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To be lauded as a legend is one thing, but what good are kudos if you can’t even drive freely down the road you paved? As much as we revere Lil’ Kim —and as much success as she’s enjoyed— those who came after her are the ones who truly benefited from the fruits of her labor. If you’re having doubts, just look at Nicki Minaj’s massive crossover appeal. But Lil’ Kim was also ahead of her time musically, and one album stands above all others.
When The Notorious K.I.M. was first released, there were certain songs that I loved. And I still love them, starting with “Suck My Dick,” which still feels like the perfect response to the street harassment many women contend with from idiotic men. There’s also the title track, which snatches Foxy Brown bald within the first minute. There are others, but many of the tracks were not that fierce – exactly why I didn’t completely get the album as a whole. It was not nearly as gritty as her debut, Hardcore, or her work with Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Such was Kim’s intent.

After the success of her first album, it was clear that Kim had a bigger budget to work with and a larger vision for herself. That resulted in bigger wigs, more expensive looking videos, and far more polish. The Notorious K.I.M. fell victim to several leaks –even more surprising given it was the very late 1990s– which resulted in the album’s release date being pushed back several times. This was partially to combat the bootlegged tracks that found their way to mixtapes, fan Web sites, and the radio— but also to deal with the mounting criticism over a more commercial sound.

In April 2000, Entertainment Weekly wrote about the delays facing The Notorious K.I.M. and quoted one “well-known hip-hop publicist” complaining about the dozen tracks that had already leaked, saying, “It’s very pop and doesn’t have a street edge. People are going to think, ‘Who are you trying to be, Lil’ Kim or Mandy Moore?”’ Now, name that female rapper who has had to deal with similar complains in this decade (*cough* Nicki *cough*). Then compare the success of her pop tracks with the pop offerings Kim dropped 15 years ago.

Some of these tracks – including her cover of Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” with RuPaul – did not make the final cut. And part of Lil’ Kim’s additional recording did add more of a “street edge” to the final product. Still, Kim’s sophomore effort remained a glossier and far more commercial affair. Some of it was done quite cleverly, a la “How Many Licks” featuring Sisqó, which samples the theme from the TV series Knight Rider. Others, like the Pat Benatar-sampling “Don’t Mess With Me” and the album’s lead single, “No Matter What They Say,” were more overt.

Read the rest at VH1 Music.

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Early in her career, Janet Jackson’s music reflected a more demure approach towards sexuality. She was essentially a cross between Donna Martin on the original 90210 and Khia’s “Snatch The Cat Back,” if you will. Then came the janet. album (a personal favorite) where she effectively turned that cherry out. It is a personal favorite of mine because it encompassed both Janet’s social consciousness and her burgeoning sexuality. Ever since that album, Damita Jo continued to provide us sex jam after sex jam. So, in honor of her and her new sensual single, “No Sleeep,” I’m reflecting on my favorite sex songs from Our Lady of The Butterfly.

They are not ranked in any particular order, so feel free to pull your knifes back.

“Would You Mind,” All For You

 I’m almost certain I am not allowed to recite the majority of these lyrics of this song, but let me just say, there’s no finer example of how arousing a whisper and coo can be when they’re executed correctly.

“Warmth,” Damita Jo

If “Would You Mind” could reproduce, it would be “Warmth.” They’re both similar in structure, theme, and delivery, but I give not a single damn. If I can love Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande, I can love both of these songs, too.

If you’re wondering, “Moist” from this same album is the second cousin of “Would You Mind.”

“Twenty Foreplay,” Design of a Decade: 1986-1996

Pardon me, but I’m about to get a lil’ mushy here. So, the beginning of this underrated gem is very lullaby-ish and full of the sort of lovey dovey language Drake wants to have with the southern strippers who always seem to let him down. Say, my favorite line from the song, “When you wake and your smile meets mine, my day begins. You’re my inspiration. Seeing your face glow is the nicest of hellos.”

