Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 24-04-2013
Tags: downloads, New Music, Tory Lanez
Imagine Lil Wayne’s “Prostitute” but with a T-Minus sound and Drake OVO feel? Can’t do it? Just press play on Tory Lanez’s new song, “Hate Me On The Low.” It only makes sense that he’s from Toronto. Check out his Facebook here look out for his next mixtape, Conflicts of My Soul, later this year.
Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 20-04-2013
It’s great, and everyone who’s been there loves it, but nobody talks about it. We all go there, but for each person, it’s their “spot.” Let me bring you here. Finding out about it feels like being let in on a secret, or getting inducted into a Skull and Bones-like society. Except everybody in town knows about it. It’s no secret, but people are still staking dibs, because it’s cool to feel like an early-adopter or a faux tastemaker. Remember who brought you here first! I put you on.
I could be talking about any number of NYC restaurants and food carts (dibs on Mitu’s Kazi Halal on 14th and 3rd though), but really, I’m talking about James Fauntleroy—the most known unknown in R&B, pop, and hip-hop today.
To understand how Fauntleroy has become the industry’s Mitu, you need to know the information, or lack thereof, on Fauntleroy. A quick Google search brings up no Wikipedia page, no real press, no About.com biography—nothing. An image search brings up pictures of Drake, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Common, and a few dummy lit portraits of a chubby looking black guy with thick rectangular glasses. That chubby guy with the glasses—that’s Fauntleroy. The fact that pictures of other, more famous artists appear over ones of Fauntleroy himself should give a clue to his role in music. He writes songs for other people, who then execute his demos and land on the radio. The faces of other artists who appear in his image search are just a few of the ones he’s done work with. Sometimes Fauntleroy even records the intro or choruses to finished songs, but doesn’t receive credit in the titles.
(This 42 second clip is the only existing press of Fauntleroy. Huh?)
Fauntleroy’s had more than a few of his songs reach the radio too. As part of the production team The Underdogs, Fauntleroy helped pen Jordin Sparks’ Grammy nominated “No Air,” which also peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2007. Last year, he worked on G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer. That voice at the beginning of “Clique” that could be Justin Vernon but could also be a sample? That was Fauntleroy, but his name wasn’t included alongside Big Sean, Jay-Z, and Kanye West as a credited artist. His most profound impact, however, came just last month, as it was revealed that he wrote every single song on Justin Timberlake’s platinum comeback album The 20/20 Experience.
(In fact, if you Google Fauntleroy’s name, the first result is a Wikipedia page for something called “The Y’s.” The Y’s are actually a production team comprised of Timberlake, Fauntleroy, and Underdog producer Rob Knox.)
Still, having dozens of songwriting credits to your name doesn’t garner widespread attention. The likes of The-Dream, Frank Ocean, and Keri Hilson were all anonymous acts, only really known to A&R’s and music nerds, until they stepped into the spotlight through their own solo work, and their names started appearing in the titles of songs instead of the liner credits.
With Fauntleroy’s impact largely existing behind-the-scenes, you wouldn’t expect for any of his own material to be available. Most of his song demos will never see the light of day, so we’ll never really hear any original James Fauntleroy work just for James Fauntleroy, right? Wrong, although he’s chosen to still keep his own name off of his own songs, of which there are three entire EPs worth. Along with No I.D. and Common, Fauntleroy’s formed the group Cocaine80s. All three of their EPs are outstanding, as you’d expect them to be with No I.D.’s production, Fauntleroy’s writing, and Common’s rapping. But Fauntleroy’s voice continues to be the stand-out part of Cocaine80s’ music—it’s sweet, syrupy but still soulful, and delicate when it needs to be.
Every Cocaine80s song could easily be titled as a James Fauntleroy song featuring Common (who doesn’t appear on a good portion of Cocaine80s songs) and produced by No I.D., but he continues to to elude the the “Artist” tab in my iTunes. He’ll never be as widely known as long as he continues to release what’s essentially solo material behind the Cocaine80s name. Any searches for music with his name on it will turn up demos and his Myspace page, which was last updated with new material in 2006. In the iTunes store, his name only appears on three songs, but only as a featured guest, even though he’s contributed many more guest appearances throughout his career.
