Friday, September 28, 2012


Friday has arrived, and it's cause for celebration. What are you listening to? Here's what our readers are rocking.

This is it! WHAT! Charles Clark with another great track, let's get rich! WHAT! WHAT! WHAT!

Camp Lo, Uptown Saturday Night (1997)

Charles said: "Although in some parts they're rapping real fast and I don't know what they're saying or even what the point of the song is, I love Camp Lo's "Luchini AKA This Is It!" I'm guessing Luchini is money cause it's falling from the sky. Lol! Any song that contains made up words is OK with me."

Also check out:
"Coolie High"
"Black Nostaljack AKA Come On"

 Hunter Murphy bows to a true queen of soul.

Etta James, The Definitive Collection (2006)

Hunter said: "I'll never forget the first time I heard that magical music of Etta James."Tell Mama" hooked me like a catfish. I would have told that soul woman anything, quite frankly. Shoot, I'd have called her "mama" if she'd asked. Of course, choosing from Etta's catalog is tough. I love her slower ballads too, particularly "I'd Rather Go Blind." Mercy, what a wonder. And lastly, I learned to play guitar using the music of The Eagles, sitting on the front porch of our house in Scottsboro. And as much as I appreciate those boys, hearing Etta sing "Take It To The Limit" is an experience no soul music enthusiast should miss."

Also check out:
"Tell Mama"
"Take It To The Limit"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit me up on Twitter @etbowser, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album.  Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. I’ll feature your album on the blog.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Kaleidoscope Dream (to be released Oct. 2, 2012)

If you want to gauge the impact an artist is having in the industry, look no further than the fan base.

My beautiful wifey, a lifelong fan of R&B, has practically given up on the genre now dominated by watered-down pop and mind-numbing dubstep. The only relatively fresh face in R&B that holds her attention is Miguel, who wowed her with his 2010 debut All I Want Is You.

Trust me, if Miguel can reignite her love of R&B, he must be doing something right.

Nearly all the tracks in Miguel's sophomore set have made their way online in some form over the past six months. Just ask the wifey, she has 'em all on mixtapes. But unlike tracks from the recent G.O.O.D. Music compilation, most of the leaked tracks have flown under the radar so there are plenty of surprises for casual listeners.

First single "Adorn" is about as close to "traditional urban R&B" as you will get here. That's not a slight - "Adorn" carries a visceral passion that missing from a lot of today's hollow offerings. The remainder of the album, though, lives up to its billing. Miguel invites listeners into a spacey world where his dreams become reality. "Don't Look Back" is elegant and ethereal, as are the guitar licks on "The Thrill." Miguel's vocals on "Use Me" soar as he begs his woman to defile him before diving into the drugged-out haze of "Do You." The title track gently thumps over Labi Siffre's "I Got The" (the same sample used by Eminem's "My Name Is.") as Miguel rambles about journeying across the moon. Is he talking about sex? Drugs? Outer space? Who knows, but it sounds great.

Miguel's influences are clear as Purple Rain on "Arch & Point." Thankfully, it sounds more like a Prince homage than a flagrant carbon copy. And like Prince, even when Miguel is horribly vulgar ("P**** Is Mine") the gentleness of his voice will force you to let your guard down. He's got the art of seduction down to a science.

Kaleidoscope Dream only occasionally stumbles. "How Many Drinks" features an impressive falsetto but the lyrics are pretty pedestrian compared to everything else on the album. After using a hazy dreamscape to woo women, it's kinda lazy to resort to the ol' "getting girls drunk in the club" routine.

There's no sophomore slump here: Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dream is just as cohesive and alluring as his debut. Just ask the wifey - if you can tear her away from the album, that is.

Best tracks: "Adorn," "Use Me," "Do You"

4 stars out of 5
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Image via
It's time for our weekly battle with cupid. Is there a question about your love life that's keeping you up at night? Allow me to butt into your business.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question: 
Is it smart to get involved with a man with a newborn baby?

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Is it really Friday already? This week soared by – not that I'm complaining.

Ready for our Friday tradition? Here's some throwbacks to pump you up this morning.

Diane Hawkins shows loves to the Chubbster.