For me, when love and sex intersect, the latter is when its best. I know, I know: I sound like Mariah Carey. In any event, midway through the song, the real love themes switch to raunchiness and Janet makes the following command: “Ya made love to mind, now you gotta take me from behind.” This song is everything. Y’all best start appreciating it more.

“The Body That Loves You,” janet.

This song, like “Twenty Foreplay,” is a mix of the sentimental and sensual. And like “Twenty Foreplay,” I don’t think “The Body That Loves You” is spoken of enough.

“These are the hands that’ll touch you. These are the lips that’ll kiss you. These are the arms that’ll hold you.”

And this is the writer that’ll get you to pay homage.

Read the rest at VH1 Music.

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Less than 60 seconds into Trina’s debut album, the high-pitched rapper squeaked the following declaration: “This ain’t no bullshit I’m selling you.” By the end of the song, Trina says, “You ain’t heard? Fuck nigga, I’m da baddest bitch.” It’s a talking point that carried over to the next song and title track, “Da Baddest Bitch.” It’s also a talking point that’s followed Trina for her entire rap career.

In an Entertainment Weekly review of the album, Trina is described as “nasty as Lil’ Kim used to be” and celebrated for positioning herself as “the new queen of randy hip-hop tales in which sex is a contact sport played by rival genders.” The review was an A-, though while I’m not sure where that ranking stands today, the album is surely memorable to many all the same.

To this day, I can still gleefully recite the lines, “X-Rated/Elevated/Buttnaked/And I’d probably fuck your daddy if ya mammy wasn’t player hating.” The one about “letting him eat it while my period on,” too, even if it’s not applicable.

To this day, I regret not following Trina’s advice: “I got game for young hoes/Don’t grow to be a dumb ho, that’s a no-no/See if you off the chains/Stay ahead of the game, save up buy a condo.” It surely beats the student loan debt I’ve amassed for a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.

To this day, I will listen to “Off the Chain With It,” “Ain’t Shit,” “Off Glass,” and “Bitch I Don’t Need You” with as much excitement as I did when I first heard them in high school. To this day, you cannot convince me that “Pull Over” is not one of the best-written songs in American history.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Da Baddest Bitch, and on the heels of that anniversary comes news that she has signed a new record deal that will be a joint venture with her own label, Rockstarr Music Group.

Trina’s commercial success has never been as sizable as her contemporaries like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown. They were multi-platinum successes with their respective debut albums whereas Da Baddest Bitch went gold. Her follow-ups continued to net sales within that frame, and yet, despite never being as huge a draw as any of them in their prime, she is musically more viable than they are in 2015. The same goes for Trick Daddy, who initially introduced us to Trina in 1998 by way of “Nann Nigga.”

Yes, Lil’ Kim can still command me and others in an arena to recite her classics line for line, but when her remixes to today’s hits play, the audience channels Helen Keller and Beeker from The Muppets.

Read the rest at Complex Music.

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Ever since I became aware of what an Ariana Grande was, I’ve been enamored. I love her new single “The Way” with Mac Miller. Musically, the song gives me teases of white Ashanti and Ja Rule from a voice that probably makes Mariah Carey want to nest on the blood of a youth ala The Snow Queen from Snow White and the Huntsmen. Ariana might not match the might of Mariah Carey’s voice before the cigarettes and chardonnay did their damage, but she definitely has the kind of chops that make you take notice.

Listen to this.

And this.

Usually when I hear someone try to pull off a Mariah Carey song, within seconds I have to rush to hear the real thing the way God intended. With Ariana, I at least want to wait half a minute. Gon’, girl. That is impressive. No one can top vintage Mariah, but to be able to pull off a cover of one of her songs that well says a lot about Ariana’s talent and potential. Now someone needs to tell her to cover Mimi’s “Honey.”

Check this one out, too. So this is what Rihanna’s songs sound like when someone who genuinely cares about singing is performing them? To Rih-Rih’s credit, though, she has the attitude to pull off the track better. Be that as it may, consider me a fan of Ariana. I’ve already given her $1.29 for “The Way” and I just gave her another for “Baby I.”

