Rae: Who Are Your Influences?
A.C.E: My influence includes, first and foremost, Michael Jackson. As well as inspiring me musically, he’s my inspiration for being an entertainer. My other musical influences include: The Beatles, Curtis Mayfield, 2Pac, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, and OutKast to name a few. I was really influenced by a lot of artists that were active around 2001, that’s when Hip-Hop had just found me and was beginning to embrace me creatively. There’s a bunch of other influences but these are some that stick out to me.
Rae: Who’s the Producer of “How I Feel” and “Wondering Where I’ma Go?”
A.C.E: The producer of How I Feel is Afta-1, an independent producer. I came across the beat some time ago and I had been sitting on it and I only had the bridge in my head, then the hook, then the verses. But I really constructed the song around the bridge. It held the energy of the message I wanted to get across.
Wonderin’ Where I’ma Go is produced by That Boy Artixx, an up and coming producer. When I heard that beat I wrote to it right away. I had been sitting on it for a while and I decided to put it out as an incentive for people to tell their friends about my music page on facebook. It’s still in the works. What I put out is all I’ve done. I may put it on a new project but only when a second verse comes to me, we’ll see what happens with that song but for now it is as it is.
Rae: Why iTunes?
A.C.E: Why not? The song will still be available for free download on my website for anyone that’s willing to sign up for my mailing list, and anyone who would like to support the movement can purchase it right where they can purchase all of their other favorite music as well. Honestly, it’s just really easy to tell people to download it on iTunes as opposed to telling them to get it anywhere else.
Rae: Tell me about collaborations and marrying your sound with other artists?
A.C.E: I’m a frequent collaborator. In Long Island, where I’m from, my team spits all the time. I’m the one who’s got all the equipment to record it right there on deck, so whenever we’re all together and the creativity is flowing, we bounce ideas off of each other and record it. Whenever I work with another artist I want to step out of my comfort zone and I’m more a fan of being in the studio with people I collaborate with than I am of doing the whole sending verses back and forth, but sometimes schedules and other things make that difficult, so you still gotta do what you gotta do. Overall, it’s important to be on the same page with the person I’m collaborating with.
Rae: What is your challenge as an artist at this time?
A.C.E: My biggest challenge has been developing a level of transparency in myself where I can let my ideas just flow exactly how I want them to. For a while when I was making music I felt that it was good but that I had better things bouncing around in my head, than what I had been laying down. But I’m always lyrically exercising so it’s becoming much easier.
Rae: How is/does poetry affect your flow?
A.C.E: I think it helps contribute to that level of transparency in my lyrics. Poetry was my thing before I began really writing some dope bars. So whenever I’ve written it’s been about telling people how I feel. I honestly don’t know how to rap about things that I’m not about. Whenever I am on a record I am me, just as I am in my poetry. To me rap is poetry with special attention being paid to the rhythm.
Rae: Are you Rap? or Hip-Hop?
A.C.E: Both. I am Hip-Hop. Rap is the medium that I’m meant to express it through. Hip-Hop is a way of living it’s more than just the music it’s the entire movement. I’m loyal to Hip-Hop when it comes to making music. Wherever I decide to take my sound it all stems from there. There are rappers out there who are just rappers and don’t really respect the knowledge element of Hip-Hop and to me that’s wack. Technically speaking anyone can rap, but the difference between the bad and the good are the ones that respect the fact that you don’t have to fabricate your subject matter if your skills are tight.
Rae: Who is Artistic Creative Energy?
A.C.E: Artistic Creative Energy is me. It’s what I embody. Where I choose to direct that energy is what ends up on the record, but that energy is mine and mine alone. So it’s the best way for me to describe what I am. A.C.E. as an artist is a reflection of my thoughts and feelings and, just as important, the thoughts and feelings of my listeners. Everything I put out is an extension of me.
Rae: How has your flow changed?
A.C.E: I’ve become more fluid when I rap. I like to let the words just flow. I’ve been working toward removing that mental filter between what I think and what I say and it’s working so I’m gonna keep with it and see where it takes me. So far so good.
Rae: What are you willing to experiment with [as far as sound]?
A.C.E: I’m really willing to experiment with any sound as long as it’s where my heart’s at. I don’t like doing things just because the sound is new or different. The most important thing about any sound that I put out is that it resonates with me
Thank you A.C.E and be sure to check him out on iTunes and facebook.com/acexxi
By Ruthnie “JeanRae” Angrand for AllFanKind
What the VHI show has done for the singer is taken an independent artist’s music and put it on a platform where fans see what happens to an artist without glorified record label backing: praise-worthy, nose-to-the-floor-grinding production of good music as it was intended.
