88.1 Pick of the Week
In the three years since Monica Arnold’s last album, The Makings of Me, R&B music has become increasingly watered down, and drifted further away from its soulful origins. With her latest release, Still Standing, the Grammy award winner has helped to bring R&B back to its strong roots, where the focus is on vocal ability, meaningful lyrical content, and dynamic production.
We were first introduced to a 14-year-old Monica back in 1995, with the sassy, “Don’t Take It Personal” from her Debut album, Miss Thang. Since then, she has remained one the most consistent and powerful singers to emerged in the past 20 years. Still Standing chronicles the joys and sorrows of love, life and relationships and reminds us why Monica has been able to achieve such longevity in her career.
We begin the album with its title track, “Still Standing” featuring rapper Ludacris. The hard hitting anthem is a testament of Monica’s strength and resilience, despite life’s obstacles and trials. It’s one of the albums best and sets the tone for the emotional journey that is Still Standing.
Next up is, the Los Da Mystro produced piano driven, “One in A Lifetime”, where Monica stresses the importance of appreciating that rare love and recognizing it before its too late. “One In A Lifetime” is followed by, “Stay Or Go”. The Neyo penned tune has Monica demanding an answer from an indecisive lover as to whether or not he wants to be with her. On both up-tempo tracks and throughout the album, Monica sings with an intensity and urgency that penetrates the soul.
Stand outs on the album include, the sample heavy, Missy Elliot produced “Everything”, which samples Deniece Williams R&B classic “Silly” and “If You Were My Man”, sampled from Evelyn “Champagne” King’s, “Betcha She Don’t Love You”. On the albums first single,” Everything” Monica proclaims how her love means the world to her and on the up-tempo “If You Were My Man”, she boast of how good her love is to prospective mate.
Although Still Standing is very strong, it does not go without its share of missteps, including the generic and gimmicky, “Super Man”, where Monica croons how she will be her mans Lois Lane. Never fear, Monica shines on the other slower songs, showcasing her vocal prowess on the sensual “Here I Am”, the inspiring “Believe In Me”, and the Jermaine Dupri helmed “Love All Over Me”, where Monica explains the feeling of being covered in love. On another gem, the radio friendly mid-tempo urban pop “Mirror”, Monica relays how she has discovered that love and not material things makes life worth living.
Overall, Still Standing is a well balanced and cohesive collection of what we’ve come to expect from Monica, impassioned delivery and relatable music. What separates Monica from her female counterparts is her ability to tackle material with emotion, conviction and a sense of sincerity. Monica proves that she is able to remain current and relevant, while bringing a sense of maturity and timelessness to her music, which is why, in a fickle industry, she is Still Standing.
“Saturday Night Soul and R&B” with host Mir.I.am airs weekly from 9 to 11 p.m.
The Princess of So So Def records, YouTube singing sensation, Dondria aka Phatfffat will be interviewed on ”Saturday Night Soul and R&B” this coming Saturday 4/17. Tune in to hear Dondria discuss her new single “You’re The One”, upcoming album Dondria Vs. Phatfffat, working with Jermaine Dupri and so much more.
Originally discovered on YouTube, Dondria is fastly becoming one of R&B’s most promising stars, with her soulful voice and empassioned delivery.
“Saturday Night Soul and R&B” with host Mir.I.am airs weekly from 9 to 11 p.m.
Last night on “Saturday Night Soul and R&B”, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chilli of the Grammy award winning, legendary and iconic R&B trio, TLC.
In the revealing interview, we discussed her new reality show, “What Chilli Wants,” her relationship with ex-flame R&B singer Usher, her love for Michael Jackson and so much more. In case you missed it, check out the interview below or download it here.
Part I: Chilli discusses her wants and needs in a relationship.
Part II: Chilli answers if there’s any chance of reconciliation with ex-love Usher.
Part III: Chilli discusses her love for Michael Jackson and how the two first met.
Part IV: Chilli answers a question from one of her biggest fans and gives final shout-outs.
“What Chilli Wants” premieres tonight on VH1 AT 10:30 p.m.
Special thanks to Christal of Enchanted PR.
“Saturday Night Soul and R&B” with Mir.I.am airs weekly from 9 to 11 p.m.
Tune in tonight to “Saturday Night Soul and R&B” with host Mir.I.am from 9 to 11 p.m. for a revealing interview with Chilli of the Grammy awarding winning, multi-platinum and iconic, TLC.
Expect to hear Chilli discuss her new reality show “What Chilli Wants” premiering on VH1 4/11 at 10:30 p.m., her love for Michael Jackson, romance with ex-flame, R&B singer Usher and more. For detailed information on “What Chilli Wants” visit VH1.COM and follow Chilli on Twitter.
*In the event that NC State’s baseball game is on air, the show will resume immediately following.