It wasn’t until earlier this week that Fauntleroy was named as a featured artist on a song that people actually paid attention to. Ah, the power of Aubrey Graham. Drake’s new track “Girls Love Beyonce” was the first notable guest appearance of his career. His contribution to “Girls Love Beyonce” isn’t anything different from what he’s done in the past. On the track, Fauntleroy sings the hook, just like he did on four uncredited cuts on Common’s last album, The Dreamer, The Believer—but this time, this happened:
This time, every blog and media outlet was saying Fauntleroy’s name. That “featuring James Fauntleroy” tag in the title is huge—without it, Rolling Stone, MTV, Billboard, and Complex aren’t writing Fauntleroy’s name in their blurbs. Now, every Drake fan knows of Fauntleroy and his heard his voice, and I think Drake has more than a few fans.
Still, within the blogosphere, it’s still hush hush over Fauntleroy. He’s still just a member of Cocaine80s. He’s still just a name found on Wikipedia track listings and in album liners. He’s not even “still just James Fauntleroy,” because that doesn’t quite mean anything.
He may have the lead voice in three of the most brilliant pop EPs of the past two years, the first voice on “Clique,” and a large responsibility for the biggest pop album of 2013, but he’s still only known in blogging and industry circles, because we like it that way. We’ve all known about Fauntleroy for years now, but nobody has bothered to promote him and his universally acclaimed music, or to judiciously document his tremendous impact. The only profile piece on him is from 2008. While it doesn’t have an interview with him, it does have this revealing thought:
We’ve all heard Chris Brown’s (featuring Keri) “Superhuman” right? That’s Fauntleroy. Jordin Sparks & Brown’s “No Air”? Again Fauntleroy. As is Chris Brown’s “Lottery” and Usher’s “Will Work For Love.” See, you’ve known James Fauntleroy all along.
Knowing Fauntleroy but also not knowing him isn’t a problem when he’s not in the conscious of the average pop, R&B, or hip-hop listener. Why let the whole world in on a great thing when it can be done slowly, carefully, and with an atmosphere of mystique to it? And while bloggers can still call dibs on him?
That’s about to change. With “Girls Love Beyonce,” Fauntleroy’s finally taking some credit for himself, and we’re all going to be taking credit for him. Remember that Fauntleroy cat? I put you on. For now, James Fauntleroy continues to be music’s worst-kept secret, just like that famous but not famous dive bar from back home.
Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 16-04-2013
Tags: chromatics, music videos, Voli
We haven’t heard much from Voli lately, but I’ve been assured that new music is coming from the talented New Jersey artist. Here he adds visuals to a cut from his In The Meanwhile tape, which he directed himself. Good work always gets noticed. Let’s hope Voli keeps it up.
Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 16-04-2013
Tags: album reviews, Indicud, kid cudi
Kid Cudi has yet to settle down. His third solo album and fourth overall, Indicud—a release which marks Cudi’s departure from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music and the start of his new label, Wicked Awesome Records—is as restless as it is different. In looking at Cudi’s career from above hip-hop’s perch, grouping his first two Man on the Moon albums into one sonic suite is reasonable—each was mostly produced by Plain Pat and Emilie. His last album, WZRD, was his foray into rock with partner Dot da Genius. Indicud is, well, neither Man on the Moon nor WZRD. It’s beyond left-field, over the fence, and into unknown territory for Cudi.
On his mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, and his subsequent three albums, Cudi either had help on the boards, or left the producing to someone else. Plain Pat and Emilie crafted an eerie, dark, signature sound for Cudi early in his career. He and Dot da Genius, as newfound guitarists and bassists, made an album of garageband jams on WZRD. On Indicud, Cudi handles nearly all of the production by himself, with an assist from Hit-Boy on “Red Eye.” Indicud‘s production was always going to be a challenge for a rookie producer.
While Cudi has expressed that it was his intention for the beats to be simplistic, taking that claim at face value would be giving him too much credit. His intentions may have been more circumstantial than purposeful. Undoubtedly, the simplicity and slight amateurism of much of the album’s production can be attributed to Cudi’s inexperience. Cudi didn’t start producing seriously for himself until 2012, and in 2013, Indicud emerged. The inclusion of tracks like “New York City Rage Fest” and “Burn Baby Burn”—two instrumentals that sound half-finished—prove that Cudi still has a lot to learn. He’s just not as good of a producer as the artists who’ve done his musical bidding in the past, and no one can expect him to be at this point. But that still doesn’t excuse the lack of outside help on the production side. Plain Pat and Emilie continue to be missed, Dot Da Genius only had production credits for the drums of two songs on Indicud, and Hit-Boy wasn’t nearly involved enough. Kanye played no part in any aspect of the album, despite Cudi confirming that collaborations were recorded—a curious decision which speaks to his desire for independence.