The VHI reality show Love and Hip Hop has caused fans to fall in love with classic Hip Hop stories of fighting your way to the top such as the case with Olivia’s music. Olivia has 21,585 fans and counting on Facebook, nearly 102,000 fans on Twitter whom she’s sparked curiosity from despite her super-controlled exterior. YouTube her remixes and features or loom around on www.oliviaworldwide.com to hear iPod-ready R&B: bright vocals, high note croons and straight-tones with controlled vibrato that fall in place to background keyboards, bells and whistles.
She, as an independent artist, has the challenge of telling us that she can make music outside of what we’ve heard. Pink did it. Fans don’t mind the switch as long as it is relevant and we can connect.
Olivia, like Beyonce and Pink, is needing to stage how we get to know her. The only thing I see her lacking is the solid punch through with her lyrics. Pink’s album Missundaztood connects with special graphic lyrics like “Just Like a Pill” or “Family Portrait.” Beyonce eventually expressed herself on I Am…Sasha Fierce. Olivia isn’t visible in her lyric structure singing in third person or ambiguously about heartbreak without mentioning specifics -but she’s trying. Just listen to her single from the Love and Hip Hop EP “Daddy’s Little Girl.”
Record labels don’t always know what to do with artists who change as she describes in an interview with Essence.com. The development of her onscreen personality helps place background to her stories and connects her with audiences in ways that the big guys couldn’t. More importantly, it doesn’t take away from the fact that she can sing, really sing. Fans appreciate that and want to hear more of it.
In her middle register, such as on “December” and “Deuces Remix,” Olivia is smooth and places the pitch where the feelings should be -carried on extended notes and vowels. More than “December,” more than the snippets of “Happened to Me,” but something like the Love and Hip Hop EP fans can hear on her website, with John Legend features and full development. On her EP she sings and swings her vocal on an outtro from Rich Dollaz and doesn’t sound like an out-of-place R&B ringer trying to rap. In Olivia’s case, rapping may have been her branded past but it is a unique and usable launching pad for her singing career. Her sound and appearance coupled with her “gangster girl” background make her an interesting character. So, to whomever needs to make it happen: more Olivia, please.
Suggested Reading from Author:
By Ruthnie Angrand
This article originally appeared on Examiner.com
Low key and popular on the East Coast, Kom Plex, uncategorizable between Keith Sweat mature and spoken-word rooted MC, separates himself from the men of the prior genres with his LP Beautiful Things.
Spoken word in the past has been a congo drum, a delayed word in a sentence and a performer on stage closing their eyes to the audience pattering out the rhythms with words. Kom Plex is a high-passion slow delivery of sensual and grown through mature -not raunchy- lyrics. He is about explaining life through the eyes of a man that a pop-culture song can’t begin to comprehend. He is a presence on stage when performing within Hip Hop duo, Fly Gypsy, and a force of testerone on the mic when performing alone. He makes no joke about the raw realities of HIV, struggling parental relationships and the need to love a woman of substance.
Komplex is actually spelled Kom Plex but like his integration of flow and spoken word, music and rhyme, style and performance, some things seem to go together. Brooklyn has produced another artist with flair and brick for brick body to his music. Kom Plex hit Maryland and the D.C area scene but left a jet stream of buzz all over the Northeast.
Shows in Arlington, Parties in Maryland, Book Signings in D.C and recent Pit Stop in Upstate New York have not slowed down the stage man with mandingo charm and grown-man words. A Past performance of Simba and Bambi about how parents view and can mold a child’s self worth prove that Kom Plex doesn’t need sexual content or political controversy to patter moderate earthquakes into female mind and strong male ego. Kom’s approach is to take real scenarios and stories but deliver beautiful appreciation to all things that may be hurtful or deeply disturbing. He finds the soul in everything.
Described as Mos Def meets Langston Hughes by BET Lyric Cafe, KOM Plex aka Mr.Keep On Moving is doing just that, moving hearts and hormone inspiring hip hop heads to appreciate and vibe and chill.
As a part of Fly Gypsy, the lyricist is no stage-stander. He’s a crowd mover. He’s a hype song with a relax your mind kind of flow. He is in a genuine circuit of professional grind and Chicago-Philly vibe beats with a Brooklyn realist approach to content.
