Category Archives: Alicia Keys

Anatomy of THE Groove: “The Gospel” by Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is an artist whom myself and Henrique both have similar thoughts on. Both of us agree that she possesses the musical talent and understanding to be a major soul/funk/ jazz force for the new millennium. That being said,her albums have generally focused on instrumentally dressed up pop piano ballads-with simplistic notes that (quite frankly) do disservice to Keys’ musical abilities. Since this is such a common approach now with artists such as Sam Smith,Adele and John Legend,it even came as a surprise to me that on her November 2016 album release HERE,Alicia Keys musical vision has begun to change.

One of the first steps towards this change was Alicia Keys decision to not wear makeup for the time being. She saw the focus on the affectations of her appearance as getting in the way of her musical talent. As a natural beauty both without and (most importantly) within, Keys’ choice is a very admirable one. This year,with the Knowles sisters Beyonce and Solange both making powerful pro black album statements,Keys made a comeback with a very similar vibe to it overall. Generally a rather stripped down jazzy album, HERE  is also home to a very powerful opening song called “The Gospel”.

Keys starts singing to a piano riff that,while playing in the European classical meter,is deep in the blues pentatonic scale. She adds some honky tonk style reverb when the drums kick in. These drums are mixed somewhat higher than the piano-playing a very strident march. Keys sings the song in a fast,modern rap type rhythmic style. On the refrains,she chants “yeah yeah yeah” in the gospel soul style similar to the vocal harmonies on Funkadelic’s 1971 groove “You And Your Folks,Me And My Folks”. This is the pattern within the song that repeats until fade out.

“The Gospel” is a tense,brittle song. And its about tense times. Musically,its very much like a modern early 70’s funky soul inspired hip-hop record-especially with it being based around a pounding,extended vamp. Lyrically,its very much of a revisit of similar themes to Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City”. Since this is not an instrumental opus with many complex parts,it focuses on a lyrical setup that doesn’t so much offer hope. But rather it paints a picture of lower class black life and a call to protest-asking “if you ain’t in the battle,how you gon’ win the fight?”. This makes it a very different type of Alicia Keys song.

 

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Prince (Protégé) Summer: Támar, Bria Valente, Andy Allo, and Judith Hill

judith-hill-prince-protege-collaborator-recalls-terrifying-emergency-landing

Well, here we are: the last full weekend of summer, and the last installment of my Prince (Protégé) Summer guest series. We’re covering a lot of ground this time, because for the last two decades of his life, Prince took a notably more laid-back approach to his spinoff acts. In part, this was because he just wasn’t a big enough star anymore to sustain multiple artists’ careers in addition to his own. I think, however, that the shift was philosophical as well as pragmatic: with one notable exception, Prince’s latter-day side projects were more conventional mentor/mentee relationships, rather than the svengali-like practices of his earlier “Jamie Starr” days. In some ways, that made these projects less memorable than, say, the Time or Vanity 6: those thinly-veiled Prince albums recorded when he was at the peak of his powers as a songwriter and producer. But it was also a more sustainable and, I think, humane approach to cultivating talent; one much better suited to Prince’s latter-day reputation as a fierce protector of artists’ rights.

The years immediately following the release of 1-800-NEW-FUNK were fallow ones for the artist then known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. As I mentioned last time, most of the side projects sampled by the compilation were quietly cancelled; only Mayte’s Child of the Sun was released in 1995, and then only in Europe. O(+>’s own career was up and down in the latter half of the ’90s: up with Emancipation in 1996, mostly down after that. And, while NPG Records‘ attempts to sell music via Internet mail-order were groundbreaking for the time, they were also mismanaged and inefficient; just ask anyone who preordered Crystal Ball from O(+>’s website in 1997. By the end of the decade, the once-prolific idolmaker was the one seeking other artists’ support: 1999’s Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, a bald-faced attempt by O(+> and Arista to replicate the success of Santana‘s Supernatural, awkwardly paired the Purple One as a reluctant “legacy artist” alongside then-current names like Eve, Gwen Stefani, Ani DiFranco, and Sheryl Crow.