Hit the jump to read the rest of the review, and to see the final rating.
Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 16-04-2013
Tags: downloads, drake, Girls Love Beyonce, New Music, Say My Name
After DJ Khaled let go “No New Friends”—a track that Drake gave Khaled for his upcoming album, Suffering From Success, Drake followed up with some new new of his own. Considering that “No New Friends” was whack outside of Drake’s verse and the immaculate Future outro, “Girls Love Beyonce” is Drake doing right. It’s a classic “I’m sensitive and insecure so I need that someone to hold me down” Drake song. I feel like we’ve had about three albums worth of this kind of material already, but it’s still a cool track. 40 samples the Destiny’s Child classic “Say My Name,” and James Fauntleroy (probably the most known unknown singer/songwriter in R&B and hip-hop) provides the hook and some backing vocals to give the beat some smooth detail. Stream and download below.
We actually heard a skeleton of this song as early as 2011, when Drake was performing a “Say My Name” cover during his shows. If you listen closely, you can hear 40′s sample. Kind of wish Drake had done the hook himself for “Girls Love Beyonce,” given how tender young Aubrey’s voice is here.
Posted by Justantha | Posted in Justantha, Justin's Archive, Samantha's Archive | Posted on 19-03-2013
J: I can’t believe that “SexyBack” was 2006. That was the height of Bar Mitzvah season for us. Usher’s Confessions STILL was on fire at the time too—it should’ve been so easy for me to get some grinding on at these $10,000 parties. (Note: I did no such grinding.) I remember listening to ESPN talk-show personality Michael Kay play “SexyBack” on the air and call it “disgusting, vile, and everything wrong with today’s children.” That just made me want to download it. I even renamed it “back” in my Limewire folder because I didn’t want my dad to find out I had downloaded it. Shit was crazy. Above all, it was hot.
A few presidential terms, an entire high school experience, one Chief Keef, and more than a few lonely nights curled up with “Cry Me A River” and “What Goes Around… Comes Around” later, and I’m finally listening to a new Justin Timberlake album. It feels weird—surreal, really. What other major artist in pop history has ever taken such a lengthy hiatus to then reappear and not miss a beat? Pop music has changed so much since then. We’ven gone from Gwen to GaGa. Seven years is FOREVER—an entire generation—in entertainment, yet JT came back in three months without any hiccups, delays, or bad press. It’s all gone too smoothly. But maybe that’s the result of an unknown number of years of planning for this.
S: It’s so weird to think about the seven years that have passed since FutureSex/LoveSounds dropped. I was so afraid that my mom would see the word “sex” show up in my iTunes purchase history after copping the singles. That album though… it was truly a MOMENT. It’s so funny hearing someone say that they’re “bringing sexy back” nearly a decade after the phrase first entered the pop culture vernacular. It’s been awesome to hear JT’s sonic evolution though. He’s remained true to his signature sound (save for the few Robin Thicke-isms) while still being progressive at the same time.
AND CAN WE TAKE A MINUTE TO TALK ABOUT TIMBO?
Hit the jump to read on.
Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 18-03-2013
As an American, despite whatever cynical view you may or not have about the United States and American culture, you have to face the facts: ‘Murcia still runs shit. I’m not a flag-hugging Budweiser drinking Patriot by any means, but I feel that too often
liberals who question our place in the world and anti-Obama conservatives Americans often have a jaded view of our country. It’s easy to be disillusioned today as a young American when we feel like the powers that be are only working to further their means at the cost of everyone else’s. We look at the weakened dollar, the “Made In China” tags on all our goods, and our unemployment rate and ask, “What the hell happened?”
Well, a lot of shit happened. I’m no expert in politics or economics, so I couldn’t hope to explain it all. I am, however, a consumer of American culture not only in the States, but also in my new home abroad in the UK. I too was jaded about America’s place in the world before I moved overseas for a semester. Being here has made me realize that culturally, America is dominant, omnipresent, and desirable for people the world over. Even if they don’t like us, Europeans want to be us, or at least emulate us superficially.
This is particularly true about New York City. Almost every urban fashion chain in the UK has t-shirts and sweatshirts with “New York,” “Brooklyn,” printed on them, or feature famous New Yorkers like Christopher Wallace. As a brand, New York City takes a leading role in the Empire of American Culture. Shoppers may have never been to Brooklyn, or even know the difference between New York City and Brooklyn, but they know that it’s cool to know about those places. In Prague, I saw a giant department store called “New Yorker.” It’s not just enough to sell poor representations of how Europeans imagine New Yorkers dress—they need to sell the brand, the feeling, and the attitude of a New Yorker.