Beautiful Things, his latest LP, is a meld of the adult no non-sense that defends men from all scorned R&B female ballads. KOM belongs on a tour with Tank or Bilal. He belongs on a stage with Black Star. He is fierce as a man with a pen and cannot be ignored by any women who can produce estrogen with her body. This is a banger and most definitely, masculinely …beautiful.
What Beyonce has been able to do with her sound is amazing because she has fought and earned the creative freedom that a perfectionist and artist knows what to do with. 4 Review Coming tonight! #BestThingINeverHad #StartOver #LoveOnTop #CountDown #EndOfTime #IWasHere
By Ruthnie Angrand
Gasp. Wave finger. Grab for air. Get over it. Miss Keri Baby’s “The Way You Love Me” video is no big deal for those who feel she is being too raunchy. The video directed by Laurie Ann Gibson, (The Queen BoomKat) is above sexy, next to the “I wish I could do that” women’s isle in the the “girl power extraordinaire” category of videos.
Hilson releases No Boys Allowed December 21 in a bold move. She kicks off the holidays with “No bullsh—” as she explained to Perez Hilton in an interview, just weeks after femcee Nicki Minaj shares criticism over Pink Friday.
Hilson, who’s past “supposed” feud with friend and cohort Ciara, drew attention and pulled fans to the front lines to defend the artistry and “badness” of each artist is now drawing fans and critics on the racy video. Critics whom may have said the smaething about Janet Jackson, Madonna and Britney Spears over the past three decades of racy videos and women artists who don’t need to answer to anyone but a label, if even.
TheJumpOff made interesting points that the song is not one of Keri’s best, though the garage-clatter heavy metal rap beat is impressive to sing over. Keri is not a little girl. She gave cute in “Pretty Girl Rock.” She gave Beyonce/Jasmine Sullivan-ish femme-gospel in “Breaking Point.” Now, to complete the no BS message, “The Way You Love Me.”
The singer is taking the ‘no holds bar’ approach at the industry. She has paid her dues. She is criticized for looking too pretty, sounding too “unoriginal” and now for too many (quite awesome) hip gyrations on a wall and upside down on one shoulder (at 5:50) that most girls attempt in their bedrooms and dream of doing on walls in clubs. For being a femme-singer with lyricist swag, Hilson’s got variance: good, bad, bitch and back. It’s not like she’s in a colorful wig with her breasts out everyday calling her style original.
“The Way You Love Me” is a consistent romp-fest ode to mandingo-handler crippling p-power and songwriters who can swag and love in a bikini and boots: NBD.
Keep the hating up and she’ll go gansta-boo on the critics, I say. “There’s a limit, there’s a limit” to how much an entire industry of superficials can finger-wag.
Photo from Fanpop.com
November 20, 2010
By Ruthnie Angrand
Rihanna Fenty’s new red hair is something like a consolidation of sexy-thang and the young, fresh, sweet and very Bajan singer who came into the television set with “Pon de Replay” years ago.
The singer is receiving mixed reviews after the dramatic shift from her edgy, rock star Rated-R look to her bright-red but sexy and subtle mature-pop look. Her poignant cute accent and melodic dip-thongs now sing “It’s so good being bad (Uh huh, Uh huh), there’s no way I’m turning back” all under loud colors and openly womanly sexy beckons.
Rihanna is grown. Her music, dare I not knock on wood, is refreshingly clear of the dark Chris Brown saga. The singer’s relationship with Chris Brown resulted in a break up and bad press for both artists (depending on what you call bad in RiRi’s case). Yet it did something interesting to their music: it gave it a plot.
Rihanna’s music let her explore darkness, an in-your-face attitude and boldness while Brown’s music became fiercely produced, open and vocally extended.
Rihanna picked our attention when she embraced the “me do what me want” attitude by walking onto a shoot with black, short edgy hair and a poked out posterior. The rest was history.
We all know the edgy, super-Sasha-fierce inspired Rihanna couldn’t last forever. We didn’t see the fire-engine red-haired pop star barely clothed in a field as an album cover either. Thank God, because on the respects of her vocal progression from chest to head voice through verses (as opposed to the rated R monotone chants, reverbing chorus and low-register rocker singing) Rihanna is the girl gone wild who has calmed down but still likes it how she likes it.
The song “S&M” sings about how she likes … well, sex. On her site, song previews tease about how she still is GREAT, yes, GREAT at pop. She drinks to the weekend in “Cheers” and is now vocally challenging herself to be versatile and great throughout the entire album. It is an exciting transition. “Life’s too short to be sitting around miserable” she sings in “Cheers” so RiRi isn’t sitting around and neither will listeners on this album. If Loud doesn’t do well than consumers have forgotten what good music is made of and can do for them: lighten them up.