I’m ready to give her more so long as she keeps singing good songs with that fantastic voice.

I feel as though Ariana Grande will be what Christina Aguilera was supposed to be. “The Way” reminds me of X-Tina tracks like “Come On Over (All I Want Is You)” and “When You Put Your Hands On Me.” Those songs had an obvious flirtation and underlying sexual tone in the case of the latter, but it wasn’t full out freaktastic. You know, ala “Dirrty” in which Christina is rolling around in the mud and humping the wrestling mat.

I don’t mind Christina wanting to sing about the sex, but I do take issue with her singing like the choir director of Alcide’s wolfpack on True Blood. She doesn’t even sound the same anymore as a result of all those banshee cries — and then has the nerve to drop back to back lengthy albums full of fillers.

While distraught Christina Aguilera fans continue to pray for the future of her music career and throat, I want to additionally send out good vibes to Ariana Grande. May you continue to control your voice while building its ability and keep your music fun and bop-friendly. For you are the future. Amen.

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So this happened. At first I couldn’t figure out why this deranged 12-year-old from 1996 was randomly tweeting me a threat. Then it hit me that it was probably the post I wrote about Lil’ Kim the other day. Or it could’ve been this post. Or this one. Or that one. Maybe the piece I wrote for last year. Whatever it was, clearly this crazy sum’bitch to become quite upset with me.

When in the business of speaking your shit to earn your supper, you get used to be told that you ain’t shit, ain’t ever been shit, will likely never be shit or are a piece of shit in return. It’s the circle of shit, if you will. When I was writing political pieces every week for, I routinely got emails from cranky conservative white people who saw me as Assata Shakur’s long lost ornery son — and in some cases her ornery gay ass Black ass son. Insert more racism and all sorts of vileness here. I’ve also had numerous insults directly sent to me within this space and all of the other various places my writing has appeared.

So I’m used to people having words for me, though none have ever been on some “stay inside fo’ I kill you, bitch” sentiment.

After I saw this post, I initially thought to say something like “Fuck you, fuck the bitch that bred you, and fuck whoever didn’t lock up their wifi, which outlawed your Internet thug ass to keyboard goon.” I opted not to, because well, it’s not worth it. In fact, I feel bad for anyone who not only makes a celebrity the centerpiece of their life – to the point where they want to inflict bodily harm on a complete stranger if someone speaks ill of them – but does so for a celebrity who star is more faded than a pair of acid wash jeans from 1986.

Whoever didn’t hug that ridiculous, jello-nose loving asshole in his or her youth, you failed us all. All that said, fuck this idiot. Before I ended up making fun of this psycho in real time on my timeline, I definitely reported their tweets to Twitter directly. I went outside this weekend and will be outside tomorrow and every day thereafter, but anyone so stupid enough to make a traceable threat for the world to see is not worthy of the service.

Even gang members and drug dealers on social media use codes. How do you have the nerve to be both dumb or crazy? You can only be one or the other. There is no sense in trying to overcompensate when it comes to flaws.

I like Kimberly Jones, circa before all this bullshit happened, and I wish her and her Batman-villain manufactured body well. But rest assured, if she’s doing something ridiculous and/or awful and I am so inclined to write about it, I will continue to.

God bless you, too, motherfucker.

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Like Anderson Cooper, who is the vanilla spice latte to my caramel macchiato, soy with sugar-free vanilla sweetener, my nerves were also on swole following the manufactured controversy his network has since christened “Beyoncé-gate.” There are only so many varying ways to say to the simpletons and sensationalists “I hate you, Jody,” but thankfully, I have a troubled childhood and a silver medal in shade (we can always be better) that helps in moments such as these.