Chubb Rock, The One (1991)

Diane said: "Because I maintain that late ‘80s,  ‘90s and early 2000’s rap is much better than today’s icky garbage, I continue to listen to my lyrical heroes Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Dr. Dre (yes, Edd, I’m waiting for him to drop that Detox album any day now*) and Kingston, Jamaica, native Chubb Rock. The 1990 cut “Treat ‘Em Right” is one of my favorites to blast through my iPod’s ear buds  – risqué lyrics and all.  Imagine my surprise when I heard the “funky beat” being “pumped up”  by a 20-something at a picnic  this summer. It was just confirmation that Chubb Rock’s hit is timeless.  “And party people, sing it!"

*EDDitor's note: Detox ain't NEVA coming out!

Also check out:
"Just The Two of Us"
"The Chubbster"

Edward appreciates true talent.

Tamia, More (2004)

Edd said: "Sometimes I just don't get it. Tamia is the total package – she has outstanding vocal ability, head-turning beauty, a superstar husband (NBA baller Grant Hill), backing by Quincy Jones and is an industry veteran. Yet she never broke out as a superstar and I'm not sure why. Maybe if she made her mark just a few years earlier, she'd be spoken in the same breath as Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey. I guess it's a moot point because, despite her profile, Tamia has been releasing outstanding albums for more than a decade. Just because the world is missing out on a phenomenal talent doesn't mean you should too."

Also check out:

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album.  Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lupe Fiasco

Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 (released Sept. 24, 2012)

Real talk: It's put up or shut up time for Lupe.

Lupe Fiasco's monumental 2006 debut, Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor, still reigns as one of the top three rap albums of the past decade. The follow-up, 2007's Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, was another near-masterpiece. Rap seemed to have a new crown prince. But things went south with last year's Lasers - despite a decent showing commercially, Lupe's once-ravenous fan base was not satisfied with the abundance of uncharacteristic pop records. Lupe blamed the album's shortcomings on meddling from his record label. Since then, there have been rumors of retirement, political ramblings and pointless beefs with upstart rappers and even magazines.

Who beefs with magazine writers?

Lupe's in an unenviable position - he must prove to longtime fans that he's still the savior of conscious rap while also trying to capitalize on the commercial appeal of his last album. Food and Liquor 2 tries to serve two masters - the backpacking hip hop fan and the MTV-watching hipster - and does a much better job than Lupe's last album.

Lupe's known for his mind-bending concept tracks and he adds to his calaogue with "B*tch Bad." Lu puts the dreaded b-word under a microscope and flips it inside and out, forcing the listener to realize just how deeply those five letters have infitlrated our society. Peep the last four bars of the track as shows how divisive the word can be for a young couple:

Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart
But bad mean bad to him, b*tch don’t play your part
But b*tch still bad to her if you say it the wrong way
But she think she a b*tch, what a double entendre

Even the ad-libs Lupe sprinkle throughout the song ("I'm killing these b*tches!!!") are part of his ammo. What at first seems like typical rap cliches is an actual ATTACK on the typical rap cliches. It's a return to the Lupe of old - one who isn't afraid to use his words as weapons against society's ills.

Lupe admittedly can come off as preachy but he doesn't care. On "ITAL (Roses)" he reminds us that Lupe is "rapping bout the same sh*t/but that's cuz sh*t ain't changed." Earlier in song he pleads with his peers: "Can't we get a break from the cocaine and kilos?/Ain't no future in the gang bang/ain't no manhood in the 'bang-bang.'" But for those who still want to hear that drug talk, just check out "Form Follows Function": "Been in the stu all day cooking food for thought...might find sushi for your soul/we call that moving raw." Now THAT's dope.

Through most of the album, Lupe paints a pessimistic portrait of the American dream, which matches the eerily blank album cover. Lupe vividly lays out society's ills on "Lamborghini Angels" and riding Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth's old T.R.O.Y. beat on "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)." This isn't an album to throw on during a cookout or before you hit the club. It can be a heavy listen.

The album starts to sputter about three-fourths of the way through, when ventures into the dreaded Lasers territory. Lupe scales back his lyrical thunder for forgettable one-liners on "How Dare You." The hook on the current single "Battle Scars" is so grating that you'll eventually start tuning out Lupe's lyrics. And if you see any track that says "featuring Poo Bear," hit 'skip' on your iPod. These tracks may have endeared him to the mainstream last time out, but they stall the momentum of a solid project.

The album is also hurt by so-so production and a lack of diverse concepts, excluding B*tch Bad and the outro "Hood Now," which paints an entertaining - and accurate - portrait of urban life. Another strong concept track or two would have really gone a long way.

