Summer is almost over and some interesting developments have happened in the music industry.
I remember last year at this time everyone was talking about Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj all trying to out do each other to reign as the Queen of Hip Hop. Commercially, it looked like Iggy had the crown in the bag with her video "Fancy". Azealia dropped some "Heavy Metal". While Nicki pimped herself out while dropping the most infectious hit of her career.
Jay Z claimed his new TIDAL music service was going to save the industry. He and Beyonce started courting their friends to sign on. Taylor Swift was in the studio putting the final touches on "1989". Madonna was working feverishly on her "Rebel Heart" project.
Okay…let's fast forward to today. Where is Iggy Azalea? After a heavy campaign by Azealia Banks to discredit Iggy because she was stealing record sales from black artists Iggy is no where to be found. Her guest appearance on Britney Spears' "Pretty Girls" solidified her as Pop and not Hip Hop. And where's Ms. Banks? Well, after continuing to piss off her fans and possible future fans with her homophobic and racial tweets, she started dating actor Jesse Bradford (from "Bring It On"). See, I told you she just said she was bisexual to manipulate a gay fan base!
And Nicki, mad that her rewrite of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" was not nominated for Video Of The Year for this year's VMAs, had a small twitter feud with Taylor Swift after saying that the VMAs were biased towards skinny white girls. Apparently her relationship with Meek Mills is strained after he and her fellow label mate, Drake had a very public feud by releasing several diss tracks. After listening to leaks from both rappers, it was obvious that Drake was a more clever lyricist.
Then there's Madonna, who can't seem to catch a break. After a strong release with "Living For Love" she screwed up by not releasing "Bitch I'm Madonna" until months later. In my opinion that should have been her debut single off of "Rebel Heart". Signing onto TIDAL along with Nicki and many others probably didn't help either.
It's rumored that Jay Z sold the company back in May. A paid music service in this day and age is just a bad idea. I know the artists want more control of how they get paid, but unfortunately that means that you have to come up with a new marketing plan and a better product to compete. If you are an established artist you have half the battle won. It's even tougher for the new artists who are trying to break through in today's music world.
It seems the more "new" music that is released, the older the sound is getting. This trend of 90s House as a formula for Dance Music today is a full rip off. A good example is a couple of producers who call themselves Tough Love. Apparently their thing is taking 90s R&B hits and remixing them and re-releasing them under their name and even sometimes changing the title of the track itself. Their "new" release of "Pony (Jump On It)" featuring Ginuwine is obviously to cash in on the Magic Mike movie. Their other release is a track called "So Freakin' Tight", another 90s hit, but the real title is "Freek N' You" by Jodeci (only they didn't give them credit at all). I really hate when people do stuff like that. Give credit where credit is due. Had Pharrell and Mark Ronson done the right thing from the beginning there would not have been any lawsuits.
There seems to be this nostalgia for all that is 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Some from my age group would say that is because today's music and trends are horrible. After hearing songs about big butts and sexually explicit lyrics on almost everything, where do you go from there? I guess you would have to start looking back at the classics and trying to bring them back, or at least use names and samples from back then.
A good example is the new release called "Marvin Gaye" by Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor. One half of a YouTube sensation, Charlie Puth is probably best known for singing the hook on "See You Again" with Wiz Khalifah for the Furious 7 soundtrack. The original of "Marvin Gaye" sounds like it is straight outta the 60s like Meghan's "All About That Bass". And even though there is a Cahill Remix I still don't see it being a club hit.
Speaking of the "Straight Outta" trend, Straight Outta Compton (the NWA bio pic) seems to be doing well at the box office. It's interesting that the film does a great job of glorifying misogyny and violence, but I guess that was the true story of Niggas Wit' Attitude. Even a washed up commercial rap group like the Black Eyed Peas wants to cash in on 90s Hip Hop with their latest release "Yesterday". Their music video is a slight rip off of Erykah Badu's record store themed video for "Honey".
After the fiasco of being sued for "Blurred Lines" and recently making statements that he will fight the ruling, Robin Thicke is attempting a comeback with his latest single "Back Together" featuring Nicki Minaj. Not sure what he is trying to do with this track. It has a Daft Punk feel to it's production, but doesn't really grab me as a dance floor favorite. Perhaps some remixes may help it, but he is another one who I think he needs to sit down for a while.
Nicki Minaj has a new single called "Trini Dem Girls" featuring LunchMoney Lewis. In my opinion it has a lot of pandering lyrics to give shout outs to girls from the islands. Out of the three who were vying for the Hip Hop crown last year, she's the only one who probably will wear it this fall. Girls like the Rich White Ladies with "Wimbledon" and Veronica Vega with "Pay Me" are cute but don't have the backing or the street cred of Ms. Minaj.
Speaking street cred, I wonder how much Jill Scott has left after publicly defending Bill Cosby. Interestingly enough after Bill's confession of drugging a woman for sex in a 2005 deposition came out, Jill suddenly changed her tune. I'm sure that had nothing to do with her new album "Woman" that featured the early leaked "You Don't Know" and "Fool's Good" which came out right after Mr. Cosby's last nail in his career's coffin.
But don't think I am hating on everything that has dropped recently. I am totally loving the tracks from the new Disclosure album "Caracal". "Omen" featuring Sam Smith is actually my favorite right now. And I'm loving that the boys decided to slow the BPMs down to the 100s. The Cutmore Club Remix of "Omen" is nice, but there is something really sexy about the original track. If I want an uptempo House track, Disclosure has me covered with "Holding On" featuring Gregory Porter. Thanks guys for introducing me to Mr. Porter. I probably would have never discovered his new single "Liquid Spirit". The Claptone Remix is sick! Dance Music is in desperate need of some serious male vocals.
I am also loving DJs From Mars right about now! They are killing it with their remixes and mash-ups these days. Their Mash-up of "Hey Mama" & "Walk This Way" Nicki Minaj vs. Run DMC breathed new life into both tracks. And the way they married "Enter Sandman" and "I Like To Move It" Metallica vs. Reel 2 Real was sure genius. Their MultiMegaMashUp of "Style" by Taylor Swift actually made me like that song, and they even did a "Part 2" of their clever "Phat Ass Drop" track.
It is always lovely to watch an artist grow and when I got an exclusive download of the new Runway Renee track, "My House" I was inspired to remix it. I actually gave Renee her first opportunity to perform live at an event that my husband I organized for World AIDS Day back in 2013. She has definitely become a very confident vocalist and her ambition plus passion is shining through with this release. Be on the look out for Runway Renee. Sources say she is working with some up and coming producers out of Africa. Can't wait to hear what is to come in 2016.
And finally, my last pick is the new Rita Ora featuring Chris Brown track "Body On Me". The Dave Aude Club Mix is a great 110 BPM House track. As soon as I heard it I knew I would mix it with Restless Soul's "Something Inside" featuring Zansika. It has that good old NYC Shelter sound, that "Good Feeling" House that makes you smile with your soul. There's definitely hope on the horizon.