (I know, three weeks late...), but a few things about it that caught my attention:
  • The performance of Madonna's classics such as "Like A Prayer", "Music", and "Express Yourself" sort put into further focus that her new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'" is just a horrid song, and probably the worst single she's ever released. During the performance, it stuck out like a throbbing sore thumb. I'm keeping in mind that the rest of MDNA will be better suited, but man, it puts into perspective exactly how much Madonna's past material is much more superior than what she's settling for now. Call it a generational shift or just bad luck, but it makes you think about how an artist who's always made and kept others up on the the trends is now doing the trends of others---others who were influenced by the artist in the first place. 
  • I've often said that the 'expiration dates' in music are usually slapped on rappers and female pop stars. Still there are exceptions to the rule.The jabs towards Madonna's age were inevitable, and of course unnecessary. Still, it made for some great biting commentary for the morning after. Forbes mentioned the magic word 'ageism', and noted feminist Naomi Wolf took the angle of why folks continue to hate on her---she's a female artist doing male artist things. Boom. 
  • If you were sort of floored at the remixed medley of songs, like I, you'll be pleased as Crystal Light Fruit Punch that a fan-made audio of the performance has surfaced and is available for free download. But don't think for a second it's some grainy rip from the live performance---more like this is the studio version, so it's incredibly crisp and ready to recreate the show in your own home (you know you do it...). Hats off to Hard Candy Music for posting this find.

4. Mashed Whitney: After Whitney Houston was laid to rest this past weekend, the musical tributes have been pouring out. To not focus too much on the covers (Robin Thicke's has so far won the prize for best Whitney cover out now), there have been some decent mash-ups resurfacing in tribute for Miss Nippy. The merge of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" with "How Will I Know" is pretty spicy (just a bit 'too much of a good thing' for my taste...) and Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" doesn't exactly compliment "It's Not Right But It's Okay" in subject matter---yet rhythmically it oddly does on some level. Still the best mash-up (so far) is The Hood Internet's merging of "How Will I Know" and Chromeo's "When The Night Falls". It's perfect synth-disco euphoria delivered piping hot. Only thing I'm wondering is why is "How Will I Know" the operative tune for a lot of these newer mash-ups...you know Whitney has some other synth delights ("I Wanna Dance", "Thinking About You", "Love Is A Contact Sport"). C'mon dig in the crates a little...

5. Usher + Diplo = A Song I Actually Like: Usher is now relevant to me again. He had been in time-out for awhile due to some musical offenses (being the carrier of Bieber Fever is one of them). I have nothing against him going with what is bankable nowadays for wandering R&B artists, it's just that the stuff after Confessions---I wasn't exactly feeling. Well some "feeling" has come back on this collaboration with super producer, Diplo. The aptly titled, "Climax" is the the sexy wexy slow grind that Usher has built his career on, but has a certain edge to it that doesn't seem pandering to the times and actually doesn't make me feel skeevy--in fact I'm aroused...(TMI). Plus there is a great middle eight where Usher gets out of the whisper falsetto (a style that all the young cats now are trying to cop as new) and well...gets into the moment. If Usher keeps up his collaboration with Diplo, who knows what praises I'll be saying.


  1. That Chromeo/Whitney mashup is a great find. Thanks!

    1. Oh isn't it great? I've had it on repeat for awhile. I'm kinda hoping for some more Whitney mash-ups to come out in the later weeks, but if not, this one will do. Glad you enjoyed it!


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