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New Music: Mayer Hawthorne - 'Designer Drug'

Monday April 1, 2013

For years, yours truly has been a big fan of Michigan-born, LA-based singer-songwriter Mayer Hawthorne, mainly because of his cool, pseudo-Motown, distinctly soulful vocal style. But it looks like he might be going in a different direction on his third album. On his first two releases -- 2009's A Strange Arrangement and 2011's How Do You Do -- Mayer produced all the songs himself in addition to handling most of the vocal duties. But in a recent interview with Billboard magazine, he revealed that he's expanding his horizons and collaborating with other artists and producers, including Pharrell Williams and Jack Splash. But it was another producer, Rodney Jerkins, who indirectly helped guide the album's sound, Mayer said in the interview:

""I played him a few demos I had done and I explained to him my vision for the record, and he basically told me I would have to scrap everything and start over again because I couldn't have any seventh chords in any of the songs 'cause it was too jazzy -- 'too soulful' were his words, I believe," the singer explained. "So after that, I decided that every single song on this new record would have to have a seventh chord in it."

One of those songs is Mayer's new single, "Designer Drug," on which he compares the object of his affection to various legal and illegal substances. "You are my designer drug," he sings. "And only you help me, I can't get enough." The uptempo tune has a sort of '80s disco vibe to it, which is definitely a change of pace from his usual '70s pop-Soul sound. The tune can be streamed via the link below, and when the full details regarding the album it's due to appear on become known, they'll be posted right here.

R&B News N Rumors: 03/31/13 Edition

Sunday March 31, 2013

Some of the more interesting R&B-related news and rumors from the past week:

  • Justin Timberlake's new album, The 20/20 Experience, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 968,000 copies in its first week. 20/20, which was released March 19, is Timberlake's second No. 1 album and marks his best sales week to date. It follows his last release, 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds, which arrived atop the list with his previous sales high: 684,000 copies.
  • Bobby Brown and his wife Alicia Etheredge-Brown have filed a million dollar defamation lawsuit against the owner of the National Enquirer over a story the gossip rag published alleging that Bob and his ex, Whitney Houston had been planning to remarry before Whitney's untimely death in February 2012.
  • The TV One reality series "R&B Divas" returns to the network for its second season Wed., May 1. In celebration, the network is branding the month of April "Destination Divas" and is packing its schedule with a mix of new original specials, iconic movies and sitcoms, plus encores of R&B Divas season one.
  • India.Arie's luscious new single, "Cocoa Butter," is slated for release to radio stations on April 1, 2013 and will be available for purchase through digital retailers on April 9. The song's about the healing power of love.
  • On John Legend's newly-released single, "Who Do We Think We Are," he sings about a couple that has the nerve and audacity to actually live their lives to the fullest and have a great time doing it.
  • Among the R&B/Soul artists who may be playing a venue near you between late March and mid-June are Rihanna, Beyonce, Prince and Alicia Keys, who's currently on tour with Miguel.
  • On his 13th studio album, R&B legend Brian McKnight proves that he still has one of the purest, most silky-smooth voices in urban music. Unfortunately, his style has grown stale.
  • The-Dream is expected to officially release his fifth album, IV PLAY, on May 28, 2013.

Spring 2013 R&B/Soul Concert Tours

Saturday March 30, 2013

Spring has officially sprung, and with the warmer weather comes more entertainment options, including concerts. And this spring, some of the bigger names in R&B and Soul music are out touring the U.S., North America and even the entire world. Among those who may be playing at a venue near you between late March and mid-June are: Rihanna, who's in the midst of her 27-date "Diamonds" world tour right now; Beyonce, whose latest tour begins with 23 shows in Europe from mid-April through late May before migrating over to North America for an additional 22 shows. Also touring is his purple majesty, Prince, who'll perform 28 shows in seven cities in April and May; and Alicia Keys, who's on tour with Miguel from early March through mid-April. Click the link below for more details on the hottest R&B/Soul music tours of Spring 2013.

New Music: India.Arie - 'Cocoa Butter'

Tuesday March 26, 2013

It's been a long four years since India.Arie released her most recent studio album (2009's Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics), but according to her music label, a new release will be on it's way to stores later this year. India's devoted fans have heard that before -- several times in fact -- but this time it looks like it will actually happen. Not only does her fifth album now have an official title, SongVersation, there's even a mid-summer release date attached to it. And here's a few more details: it was recorded in Los Angeles as well as in India's hometown of Atlanta, and was produced by India herself and Grammy-winning songwriter Shannon Sanders, with additional production from singer-songwriter David Ryan Harris and songwriter Michael Ruff. But the most convincing piece of evidence that her upcoming album is near is that a brand new single, "Cocoa Butter," is slated for release to radio stations on April 1, 2013. The song is about the healing power of love:

"My heart was bruised, that's what happens when you use it, someone turned it all black and blue, it's been that way so long the sight became familiar, and then your love came in, just like a natural healer," she sings. "You've got a way of making it all okay, you make it okay, your love is like cocoa butter on my heart."