After the turn of the century, however, the pendulum began to swing the other way. The publicity push around Prince’s 2004 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, culminating in the release of his comeback album Musicology and its massive accompanying tour, restored him to household name status. It was also around this time when he began to more prominently position himself as a mentor to young artists, particularly women, performing with Beyoncé and Alicia Keys at various award shows and afterparties. Soon, in advance of his 2006 album 3121, he took a relative unknown under his wing: a former member of Girl’s Tyme (the group that eventually became Destiny’s Child) named Támar Davis.

I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge fan of Támar’s brand of contemporary R&B (this will be a recurring theme for this post, by the way). I totally understand and respect her talent; the girl can sing and she has stage presence, both of which are amply demonstrated by the above footage of her February 2006 show with Prince. But her featured track on 3121, “Beautiful Loved & Blessed,” is just sort of a snoozefest to me; before writing this blog, I can’t remember the last time I listened to it all the way through. Most distressingly from my perspective, there’s very little of Prince’s personality to be heard in his collaborations with Támar: it’s workmanlike, radio-friendly early 21st century R&B that just happens to be co-written and performed by Prince. That’s fine, of course, but it’s not my cup of tea.

elixer

Támar was supposed to release a Prince-produced debut album in 2006; but, like so many of his other latter-day side projects, it was delayed and ultimatey cancelled. She soon drifted from Prince’s orbit. Around the same time, Prince became involved–professionally and romantically–with an aspiring singer from Minneapolis named Brenda Fuentes, who he rechristened as Bria Valente. As the renaming suggests, theirs was a more conventional Prince protégée relationship; Valente, it’s worth noting, also shares a certain statuesque, ethnically ambiguous look with previous “Prince girls” like Vanity and Mayte. One thing I will say about her album with Prince, 2009’s Elixer: it does feel more identifiably “Prince”-like than “Beautiful Loved & Blessed.” The problem is that it’s also probably the most boring thing Prince ever did. Not bad, necessarily–it’s much too dull to be bad. But as far as Prince’s “girlfriend albums” go, I’ll take the spectacularly awful (yes, even Carmen) over the utterly inconsequential. Listen to “Here Eye Come” if you want, but don’t feel too bad if you don’t; Prince actually packaged Elixer with two of his own albums, and I still don’t know anyone who’s bothered sitting through it.

andy-alloAfter Prince’s brief relapse to his old svengali ways with Valente, it would be easy to brush off his next major collaborator, Cameroonian singer-songwriter Andy Allo; I certainly did at first. In fact, I nursed a bit of a grudge against Allo for a while, because the first time I encountered her was on Prince’s dreadful 2011 rejiggering of one of my favorite outtakes, “Extraloveable.” Like Támar, she still isn’t my cup of tea: her 2012 album Superconductor just sounds like a bunch of middling  jams by that era of the New Power Generation, and the Internet-only acoustic mini-album she did with Prince, Stare, sounds like a compilation of those horrible YouTube covers by white girls with guitars. I’m willing to accept, though, that it’s not about Andy; it’s just a matter of taste. And I can appreciate the fact that by his last half-decade on the planet, Prince had shifted from producing boutique albums as (ahem) vanity projects for his paramours, to genuinely fostering young talent (as long as that young talent came in the form of a statuesque, ethnically-ambiguous woman…but hey, nobody’s perfect).

Perhaps most emblematic of this shift was one of Prince’s last protégées, Judith Hill. While certainly beautiful (and ethnically ambiguous–she’s of Japanese and African descent), Hill was already establishing herself in the music industry when Prince took her under his wing; he first “discovered” her not long after her appearance in the Academy Award-winning 2013 documentary 20 Feet from Stardom. One gets the sense that Prince approached their joint project, 2015’s Back in Time, as a collaboration between equals: his influence is certainly all over the record, but so are those of artists Hill and Prince mutually admire, such as Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan. Hill is a “protégée” in the sense that she benefited from Prince’s tutelage, but she’s also allowed to stand on our own feet as an artist.

And this, to be honest, is one of the many things about Prince’s passing that make me sad. For too long, the history of Prince and his associated artists was one of control and mutual resentment: he had a well-known tendency in his youth to micro-manage his protégés, and few of their working relationships with him ended on good terms. By the end of his life, however, Prince seemed to have found a way to pass on his expertise without bending others to his will. I may not be a hardcore fan of Támar or Andy Allo (or, if I’m honest, Judith Hill), but I would have loved to see what this new, more generous Prince might have done with some of the younger artists I do like; when I heard he’d been hanging out with Kendrick Lamar last year, for example, I was downright gleeful.

