I was finally able to sit down and listen to another one of my most highly anticipated albums of the year, Abundance by PPP (formerly known as Platinum Pied Pipers). People, do not sleep on this one. It’s the first album I am adding to my Best of 2009 list.
For those not familiar, PPP, Wajeed and Saadiq are Detroit-based producers who released their debut album Triple P in 2005, an album that Questlove of the Roots says he listened to seven times straight. Saadiq is a multi-instrumentalist, which is probably one of the things that draws me to their music. The live instrumentation is crazy, mixing elements of hip hop, funk, techno, disco, pop and house.
Before I pressed play on Abundance, I already knew that it would be a winner if only because an artist I discovered last year, Coultrain, appears on several tracks. I instantly fell in love with his debut album, The Adventures of Seymour Liberty. The only reason it didn’t appear on my Top Albums of 2008 You’ve Never Heard is because I was so sure it had been released in 2007 and I was late. I’ll be spotlighting him here soon.
I also got to hear more from Karma Stewart, an artist out of Texas whose EP I heard recently and highly enjoyed. I’ll talk more about her later as well and she’ll be added to my ever-growing list of underrated female soul artists. Meantime, you can download The Karma EP for free. I see good things in store for her as long as us true music lovers do our parts.
Other artists that appear on the album areJamila Raegan and Neco Redd who I think you’ll agree that you need to keep an ear out for. Neco Redd appeared on PPP’s debut album and has a project called “No Discipline” coming soon.
Abundance is truly an album you can press play on and groove from start to finish. No skips. I listened to it on the way into work one morning and it lifted my mood ten-fold.
Listen to a couple of my favorite tracks.
Ain’t No Ifs Or Maybes (featuring Coultrain)
Rocket Science (featuring Karma Stewart and Coultrain)
The following list of albums were in constant rotation as well. However, I absolutely could not pick a favorite song from any of them. Every song had me grooving harder than the last. Each song had me feeling harder than the one before.
Green Tea is a local DC artist I’ve been following for a few years now.Her second release, Dosage II: Choices has completely blown me away. She is one to watch.
I’m going to stop calling myself a true soulful house fan because I was late getting Reel People’s latest release. But once I pressed play, I couldn’t stop. Expect this album to show up again.
Major props to the good folks over at Blak’s Lair for putting me on to The Rurals. My latest musical addiction, Marie Tweek (whose sound will surprise you), sang with this group. Once I heard that, I knew this album would be on constant repeat. Tweek would have been all over my lists as well if she had another solo album out this year. Check for her as well.
I have had Giovanca’s album in my collection for a while but after Fave (remember that podcaster I said you should be listening to? Get on that because he’s backkkk in a HUGE way) mentioned her on Twitter, I moved her to the top of the list – where she belonged.
I’m really excited about what’s ahead for Yazarah. Her appearance on the album you know is going to be all up and through my other top 10 lists (that would be Leave It All Behind for those of you a little late to the party)definitely has people checking for her again. This EP is called Prelude. If this is just the introduction, ya’ll ain’t ready for what’s up next.
Although this is my favorite time of the year, sometimes I need a jump start to get me into the holiday spirit. I have a few mixes that I pull out and I look forward to replaying some of the podcasts I enjoyed last year. I don’t usually keep track of the holiday albums released each year but news that Ledisi and Rahsaan Patterson were going to make my Christmas a little brighter was music to my ears.
I have had my hands on these since they were released in the Fall. I really wish they had come out a little closer to the holidays when people’s minds are actually on getting their “fa-la-la-la-la” on. Most Christmas albums are released early for reasons I’ll never understand. By December, the average consumer has forgotten. However, that’s why I’m here. To remind you of the good things you could be missing out on. I certainly don’t want that to happen with these two gems.