India's SongVersation album is due in stores June 25 via Songbird/Motown, and "Cocoa Butter" will be available at digital retailers beginning April 9. But you don't have to wait until the song hits iTunes or the radio to hear it: it can be streamed via the top link below.

New Music: John Legend feat. Rick Ross - 'Who Do We Think We Are'

Monday March 25, 2013

A few days ago, John Legend offered up a taste of his new music in the form of a promo/buzz song called "The Beginning," from his upcoming album, Love in the Future. And now, just a week later, the album's official debut single has just dropped. The song, titled "Who Do We Think We Are," samples Jean Knight's 1971 classic tune 'Mr. Big Stuff," a song that late hip-hop legend Heavy D. also famously sampled back in the 1980s. On Legend's song, he sings about a couple that has the nerve and audacity to actually live their lives to the fullest and have a great time doing it. Or as Legend sings on the song:

"Who do we think we are? We've got a lotta nerve girl, we walk around here like we own this place," he sings. "And I am not afraid to fly, here we are in the air, barely breathing, not afraid to die."

The song also also features a few lyrics by da bawse, rapper Rick Ross, who goes on about his usual topics: jewelry, clothes, success, fancy cars, alcohol, balling, expensive vacations and marijuana. And he does it all within 50 seconds, too. The song marks the sixth time Legend and and Ross have collaborated, and fourth time they were the two featured artists on a song, the others being the tunes "Sweet Life," "Rich Forever" and "Magnificent." Once Love in the Future has a release date, it'll be posted right here, but in the meantime, you can stream the new single via the link below.

Album Review: Brian McKnight - 'More Than Words'

Sunday March 24, 2013

On his 13th studio album, R&B legend Brian McKnight proves two things: one is that he still has one of the purest, most silky-smooth voices in urban music. Despite being in the music game for over two decades, there's been no apparent erosion in his singing skills. His vocal abilities seem as sharp as ever. Unfortunately, the other thing that his More Than Words album proves is that after over 20 years, his brand of music has grown fairly stale. More Than Words, which was released in the U.S. March 19, 2013, sounds exactly like vintage B. McKnight. And although that might seem like a compliment on the surface, it actually means the album's dated and stuck in the past. From the first musical notes of "Don't Stop," the opening track on Brian McKnight's More Than Words, it's readily apparent that this is an album that's holding tight to the singer's mid-'90s heyday. All 15 of the album's songs are pretty much what you'd hear from a McKnight album from 20 years ago; same finely tuned vocals, same cliche yet heartwarming lyrics, same production style. After branching out creatively to try new things on his previous album, 2011's Just Me, Brian's gone back to his bread and butter and given up the heavy guitars and synthesizers. For more, click the link to check out the full review of Brian McKnight's More Than Words.

R&B News N Rumors: 03/24/13 Edition

Sunday March 24, 2013

Some of the more interesting R&B-related news and rumors from the past week:

  • In mid-April, Prince is embarking on a seven city West Coast trek that's been dubbed the "Live Out Loud Tour," after the current single, "Live Out Loud," by his all female backing band, 3rd Eye Girl. Although Prince and company will only be visiting four cities, they'll play four shows in each, including two each night (one at 8 pm and another at 11:30 pm), for a total of 28 performances.
  • Up-and-coming R&B singer Josh Xantus has just released latest free digital mixtape (actually, it's a full digital album), The Antidote. The 14 songs on the album represent various stages of love and relationships, particularly the trials and tribulations.
  • Another up-and-comer, Jarell Perry, also just dropped a free digital album, Simple Things. And yes, it's an actual and full album of complete songs, not a mixtape or an EP or just snippets of tracks.
  • John Legend has just given us a taste of what to expect on his upcoming Love in the Future album. It's a brand new romantic ballad with the very appropriate title of "The Beginning."
  • Bobby Brown, who was sentenced to 55 days in jail for a DUI, served only nine hours behind bars. He checked into LA County Jail at 10 am March 20 and was released at 7 pm.
  • A music publisher is still fighting over the rights to some of Aaliyah's songs and has sued a record company for allegedly hawking bootlegs of her material on the Internet.
  • Ray J. got into a brawl with concertgoers at a show in Los Angeles after he reportedly called Suge Knight's niece a "fat b*tch" backstage and she went off.
  • The reunited members of Jodeci were reportedly booed off the stage after giving an "extremely poor" performance at a recent show in London.

