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Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

30Sep/11Off

Davina Green: bringing something to the party Everytime

I was sent a link on Twitter to a new Zimbabwean artist called Davina Green by @Eski_Mo. I'm glad I clicked on the link, because the song is great!


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The record is called Everytime and it's a no-frills RnB song, with a  great beat and great lyrics and the two are well matched throughout to make an up-tempo love song. Ms Green has what I would call a 'thin' voice even by most women's standards however she's well in control of it and even manages to do some vocal gymnastics with it. I loved the song and would have bought it had she not had it available as a free download. Honestly!

Regular visitors would know that I occasionally blog about music, however on listening to the song, it got me thinking about a topic that has regularly been discussed in Zimbabwean circles. In fact I've ranted about this on Facebook before and I can't resist another rant now that I'm blogging about it!

Basically, a lot of new Zimbabwean artists are singing RnB, Hip-hop and Dancehall tunes in Shona (one of our local languages) and mostly these songs are labelled as a new genre called 'Urban Grooves'. I don't buy into Urban Grooves. I think it's a way of peddling sub-standard music that wouldn't make it as RnB, Hip-hop or Dancehall by just singing it in a different language. From that we constantly hear calls of 'supporting your own' and 'play local artists more'. To be honest the whole debate is ridiculous in my eyes.

Most of the Urban Grooves songs have no real differentiation from their Western counterparts apart from the fact that they are sang in Shona. A lot of the beats are stuck in the '80s and they seem to be caricatures of whatever genre they are meant to derive from. Think of it this way; in Urban Grooves I've heard beats that share more with Chaka Demus and Pliers or Keith Sweat than with the music of today.  That's not to say that those two artists were bad, just that they are now being badly copied by young Zimbabwean artists. Artists bring no real variation within their songs and never mind the albums. I like what the youngsters in South Africa and Ghana did in coming up with Kwaito and Hiplife. Their music is clearly influenced by Hip-hop and dance music but the musical structure is totally different. I believe that they can make the rules now and say what's good and what isn't, because it's different enough to be called  'their' music.

Basically I think our Zimbabwean kids have not brought anything to RnB, Hip-hop or Dancehall to warrant any of it being called a new genre. In saying that, I wouldn't stop anyone putting out music if they feel like it, however what I will do is judge them by the standards of the genre they took from. By those standards most of 'Urban Grooves' is rubbish. There are some Zim guys putting out good RnB or Hip-hop songs in Shona and you have to say even by Western standards, the beats are tight, the flow is good and the lyrics are on point. Way back when, A Peace of Ebony and Zimbabwe Legit were two groups that had lyrics in the vernacular, but even at that time their records could stand up against their American peers. I think members of those two groups would probably agree that they were original in their own way, but not original enough to call their music a new genre. It was still Hip-hop.

I believe that musicians must bring something to the party all the time, whether it's originality or talent. As a music fan I don't care whether you've worked your butt off for the last ten years if you're only going to be putting out wack stuff. I'll care even less if the only thing a musician brings is a different language. By all means a musician can sing in Shona or Klingon if it pleases them, but if it the result isn't good I won't hesitate to call BS.

On Everytime, Davina Green has not done something truly original but she has certainly brought something to the party, and that is her talent. Her song will stand comparison with anything out there. I played it on loop whilst writing this post and I'm still not sick of it. Ms Green has the tools to make a name for herself in the industry and I'll do my bit to spread the word. What's more I certainly won't be feeling linguistically blackmailed Everytime I listen to her song!

 

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28May/11Off

Chiddy Bang mixtape; Peanut Butter and Swelly free download

Swelly no doubt! Chiddy Bang are working hard. Good thing they're putting out good music instead of polluting the airwaves with meaningless tat.

It's a similar kind of sound to their previous stuff, however the beats (by Xaphoon) have moved on a bit. Showing a little more pop-synth-electro influence and some video game sounds; all used to good effect . Chiddy's lyrics are still tight and tinged with a bit more swearing than he's managed on all their material to date. I'm not sure why, but maybe he's just been inducted into the Ghostface Killah school of Wordsmiths. It doesn't detract from the songs, however this is one record my 5 year old son probably won't be listening to. He loves it when I play their old stuff.