Please, please get into my latest column for “The Weekly Read” over at entitled “To Those Baffled Over Beyoncé.” Part of this is just your garden variety Beytheists being typical losers, but it’s more so the 24-hour news cycle that’s at fault. Hate it all with me by clicking here, why don’t you?


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Of all the music I used to boost from my older sister, Xscape is one of the acts that I would listen to, but in hindsight didn’t appreciate enough when they were actively releasing music. I knew their songs and liked enough of them, but in year’s past when the conversation of the best of the 1990s would come up, Xscape wasn’t one of the groups that I’d immediately point to. Forgive me, for I have sinned. As a longtime lover of the girl group, I have to right this wrong because now that I’m older I see how much Xscape’s catalog has aged better than many of their peers at the time.

I own all of TLC’s albums, but what always bothered me about them collectively was that after a while it seemed like they kept singing about the same limp dick man who not only couldn’t fuck, but then had the nerve to cheat, too. It was just like, “Okay, girl, then dump his ass already and go back to recording songs like ‘Let’s Do It Again.'” By the time 3D was released and TLC dropped “Girl Talk,” I couldn’t do it anymore. Seriously, y’all are like 30 still sounding like my old high school classmates giggling about sucking football player dick over cheese-drenched chicken strips and french fries during A lunch.

And as much as I adore En Vogue and their vocal talents, I can only now listen to about two songs from Born To Sing and maybe half of Funky Divas. I’d love for them to finally get their act together and record new music — proving that they, like SWV, can continue making music as strong now as it was as their debut 20 years ago. But apparently Solomon split the baby in half yet neglected to tell them it’s not 1992 anymore so enough people don’t give a damn, so oh well.

Speaking of En Vogue, didn’t some folks try to portray Xscape as En Vogue if En Vogue got hit with a bag of nickels or something? Way harsh, Tai, and totally not true for all parties involved. Yes, this is such a shallow side note, but I really needed to get that out.

Anyway, Off The Hook and Traces of My Lipstick remain gems. Why not give us an SWV-like reunion and a few spot dates since Dawn is too busy telling Terri Ellis that she ain’t ever been shit (paraphrasing)? I know since half the members can’t stand each other this probably will never happen. What a pity, though. Tiny’s voice is impeccable and I miss hearing it. Also, Kandi sounded less petrified singing with the group versus her solo work. I like Kandi, but I bet a few of you know what I mean.

She’s got the Marsha Ambrosius, a term I coined to describe haunted house vibrato. Plus after her solo deal fell through, LaTocha Scott was never given a proper platform to show off all that weight loss. I don’t remember much about her sister, but you know, bring her back, too.

I should note that I forgot the group did indeed try to reunite once, minus Kandi a couple of years ago. I’m assuming that stranger in the photo is that The Real Housewives of Jesus cast member who recently said she used to be in Xscape before marrying a worker bee of the Lord. She can stay with the tabernacle while the real members of Xscape do their thing.

Can you imagine? They could get a subplot on a future season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I can already see NeNe Baloo saying, “I liked SWV and The Pointer Sisters much more than Xscape!” while rocking some extra long finger nails to their rehearsal. Then someone has to hold Tocha back from turning the show into Love & Hip Hop Upside Your Head.

So yeah, can y’all consider doing a lil’ something for  me, please? Tiny proved that her jig is intact, so now I need to hear those voices. I’d love to hear your cover of “All This Love,” plus “In The Rain,” “Softest Place on Earth,” “Who Can I Run To?” & “Can’t Hang.”

Pretty please?

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If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing Tamar Braxton’s showcase in full, take a gander now before the man snatches it down. It’s already happened once before, so get your life fast. Should you miss it again, you can click here to watch her perform her first single in full. I ripped the audio and added it to my iPod days ago.

RELATED: Back Then Braxtons

Like a good Tamartian, I bought “Love & War” the second I knew that it was out. As I’ve said repeatedly here, I adore Tamar’s voice and want her to attain the musical success her talent deserves. I won’t lie about initially preferring an uptempo for her first release ala “Hot Sugar,” but I have to admit that it makes far more sense to go this route. “Love & War” is a gorgeous song that highlights Tamar’s abilities and follows the narrative set on the first season of Tamar & Vince. I didn’t like watching them bicker week after week, but it made for a great song.

