Duets: New School to Old School

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I’ve Changed (K. Cole & Jaheim)/If She Breaks Your Heart (Foreign Exchange f/ Zo! & YahZarah)/Stay Together (Ledisi f/Jaheim)/Meant to Be (Kindred the Family Soul)/Close the Door (Kenny Latimore & Chante Moore)/Alone (Mary J. Blige f/ Dave Young)/Dealing (Eric Roberson f. Lalah Hathaway)/My First Love (Angela Winbush & Rene Moore)/Is It Still Good to Ya (Ashford & Simpson)/What Kind of Fool (Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb)/Without Us (Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams)/It’s All in the Game (George Clinton f/ Belita Woods)/Hope that We Can Be Together Soon(Harold Melvin f/ Sharon Paige)/ This Must be Heaven (Lamont Johnson)

Funk It Friday Ep. 7

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Too many superlatives to describe a Friday….

Why do we only get three days to play? Well, I need to make the most of them and it kicks off with soul and rhythms. It’s a set of mellow funk, something to get you warmed up without sweating out your weaves. More head-bop than booty-shake. It’s still funkin’…..

The Game-Nathaniel Roberts/Be Your Man=Tru Skyy f. KayNeliz/Sweet Necessity-Jimetta Rose/Dreamin’-Crossrhodes/I See You (Zone Out)-K. Raydio f. J.Dante/Life Goes On-Soulfolk/Build This World-Joyo Velarde/Let’s Go Back-Dira f. Omar/Hold Tight-Loose Ends/Starting Over-Siji/Right Here-Seek/Do You Like the Way-Cee Lo f. Lauryn Hil

Sunday Slowdown Ep. 5

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I want very much to speak about Whitney Houston’s passing and her Going Home ceremony.  Every R&B music blogger knows her importance in our medium. Hers in a unique lexicon, and in paying an appropriate tribute, it’s important to get the right adjectives with the correct nouns. Syntax is significant.

I’m not ready yet.  So I’m serving a simple and neat helping of neo-soul from artists both quite familiar and a few less so. It’s an easy Sunday supper with mellow and quiet soul to bring the calm back.

Peace & Blessings

Love Ashaki

Track List

Why Can’t I See (Kendra Ross)/ In Love w/You (Chris Youngblood)/Break Up to Make Up (Sam Bostic)/ What They Gonna Do (Pru)/ Goodbye (Hil St. Soul)/ Save Your Love (Felicia Adams)/ Bittersweet (Siji)/ The Book (Keplyn)/Hope She’ll Be Happier (Sweetback)/Always Remember (Sirius B Project f. Donnie)

Funk It Friday Ep. 5 & 6

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Another hiatus. Another resurrection. Thankfully, I ‘m old enough to know the failure rate of New Year’s resolutions and thus avoid the trap of setting goals beyond just getting out of bed in the morning. I’ve replaced ‘goals’ with ‘hopes’, procuring sympathy for myself.  For instance, I only ‘hoped’ I’d be more disciplined about posting music more often. If it weren’t for the hard-working music bloggers that inspired me with their discipline and devotion, I wouldn’t have conceived the Aural Pleasure Palace. You look out at yourself and observe that your inspirations and your aspirations are walking on separate sides of the street.

So, I’ve been fledgeling, and doubting I’m up for the tasks at hand. When you’re down and feeling defeated, it’s the beats that lift you. To make up for lost time, I’m serving up two mixes in the Funk It Friday series.  As always, we try to drop a little funk, a little punk, and R&B in all its’ incarnations.  Here’s two hours of music that should take where you need to go on Friday afternoon: homebound, club bound, but never tightly wound. If they ask you what you’re doing, tell ’em you’re just “funking it”.

Enjoy

Ashaki

Funk It Friday 5

L.O.V.E (Terri Walker)/Gettin’ Happy (The Family Stand)/ The Pressure (Andrew Roachford)/I’ve Grown (Christion)/PYT (Noel Gourdin)/Missyou (Musiq)/Keep This Fire Burning (Bev. Knight)/Lost My Mind (Jamie Hawkins)/When It’s All Said & Done (Nine 20)/Underneath a Red Moon (N’Dea Davenport)/So Hot (R. Patterson)/You’re Not My Girl (Ryan Leslie)

Funk It Friday

All I Said (Guru f. Macy Gray)/Four Alarm Fire (YahZarah)/Mind Blowin’ (N’Dambi)/I’ve Got the Love (Chante Moore)/I Need You (Darien Brockington)/Coming Back (Smove f. Jess Roberts)/Ridin (Amp Fiddler)/My Favorite Nothing (Janelle Monae)/I’m a Lady (Santigold)/Lemonade (Fly Moon Royalty)/Lovesick (Tiara Wiles)/Anymore (Tweet)

Spotlight: Maxwell

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Don’t ever wonder…..if this brotha can still make sweat taste sweet. Whether or not he gets as much “babymaking” cred as Barry White and Teddy Pendergrass, he is one of the most original, melodic and sophisticated soul crooners of the 21st century.