Unfortunately, we’ll of never know what Prince might have accomplished with Kendrick, or anyone else for that matter: his passing in April cut short what was shaping up to be a truly fascinating late-career creative rebirth, to say nothing of a remarkable life. But I do take some comfort in observing that by the end, the notoriously spotlight-jealous artist seemed to have finally learned to take a step back and allow others to shine. The Prince of 2016 was a long way from the 23-year-old pelting Jesse Johnson with Doritos backstage on the Controversy tour; and, while I’ll admittedly take the Time over his more recent projects any day, I think that transformation was a good thing. It was a long, strange trip for Mr. Jamie Starr. I’m glad that in this area, at least, he was able to find some resolution.

So there you have it; that’s the last I’ll be writing about Prince protégés for a while. My next guest post will, I think, be Prince-related, and then I’ll probably take a break and write about some other things. If you’re just starved to see more of what I have to say about Prince, though, remember to check out my song-by-song chronological blog dance / music / sex / romance. And of course, you can always see what I have to say about a whole lot of other stuff on Dystopian Dance Party. Thanks for reading. Happy Prince Summer!

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Filed under 3121, Alicia Keys, Beyonce', Prince, Uncategorized

Anatomy Of THE Groove For The Brothers And Sisters Who Aren’t Here: : “Million Dollar Bill” by Whitney Houston

As strange as it may seem, Whitney Houston has been gone for five years as of yesterday. The tragedy of her and Bobby Brown’s only daughter Bobbi Kristina last year kept me away from writing about any of Whitney’s music on this blog. Of course with a good amount of time away from the negativity surrounding both of their passing bought Whitney’s positive musical triumphs back into perspective for me. Known primarily as a balladeer during the bulk of her career,the huge voiced singer continued to make quality comeback albums during the 90’s and early 2000’s whenever her personal situation allowed. By roughly 2004,even I had to admit she seemed to just disappear from the music scene.

In the late summer of 2009,Whitney burst back onto the scene with what turned out to be the final album she released in her lifetime. This album I Look To You was a very happy surprise for me having been recovering from the then recent passing of another 80’s era musical icon Michael Jackson. It was one of neo soul’s shinning stars in Alicia Keys and her then relatively new husband Swizz Beatz who really came through for Whitney on this album in terms of writing. And right at the beginning too because while the couple only appeared once here,it was a very memorable one at that. The result was “Million Dollar Bill”,a song that for me is one of Whitney’s musical triumphs of her latter days.

A fanfaring drum role starts off the songs 4/4 beat and accompanying chordal bass thumps. The refrain of the song features an elaborate drum solo that keeps putting itself in and out on the one with it’s brushing/cymbal work. It goes from subtle to right in your face right along with Whitney’s scaling,climactic vocals. The rhythm is kept going by a phase filtered Fender Rhodes electric piano right out of the Gamble & Huff school of mid 70’s uptempo Philly dance records. That keyboard solo occasionally takes on a higher,chiming tone on those more subtle moments.  The instrumentation takes a total break for Whitney’s final chorus before closing out with a final burst of music and vocal power.

Actually this is one of my very favorite Whitney Houston songs ever. With her huge gospel/soul pipes, I always wondered why she didn’t tend to make uptempo songs a huge priority. Especially since she had so many excellent ones anyway.  This song gave a modern production flavor to a classic disco era Philly uptempo dance groove. Especially with how Whitney’s go from nuanced to soul shouting right along with the drums-which themselves go from a light brushing sound to being heavier and higher up in the mix. It also shares a similar juxtaposition in tempo as Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover” as well. Take n on it’s own,it’s one of Whitney’s finest uptempo numbers.

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Filed under 2009, Alicia Keys, disco funk, drums, Fender Rhodes, Funk Bass, Philly Soul, Swizz Beatz, Uncategorized, Whitney Houston

Funky Firsts: Andre’s Look Back On Key Moments Of Putting The Grooves On His Record Racks

Reading the autobiography of Amir Questlove Thompson entitled Mo Meta Blues has been very inspirational to the way in which I present my blog. Especially in the fact the book presents interstitial chapters between the main ones. These shorter chapters illustrate classic funk and soul albums Questlove heard growing up. As well as how they intertwined with different events in his personal life. This has long had me brainstorming about a similar concept as to how this music has been involved with my own life story.