Food and Liquor 2 is nowhere near as good as Lupe's first two efforts but, thankfully, it's much stronger than his last one. Forget all the drama and pointless beefs, Lupe's rededication to his lyrics will remind you why he captivated us way back in 2006.

Best tracks: "Form Follows Function," "B*tch Bad," "Lamborghini Angels"

4 stars out of 5
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You know you're in for a treat when I IMMEDIATELY hop on my soapbox and start tap dancing like Gregory Hines.

One of my boys just shared the following site with me: It fancies itself as a "virtual supermarket where women are the clients and men are the products."

Men can register as Flavors "intellectual, artist, etc.," Packaging "rocker, hip hop head, etc." and Bonus Pack "smoker, muscular, etc." Then women can "purchase" the man that suites their tastes.

If you're a woman who just said to herself "That's a great idea!" LOG OFF NOW.

So we're literally treating people like canned goods now? According to this site, I should register as a "intellectual hip hop head jack of all trades." First, what does that even mean? And second, this playa is way deeper than a handful of random descriptions.

And I won't even get on the double standard - if this was a site where MEN were the clients and WOMEN were the products, y'all would be beating down Oprah's door claiming that women were being objectified.

UGH - I'm gonna go take my blood pressure pills. In the meantime, hit me up with your love questions.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question:
Why does it seem like chivalry is dead?

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Friday, September 14, 2012

It's weekend eve! Let's do a bit of musical time travel to ease you through the work day.

SIS fan Jasmine Harris is stuck off the realness.

Mobb Deep, The Infamous (1995)

Jasmine said: "The Infamous by Mobb Deep is a classic album to me.  As a 32 year old woman I don't "fit" the mold when it comes to appreciating a group as hardcore as Mobb Deep but nonetheless that album has gotten a good amount of play from me over the years.  The production was superb along with the beats and lyrics (no matter how ignorant at times).  The lyrics were so detailed that I could almost picture scene by scene what they were describing.

"My favorite song is "Trife Life." The intro to the song makes me think of a tropical paradise before Prodigy lays into the track. Maybe I feel a kindred spirit with them because we're similar in height (5'1 ish) lol ... but the album has definitely stood the test of time."

Also check out:
"Trife Life"
"Survival of the Fittest"

Amy Trang is ready to riot.

The Starting Line, Say It Like You Mean It (2002)

Amy said: "In honor of Riot Fest in Chicago this weekend, I can’t help but offer some pop punk from the past. The Starting Line’s Say It Like You Mean It  brings me back to dorm life and the days of putting this album on constant repeat. It’s the emo punk album that speaks to the trials and tribulations of college life including long-distance relationships (“The Best of Me”) and break-ups of said relationships ("A Goodnight’s Sleep" and “Decisions, Decisions”). Ah, the memories."

Also check out:
"A Goodnight's Sleep"
"Decisions, Decisions"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album.  Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

G.O.O.D. Music

Cruel Summer (to be released September 18, 2012)

Back when I was a wee playa (i.e., a young boy, not a Wii player...), the best feeling in the world was rushing to the record store on release day, paying $14.99 or whatever for a new CD, ripping off the plastic and popping in the disc. Back then, besides the radio single, the remaining album tracks were a complete mystery. You never knew what was coming next – that next track could change your life, or make you hate that artist forever. It's what made experiencing new music so exciting.

The digital age has dampened that since of wonder. These days, it's not uncommon to hear half an album months before it hits shelves – as is the case with this long-delayed compilation from Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music collective. Cruel Summer? More like Aggravating Autumn at this point.

My biggest fear with Cruel Summer was that we already had heard the best of what it has to offer months in advance. "Mercy," "I Don't Like (Remix)," "Clique," and "The One" have all been around in some shape or form for awhile now. Heck, "Theraflu" even had enough time to change names twice – to "Way Too Cold" and later just "Cold." Sean "Puff P. Diddy Daddy" Combs would be proud.

I worried that Cruel Summer would be the equivalent of a movie that gave away all the best scenes in the trailer. That's true to an extent, but there's still a few surprises.

By far, the best track here is "New God Flow." Now, I might be a bit biased (the track samples one of my all-time favorites, "Mighty Healthy" from Ghostface Killah) but Pusha T and Kanye exhibit a surprising amount of chemistry as they maraud through the track. When Ye spits "I'm from the 312/Where cops don't come through and dreams don't come true/Like "Where did God go?" In his Murcielago/From working McDonald's, barely paying the car note" the track wallows in excess but still stays connected with the streets. Finding that balance is a lost art these days.