In the earlier 90’s, Hip-Hop, West Coast Rap and New Jack style powered R&B radio. In 1996, Maxwell competed with Tupac, R.Kelly, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, The Fugees, Ginuwine and Keith Sweat for positions on the Pop, Rap and R&B charts. But where his contemporaries bragged about raping, robbing, killing and accumulating street life credibility, he was crooning returning to the basics of life: love, and lust. He was Uptown afro-boho elan. He was that kid always rocking no-name gear that suddenly became the hotness just because HE was stylin’ it.  Everybody knew him without knowing a damn thing about him. He was that dude, that cat, that cool-ass mofo everybody touched but could never quite embrace. Who was this cat?

Before Maxwell, a half-smooth, quarter-cool cat could charm the naivete off a preachers daughter with some Manischewitz Blackberry Wine & Olive Garden take-out, Night Queen incense and Keith Sweat.  Despite profit-making success, neither Sweat nor his “drop your drawers” contemporary R.Kelly, possessed a true balladeers voice.  Dismissing the loving nature of his songs, Keith Sweat was accused of whining and begging his way into the bedroom. He lost favor with male fans and was ridiculed out of the R&B slow-drag spotlight.  R. Kelly, having released both 12 Play (1993) and R. Kelly (1995), was busy building bridges of contractions as he produced albums  intertwining sexually aggressive jack-n-jill rhymes with cathartic gospels. The mind behind “Bump-n-Grind” and “I Like the Crotch on You”, delivered an apogean spiritual in “I Believe I Can Fly”.

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite awakened the Kundalani sensuality absent from soul’s music. In truth, we were probably confused when “Ascencion (Don’t Ever Wonder)” hit R&B radio in Spring 1996. We’d ceded love songs to Luther,  and while Luthers’ genius was without question, he was not an heir to the musical complexity and depth of Marvin or Stevie. The cool heat of his delivery was no match for Barry’s baritone. His refined expressions, and fully clothed head to toe, were a counterpoint to Teddy’s Mandingo superlover persona- half-naked, chocolate sweat dripping down to crotch-straggling hot pants.  Luther was great, but  he was clean. Inasmuch as love songs are about romance, they are also about sex. In real life expression, sexuality is dirty, naughty, lustful and incoherent. Vanilla ice cream has its place, but the fully developed tongue desires more palatial adventures in dining.

Maxwell’s, fluid, mollitious and evocative debut was soul rebirthed at its most voluptuousness. It was sandalwood oil and patchouli incense mixed into Egyptian cotton sheets, stroked dry with Turkish towels, and boozy with fresh fruit and Eiswein.    He had Lenny Kravitz looks, and Smokey Robinson smooth. He gave grace and a grown-man gentleness to the new R&B movement. He was a  welcome antidote to the  heavy rotation of hard rap hegemony of R&B radio. If R. Kelly was the speed-dial “break your back-out” type that handled “meet you at the HoJo” 4am service calls, then Maxwell was The Peninsula, with imported roses, honey-n-milk baths, hot stone massages, and Grand Siecle.

From 1996 through 2001, Maxwell delivered four albums, ripe and indulgent pleasures.  After 2001’s Now, he took a hiatus long enough to make us serious wonder if he and D’Angelo were living on the same island. In his absence the rising contemporary male R&B singers would replace depth and artistry in love songs with empty, juvenile lyrics and hyper-swagger. Love-making was for metrosexuals and sissies. Real men banged it in, tore it up and wore it out.  R.Kelly ascended into unrivaled stardom.  His reductive lyrics and on-stage antics denigrated love. R&B music began to sound like a porn flick soundtrack.

When 2010 bought Maxwell back with BLACKsummers’night, erotic sighs of relief sang from between womens’ legs. Funkier than Maxwell’s fanbase might be used to, its’ first two releases, Pretty WingsBad Habits, reestablished Maxwell’s  grown-man blueprint for smooth seduction.

Spotlight: Maxwell

Inauguration

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You only get one first time.

The past is prologue:  This  year saw a new drop by Maxwell, an incredibly talented singer that helped define the “neo soul” music movement. (I’ll have to leave the definition, debate and discourse on the details of “neo soul” to the musicologists in our clan (or wikipedia)). His BLACKsummers’night album was his first release in 8 years. In the 8 years between his 3rd and 4th release, this “new” music pushed closer to putting 20 candles on its birthday cake.

This year Me’Shell Ndegeocello’s Plantation Lullabies turns 17, D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar turns 15, Erykah Badu’s Baduizm turns 13, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is 12, and Musiq Soulchild’s Aijuswanaseing is 10. Those of us in college when Plantation Lullabies “Dred Loc” hit the airwaves are just one birthday away from being that “old man in the club”.

Like Maxwell, many of these inaugural artists are 3 or 4 albums down (except the exceptional Ms.Hill…but she’s special). Indeed, even more artists have come up in the neo soul school and graduated with multiple Grammy’s and platinum selling albums. Regardless of whatever is written in the final definition (or whatever is written in wikipedia), neo soul has achieved recognition, respect and permanency.

Nearing the 20 year mark for the neo soul movement, AAPP goes back to what the future looked like with cuts from artists’ first albums…..

Inauguration