There’s no particular rhythm or reason here. This isn’t a list of all of my first exposures to specific artists. Nor is it just musical events that personally impacted me. It includes both,yet what I’m focusing on here is all about the synergy of life and this particular art form and how it effected my outlook on music. All the way up to this blog here. There’s going to be a mixture of different stories and emotions here. And of course some important things might not get covered-possibly to be done as they come back to mind on another,similar post. But for now? Enjoy these stories!

First Album I Purchased On Cassette Tape

Music Of My Mind

I’d been listening to Stevie Wonder for many years before this. But I was deep into a literary research through the All Music Guide and read a description of this album as being Wonder’s first artistic breakthrough but that compared to what came after quote on quote “it paled just slightly”. Often times writing can cloud a music’s listener’s judgement on the auditory musical experience. At the time however? That’s exactly how I felt about this album. Musically my tastes and understanding had to grow into this album,rather than the album accommodate me.

First Album I Purchased On CD

The Jacksons

Actually this is by no means the first CD I ever owned. But it was the first one I purchased with my own money. 1994-1995 was ‘the year of the Jackson’s’ as it were for my life. The story of how the brothers signed to Epic Records to gain creative control was really fascinating me,something I was feeling inwardly as an artistic adolescent. So one day I was browsing the old Strawberries Records with my friend Joseph Stone and came across this album for $9.99. That’s just what I had in my wallet. For the next few weeks? Felt like “Think Happy”,”Show You The Way To Go”,”Enjoy Yourself”,”Living Together” and “Style Of Life” were the only songs I wanted to hear. And all were (and still are) very positively effecting on my day to day life.

First New Music I Purchased Through A Record Club

Isley Brothers Mission To Please

Turns out in writing this? I discovered several important musical firsts for me in the year 1996. While an active member of the BMG Record Club? They offered a featured selection that,if purchased at full price,would allow you to get a number of free CD’s.  This was one of them. I was reading a lot about the Isley Brother’s in Rickey Vincent’s book Funk at the time. And his description of the Isley’s as “the epitome of funky manhood” made this an easy choice. At the time? I was not keen on contemporary R&B at all. But something about the vibe R.Kelly created for this album is still appealing to me.

First Album Recommended To Me

Travelling Without Moving

Technically it was my mother who ended up purchasing this album. But I remember she and I had taken a rather long bike ride to Strawberries. And ran into a friendly young sales associate named Jeb. We got into a conversation about P-Funk and George Clinton. He mentioned in the conversation that a new band who were in a similar funk vein were Jamiroquai. And this was their newest album out. At the time I didn’t see how this had any resemblance to P-Funk at all. Of course I had yet to hear The Electric Spanking Of War Babies. Still as a channeling of psychedelia with the live instrumental boogie funk sound began a continuing interest in newly recorded funk music.

First Multi Album Set I Ever Had

Emancipation

1996-1997 was when I was seeking out any and all things Prince related. From his own music to his famous (and infamous) protegee’s. Seeing Prince and than wife Mayte on Oprah performing songs from this album,talking about his art and life,went right along with the appeal of this album. It is such a sprawling 3 CD set that,to this very day,I have yet to have heard the entire album. Something that I intend to change in the very near future.

First Piece Of Used Vinyl I Remember Purchasing

Earth, Wind & Fire - Faces

When Dr. Records was still in it’s original basement location in the college town of Orono,Maine? I remember having $5 dollars in my pocket and seeing this album on vinyl-yet again at just the right price. Had been collecting EWF’s 70’s classic on cassette tape already and was at this point upgrading to CD’s. This one was a bit expensive for me at the time. But the vinyl of this album was a different story. On the way home from the store? I remember feeling the raised gold letters of the bands name on the cover,and staring at the random photographs of people on the inner sleeve-not to mention the members of the band members and the Phenix Horns,which were proudly stated on the vinyl sleeves. The happiest surprise was to get home to find the album also contained the original poster of the band in full EWF regalia. Still have the poster,later picked up the CD but none of it eclipses the excitement of that 15 minute car ride home from picking this up as a vinyl album. Almost a brief history in how a classic funk band presents itself.

