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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Collaborations are always a fun aspect in any genre, but I think ’90s/’00s R&B had some particularly great examples of artists coming together and creating some one-off wonders.  There are a whole host of excellent tracks which highlight this idea, but I’d say that some of the best of these efforts were between male hip-hop artists and female R&B artists.  This set-up of one male, one female allowed for sometimes sugary, romantic numbers, but just as easily lent themselves to some all-out sleazy vibes.  The male hip-hop star and female R&B/pop singer collaboration is one that lives on into the 2010s, and it tends to go down very well – however, I firmly maintain the glory days are those of Ja Rule doing collaborations with pretty much every female artist going, living it large.

I don’t think there’s any point in denying that there is a whole lot of misogyny and over-sexualisation of women in ’90s/’00s R&B and hip-hop (B2K, I love you, but these lyrics are a wee bit questionable), but if Robin Thicke has taught us anything this year, it’s that pop music in general has a tendency to be pretty sexist.  Luckily for this era of R&B, ladies like Destiny’s Child and TLC kept the girl power going – but that’s a topic for another post.  For now, here are seven (sometimes a little bit sexist) classics of male-female duets, rooted in ’90s/’00s R&B:

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Anyone familiar with Snoop Dogg’s recent foray into the reggae world under the moniker of Snoop Lion will be forgiven for being wary when approaching his latest guise: Snoopzilla, a name assumed in tribute to funk legend, Bootsy “Bootzilla” Collins. Taking on another alter-ego might sound a concerning decision to some of the hip-hop star’s fans but, given Snoop’s spectacular G-Funk roots, a collaborative album with exquisite musician and producer, Dâm Funk, makes more sense than you might first think. As Snoop put it when discussing the collaboration, “We’re the babies of the Mothership. I’ve had funk influences in my music my whole career.”

The sincere enthusiasm for paying homage to the artists of Parliament-Funkadelic is palpable and, unlike the jarring sound of Snoop’s attempts at reggae, the music showcased on 7 Days of Funk is actually sublime. With that said, while the name promises straight-up funk, this is really best considered as a hip-hop album. With smooth vibes, the occasional flourish of beautiful guitar grooves, bouncing beats and vocals that switch seamlessly between slick bars and velvety R&B crooning, it doesn’t seem too hyperbolic to say this album is very much a return to form for Snoop. Again, there isn’t really enough in the way of full-on seductive bass sounds to truly consider this as a proper funk album, but the G-funk vibes are very much in evidence and it’s a delight to listen to.

Opening with the propulsive beats of ‘Hit Da Pavement’, there is a discernibly slick sound to the music which has something of an early 2000s R&B style to it. The sultry backing track is complemented perfectly by the soulful vocals from Dâm Funk and Snoop’s standard nonchalant drawl. Let It Go is a sugary, little romantic number which, again, seems to be nodding to sparse 2000s R&B as much as to cosmic funk, right up until a guitar starts jamming luxuriously in the background. In spite of the swathes of honeyed synths and harmonised vocals, Ride falls a bit short of the rest of the album, with a somewhat sub-par verse from Kurupt.

Lead single ‘Faden Away’ is full of sleazy vibes and an eastern sound to the catchy synth lines, while ‘1question’ (featuring funk star Steve Arrington) is a fast-paced, exciting jive with the refrain of “I just got one question to ask / do you love me?”.  Indeed, surprisingly, the album as a whole is quite heavy on the love songs, like the particularly sweet ‘I’ll Be There 4U’ — though, with lyrics like “Let me get you to the funk, girl”, it becomes apparent that the love this LP is expressing is not in fact adulation for a prospective lover, but adoration for the genre of funk itself.

This is easily the best thing Snoop has released in years. As far as Funk goes, it falls pretty far from the Mothership, but then if Bootsy et al were making music today, you have to suspect that their output might not be too far from 7 Days of Funk.

Originally published in tn2 Magazine

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I am, as ever, somewhat behind in terms of what is going on in the blogging world, but a few days ago the long list for the UK Blog Sound of 2014 was revealed.  With 59 UK-based blogs voting this year, the idea of the list is to give an alternative to the “BBC Sound of” list, which offers an insight into the cumulative tastes of various bloggers and the artists they are most excited about.  Given that the Blog Sound list is always an great look into emerging music – the 2011 list contained Alt-J and Bastille, neither of whom were mentioned in the BBC list that year – and also given that I voted in the poll myself, I thought it was only fitting to post the long list here.

The shortlist, with the winner and runners up, will be revealed on January 2nd.  You can keep up to date on Twitter by following #blogsound2014

I’ll give more insightful thoughts on the list, along with letting you know who my votes went to, in January when the top three are revealed.  For now, here is the long list and a list of the blogs who voted, along with some music, all of which is very much worth listening to – some exquisite and exciting vibes in here.

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