Now some people aren’t big fans of Christmas music period. How many times and how many ways can we hear “Silent Night” and “Someday At Christmas?” What’s special about Ledisi and Rahsaan’s albums is that there are actually very few of the classics on either of them. Ledisi’sIt’s Christmas has a whopping 5 original tracks. That’s practically half an album. You already know how I feel about Ledisi’s voice. She can sing about clipping her toenails and I’ll think it deserves 10 Grammy nods. Plain and simple. She’s all of that and a bag of chips plus the dip. She will sing all these broads getting ridiculous airplay off the stage on her worst day.
It’s Christmas is perfect for Christmas Eve when everyone is gathered around the tree sipping on spiked egg nog and opening that one gift. Ledisi soulfully imploring everyone to “Give Love On Christmas Day” will turn the night into an all-out love fest. There are no standout tracks on this album. This is a winner from beginning to end. I loved each song more than the last. Listen to snippets on Amazon and then add to cart for yourself or another music lover in your life. Watch video of Ledisi talking about recording this project and why she loves the holidays as much as I do! The album will make a great companion to one of those box sets you may be considering.
Rahsaan’sThe Ultimate Gift ain’t your typical Christmas album! He re-imagined some of the classics to the point that I barely recognized them. I never thought I would be grooving hard to “Little Drummer Boy.” Some people will hate the album for that very reason. A lot of the songs just don’t sound like Christmas music. It may not make you feel joyful in that way. But if you’re a fan of Rahsaan’s sound, as I am, you will love this album. If you want something outside the box this season, head over to Amazon, listen to the snippets and add to your collection.
Here’s some other Christmas albums released this year that may be of interest. If you know of any I’ve missed, let me know in the comments.
Since I won’t be able to write formal reviews for all of the albums on my most anticipated list, here are some thoughts on the ones I’ve listened to thus far.
Eric Benet’s Love and Life: I may stand alone in this but this album just didn’t do it for me. Admittedly, I have only listened once. The only song that grabbed me is “You’re the Only One.” I feel that song like I felt his first two albums. Eventually, I’ll get around to taking another listen and maybe I’ll feel differently. For now, I have to give it a FAIL.
Kenny Lattimore’s Timeless:I wrote a full review for this one.
Raphael Saadiq’s The Way I See It:Love, love, love this album. Although there are one or two tracks that I skip, overall, it was everything I hoped it would be. I’m strongly considering seeing him on tour along with John Legend. Now that I’ve got the album in hand, it makes me want to see his stage show even more.
Jazmine Sullivan’s Fearless:Again, I may stand alone here but this album just didn’t live up to my expectations. I compare all the hype surrounding the release of Fearless to Chrisette Michele’sI Am last year. Chrissy delivered ten times over. Every track on her album was bananas. Jazmine…not so much. Her voice sounds phenomenal but I’m not thrilled with the material.Unlike everybody and their Momma’s Momma, I am not that enamored with “Bust Your Windows.” I expect more from her next time around. Her voice is too great to waste on bad music.
Too lazy to change the graphic. We know that Common’sUniversal Mind Control will be released the day after never.
Joe, your tomfoolery does affect my purchase of your album. Hell, I couldn’t even be bothered to bootleg it. Harsh? My tolerance for grown ass men acting ignorant is at negative zero right now. Check with me later.
Ledisi’s It’s Christmas: I have the album but am waiting on the holiday season to give it a first spin. I have a closed door office at work so it will be on repeat loudly throughout December. I’m sure it will work as Scrooge-repellent.
Jennifer Hudson: I put her album on the back burner after hearing so many bad reviews. At this point, I can’t even listen because I couldn’t be objective. I don’t think I could say anything bad about it. I know, doesn’t make sense. Hey, no one ever said I was a real journalist or anything.
Robin Thicke’s Something Else:I loved this album. He didn’t depart much from his signature style but it worked for me. No skips at all.
Foreign Exchange’s Leave It All Behind: This album is a sure thing to make my list of top albums of 2008. Another album where every single track just blew me away. Often I put it on when I’m leaving work and want to literally leave it all behind. I already have my ticket in hand to see them when they come to DC in a few weeks. I’ll do a longer review then with videos, once I come down from my high that is.