Now, I do wonder how Keyshia Cole feels about this. “Love & War” is the Mary Kate to “Trust & Believe’s” Ashley Olsen. I’d be a little vexed to know that a producer I worked with wasted no time offering a lookalike version of the track to another singer, especially once who is like the Mariah to my Millie Jackson. Then again, Keyshia’s “Shoulda Let You Go” is a clone of Mary J. Blige’s “Enough Cryin’.”

tamar braxton gif, tamar braxton attitude

Oh well.

Anyway, I’m so happy for Tamar. Regardless if you can’t take all that personality, she sings beautifully. I really, really want her to do well. I’m tired of people going out of their way to say that she’ll enjoy the kind of fame Toni Braxton had in the 1990s. That’s akin to telling someone that the sky is blue, grass is green, and asses look better the rounder they are. We know, bitch.

MORE: He Want That “Hot Sugar”

No, Tamar Braxton will never sell the number of records her sister did. Minus an anomaly like Adele and not many artists can even conceive of coming close in the digital age. To be fair, as big a fan as I am of Toni, she wouldn’t even be able to attain the kind of success she enjoyed back then. For better or worse (okay: worse), the pendulum has shifted. The sort of big voice, genuine love songs, and you know, R&B moments we had during the peak of Toni’s popularity don’t exist now. Fortunately, there are people trying to bring it back — Baby Sis Braxton among them.

I love that she has so many things going on. It’s a testament to not letting go of your dreams, particularly when you have a sponsor and a connect. And no, that is not a read or shade or any kind of slickness. That is envy, dammit. I’m not mad about Tamar at all. She inspires me. Just yesterday I played “Hot Sugar” in the car and told my oldest niece that I plan to keep popping like that at 35. By the way, after hearing the song in full, it sort of gives “Beyoncé’s older sister wants to bop, too,” no? Heaven I need a video.

Alright, enjoy the showcase and rejoice all ye Tamartians…and keep buying her single.

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‘Twas love at first bop when I heard the snippet of Tamar Braxton’s “Hot Sugar.” It has since become my new obsession. I’ve already made an mp3 of the 30 second clip and added it to my iPod. I spent much of today’s workout fighting the urge to full out pop it, pop it, pop it to the song, which I set to loop. I failed for the most part. What can I say? Can’t stop, must bop. Then drop.

I need this song in full in my life. As soon as humanly possible preferably. Is it not amazing? Yes, the answer is yes. “Hot Sugar” is everything I look for in a track: Good vocals, a bounce-inducing beat, and just the right amount of innuendo.

Speaking of vocals, I swear I can listen to anything Tamar Braxton wants to sing. Her voice is so gorgeous.

See? Get your life. Now bring it back to “Hot Sugar.”

I went out of my way to tell people that they must listen to this snippet. My friend Alex said it was cute for her, but wondered what sound the littlest Braxton was going for. I didn’t have a concrete answer at the time, but I think I’ve got it now.

Tamar’s sound is going to be “Auntie’s still got it.” Tamar would probably prefer I describe it as “younger big sis who continues to catch the beat.” Either or.

MORE: Back Then Braxtons

I’m not mad at that angle, though. I’ve already started contemplating taking up bikram yoga so I can stay as limber as possible. Like Tamar, I’m not giving up the uptempo life in my 30s.

I can see it now:

Oh shit. That’s my song. Let’s hit the dance floor. Wait, wait. Let me stretch.



Okay, bitches. Let’s go.

I wonder how many stereotype alarms I just set off? Y’all can write my ticket and leave it in the comments section.

In any event, get into this. Get into it now. And dammit, I need my Tamar Braxton sophomore album already. I can only sing “Words,” “Can’t Nobody,” “No Disrespect,” and “You Don’t Know” for so long (12 years to be exact).