Prince Announces West Coast 'Live Out Loud' Tour

Thursday March 21, 2013

If you live in a major city on the West Coast of the U.S. or Canada and have a yearning to see his purple majesty, Prince, perform live, you're about to have your chance. Or to be more accurate, you're about to have multiple chances. The news was revealed yesterday (March 20, 2013) by Prince's new all-female backing band, 3rd Eye Girl, on a podcast hosted by Prince fan site Drfunkenberry.com. In mid-April, Prince is embarking on a seven city West Coast trek that's been dubbed the "Live Out Loud Tour," after 3rd Eye Girl's current single, "Live Out Loud." Although Prince and company will only be visiting seven cities, they'll play four shows in each, including two each night (one at 8 pm and another at 11:30 pm), for a total of 28 performances. The tour schedule, which is always subject to change, is included below. Info on how to get tickets for individual shows will reportedly be announced next week sometime and will be posted here once it becomes available.

Prince's Spring 2013 West Coast Tour Dates:

  1. April 15 -- Vancouver, British Columbia @ The Vogue (Early Show)
  2. April 15 -- Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue (Late Show)
  3. April 16 -- Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue (Early Show)
  4. April 16 -- Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue (Late Show)
  5. April 18 -- Seattle, WA @ Showbox (Early Show)
  6. April 18 -- Seattle, WA @ Showbox (Late Show)
  7. April 19 -- Seattle, WA @ Showbox (Early Show)
  8. April 19 -- Seattle, WA @ Showbox (Late Show)
  9. April 23 -- San Francisco, DNA Lounge (Early Show)
  10. April 23 -- San Francisco @ DNA Lounge (Late Show)
  11. April 24 -- San Francisco @ DNA Lounge (Early Show)
  12. April 24 -- San Francisco @ DNA Lounge (Late Show)
  13. April 26 -- Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint (Early Show)
  14. April 26 -- Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint (Late Show)
  15. April 27 -- Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint (Early Show)
  16. April 27 -- Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint (Late Show)
  17. April 30 -- Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee (Early Show)
  18. April 30 -- Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee (Late Show)
  19. May 1 -- Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee (Early Show)
  20. May 1 -- Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee (Late Show)
  21. May 3 -- San Diego, CA @ Hard Rock Hotel (Early Show)
  22. May 3 -- San Diego, CA @ Hard Rock Hotel (Late Show)
  23. May 4 -- San Diego, CA @ Hard Rock Hotel (Early Show)
  24. May 4 -- San Diego, CA @ Hard Rock Hotel (Late Show)
  25. May 7 -- Anaheim, CA @ The Grove (Early Show)
  26. May 7 -- Anaheim, CA @ The Grove (Late Show)
  27. May 8  -- Anaheim, CA @ The Grove (Early Show)
  28. May 8  -- Anaheim, CA @ The Grove (Late Show)

Free R&B: Josh Xantus - 'The Antidote' Mixtape

Wednesday March 20, 2013

Up-and-coming R&B singer-songwriter Josh Xantus, aka Josh X, has been featured on this site a few times, and deservedly so: over the course of the past couple of years, he's shown himself to be one of the better young artists in the game, even if he hasn't yet gotten the acclaim he deserves. But despite being overlooked by many -- or maybe because of it -- he's become very prolific when it comes to writing and recording songs. The case in point is his latest free digital mixtape (actually, it's a full digital album), The Antidote. The 14 songs on the album represent various stages of love and relationships, particularly the trials and tribulations. It's a mostly soft, sensitive collection of songs that's pretty much the antithesis of the shallow, sexually obsessed works that you hear from a lot of male artists these days. Here's what Josh recently had to say when explaining the album's title and content:

"I came up with the concept because I discuss the pain and celebration of love. I wanted to provide an outlet for every listener," he said. "This project is the antidote for their situations."

Among the album's highlights are the beautiful piano composition that kicks the album off (yes, that's Josh himself ticking the ivories), the drama-filled "Wake Me" and "Technology," the melancholy story of a guy who's frustrated by his girl paying more attention to her Facebook, Twitter, iPad and other devices than to him. The full album can be streamed via the top link below and downloaded through the second link.

New Music: John Legend - 'The Beginning'

Tuesday March 19, 2013

If you hadn't heard yet, R&B singer-songwriter John Legend is due to release his fourth studio album, Love in the Future, in the coming months and is planning to launch a world tour in support of the album later this year. And as the release date gets nearer, so does the dropping of the first official single, 'Who Do We Think We Are," which features the rapper Rick Ross. The single's due to officially debut Mon., March 25, 2013, but for those who can't wait that long, Legend has just given us a taste of what to expect on Love in the Future. It's a brand new romantic ballad with the appropriate title of "The Beginning." The song, which was released earlier today, serves as the album's teaser/promo single. On the song, Legend employs his lavish crooning to woo the object of his love and affection:

"Last night was the last night you'll ever spend alone," he sings. 'As soon as I saw you baby, I had plans, Plans to do it 'till we have a baby, even if the world is crazy/So pick some names for your girl, Then we'll change, change the world."

The tune's a straight up, seductive bedroom jam and is somewhat reminiscent of his most recent single, "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)," which appeared on the soundtrack to the Steve Harvey movie "Think Like a Man." No word release date for Love in the Future has been announced yet, but when the full details of the album and accompanying tour become available, they'll be posted right here. In the meantime, you can stream "The Beginning" via the link below.

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