First CD I Purchased After The New Millennia

Alicia Keys

After the arrival of the year 2000,in those 500 or so days between then and 9/11? I kept feeling like the world of futurism was just about ready to happen. Flying electric cars,sustainable ergonomic homes,all of it. Another exciting event during the winter and spring of 2001 was seeing the face of this 19 year old singer/songwriter/musician from NYC who was about to break out almost exactly the same manner as Whitney Houston had, with Clive Davis and the whole deal. In all honesty? The albums contents were so far removed from my musical journey at that time,it didn’t quite live up it’s hype for me. In a lot of ways it still doesn’t.  But it succeeded in whetting my musical appetite for a promising new and popular musician. Something that was extremely rare in an era saturated with performers.

First CD I Purchased Online

Imagination Body Talk

Even at the time,the years 2002-2003 were weary and sad times with the dashed hopes of the immediate post 9/11 era. Interestingly enough,this was a time when I began exploring psychedelic 60’s classic rock and fusion more as well. The roots of this discovery was when I heard the song “Flashback” on a compilation belonging to my families late friend Janie Galvin called Pure Disco. It was by a British trio called Imagination. Loved the songs stripped down electronic groove. But it was when I’d just gotten online for the first time at the local public library computer.  Discovered that this album was kind of famous in post disco circles. My quest to order a CD copy led me to sign up for my first checking account so I could get a used copy off of Amazon. Body Talk turned out to be an excellent album. And was also the beginning of the end of my days as a member of the already fading mail order record clubs.

Biggest Surprise I Discovered In A Used Vinyl Record Store

Ghetto Blaster

It was on a ride home with my father after purchasing our first Toyota that I first heard the Crusaders. It was actually my first exposure to a complete jazz-funk band. One day I was crate digging at a now defunct record shop in Camden Maine called Wild Rufus. And there was this album for a dollar. On the back,it had a photo of Leon Ndugu Chancler with the band rather than Stix Hooper. Was deep into Ndugu at the time with my involvement with DJ/musician Nigel Hall,and our mutual interest in 70’s George Duke. So that actually peaked my interest as well. I had no idea the Crusaders were making records in the mid 80’s. So hearing them with a more synthesizer driven electro funk style was a very happy surprise for me,and probably my turntable as well.

First CD I Reviewed Online

Parliament (1978) - Motor Booty Affair (A)

For reasons that I don’t fully understand? Amazon.com forced me to create a totally new account with them when I couldn’t remember the password to my first one. So the reviews on that first profile are still floating around out there. So this is only my first Amazon review on this new account,the one I continue to use up to this very day. I remember posting the review on December 3rd,2004. That was also around the same time my family got it’s first PC,a Toshiba laptop to be specific. So this was also my first time dealing with that computers joint Windows account system

Link to original Motor Booty Affair review here*

First Time Hearing Questlove As A Producer

Al Green Lay It Down

Now the main reason I’m talking about this is because Questlove’s writing directly inspired this blog post. Prior to 2008? I knew of Amir not by name,or nickname. Only as the guy with the pick in his fro who drummed for The Roots. And I felt a lot of their music was rather bland for my personal tastes at the time. When my friend Henrique told me this man,named Questlove,was producing a comeback album for Al Green? I was skeptical. What I didn’t know was that Questlove was a session drummer at heart. And rather then make his own record here? He produced a total Al Green record-directly in the Willie Mitchell mold.  This significantly broadened my admiration and respect for Questlove. And for that matter other hip-hop live instrumentalists/producers who could tailor make records for iconic artists they respected and admired.

First Funny Music Buying Twist Of Fate

Rufus Stompin At The Savvoy

This could be a very long story. But it still makes me laugh at the absurdity of it all so will endeavor to condense it. 18 or so years ago when I was first getting into Rufus & Chaka Khan? I kept noticing this double CD on sale at Borders Books & Music in Bangor. With it’s $30 dollar price tag? I never gave it any thought,knowing only it was essentially a live album from the early 80’s. While that store always shuffled stock? This CD remained there at this same price into the new millennium. Finally in 2011 Borders closed down shop nationally. And all their stock,including CD’s,went on drastic mark down. I went there and bought a lot. Even saw other double CD sets marked down to $15 or less. Sure enough? Still this particular album seemed like the only one that never went on sale even at the bitter end.