In her video with Drake, “What’s My Name”, Rihanna is coy and her genuine sound is natural. It’s pop, in hot pursuit of platinum, and her look is “me”. The gentle hip rolls in the street, the chemistry with Drake and the subtle hand movements that shear out energy at the tips to make even Tyra Banks shiver, all show a very interesting RiRi that whom audiences do not know.
It’s refreshing to hear Loud after Rated-R. It was the next natural place to go and congratulations to Rihanna for going there, owning it, branding it, liking it and allowing fans to love it. The #navy’s getting new recruits with this video directed by Philip Andelma. We didn’t see any of it coming, and that’s nice for a change.
Photo courtesy of Jeanrae
November 19, 2010
By Ruthnie Angrand
I seen it, done it, ran it, run it
Been to the bottom and I came back from it
That’ll be a pain in the pit of my stomach
Don’t regret a thing just to keep it one hundred…
Rain starts pouring and it don’t stop
Let myself drown, no, I will not
Smile on my pretty mug
I get right back on my horse and I giddy up - Chrisette Michelle “I’m a Star”
When it seems the singer/songwriters of the era were nomination trophies, they come back with gold-mine producers, face-forward music videos and lyrics we don’t feel stupid repeating. The nominations are recognition that artists like Chrisette Michele and Keri Hilson are capturing attention and catching ears, wether they’re songs are hits for themselves or for those whom they are writing.
Chrisette Michelle has made bold moves to free herself from the paparazzi opinion. Writing about tabloid harassment over cutting her hair, public relationships, her weight, her exposure and sales, Chrisette Michelle identifies with what is becoming the entertainment industry’s grassroots “fight for what is real” movement.
Donning the real figure that women praise, a style that her musical peers congratulate and video directed by Armen Djerrahian, Ms.Chris is a star the culture (and I) am glad to have back in her new video “I’m a Star.”
Soul singing on Rick Ross’ Aston Martin Music, donning the gold and head wraps in I’m a Star, and even blasting off at the industry for its lack of professionalism (on her tumblr (http://chrisettemichele.tumblr.com/). She’s a free bird by calling herself one word: “me” and she’s not alone.
Keri “Ms.Keri Baby” Hilson pens for so many artists but has withstood, strongly, the hater blasts that her music isn’t as interesting. Artists from Ciara, Britney Spears, Omarion, Beyonce and the list (will go on) of hits in the past half decade have come from this woman’s catchy tunes, mental line breaks and hypnotic track-fitting voice. On her new single “Breaking Point” Hilson pulls out the roar in a Jazmine Sullivan kind of way. Thought this may make her seem unoriginal, it proves that Ms. Keri baby can do it all: soul, smooth, sexy, sultry and sincere.
The video to pretty girl shows more of her dance ability and respects to ladies in the spectrum of music. This is quickly becoming another decade of healthy music, talent-filled artists who bring back the appreciation for triple-threats and strong characters with creative appreciation for what they do. Like Chrisette Michelle, Keri has pulled out of the non-sense feuds fueled by press and media hype. And with the new albums, Chrisette’s Let Freedom Ring (November 30th release) and Hilson’s No Boys Allowed (December 21st release), the artists are open, really open and have reserved the best writing for themselves… it seems.
Giving homage to Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross, Donna Summers, Janet Jackson and TLC and ladies everywhere by encouraging their own beauty. Keri whose nearly flawless former-model face is a beautiful outtro to the video directed by Joseph Kahn.
By: Ruthnie Angrand
Date: July 3, 2010
There’s a place where true talent grows in dark corner from the core of a God-creation. A place where people who sing don’t get far enough but people who can feel with their voice, with their keys and through their instrument stand more than a chance. We’re in that place with a songstress I Recommend: Kendria Bailey.
Unsigned artist, Kendria Bailey, has been singing her heart open and bleeding talent for two decades. The softness and “non-puniness” of her voice simultaneously is proof that no matter what we choose to die as in life, we must be better at it awake than asleep. After the image, after the initial “I can sing” there must be more to artists. The best performers and musicians of our time with exception to Lada Gaga and any Idol Alums, happen to be the same best artists and performers from a decade ago.
On Sunday Best, one judge told winner LeAndria Johnson, “You’ve taken us past the ‘i can sing thing’ and invited us into your place of worship.”