This, of course, is Kanye's project, so he's obviously the featured attraction, which he gleefully reminds us by spitting rapid-fire heat on "Cold." But Push is by far the album MVP.  He leads the charge on "The Morning," decimating the landscape before being joined by Raekwon and Common (not surprisingly, the quality of that track drastically drops when 2 Chainz and company show up later). Pusha also abducts the beat of "Higher" and holds it for ransom. And in one of those surprises I mentioned earlier, Ma$e shows up out of the blue and actually holds his own. I'm not sure how Pastor Mason will explain to his congregation why he told a girl to "bounce on it" and "throw her mouth on it" but it'll make an interesting sermon on Sunday.

Other members of the G.O.O.D. music roster also make strong showings. I've never been very high on Kid Cudi but his sing-songy flow is perfect for "Creepers." And "Bliss," John Legend's duet with Teyana Taylor, may finally be the vehicle to propel her career.

Still, the set suffers from some of the usual Kanye pitfalls – sometimes he just goes overboard. R. Kelly's yelling and overblown lyrics on "To The World" are way too over the top. I have no idea why it was selected to open the album when it's one of the weakest tracks. Hearing Marsha Ambrosius sing about keeping a pistol on her hip just sounds wrong on "The One," almost as wrong as Kanye is for switching up the beat of "Mercy" to that dreadful eurotrash as he spits his verse. Biggie on "It's All About The Benjamins" it's NOT. And the "I Don't Like Remix" is still as lazy and uninspiring as it was when it dropped months ago.

By the way, I still don't get Ye's fascination with Big Sean and 2 Chainz. They are all over this album and besides finding new and creative ways to describe big booties, they don't offer very much.

Early reviewers that have pegged this album as a modern classic need to calm down. It's definitely a strong set and a great showcase for Ye's lesser-known cohorts. But like a good movie that gave away big plot twists months ago, you won't be on the edge of your seat but you'll definitely enjoy the ride.

Best tracks: "New God Flow," "Cold," "Bliss"

4 stars out of 5
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Fall is fast approaching, which means temperatures soon will be dipping.

You know what else that means? The annual Boo Season!

Y'all know Boo Season - the weather gets cold so everyone starts grabbing cuddle buddies (i.e., "booing up") to ride out those nippy nights.

Before your new Boo Thang turns into The Swamp Thing, you might wanna run your concerns by me.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question:
Why is it when men are finally ready for a relationship they expect you to jump because they are finally ready?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You know things have gotten out of control when I have to come to the aide of my Cousin (9 times rmoved) Chris Brown.

Cousin Chris was recently spotted with a new neck tat that threw a match on the gas-soaked stack of tires that is social media. released the pic above, which some say looks like a battered woman.

Cousin Chris? Battered woman? You don't say!

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The most frequent request I get at Soul In Stereo is for more videos. Well, ask and ye shall receive.

Introducing Audio Ambush, where yours truly and his trusty camera-wifey accost fans about various music topics.

Today, I sit down with the beautiful Amanda to chat about her love of Neo-Soul. I was just happy to chill with a woman in her early 20s who knows Nina Simone is soul legend, not a gun rappers talk about. Check it out below.

Want to submit your own video discussing sounding off on music? Send a vid to or find me on Twitter @etbowser
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Can you believe it's already Friday? That's the beauty of a four day week.

Here's something to make your day even more beautiful – good ol' throwbacks.

Kimberly Jackson appreciates evolution.

Ciara, Ciara: The Evolution (2006)

Kim said: "This is Ciara's second album and show show much she has grown since "Goodies."
"Promise" is a standout cut."

Also check out:
"Like A Boy"
"Can't Leave 'Em Alone"

Edward takes his shirt off/spins it 'round his head like a helicopter.

Petey Pablo, Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry (2001)

Edd said: "Everyone remembers Petey for his raucous single "Raise Up", but his debut album doesn't get enough love. Petey's style has a bizarre mix of influences – think Biz Markie, Mystikal and Anthony Hamilton with a dash of Southern Baptist minister. Plus, it features a ton of production from beatsmith extraordinaire Timbaland. This album is still in rotation in the Eddmobile."