By the way, my name is Michael and I’m a Tamartian.


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As a rule of thumb, I tend to look at pledges that a posthumous album release is rooted in the pursuit to “preserve the artist’s legacy” as utter bullshit. Chances are if an artist has a vault of unreleased music its owners are considering reworking and putting up for sale, said artist already has a pretty damn great legacy. It’s usually more about money, or in the case of Drake, ego.

Given he has her face tattooed on his back, her birthday tattooed on his side (in a double entendre of a tattoo), and published a sincere but nevertheless creepy letter to her dead spirit that addressed her by her middle name (as if his ass was the Salt to her Pepa), it’s pretty apparent that Drake just wanted to say he had a song with Aaliyah.

Fine, but let’s all say what it is. Aaliyah fans want more music. The label wants to make whatever money it can off our desire. Drake, an almost The Bodyguard like stan, wanted to do a track with the person he claims he was “truly in love” with despite never, ever knowing.

Some of you might even find that sweet in a Yolanda Saldivar’s dream realized kind of way, though it’s still kind of narcissistic.  That’s why when I first heard this song I closed my eyes and smiled thinking about how nice it was to finally hear new Aaliyah. That feeling subsided the second I heard Drake’s verse. I used to be so into this guy after he dropped So Far Gone. Somewhere along the way his revenge of the nerds tinged rap started to irk me.

People have waited a decade for new Aaliyah in some fashion, and the first time we hear just that, not only are you on the song, Aubrey, you’re going out of your way to diss Chris Brown on the song about his record sales.

I understand that Drake is essentially the outsider who managed to find his way in and that he remains a target, hence the defensive attitude. However, Drake often brings the ridicule on himself. See: Dissing Chris Brown on the first fucking new Aaliyah song we’ve heard in 10 damn years.


Get over yourself. Even if you remove that line from the equation, as one music writer I enjoy put it on Twitter:


No lie, no lie, no lie-e-e-i-e-ie.

Not only is it annoying to hear was Drake’s ass constantly asking, “Yo, wassup?” in the background of Aaliyah’s song to remind us that he’s on it, his actual rap conveys the kind of sentiments Aaliyah probably wouldn’t co-sign on her song. Such a devout fan should know such a thing, no?

He probably does, but identity crisis’ are a bitch.

But we get it, Drake? You are helping executive produce. You, you, and yours. I don’t find Drake being at the helm of the project  to be a bad idea in theory. Not entirely sure yet to what extent the producer 40 contributed made to this song and others forthcoming, but from a label’s perspective seeking a more current rapper/producer duo to sell material makes sense.

I could even see 40 and Aaliyah’s styles meshing (as on this very song), but I don’t want an hour of “Marvin’s Room,” or as I like to call it, “I’m going to call my dad if you don’t stop snooping around my bushes music.”

Meanwhile, it’s pretty reasonable for most longtime Aaliyah fans to associate Timbaland and Missy with Aaliyah and prefer they take the reigns any posthumous release from her despite not being so heavy handed on her third album. A third album that I love to this day, but wasn’t doing well before her death, and a third album whose biggest single was still produced by Timbaland. Not to mention another fan favorite on the track was penned by Missy.

Maybe it’s not completely realistic to feel only those two should be at the helm (though I think it’s more of a natural fit and less offensive for a posthumous release), but totally understandable why it’s a popular opinion. And for the record, people who like to point out the obvious, it’s not so much that Aaliyah didn’t want to work with Timbaland on her third album so much as Timbaland had some issues with her label. He ultimately gave two tracks, and as previously noted, we see how well those went.

We mustn’t antagonize for the hell of it.

In any event, I read that they will have some involvement, so alls well that ends well. I can’t wait to hear what comes next, but I sincerely hope whatever sounds do come from a new Aaliyah album, the people behind them remember to make it about her. You get that, Aubrey?

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