The sincerity in artists are transparent, radiating and contagious to their advantage. The placement of Ms.Bailey’s crescendos, natural vibrato and richness with bright soprano potential and effortless rings of a falsetto cannot be rehearsed. It is training giving way to talent. The performers of our generation may wow audiences on stage but if they never connect, never truly open up and connect then they are on that stage alone and that’s such a lonely place to be.
Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Luther Vandross, Prince, Brittany spears (after the comeback), T.I., Usher, Eminem, 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G all made sense to the masses. We ‘got’ them because they allowed us to see them.
This young woman’s ease behind an instrument, genuine smile and wordsmith ability as a writer is star-power. Her YouTube videos chronicle her in studios until 4am singing away without a negative wrinkle to share. The music is obviously the expression, the conversation, the worship and everything sacred to a musician.
“Why can’t my love be enough…
I can move mountains for you,
I can make the stars sing you a song…
I can make the heavens open up an show you a world beyond your own…
If you just give me a chance to make you happy once again.”
Your love is enough, Ms.Bailey, and your talent is perfect. God’s speed on your career. Check her out below.
JeanRae for Music Mondays.
JeanRae claims no rights to the music or video content. All rights are that of Kendria Bailey for KendriaMusic 2010.
By: Ruthnie Angrand
Submitted to: examiner.com
Submitted Date: June 4, 2010
When 70’s hot making Stylistics recorded “You are everything,” they could have only imagined that the “You are Everything” , then peaking #9 on Billboard  , would be resampled and outlive generations of trends and styles, many of which have bored me. It was until the single found its modern musical revival through Letoya Luckett, former Destiny Child pop-group member, that I cared or even appreciated the original rendition.
The Stylistics, for those born in the 80’s and beyond, are the same male group that delivered “Betcha by Golly, Wow” and “Break Up To Make Up” from the 70’s. These songs were big with moms and dads and the people who came in-between. The 70’s had that swing, talk and croon singing style that kept feelings timeless even as singles like “Everything” aged.
Everyone’s covered or sampled or slightly sampled “You Are Everything.” Making mention of the more notable singers tackling this sample or cover are Jennifer Lopez, Rod Stewart, Vanessa Williams, Mary J. Blige, Deborah Cox, LeToya Luckett, Human Nature, Craig David and (rumored) Usher. They all swayed and breathily sang softer than my attention could hold for an R&B song (thank the Almighty for crunk&B but that’s another article).
Vanessa Williams, interestingly enough, came pretty close to exciting smooth jazz fans as her version earned frequent rotation on Smooth Jazz stations with mid-verse modulation and smooth instrumental bridge. It was a smooth Jazz DJ’s heaven. Yet newer, quicker, tweeting and texting-while-driving generations need more than a “good cover” to encourage a spending of recession dollars.
Separating cover from sample, Luckett, who sang in Destiny Child with the living melisma herself Beyonce, became ambitious with her samlple for “everything” on the single “Torn.”
Luckett lives near her head voice for effect and emotion on Torn as opposed to taking the smooth “I-miss-you” croon; a route taken by near-all of her predecessors. Her sample, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, had purpose and pang.
Luckett is true to R&B in message only: “Yes, I miss you and don’t know what i should do with my feelings” is the message. We get it. The soul however comes in before the song even reaches bridge climax. Mid-second verse, Luckett is projecting at what most young R&B female singers would find an uncomfortable range above their chest voice all the while refraining from battering listeners with unnecessary vibrato. She stays above the instruments without screaming and doesn’t flatten a note. She is “sangin” as the southerners would say.
Jimmy Jam, of course, keeps the track busy with scales and chimes, flutes and embellishments. Everything that would annoy a consumer in the hands of a novice producer. The extras are Eastern, bright and adds the American consumers smile to hear. It is a challenging but necessary bar-setter for breakout performers like Luckett to sing through the music and looping tracks from the confines of the studio booth. The result is a seasoned music sophomore ready to give the industry another swing her own bat. Luckett if a musical force with whom not to be reckoned.
JeanRae Review for Music Mondays
1. “The Stylistics US chart history”. billboard.com. Retrieved 2010-06-27
2. Jennifer Lopez - sampled for “The One” on her album This Is Me… Then
3. Rod Stewart - featured on his 1991 album Vagabond Heart
4. Vanessa L. Williams - featured on Everlasting Love
5. Mary J. Blige - 1997 “Everything
6. Deborah Cox - sampled for 1997 “Things Just Ain’t the Same”
7. Human Nature - 2005 Reach Out: The Motown Record
8. Craig David - sampled for “Kinda Girl For Me” 2007 Trust Me