January 23, 2000 |
What to make of the second coming of D'Angelo? Five years after his Brown Sugar kick-started the "alternative" rhythm-and-blues movement with a tight, tuneful set that recalled the invention and discipline of Marvin Gaye, the singer is back with a new message: Songwriting is overrated; vibe is everything. Voodoo, which arrives Tuesday after months of delays, doesn't exactly refute D'Angelo's first effort. But it doesn't follow its example, either. It's a carefully produced vamp cycle, an album-length lover's groan that casts this son of a Baptist minister (who appears shirtless and well-oiled on the CD cover)
November 13, 1999 |
A major art show started its weekend run yesterday in North Philadelphia, but its sounds were just as important as its sights. Two local high school jazz ensembles blanketed the Apollo of Temple with funky renditions of tunes from Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Santana and the Roots. Printmakers, photographers, painters, sculptors and jewelrymakers animatedly networked with their fans and each other. And a group of 12-year-olds from a Center City charter school banged out new and ancient rhythms on an array of perfectly pitched West African log drums created by a North Carolina craftsman who says he has never set foot in the motherland.
October 27, 1999 |
Move over, Lauryn Hill, and stand back, Erykah Badu. There was a new Miss Thang in town Monday night - and her name is Macy Gray. For months, Gray has been the subject of glowing diva-on-the-verge media portraits and insider buzz flowing back and forth from New York to Los Angeles like electricity. Her debut album, On How Life Is, released this summer, is a heady cocktail of classic soul-revue moves, vintage rhythm-and-blues grooves, postmodern sensibility, and an in-the-moment sense of perspective.
June 4, 1999 |
Urban radio giant Power 99 FM will host its sixth annual "Sistahs! - A Celebration of African American Women" tomorrow. The all-day event to be held at the Convention Center at 13th and Arch streets will feature some of R&B's hottest acts, as well as a diverse group of inspirational speakers and authors. On hand for the event will be singers Tyrese, Shanice, Chante Moore, Christlike, Silk, and Case. Erykah Badu, in all her headwrapped glory, will also be in Philly to bond with her fans.
February 28, 1999 |
The Roots, Philadelphia's consistently interesting hip-hop collective, has never been about the trend-chasing single or the merely utilitarian jeep beat. Instead, it has insisted on making art, in the form of albums whose elaborate soundscapes radically retool the usual beats-plus-noise formula, albums whose confluence of live rhythm and improvised rhyme make for a riveting, if hard-to-market, attack. This blend has established the Roots as extraordinarily important - just about everyone in every corner of urban music has worked with, or wants to work with, the elastic, hard-grooving rhythm section.
February 26, 1999 |
Embraced by music freaks for their jazzy take on hip-hop, but snubbed by the youthful masses for not talking trash, The Roots have previously made three excellent, expensive albums that haven't sold squat. "Things Fall Apart" has the aura of a disc made under duress, with devil's advocates challenging them at the outset, and a pretty conscious effort throughout to be more accessible, without blowing their individuality. The compromise works pretty well for the Philly crew.
August 6, 1998 |
Director Quentin Tarantino's latest, and a surprise hit starring Adam Sandler, top this week's list of new movies on video. Jackie Brown (1998) (Buena Vista) 154 minutes. Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Michael Bowen, Chris Tucker, Lisa Gay Hamilton. Quentin Tarantino's cockeyed tribute to middle age stars Pam Grier as a fortyish flight attendant who plays ATF agents off against a gangster for whom she smuggles money.
June 5, 1998 |
Nineteen years ago, President Jimmy Carter declared June Black Music Month. One of the people who persuaded Carter to make his declaration was Philadelphia's own Kenny Gamble. To mark this annual celebration, Big Fat Friday is highlighting African-American music all month. This week, we kick it off with . . . In a cavernous New York loft high above the city lights, where candles are aglow and the jiggy set is in attendance, Universal Records' Ricky Jones steps on stage. He's the last singer in a three-night showcase of new Universal acts all performing under the banner of "organic soul.
March 10, 1998 |
Lights are on, hair is fluffed, makeup blotted and commands of "quiet on the set" are shouted. Inside the Black Entertainment Television complex in northwestern D.C., "Planet Groove" is under way. If there's a little extra excitement in the air, it's because Mariah Carey is here, not just for an interview, but to introduce her latest group, 7 Mile, to the world. It's the Detroit quartet's first television appearance - a testament to the growing popularity of "Planet Groove," which airs 7-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
February 26, 1998 |
The 40th Annual Grammy telecast confirmed what many hip-hop observers have complained about for years: Sell enough records and you're sure to take home a rap Grammy. Despite the critical and commercial appeal of albums like Wu-Tang Clan's "Wu-Tang Forever" and The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Life After Death," Sean "Puffy" Combs was the winner in that category for his quadruple platinum debut "No Way Out. " That didn't sit well with Wu-Tang Clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard, who somehow managed to make his way onto the stage as Shawn Colvin came up to accept the Song of the Year award for "Sunny Came Home.