Kindred’s The Arrival: It really hurts my heart to say this but after one listen, I wasn’t feeling the love. I attended a listening party where they appeared to promote the album a few weeks ago and you just gotta love them as a couple. I know that has nothing to do with the music. However, it’s not always easy for me to separate the two (post coming on that later). I’m hoping that a live performance will make the album grow on me.
Although I added Evolver to the list of albums I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this year, I admit I was a bit nervous after hearing “Green Light.” Unlike some, I didn’t despise the song but it left me a bit unsettled as to where you were going with this project. Our relationship was gonna be in trouble if this album was underwhelming.
One thing I can say about you as an artist is that you are certainly an evolver. With each album you have tried to create a different sound. Sometimes it worked, other times not. I have to applaud the effort. So many artists play it safe, particularly when their first album is so successful. Be prepared, many fans will hate on this album because they want you to return to your soul roots and stay there.
Although I can honestly say that there were no skips for me, a few of the songs did sound similar. I also would have liked the sound of more live instruments. I’m looking forward to seeing you on tour backed by a band. I think I’ll fall completely in love with a few of these tracks when I hear the words set to some live instrumentation.
Let’s get to a few of the songs that I have on repeat.
First, let’s just get the unpleasantness out of the way. The whole album has leaked. It happens. Moving on.
Before the entire album leak, I loved the tracks that were previewed on the music sites like “Good Morning” and “Quickly.”
“Good Morning”should please your stans from Get Lifted. It’s easy like Sunday morning and just as sweet. I tell you, if I had you crooning that in my ear every time I opened my eyes, I just might become a morning person.
Surprisingly, you and Brandy are the perfect combination on “Quickly.” I have a love/hate relationship with her voice but she really shines here with just the right amount of urgency that the song requires. You may just be single-handedly responsible for reviving her career. Folks are checking for her again. I like the sentiment of the song as well, Country is warring, leaders lying; I know we just met but can you love me quickly. Call me mushy but it works for me.
If I was forced to pick one track on the album as a favorite, there’s just something about “I Love, You Love.” The song is simply beautiful without all of the fancy production of some of the other tracks. I can envision this live – just you and the guitar man.
I am also really feeling the two island-flavored tracks on this album. I’m an Caribbean girl at heart so you and Estelle teaming up on “No Other Love” will be in constant rotation on my IPOD when I need a mental escape. As if it couldn’t get any better, you and Buju Banton on the bonus track, “Can’t Be My Lover” takes me right back to that hot summer night two years ago in Jamaica at Reggae Sumfest.
Other stand out tracks for me are “This Time,” which somewhat reminds me of “Ordinary People.” Again, I’d like to see this performed live with just a single spotlight on you and the piano. I could have done without whatever that machine is in the background. It competes with the beauty of your voice at times and you struggle to win.
“Take Me Away” reminds me of Bobby Valentino’s sexy summer anthem from a few years back, “Slow Down.” This is the perfect “club-about-to-close-seal-the-deal” song.Take me away from here…take me somewhere where love is like breathing. I don’t care where we go ‘long as I’m there with youuuuu.” Indeed.
These days, I’m not a huge fan of rap guest appearances. Often, it’s just not needed. However, Dre and Kanye are welcome additions on “Green Light” and “It’s Over.” (sidebar: There’s no way I will be pressing play on Kanye’s album if the whole thing is going to sound like that. It was okay for sixteen bars but anymore than that, I have to vote hell no.) Nice to see Teddy Riley remixing “It’s Over,” which is another bonus track. I boogied on down to both versions.
Johnny, I know you’ll get some static on this album but even if I have to stand alone, I’m letting you know that it will get much play in my stereo. After hearing this album, I must catch you and Raphael Saadiq on tour. Great live performances of most of these tracks will likely be what it takes to get this on my top albums of 2008 list.