Flash forward to about five years later. I’d noticed that this album was commanding prices well upwards in the double digits on Amazon and ebay.  And used no less. So one day a month or so ago while checking the website of my local record store Bullmoose? I noticed one of the stores had a used copy of this CD for under $10. So I picked it up. And as of today it’s one of my very favorite Rufus albums-with powerful live performances and great funk and jazz based studio tracks. So for an album that for almost two decades an album whose pretense in my life seemed to engender either reluctance or regret? A very happy musical experience came out of it in the end.

 


You might notice that the firsts indicated in this blog come primarily out of one spectrum of music. This wasn’t deliberate exactly. During my time online? I noticed many nostalgia based Top 10,20,50 music lists. With all kinds of subtexts. Still most people’s important experiences with music came from awkward moments with their peer group in terms of context. And the music that tends to be part of their journey is invariably punk or alternative rock of some variety. Occasionally even soul,jazz and blues too. And there’s absolutely nothing to be condemned about that. Any way that brings one to the joy of music has great meaning.

This blog actually extends into the very root of this blog. One can browse for info on the funk genre  and it’s offshoot musical children (such as disco and fusion) online. And they will album reviews,songs posted,downloads and a good deal of nostalgic comedy. But both Henrique and myself observed a void. One where there was litttle to no serious,well rounded online journalism on funk to the degree writers such as Rickey Vincent had done in the literary world. My aim with posts such as this is to help give the funk music spectrum the level of analyzation  and respect rock and jazz have received on the internet. And hopefully these personal stories will do so in an enlightening and amusing manner!

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Filed under 1980's, 1990s, 2008, 2015, Al Green, Alicia Keys, Amazon.com, Chaka Khan, classic funk, crate digging, Crusaders, Disco, Earth Wind & Fire, Funk, Fusion, George Clinton, George Duke, Imagination, Isley Brothers, Jamiroquai, Joe Sample, Late 70's Funk, Music Reviewing, Neo Soul, Nigel Hall, Prince, Psychedelia, psychedelic soul, Questlove, R.Kelly, The Roots

Andre’s Amazon Archive Special Presentation: ‘The Diary Of Alicia Keys’

Diary of Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys created quite a stir the entire summer before her debut album Songs in a Minor hit the record racks with one of the most intense promotional campaigns to have come around since Bruce Springsteen in the early 70’s. That album,which looked to blend Alicia’s mixture of European classical music and American jazz-funk with hip-hop beats wound up being a bit hyped and it’s hit “Fallin” became a bit overplayed and it would’ve been almost easy for Keys to wind up less hip and more hype,if readers here will forgive that lousy slogan. A couple years later Alicia came back with her second album which would make her or break her as the serious musician/singer/songwriter that she always was. This time the promotion was more genuine and she wasn’t as caught up in the “I’m going to save R&B music” kind of manifesto that accompanied her first album. She was therefore more free to be herself and the result is an album that in basic terms cut back on some of the heavier hip-hop beats and concentrating on her ability to craft music like a fine knit sweater.

The tapestry she comes up with here is built a lot more around her piano based chord progressions and her flexible vocal styling’s. Overall it’s a very musicianly album that doesn’t have the immediate commercial appeal you might expect but even on one of it’s most powerful and popular songs “You Don’t Know My Name”,her second big hit actually the music has a finely arranged retro soul flavor with some some beautiful,avant garde jazz styled high piano chordings that give the song it’s hook. I liked the fact she reached outside the pop idiom for the hook on this song-it also matches her high pitched,passionate coos on the refrains. The same flavor crosses over into the spirited medley of “If I Were Your Woman/Walk On By”,”If I Ain’t Got You” and the title song.

The final song “Nobody Not Really” has one of the most intricately chorded piano part since Stevie Wonder’s “I Gotta Have A Song” so basically this consists of immaculately produced and arranged,mid-tempo jazzy soul/funk tunes with some expressive vocal changes and personalized lyrical themes. On the songs that do feature something more of a hip-hop flavor such as “Karma” you have a great song with a very stiff rhythm and that kind of keeps it from being a complete masterpiece. But overall it’s actually one of the closest places Alicia has come to a consistently fully realized album and expresses her artistry for what it was rather than as something that has too much of a deliberate intention behind it.

Originally Posted On August 16th,2010

Link to original review here*

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Filed under Alicia Keys, Hip-Hop, Jazz-Funk, Neo Soul, Soul, Stevie Wonder