On January 16, I had the esteemed privilege of attending the third annual BET Honors in Washington, D.C. BET Honors is a prestigious awards show paying tribute to the outstanding achievements of certain individuals within the African American community. This year’s five honorees included Queen Latifah for her multi-dimensional career in various forms of media,world-renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Keith L. Black MD for his devotion to public service, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs for his achievements as a successful entrepreneur, Dr. Ruth J. Simmons for breaking down barriers in education and lastly, Whitney Houston, for her record setting achievements in entertainment.
The first to be honored was the rapper turned actress and singer, Queen Latifah, who was presented her award by Academy Award nominated actress Taraji P. Henson . Queen Latifah was first paid a musical tribute by R&B songstress Jazmine Sullivan, who opened with “Unforgettable”, then segued into a stirring rendition of “Rock Steady”. Jazmine was immediately followed by the legendary Patti Labelle, who brought down the house with her classic,”If You Only Knew”. As Queen Latifah took to the stage and gave a motivational acceptance speech, she recalled memories of her brother who passed away in an accident and spoke of how hard work, dedication and faith were key in her success.
Dr.Keith L. Black MD was the next recipient honored by comedian Chris Tucker. Dr. Black’s musical tribute was performed by none other than the legendary Stevie Wonder and gospel group, Take 6. Together they sang an acapella version of “ Can’t Imagine Life Without You,” a gem from Wonder’s latest release A Time To Love. During Dr. Black’ s thought provoking acceptance speech, he took the time to discuss the importance of education and how its accessibility should not be taken for granted.
Next, to be honored was Sean “P.Diddy” combs, who’s record label, clothing line, fragrances and television shows, among other endeavors have made him one of the most successful business men in the recording industry. Combs musical tribute was performed by protege Mary J.Blige, who credits Combs for believing in her and helping jump start her career. After a brief speech, Blige sang her latest single “ I Am,” and then launched into some of her biggest hits produced by Combs, including “Love No Limit”,” I Love You” and “Be Happy.
Blige rocked the house and had the crowd on their feet during her soulful and energetic performance. During Combs acceptance speech, he thanked his mother showing him what it meant to have a strong work ethic and stressed the importance of setting and achieving your goals.
This year’s education honoree, Dr. Ruth J. Simmons is the first black president of an Ivy League university, who overcame a number of hardships to make history and inspire many. Victoria Rowell, star of The Young and the Restless had the privilege of presenting Dr. Simmons with her award after a musical performance Grammy Award winning songstress, India Arie. Arie, accompanied by pianist Eric Lewis sang a heartfelt “Beautiful Flower” and “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Dr. Simmons gave a moving speech and expressed the importance of not letting obstacles stand in your way and how we should all strive to reach our fullest potential.
Last and most certainly not least to be honored was the legendary and iconic Whitney Houston, for her achievements in entertainment. With over 170 million albums, the most awarded female of all time was presented her award by R&B sensation Ne-Yo and honored by gospel artist Kim Burrell and Academy Award winning diva, Jennifer Hudson.
First, Burrell in a surprise appearance serenaded Houston with “I Believe In You and Me”. What made the performance the night’s best was not just sheer brilliance of Burrell’s voice, but the heartfelt emotion and sincerity behind it, as Burrell personalized the song and sang it directly to Houston. Houston was visibly emotional as she cried and stood the entire performance.
Never one to be outdone, Jennifer Hudson, had the daunting task of both following Burrell and also singing one of Houston’s biggest and most vocally challenging hits, “I Will Always Love You”. Naturally, Hudson rose to the occasion and was given a much deserved standing ovation midway through the performance. Houston mentioned during her brief, yet poignant speech, how it felt good to stand and not be judged and expressed how we should learn to support one other, not only in our triumphs, but in our failures as well.
Overall, attending the BET Honors was an amazing experience, full of funny moments, wonderful performances and inspiring acceptance speeches. Each of the five honorees is more than deserving of the recognition they received, in an evening which truly exemplified what extraordinary looks like.
Extra behind the scenes tidbits about the show
-Maxwell gave 2 rousing performances of “Fistful Of Tears” and “Bad Habits”.
-Newcomer Ryan Leslie performed new single, “I Choose You,” which left much to be desired.
-Whitney accidentally forgot to thank Jennifer Hudson in her speech, but thanked her immediately after backstage.
-After re-shooting Stevie Wonder’s performance with Take 6, he joked “Sorry, I wasn’t looking at the camera.”
-Trey Songz tried to get Stevie Wonder to sing the lyrics to his raunchy single “Invented Sex,” but an adamant Stevie would only hum the melody. Both along with India Arie also paid tribute to the late R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass with “Wake Up Everybody.”
-Whitney was showed the most support from the audience throughout the night and took to the stage with thunderous applause.
