Song of the Week – June 6th, 2008

This week’s Song of the Week is Dangerous by Kardinal Offishall featuring Akon. Kardinal Offishall is Canadian rapper and producer Jason Harrow, regarded as one of the best producers in Toronto. Released as a single, Dangerous has become a Top 40 hit, and will likely continue that run for some time. An upcoming album, allegedly titled Not 4 Sale, is expected to contain additional collaborations with Akon, a match that blends hip hop and Akon’s dance/R&B appeal.

The single comes in both explicit and clean form, and both are mature so watch the younger kids on this one.

Check out the official website and MySpace page to sample the single.

Song of the Week – March 21st, 2008
March 21, 2008, 6:01 am
Filed under: Hip-Hop, List of Demands, Music, Nike, Nike ad, Saul Williams, Song of the Week, Sparq

This week’s Song of the Week is Saul Williams’ hip hop manifesto “List of Demands (Reparations)” from his eponymous 2004 album. You won’t find it on any Top 40 lists and you won’t hear it on the radio, but if you have been watching any of March’s sporting events there’s a good chance you have heard this track which is the striking background to Nike’s Sparq training gear ads. 

Williams made a mark for himself as an award winning spoken word poet in the mid-90’s, and was the central character in 1998’s Sundance winning indie film “Slam”. When he decided to take on the music world, it was as an extension of his poetry, with his spoken world style ramped up and combined with hip hop/rock tracks reminiscent of “Rage Against the Machine”.

Find out more about Saul Williams at his MySpace page or the album page for “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust”, his latest collection.

Song of the Week – February 29th, 2008
February 29, 2008, 9:55 am
Filed under: funk, Hip-Hop, latin, Music, Ozomatli, Rock, salsa, Song of the Week

The Song of the Week this week is dedicated to my sister-in-law Karen. Love, hope and faith.  

This week’s Song of the Week is not a new release, but a recent discovery of a release from last year that most of you will not have heard. The LA band Ozomatli has been around for over a decade, producing a blend of hip hop, Jazz/rock and salsa.  Their up tempo single, ‘Can’t Stop’ is this weeks Song of the Week. The group won a Grammy for their 2004 album “Street Signs”, and followed that success with a live album and reasonable coverage. Ozomatli’s 2007 album Don’t Mess with the Dragon peaked at 154 on Billboard, but like many cross-segment albums deserved to fare better.  Singles ‘Here We Go’ and ‘Magnolia Soul’ are also well worth a listen, the latter a tribute to New Orleans which integrates elements of New Orleans jazz into the hip hop tracks.

More on the band at their website and their MySpace page, and lucky Australians can catch then on tour in Oz this month.

Ozomatli Promotional Pic    

Song of the Week – November 22nd
November 22, 2007, 1:06 am
Filed under: Hip-Hop, Just Fine, Mary J. Blige, Music, Song of the Week, Soul, Work That

Mary J. Blige’s new album, ‘Growing Pains’, is due out in stores December 18th, but there are two new pieces of her work that you will be hearing a lot of during the next month. The first is an excerpt from her single ‘Work That’ which has been used in the latest iPod advertisement, sounding something like her 2001 hit ‘Family Affair’. The other is this week’s Song of the Week, ‘Just Fine’ a mellower track reflecting MJ’s more recent maturity and her standard issue outstanding vocals. Either way you can’t lose. Both are uplifting, self-respect oriented tunes with exceptional vocals.

Enjoy both at her website, or her MySpace page.

Song of the Week – November 1st

Catching up a bit after a crazy week of travel….

Mark Ronson’s single ‘Valerie’ prominently features vocals from Amy Winehouse, though the mock club performance portrayed in the corresponding video shows no sign of her. Probably just as well, since her presence would distract the viewer from Ronson’s music, which would be a shame.

No accident in the choice of singer though; Ronson produced Winehouse’s platinum album ‘Back to Black’ as well as Lily Allen’s ‘Alright, Still’, and it was Ronson’ prowess as a producer and DJ that earned him the label’s backing to produce his own album. The album, “Version” features Winehouse and Allen on vocals and is an upbeat blend of hip hop, soul, R&B melodies and brit punk, all packaged for a club setting.

The next single ‘Oh My God’ featuring Allen is beginning to climb the charts and is an excellent single in a somewhat more mellow arrangement. Similarly “Stop Me” is an arrangement of the Smith’s “Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before” featuring Daniel Merriwather and a bit of mashup with the Supreme’s ‘You keep me hanging on’. It’s very enjoyable, but more sober than the upbeat “Valerie”.

Give it a listen at Ronson’s MySpace Page

Song of the Week – October 26th
October 28, 2007, 7:29 am
Filed under: Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes, Hip-Hop, Music, Song of the Week

Gym Class Heroes are best known for their cover of the Supertramp’s ‘Breakfast in America’ titled ‘Cupid’s Chokehold’, but honestly their single, ‘The Queen and I’ is a better piece of work, and should run the charts. The themes are a little mature, so this is probably not one for the youngest members of the audience, but within the spectrum of hip hop it’s pretty mild. The band from Geneva, NY got a huge hand from Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, who signed the band to Fueled by Ramen and co-produced the GCH’s first and second albums (‘The Papercut Chronicles’ and ‘As Cruel as School Children’). The Queen and I was supposed to be the first single off ‘As Cruel as School Children’, but got pulled back when Cupids Chokehold got spontaneous traction off the album. Now The Queen and I is back and is well up the UK charts. A quality video should help it take off in the US as well….

Try out the track at Gym Class Heroes’ Myspace page.

Song of the Week – August 17th
August 21, 2007, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Graduation, Hip-Hop, Kanye West, Music, Stronger

Kanye West’s new album ‘Graduation’ isn’t due out until September 11th, but it’s already spawned 2 hit single’s and will undoubtedly contain more. The second single ‘Stronger’ is the song of the week.

West has always been one of the best beat makers in the business and shows that he hasn’t lost the touch. His lyrics, which emerged as a powerful force with his 2005 Grammy winning Late Registration, continue to challenge the stereotypical themes coming out of most of the rest of the hip-hop industry.

With ‘Stronger’ his orchestration is rich and has a techno edge, with a complete sound that leaves no doubt that the track will have both pop and hip-hop appeal.

Find his tracks at www.kanyewest.com or his MySpace site.

Kanye West