It's undeniable that the '90s were the decade of the male R&B group. So many groups came to prominence and left an imprint on our music libraries during that 10-year span. Sadly, few made it through the decade unscathed, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a male group from the era that is still together and recording music today. One of the biggest rises and subsequent falls is that of the four-man band Jodeci. These bad boys of R&B had women and men open -- no small feat -- with their bedroom bangers and sexy, street swagger. The average dude could relate to them and the average woman wanted to have relations with them. They showed so much promise with 1991's Forever My Lady and carried it on with their sophomore set Diary of a Mad Band. We couldn't fathom in 1993 that this would both be their second and unfortunately next-to-last album.
What would the Christmas holidays be without another new mix of yuletide soul from our resident Mixologist Keyknow? Well, there's no need to ponder that thought because he's here to stuff your stockings with Soulful Presents: Volume 3, the third in his Soulful Presents series following 2009's original and last year's second volume. With so many soul and R&B artists bringing us tidings of musical joy this year, Keyknow made sure to include new holiday hotness from an array of artists such as Anthony David, K. Michelle, Mary J. Blige, Kem, Brandon Williams and many more to jingle your bells. Press play now and enjoy these Soulful Presents; this is one gift you can unwrap before Christmas.
Keyknow Soulful Presents: Volume 3 [Download][Subscribe in iTunes]
We've already given you the 411 on Eric Roberson's upcoming holiday party concerts at S.O.B.'s on Saturday, December 28th. But what we haven't given you yet are free tickets to the soiree, which our good friends at S.O.B.'s have naturally hooked us up with. What would the holidays be without SoulBounce putting some free concert tickets under your tree? Two NYC Bouncers and their guests will get this lovely present and to spend their Saturday night with Erro and special guests at his annual holiday party. We're giving away a pair of tickets to each show, so enter now before SoulBounce's elves choose the winners. Tickets for the 7:30 pm and 10 pm shows are also on sale now at the S.O.B.'s box office or online at TicketWeb.
Leela James has a lot going on right now. She balances her music career and motherhood fairly effortlessly and is gearing up for the release of her new album at the beginning of the year. As if that weren't enough, the soulful diva just recently joined the cast of TV One's R&B Divas: LA. If that's not a full plate, then I don't know what is. But she's not letting any of it phase her, at least not if her video for her single "Say That" is any indication. In it, she looks as easy, breezy and beautiful as a CoverGirl model as she and the song's guest Anthony Hamilton lay down vocals for the track and have an all out party in the studio before they steal away for some alone time at the pier. And, though "Say That" is technically a love song, it's obvious that the love that's on display here is purely platonic. Get a glimpse of Leela in "Say That" right here and prepare to see much more of her in the coming year.
A new season of American Idol starts up in a few weeks, but before we get caught up in the search for next season's winner let's not forget about last season's winner Candice Glover. Fresh from the release of her debut single "Cried" last month, Candice releases the music video for the song and it's a very sobering affair. The black-and-white clip features Candice looking beautiful but stoic while a tumultuous scene plays out between a husband and wife. He's yelling at her to go tend to her crying baby, how he didn't want to have a child in the first place and other assorted nonsense before he flips the dinner table in a violent fit of rage. Through flashback we see the couple in happier times -- during the birth of their daughter, imagine that -- where the husband looks very happy to be a new dad. Unfortunately this Ashy Larry's true colors soon show, and the marriage takes a turn for the worse. With Candice providing an empowering soundtrack, the wife finds the strength to leave this life of marital strife behind. On its own the song, written by Jazmine Sullivan, is powerful and so is Candice's delivery, but coupled with the video it's all pretty depressing.
In the midst of the holiday hustle n' bustle and end-of-the-year reflections, in the back of my mind I'm aware that 2014 will be yet another year that is to be fruitful with music. Like the nerd I am, I've already got a running mental check-list of what to expect and now happily I can add to the list the Chicago collective known as Sidewalk Chalk, as they too will be joining the flow of next year's aural blueprint. This week they announced plans for Leaves, their follow-up album to last year's critical darling, Corner Store, and the octet didn't waste precious time unveiling the project's introductory single. Still retaining their unique spin of jazz and hip hop, "There She Goes" is familiar Sidewalk Chalk territory, and while the hodge-podge sound can be overwhelming and uneven, not a dull moment is to be had once you plug in and take in the funky Latin piano that adds a little zip to their eclectic sound stew. While we wait for the Leaves to fall down on February 25th, Sidewalk Chalk are currently offering "There She Goes" for free of charge, so get to downloading before you're left out in the dust.
Our main man Zo! has had an awesome 2013, and that is thanks in part to the release of his stellar album ManMade. The project also afforded him the opportunity to tour behind it, and he hit a few major cities. During his stop Las Vegas, Zo! allowed the cameras of Suite Sessions to film him and his band (which includes singer Carmen Rodgers, drummer Tim Scott, bassist Darion Alexander, guitarist Zach Cutler and Saxappeal on, well, saxophone) before, during and after the show. The result is this 45-minute doc which gives us some insight into not only the tour, but also Zo! and crew's creative process. As we here at SB already know, Zo! is a fascinating (and funny) guy and we're glad to share this documentary with you so that he can become a friend in your head, too. Tuck in and listen to Zo! wax on about his music, his colleagues and "jheri curl jams" right here.
Gladys Knight is truly the Empress of Soul. Her voice shows a command over the genre that few possess. From her days with The Pips to her solo outings, Gladys has always captured the hearts and souls of the masses, and her music leaves such an imprint. What people may not know about the soul superstar is that she is also a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur. She opens her life up to fans with a new one-hour special, Knight Life with Gladys, airing December 28th at 10 pm EST on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. In the special, Gladys details the pressures of balancing meeting her family's needs with the demands of being a living legend, recording a new album, being on tour and opening a restaurant. Watch the first five minutes of Knight Life with Gladys right here and see her riding a scooter, having a spirited discussion with her husband/manager in the kitchen and a cameo from her feisty brother Bubba Knight. With all that she has going on, Gladys Knight is truly a "Superwoman" that we can all admire.
Out of all of the Christmas tunes churned out yearly, there is one song that I rarely ever like to hear remade. The boundless amount of warmth and soul emitted in the original recording of Donny Hathaway's 1970 Hot 100 holiday hit "This Christmas" rarely ever plays out well when it is attempted by other artists. But this year finds Chris Turner banning together with the soulmen behind many of Bilal Oliver's strongest moments, Steve Mckie and Corey Bernhard, and offering up the greatest rendition I've heard in years. Rather than mimicking the original version verbatim, Turner and friends dig deep to share an authentic and refreshing take. Chris dropped this holiday treat on his Bandcamp page last night and attached an extra special note. "I was born on Christmas and I always used to crave the gifts galore. Now as a father I just crave the love and joy of togetherness and the season. And what better way to get love, than to give love." We couldn't agree more.
I'm sure by now, with five days to go until the holiday, you guys are about as tired of listening to Christmas music as I am of writing about it. But I'm sure you can make room in your already stuffed stocking for this one. On Monday, December 23rd, Queen Latifah will be going all in on the holiday spirit and filing that day's edition of her talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, with her favorite Christmas music. Because she's so hip hop, she kicks off the set with Run DMC's often overlooked classic "Christmas in Hollis." And while the hip-hop icon plays the role of Run, she brings out none other than Darryl "DMC" McDaniels to drop his verse for the track. If you want to get in on the Queen's holiday celebration, then tune in to her show when it airs Monday (be sure to check your local listings). But to get a preview of what to expect, watch Latifah and DMC shut it down Christmas style right here.