MTV may not mean much to today’s Americans when it comes to music, but in London, MTV is still Music Television. 80% of MTV’s audience actually comes from outside of the United States. The lobby of my building keeps an MTV channel on the televisions all the time. It’s a constant loop of American music videos. Seeing Will Smith, Biggie, Run DMC, and Michael Jackson on t-shirts in London stores shows how American music is the foremost representation of our culture. They may not like George Bush, but they sure do like “Juicy.”
It’s impossible to walk around London without seeing at least one direct or indirect allusion to New York or American culture. That not only goes for London, but also for the three other European cities I’ve visited: Liverpool, Dublin, and Prague.
In Liverpool, I heard Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” in a cab, and a ton of The Killers. If I had to pick the UK’s #1 American band based on plays in clubs, stores, and taxis, The Killers would be my choice. It’s all the English seem to listen to when they want to party.
Dublin had mostly Top 40. Rihanna, Bruno Mars, and Chris Brown got heavy radio play. Advertisements for Ne-Yo, Bon Jovi, and Guns N’ Roses concerts were plastered on fences throughout the city. A huge advertisement for Rihanna’s new clothing line was put up at the end of O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main street for tourism. It seemed like only tourists were interested in hearing traditional Irish music be played. The Irish are heavy consumers of American pop and classic rock.
Prague had the biggest musical surprise. Classic Motown singers like Diana Ross and James Brown received heavy play in my hotel lobby. I heard Curtis Mayfield records at a Czech pub. Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson were played at a crafts store. But none of those names surprised me that much when I heard their music. Motown, Mariah Carey, and Michael Jackson are international names—everyone who’s ever listened to western music knows those characters. The biggest surprise was hearing Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” be played in a cafe next to the Prague Castle. Macklemore. The white guy from Seattle with the slicked-back hair. I know that “Thrift Shop” is a #1 record in the United States, but to still hear that funky horn and “I’m gonna pop some tagssss” in Eastern Europe was a total “shit is real” moment. I still don’t consider Macklemore a Top 40 artist or even a major star—he’s an Indie guy with an Indie sound who has a rabid fan base and one marketable song.
Macklemore, get out to Prague ASAP. The Czech await you. $20 is about 400 Czech koruna, which can buy you a lot more than a funny coat. With beer cheaper than water and no traditional entree over $15, Prague is the place to be for a Thrift Shop Baby.
“I just run the world, I don’t do too much jogging.”—America
I’ll be visting Spain, Greece, and Turkey over the next two weeks, and the Netherlands in late April. Let’s see how far America’s cultural tentacles have reached.
Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 17-03-2013
We’ve never heard Beyoncé over a beat like this. Never. Hit-Boy laces Queen B with trap drums in what amounts to a heavy beat that I’d expect Future or A$AP to talk some slick-shit on. I thought Rihanna ran that lane with the Mike Will produced
“Bands” cover “Pour It Up,” but nah. Just nah. She takes a man’s track and adds the powerful feminism we’ve come to know her for—think “Run The World” but not corny. Beyoncé orders us to “bow down bitches,” with “bitch” not only directed at females, but males too. If you’re a bitch, then you’re a bitch, regardless of sex. *throws hands up in despair*
It’s Beyoncé over trap drums talking some disrespectful mess in a screwed up voice. I don’t think pop music can go any further now. Bow down, bitches. All hail Beyoncé Sosa Knowles.
“I told my crew to smack that trick, smack that trick, guess what they did? Smack that trick. Gold everything.”
Posted by S.Storch | Posted in Samantha's Archive | Posted on 12-03-2013
Tags: kelly rowland, Mike WiLL Made It, New Music, New Video
Kelly Rowland is having the best year ever and we’re only three months into 2013. From the mind-blowing Destiny’s Child reunion at the Super Bowl to her stunning appearance at the Grammys to her red carpet hosting gig at the Oscars, the only thing left in 2013 to conquer is her album release. Talk A Good Game is due out later this year but for now, get into the video for her second single “Kisses Down Low.” The video is a barrage of candy-coated color and Ms. Kelly looks stunning as usual. Peep the subtle DC references such as the flower swing (from the “No, No, No Pt. 2″ video) and of course the red hair that defined Kelly’s image for several years. If this song (produced by Mike WiLL Made It) and video (directed by Colin Tilley) is any indicator of what else is to come on her album, we’re here for it.