Also check out:
"Didn't I"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album.  Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Well, the brain trust over at MTV decided to schedule their annual VMA show to go head-to-head with the Democratic National Convention. You know, because it's more important to have the youth of America looking at Lil Wayne's buttcrack that hearing the nation's leaders speak.

Thankfully MTV moved the show up so it wouldn't directly conflict with the presidential address. Still, since 99% of Soul In Stereo's readership was probably watching the DNC (and rightfully so), I bit the bullet and recapped the show.

If you decided to skip MTV and watch the DNC, you definitely made the right decision.

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Undisputed (to be released Sept. 11, 2012)

Timing is everything.

In early 1997, around the time of the death of The Notorious B.I.G., the rap world began to enjoy an unprecedented taste of mainstream success. Rappers sampled upbeat hits from bygone eras, serving as a backdrop for their boasts of fast money, fast cars and fast women. The grittiness that dominated rap just a couple of years was pushed aside in favor of the infamous Shiny Suit Era.

Image via
Ugh, yeah. Those guys.

But seemingly out of nowhere, a snarling wolfman brought that to a crashing halt. While the rap world was wallowing in excess, DMX became the mad dog of war - literally barking and howling about his struggles. X became the best of both rap worlds: his hard core yet relatable lyrics were embraced by the streets while his over-the-top personality and unbridled energy made him a mainstream star. His classic 1998 debut, It's Dark And Hell Is Hot - the story of X's struggle between his good and bad side - still resides in my top five albums of all time.

Fast forward to 2012 and rap is in need of another revolution. When the No. 1 song in the country is a rap song disguised as a pop song, the door is wide open for DMX to inject rap with his trademark fury. Undisputed, X's looooooooong-delayed seventh studio album, doesn't quite hit the mark, but probably hits harder than you'd expect.

X's fatal flaw has always been that's he sort of a one-trick puppy. While his peers like Eminem, Nas and Jay-Z have all evolved with the times, X has stayed almost exactly the same. Same ad libs (WHAT!), same production (COME ON!), same subject matter (GRRRRRRRRR!) And if you're dying to hear X circa 1999, you'll find the same old dog here. "What They Don't Know" has X "coming through like Deebo" with that trademark aggression and energy that rivals most of his contemporaries. That track, along with "Get Your Money Up" reunites X with Swizz Beatz, who thankfully tucks away his lame hypeman act. I guess he didn't want to be around while X yells about sodomy and stuff. "Head Up" is the usual inspirational track from X, as he continues to struggle with the angel and devil on his shoulders. "Y'all Don't Really Know" and "Frankenstein" are also run-of-the-mill X songs. Don't get me wrong, they're not bad and are guaranteed crowd-movers. They just come off like watered down versions of earlier hits like "What's My Name."

X occasionally ventures into new territory.  "I"m Back," "Sucka For Love" and "Have You Eva" see the dog spitting over soulful samples - it's a great change of pace but the production still sounds slightly dated. It's like comparing the soulful tracks on Nas' Life is Good to Kanye's soul beats on Graduation. Still, those tracks are light years ahead of "I Get Scared," which sounds like one of B.O.B.'s throwaways. It's like trying to put a dress on a pit bull - it's just WRONG.

It's telling that the best track here by far is "Already," which was released at least four years ago! "Already" is everything I wish Undisputed could be - frantic, uncontrollable and a little bit scary. It's X at his best. Still, when the album's best track was around during the Bush administration, that's a problem.

DMX had definitely gone from top dog to underdog in the rap game. Considering all of X's legal woes over the past seven or eight years, I'm sure Undisputed was expected to be a total wash. That's definitely not the case.  In most instances X brings the energy (although he does sound extremely weary on "Still Slippin'" and even while threatening to "crack heads" on "I Don't Dance"). There's enough here to satisfy longtime X fans but there's just not enough bite to make a dent in today's pop-rap era.

Best tracks: "Already," "Have You Eva," "I'm Back"

3.5 stars out of 5
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 Wanna know my favorite love song right now?

Of course you do. That's why y'all come here.

Some might not consider this a traditional love song but when is love ever traditional? Listen to the lyrics: both Nas and Amy Winehouse are looking for their perfect match, not realizing that they're staring right at each other. It's so easy to get distracted by trivial stuff, which causes us to look past our potential soul mates. Preach, Rev. Nas.

Need help finding your soul mate? Holla at me.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question: 

How do you not take out the frustrations of dealing with a no good loser on the new good man in your life?


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