-Every presenter and honoree mentioned Haiti and encouraged everyone to help with relief efforts.
-Host Gabrielle Union has great comedic timing and changed outfits and hair every break.
BET Honors, hosted by actress Gabrielle Union airs TONIGHT from 9 to11 p.m. EST.
Follow me on twitter where I’ll be live tweeting about the show tonight.
Tune in Saturday night, June 27, as 88.1 FM WKNC pays tribute to the most successful recording artist in the history of music, with over 750 millions albums sold, the legendary, the incomparable, Michael Jackson.
Join me, Mir.I.am and other special guest co-hosts, from 8 to 11 p.m. on “Saturday Night Soul and R&B” as we reminisce on our favorite memories of the ICON. Listen, as we reflect on Michael’s influence on music, fashion and pop culture. We will also reveal little known facts about the 13-time Grammy Award Winner and discuss the media coverage and speculation surrounding his untimely passing.
As Jackson’s music was the soundtrack to many of our lives, expect to hear music from Hip-Hop and R&B artist directly influenced by him as well as our favorite hits.
Immediately following “Saturday Night Soul and R&B’, stay tuned for the “2.0 show” with D Cutta, as he mixes four hours of non-stop MJ classics from the past 40 years.
Help us celebrate the life of the most influential, inspirational and innovative singer in the HISTORY of music. R.I.P to the greatest entertainer of all time. His legacy will forever live on.
Share you favorite MJ memories here.
For many artists, the sophomore album is a crucial one. If its predecessor was a hit, the bar is set high, but if it was a flop, this album could feasibly make or break their career. Many artists have fallen into the curse that is the “sophomore jinx,” but Chrisette Michele manages not only to meet the bar, she exceeds all previous expectations with Epiphany.
With Epiphany, Chrisette’s traditional vocal stylings have evolved into a more well-rounded R&B sound, retaining the jazz influences from her debut album, I am, yet adding more of a modern, urban, youthful vibe. Epiphany mainly focuses on the joys and sorrows love brings from the viewpoint of a strong, independent woman, with a fragile heart.
The first single “Epiphany,” bearing the albums title, begins with “It’s
over.” The Ne-Yo-produced piano driven single describes how Michele has
finally come to an important realization and decides that it’s time to
leave an unhealthy relationship. It is the perfect opening to a stellar
Following “Epiphany” is the beautifully written ballad “Notebook,”
describing how Michele is afraid to tell a prospective mate that she has
a crush and instead opts to confide in the pages of her notebook.
The album hit’s its stride with “Blame It on Me,” in which Michele
is at her finest vocally, confessing that she doesn’t care who takes the blame
for a failed relationship “as long as it’s over.”
Next is “All I Ever Think About.” Its old school R&B vibe, heavy bass and impassioned vocals make it the album’s best, as Michele bares her heart and soul over an imperfect relationship, which in fact is quite perfect.
Epiphany successfully moves from soulful melodies to urban-pop with
the acoustic guitar-ridden “Playin’ Our Song” and “On My Own.” The
former has Michele convincing herself that she’s fine after a breakup, but in reality she’s heartbroken, while the latter has Michele acknowledging its time to claim her independence and transform into a woman.
Many of the albums standouts were written and produced by R&B singer Ne-Yo, including “Porcelain Doll, “Another One” and “What You Do.” Chrisette is a modern day Billie Holiday on the feisty empowering, “Porcelain Doll”, proclaiming boldly that she is no one’s trophy. “Another One” echo’s the sentiments of the aforementioned, as Michele confesses that she’s a “grown woman, dealing with grown woman things”. And with “What You Do”, Michele makes it clear that actions speak louder than words.
The majority of Epiphany consists of ballads and mid-tempos, but “Mr.Right” and “Fragile”, prove Michele she can successfully tackle up-tempo’s as well. The Doo-Wop, Hip-Hop and Lauryn Hill influenced “Mr. Right” finds Michele explaining how she has found the perfect person for her. “Fragile” and “I’m Okay” expose Michele’s vulnerabilities and express how love has hurt her.
Epiphany encompasses all the qualities needed to produce a classic album, with its colorful production, catchy melodies and complex vocal arrangements, thoughtful lyrical content and unique, edgy vocals. Chrisette Michele has truly reinvigorated the world of R&B music, as Ephiphany is one of the years best.
For more on Chrisette Michele click here.
In the candid interview, Reigndrop talks about growing up with Left-eye, producing and being featured on Eye Legacy and being the first lady of Hip-Rock .
Reigndrop also discusses “The Last Days of Left-eye” documentary, possible new TLC music and the purpose of the Lisa Lopes Foundation.
Listen to the interview below:
“Saturday Night Soul and R&B” airs weekly from 8 to 11 p.m. and features the best in R&B/Soul music from the past 20 years as well as today’s hits. Follow host Mir.I.am.