The New Edition Story

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Last night, the New Edition Story debuted on BET. I always wanted to know what happened behind the scenes with the New Edition R&B music group. The original New Edition members consist of Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe, and Michael Bivins. Johnny Gill joins the music group later. Back in the 80’s, we didn’t have the internet. So, we would hear rumors about what was going on. We see their humble beginnings growing up in the projects. You can see the budding attitudes and egos emerging in youth. We got a chance to see how the boys’ mothers react to their success. It was a pleasure to finally see Lisa Nicole Carson back on the screen. She has been away from the movie industry due to personal issues. The only critique I have so far is that the young boys cast to play Ricky and Ralph should have been switched. Ricky Bell looks more like Ralph Tresvant to me.

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(From Left to Right: Ralph Tresvant, Mike Bivins, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown)

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Lisa Nicole Carson plays Ricky Bell’s mother.

Their manager, Brook, did the best he could helping the boys prepare for talent shows. As the boys’ success grew, the mothers voted Brook out due to issues with the contract. Brook really loved the boys and wanted to see them successful. The producer, Maurice Starr, played by Faizon Love is to blame for the boys not getting paid. The mothers were literally given a check for $1.87, after the tour. New Edition had a number one song and they were still living in the projects. It saddens me to see stories like this where these 70s and 80s music artists are duped out of millions of dollars, due to shifty contracts. And, unfortunately, New Edition was a victim to this.

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(From left to right: Luke James stars as Johnny Gill, Elijah Kelley stars as Ricky Bell, Keith Powers stars as Ronnie DeVoe, Algee Smith stars Ralph Tresvant, Woody McClain stars as Bobby Brown and Bryshere Y. Gray stars as Michael Bivins.)

I’ve been a fan of all the guys for years. And, I’ve also followed their solo careers. I remember playing my Heartbreak cassette tape nonstop. In my youth, I had a little crush on Bobby Brown. He was confident, energetic and feisty on stage. He was an awesome entertainer. And, Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD) rocked! In my opinion, BBD was so ahead of their time.  Today, we are still rocking to their song “Poison”. And, Ralph Tresvant’s song “Sensitivity” still gives me the giddy school girl feels. And, Johnny Gill’s juicy voice still gives me chills. I plan to continue watching the miniseries for the next 2 nights. Will you join me?

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Check out a couple of my favorites songs by New Edition, Bobby Brown, and BBD.

‘Blood’ Album Review

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Overall, this album feels like a travel album. It feels better when you are traveling geographically or through the journey of emotions. Here is what I think; track by track review.

Unstoppable – this track eases up on me and makes me feel like a bird flying inches away from the ocean toward the shiny horizon. Dramatic, I know. But, that is the vision I get while listening to this track. It’s smooth and it just makes me feel invincible. Transcendent. This track is so powerful. I must put it on my ‘Encouraging’ music playlist on Spotify.

Green & Gold – this track I really appreciate so much. It’s damn near perfection. Here we have a touch of horns but it’s such a gentle touch that it doesn’t overpower Lianne’s voice. She shares with us her experience of being in Jamaica. This one seems so personal.

What You Don’t Do – this track makes me think of the girl groups from the 60’s where the background singers do their cute 2 step. I really enjoyed this one. It’s such a different approach to the topic of love and how it’s not just about what you do but what you don’t do that determines the depth of love. I love it.

Tokyo – this track gives me such a sweet 80’s music vibe. That bass gave me everything I needed in this one.

Wonderful – I promise you this one will be featured in a movie if it hasn’t already. I love it so much. I played with different scenes in my mind while listening to this track. The piano is angelic. The strings..what can I say?! I’m running out of words to describe this song. It’s a thing of beauty. And, I loved how Lianne approached this song just as the song is…delicately. I can listen to this track over and over. I never tire of its angelic presence.

Midnight – I love horns. I just wasn’t used to all the instruments used in this track. It was both overwhelming and refreshing at the same time. I guess I’ve gotten used to enjoying Lianne’s voice in the forefront of her music. All the instruments used drained out her beautiful voice. The ‘Blood Solo’ EP got this one right with just Lianne and the guitar.

Grow – I love her highs and lows. This track has a touch of a country vibe to it.  Toward the end this one goes into a chant that empowers me with words like, “turn up for this love; got nothing to hide if you get this feeling.”

Ghost – this track’s lyrics are beautiful along with that acoustic guitar.

Never Get Enough – this track has the best of both worlds acoustic and rock. I know that sounds crazy but it works so well. While you listen to the acoustic side you yearn for the rock side and vice versa. It works! I love it.

Good Goodbye – this quiet track is a great ending to a journey I love to travel with Lianne. While listening to this one I see a movie montage with a couple saying goodbye. That is what this track is; a sweet loving goodbye.

I give this album 4 stars out of 5.

 

Black Messiah (Album Review)

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I am still in shock.

D’Angelo dropped an album in the late night Sunday and I’m flying high. He makes me want to put posters up on my wall like we did back in the 80’s. He makes me feel so excited about music again. He makes me feel alive. I’m grateful. Sunday, December 14th at around 11:30pm the album was already in my possession. I’m in love with this album. I listened to the whole album not skipping a track. Pure love. It wasn’t a dream. It is real.

Throughout this album I hear all those elements and people who have inspired him: Prince, Sly Stone, SugarFoot (Ohio Players), Aaron Hall (Guy), funk, soul, rock & roll. Seeing how he pays homage to those before him with his creation warms my heart and soothes my soul. Every step of the way he gives them the credit.

