2012: the year of R&B/soul evolution

Posted in music on December 20th, 2012 by urbanguy

PHOTO Karl Walter/Getty DESIGN: Samantha Smith/CBC Music

“As a musical genre, R&B/soul doesn’t seem to get the same love and recognition in the eyes of the mainstream — and hasn’t for what seems like a while now. You can argue that contemporary pop music, with its more-than-liberal borrowing of soul music sensibilities, has made it harder for the straight-up R&B singers to shine in the mainstream commercial spotlight.”

My year-end round up of all things R&B/soul is up over at CBC Music. Miguel, Frank Ocean, the Weeknd: this year was a good year for the genre in the mainstream and this piece reflects that. On to 2013!


Breaking it down with Afrika Bambaataa

Posted in music on December 18th, 2012 by urbanguy

PHOTO (Che Kothari; design by Ben Didier/CBC Music)

Conversing with Afrika Bambaataa, it hits you with the force of an 808 backbeat: the 55-year-old is more than simply a hip-hop veteran.

Afrika Bambaataa is hip-hop.

Considered the godfather of hip-hop and electro-funk — a veritable prime mover — the Bronx native’s contribution to the music and culture informs hip-hop’s global reach. And even in his 50s, he notes there is still so much more to do…

It was great to connect with one of the living legends of hip-hop, the man otherwise known as Afrika Bambaataa. Here’s the CBC Music piece showing how it went down with the “Planet Rock” originator.

Camp Lo still vibing to that Uptown Saturday Night

Posted in general on December 12th, 2012 by urbanguy

True story: I have had the Camp Lo classic track “Luchini (AKA This is It)” as my phone ringtone for as long as I can remember. It’s that timeless.

Hailing from the boogie-down Bronx, the stylish duo known as Camp Lo (Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede) created a certifiable underground hip-hop classic in 1997 with the underrated Uptown Saturday Night. The album’s slavish devotion to the soulful 1970s blaxploitation era, coupled with the duo’s imitable lyrical flow, made the project feel modern and retro all at the same time.

CBC Music’s got my full interview with Geechi Suede of Camp Lo. Didn’t manage to make it to the show this time out but I heard it was alright. 

Concert Review: Patrick Watson dazzled – and giggled — in Toronto

Posted in music on December 7th, 2012 by urbanguy

After touring nonstop for months, you can’t fault Patrick Watson for being a bit giddy during their last stop, at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Adorned with his omnipresent military-styled chapeau, Watson himself apparently couldn’t help the giggling fits that peppered the nearly 90-minute set.

“It’s time for me to go back to my own backyard,” said the Montreal-based frontman from behind his trademark piano.

Caught the Patrick Watson show. Wrote about it for National Post. Read it.

Interview: Buckshot & 9th Wonder

Posted in general on December 3rd, 2012 by urbanguy

As a well-respected producer, the always musically adventurous 9th Wonder is never one to shy away from experimentation. In joining forces with scrappy rap vet Buckshot, the North Carolina-based music maker mashes up his trademark percussion-driven, soul sample-laden production with that street grit, Boot Camp Clik-styled flow. Being that this is their third full-length collaboration, the duo no doubt have the resulting boom-bap down pat. The Solution differs from 9th Wonder’s collaborative series with West coast rapper Murs (whose appropriately titled The Final Adventure was released on the same day), in that the 12-track project maintains a gully, old school feel to Murs’s breezier sensibilities. It’s a gritty, soulful sound that holds The Solutiontogether, seemingly aspiring to be nothing more than “Boot Camp meets Little Brother”: familiar and stress-free for an audience seeking a vintage feel in their hip-hop.

The full interview over at Exclaim! 

A conversation with R&B’s Miguel

Posted in music on December 1st, 2012 by urbanguy

For singer-songwriter Miguel to create a straight-up R&B album, putting forth a specific creative vision that manages to transcend the hip-hop pop swill presently produced by his so-called R&B brethren, yet avoiding coming off as pretentious, is a crowning achievement. The fact that the 11-track project actually warrants Best of Year discussion is nearly a moot point. After operating on the underground R&B fringes with the poorly marketed and criminally overlooked Sure Thing in 2010, Kaleidoscope Dreamgoes for broke. While there are a couple of overly indulgent outings, Kaleidoscope Dream is a statement that Miguel has arrived.

Full interview at Exclaim.ca.


Post Little Brother, Phonte Coleman goes for self

Posted in music on November 16th, 2012 by urbanguy

Phonte (Photo: Chris Charles)

“It was a crazy year, just kind of a transition year for me,” says Phonte over the phone. “I went through a divorce and with the album coming out when it did, it just really it gave me an outlet. I was working and travelling so much, I kind of had a way to keep from going crazy.”

In advance of his Saturday show in Toronto, I chat with the always engaging Phonte to speak on his touring life, his recent “Charity Starts at Home” solo LP and the anticipated 2013 Foreign Exchange album:http://music.cbc.ca/#/blogs/2012/11/Post-Little-Brother-Phonte-Coleman-goes-for-self


Nneka’s Soul is Heavy

Posted in music on October 23rd, 2012 by urbanguy

“Africa has way more to offer than negativity.”

If you like Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu, you’ll probably like Nneka’s latest album “Soul is Heavy.” In advance of her Toronto show on Tuesday, I connect with Nigerian-German rapper-singer Nneka about the album, her musical influences and more: http://music.cbc.ca/#/genres/RB-Soul/blogs/2012/10/Nnekas-Soul-is-Heavy

Brandy’s back with Two Eleven, talks Frank Ocean and Chris Brown

Posted in music on October 20th, 2012 by urbanguy

Even when enduring a no doubt taxing day of media interviews, Brandy is bubbling over with positive energy — infectious, even — when I connect with her over the phone. Through her laughter, jovial tone and honest candour, one quickly gets the sense the soulful singer is truly happy to be part of the R&B conversation once more with the arrival of her new project, Two Eleven — her first in nearly four years.

“I’m so amped about the new album that I can’t even believe it that an album is actually coming out from me. It’s amazing,” the 33-year-old says giddily from Los Angeles.

Full article over at CBC Music.


Brother Ali speaks on new album Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

Posted in music on October 15th, 2012 by urbanguy

In upholding hip-hop’s oft-underplayed element of speaking truth to power, even Brother Ali himself isn’t sure that the current musical climate is ready for his new studio album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color ― an honest, scathing but ultimately buoyant 14-track statement on the current Western world status quo.

“I think they have to be ready. I just make music that reflects how I feel about things,” he says.

Went to the Toronto show. Man this dude is a consummate performer. Peep the full interview with the uber-talented Brother Ali at Exclaim.

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