Guiness flow is my early favorite, a sort of club banger that sounds like it was produced by The Neptunes at the height of their powers. The Whistle song is another good song and it's produced in the old-school way. Overall this is a really good mixtape, perfect for the car, the barbecue and just in time for the summer. Enjoy!

Click on the link to download the album; http://www.mediafire.com/?lsp8sjno420wost

Click on the link to listen or download sample tracks:

02 The Whistle Song

06 Guinness Flow

 

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20May/11Off

When slackness was respectable and even sexy

I heard one of my favourite soca songs being played on BBC Radio 4 this morning it suddenly dawned on me how much slackness was in the song. It was the calypso singer Lord Kitchener's Sugar Bum Bum from 1978 being played on Desert Island Discs. I know that any street cred I have is fast disappearing but in my defence, my alarm clock had stayed on way past the end of The Today programme which I like to wake up to instead of endless loops of screeching pop music and 'news' about the plastic singers who churn it out.

Here's a sample of some the song's lyrics;

Sugar bum, sugar bum-bum (repeat 3x)

Audrey, everytime you wiggle
Darling, you put me in trouble
You torture me, the way you wine
I love to see your fat behind

With Reggae Dancehall having descended into something like audio porn it's easy to forget that, those compaining about Dancehall, pretty much expressed similar feelings in their music. Albeit they had much subtler ways of saying the things they wanted to say. Subtle enough to make onto Radio 4 at 9AM in the morning; or did the above verse make it past the editor because of the Carribean accent?

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20May/09Off

KO the Korean rapper – Why rappers shouldn't say the N word

Yesterday I saw a link posted by Ty one of my favourite UK rappers. Actually, one of my favourites, period. It was a link to a YouTube clip and his comment was "is this for real?", without actually saying what he was linking to.

Now I'm as curious as anybody, so I clicked through and watched a clip of a young Asian rapper talking about n1ggaz and hoes in that animated style you'd normally associate with 'gangster' rappers. In fact I'd say he was biting off of DMX's song (What's My Name? I think?). Those swear words were used quite a lot and to bad effect, because the rhyming and lyrics were really off. You know what, just watch it yourself. Here's the video.

That was Here we go by KO; Too bad you don't get rap skills from taking steroids!

Anyway, I'm sure most people would agree that it was interesting! I must admit the video is kind of funny because the song is so bad. Of course it doesn't start off funny because each time he says n1gga it feels like a slap to me. Ideally you'd want to tell him to stop using it, until you realise that a great number of today's rappers use that word; so how are we going to tell him to stop when this is most of what he sees in hip-hop. Furthermore, no rap album or DVD is going to come with a pamphlet explaining the history of the word and why it's offensive.

Now I know quite a few black people who would be offended by this song, but I'm not one of them. I actually think that our more prominent rappers are perpetuating this sort of thing by their common use of the word n*gga in their songs. Therefore I'm mad at them. That's also not a new thing, because I'm sure they've all heard it before and probably from people with way more clout and reason than me.

The only thing I'd like to say is that rappers need to have a look at this video to see how much of a caricature THEY have become and by extension us black people. This is all because of the unnecessary use of a word that we really don't need to appropriate. Yes, I use the word from time to time (rarely in fact), but in all honesty there will never be a day when black people can truly say we have gotten rid of the negative connotations of that word. I remember watching Oprah once and she mentioned that it was like calling your kid a b*stard. You can say it, but you wouldn't want anyone else saying it. I agree with that, especially since we all know that b*stards will never manage to appropriate that word too!

Now it's entirely possible that KO made this video as a joke, whilst still appreciating hip-hop music, but that just shows even more deeply how these 'gangsters' need to check themselves in the mirror. Anyone who's comfortable being emulated like that, joke or no joke would really have to be insane.

That actually brings me to my proposal for getting rid of the N-word. Any rapper/singer/actor (yes you Samuel L Jackson) who wants to use the word n1gga in their video, film or whatever, MUST be made to have a duet with KO!

Not forgetting all those video girls who are comfortable being called hoes and b*tches. They should be made to share the stage with KO's Juicy-wearing hoes. I'm sure no-one will choose that option, or will they......