I am a die-hard D’Angelo fan to the core. Just letting you know I am writing from that vein. I’m one of those who literally waited on his return. However, my love for him isn’t blinding. I love music over all and I will call it how I hear it. I don’t claim to know all the technical engineering inner workings of music. I’m no producer. I don’t claim to know the history of every single musician that has graced this project. I’m not a musician or a music historian, but I know all about how music has affected my life, how it makes me feel about me and my surroundings. This is not a critique. This is just my commentary about, what I believe to be, a beautiful product.

Track #1 – Ain’t That Easy

I had no idea this song was going in the direction it went. When I first heard this one, I was holding my breath because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The background vocals and that bass guitar gave me Parliament Funkadelic goodness. D’Angelo’s voice on this track is the absolute BEST. Just think. This man is a cigarette smoker. He sounds awesome.

Track #2 – 1000 Deaths

Pick out that Afro, get that smoking hot leather jacket and teach the children. This ish ain’t a joke. I felt like a straight up Black Panther rocking to this one. Especially with that opening schooling us on how proud we should feel about our heritage, our history. Let’s go to Church. Let’s march. Let’s go protest. Let’s make our voices heard. This song is a problem in a good way.

Track #3 – The Charade

I will talk more about this song on the Lyrical Side (Part II) to this review.  This track just gave me an over all good feeling. D’Angelo may have put “himself in a bubble” but he has been paying attention to the world. It was refreshing to know that he didn’t just put out an album with an absence of current events. It’s not business as usual. The pain of this world should penetrate every fabric of your life.

Track #4 – Sugah Daddy

From the start, my bottom is moving in my seat. No matter if I’m at work, on the train or the grocery store. I can hardly contain myself from breaking out into dance. His diction on this track is so very sexy and just plain ole nasty. And, of course, I love it for all those reasons. Before I even knew of all the naughty things he was spewing, I was turned on. You can feel the naughty atmosphere created on this funky track. I could use a Sugah Daddy right now both literally and figuratively. A sista needs a spanking and a late night shopping spree. But, I digress. Can we talk horns? The horns on this track are so refreshing. I will speak on those horns during my “Betray My Heart” commentary. Live instruments with real people playing them, we need that desperately to revive this music game.

Track #5 – Really Love

“Really Love” sneaks up on you like a lover in the wee hours craving a midnight snack. You feel him/her approaching, yet you still pretend you don’t feel it. You brace yourself for the first touch. The touch turns out to be the softest you’ve ever experienced. The gentle touch you never knew you needed. It soothes your body to cleansing tears. The Spanish guitar on this track is glorious. The strings act as the red carpet allowing D’Angelo’s sweet voice to glide over the track with ease. “Really Love” is love.

Track #6 – Back To the Future (Part II)

The beautiful strings return again. The groove, the way this track just changes and I loved the guitar. Can’t wait to see the guitarist live going in on this one.

Track #7 – Till It’s Done (Tutu)

The drum highlight in the beginning reminded me of the intro to the Ohio Player’s song “I want to be free.” My uncle Walter is a drummer and I know he is going to love this entire project. I wanted to call him when I heard this song and I haven’t talked to him in years. The bass guitar causes me to make that funky guitar screw face. This track right here… this track right here, yo is #1 in my book. I could hear something urgent in D’Angelo’s voice. I needed to know his exact words. It took me a minute to look up the lyrics. This is the first song I dissected. The three-word chorus “Till It’s Done” urged me to pay more attention to the verses and the words that were NOT said. This one I have to hear live. The harmony at the end and even the way it fades out, masterful.

Track #8 – Prayer

The nasty funky Prince clap…Owwww! The drums here are so “drunken” just like Questlove often describes it. I could picture them just jamming out to this one. I get a cramp in my neck while listening to this one. I throw back the hardest head nod this side of Harlem. It’s almost like this track was thrown together; yet, it’s perfection.

Track #9 – Betray My Heart

I must admit. This track reminded me so much of “Voodoo”.  Especially, the background vocals and how they were mixed with his. And, the horns are classic “Send it On” Voodoo style. I appreciate this track for that. This song has a special place in my heart. It’s like he left a little bit of nostalgia here for us to enjoy. That bridge was sick, just funky goodness.

Track #10 – The Door

It was like this song was recorded in an old run down juke joint hidden in the back woods down south where everyone goes to do the jig and sip on whiskey straight from the bottle. This track gave me “The Color Purple” realness. D’Angelo could have opened for Shug and it would have been SO appropriate.  The old time guitar and the foot stomping gave me life. Love it!!! Honey, when those tambourines showed up I was done. The whistling reminded me of down south. Sweet Selma.

Track #11 – Back to the Future (Part II)

D’Angelo was like just when you thought it couldn’t get any funkier. Let’s take it up another notch. Owwww! That is all.

Track #12 – Another Life

This is the song you dance to with the love of your life at the reception. You make love to it so slowly. You take this song with you on long train rides and long walks on the beach as you reminisce about love lost. This song is everything love should be. Love should feel just like this. I hear “Earth Wind & Fire” and this to me is authentic D’Angelo R&B love making, baby producing greatness. I don’t know what else to say. It brings tears to my eyes. It’s LIKE that. When his real voice makes an appearance, at the end of the song, the tears are flowing but I have a smile on my face it the same time. It’s the most beautiful thing ever.

When I think of this generation I feel like I’m standing in a crowd and everyone is talking at the same time. It’s like the ‘diarrhea of the mouth’ generation. We talk too damn much and we don’t feel enough. The only thing I ask is that when/if you give this project a listen ask yourself one question: How does it make you feel?