Friday, November 30, 2012

Well folks, this is a special day. If you've been riding with me all month - and I'm sure you have - you know Soul In Stereo has been participating in #BlogLikeCrazy, an initiative started by the wife over on her blog, The Writeous Babe Project. Bloggers all over the nation committed to blogging every single day in the month of November. It forced writers to come up with cool new ways to deliver content and strengthened the community of bloggers across the Interwebs. I'd say it was a pretty successful experiment.

This Flashback Friday marks Blog #30 for the month and your boy is exhausted. But here's some music to celebrate.

CJ Harris shares one of his favorites.

Ne-Yo, Because of You (2007)

CJ said: "This is my favorite album from Ne-Yo. I can actually listen to this CD without skipping a track. The album really showed off Ne-Yo's skills as a vocalist."

Also check out:
"Sex With My Ex"

Edward remains faithful.

Faith Evans, Keep the Faith (1998)

Edd said: "I'm such a music nerd but so are my friends, which is why I love 'em. A couple of weeks ago one of my friends texted me a pic of a bag of caramel Hershey Kisses, an inside joke referring to the song "Caramel Kisses" from this album. Admittedly, I didn't show this album a lot of love in 1998 because it didn't measure up to Faith's spectacular debut. Looking back, it was an extremely strong set."

Also check out:
"Caramel Kisses"
"Never Gonna Let You Go"

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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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Earlier this week, rapper Joe Budden, who is known for posting pictures of his women on Instragram, snapped a mostly-naked pic of his current girlfriend.

Budden is 32. The girlfriend is 21.

What could a 32-year-old possibly have in common with a 21-year-old, other than, you know, lust? They're in two totally different stages of their lives. No wonder all his relationships crumble. In fact, I'm sure Budden will be writing one of his patented sad-man raps about this experience in a few weeks.

Ugh, I can't believe I've resorted to analyzing rapper relationships. I'd rather analyze yours. Hit me up.

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 choose between two potential boos when they meet your needs in different ways?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There are two things blog readers love: lists and grainy videos of ghetto people fighting.

I have no tolerance for the latter but I too love the former.

If you frequent, you know they have a running column that features artists sharing their 25 favorite albums. I just stumbled upon Alicia Keys' favorites and they're pretty good.

But I can do better.

Allow me to share my 25 favorite albums. Honestly, the bottom half of the list probably could rotate depending on my mood. But the top 5 are definitely set in stone.

Oh, and before the Haterade drinkers assault my inbox and the comments section fussing about so-and-so not making the list, keep these things in mind:

- This is a list of my favorite albums, not what I consider the best albums, so don't freak when Thriller or Illmatic aren't sitting at the top. Whether these albums were the soundtrack to campus life or part of my wedding, I have a personal connection to every track. Yeah, most are far from perfect but that's part of their charm.

- I didn't start purchasing albums until the early '90s, which is pretty apparent when you view the list. Some '80s stars were shut out.

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Sorry, Flav.

So take a peek into my musical psyche. And if you'd like to share your list too, feel free. I'll publish them here.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

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Clue No. 427 that you're getting old - words that you were once familiar with have new, unfamiliar meanings.

In 2012, if I say "What up sliiiiiiiiime?" I'm probably greeting one of my friends. But unless you're from NY, you probably wouldn't get that reference.

In 1982, if I say" What's up? Sliiiiiiiime!" I probably just had actual slime dumped on my head on a Nickelodeon show. And I bet you got that reference.

Today's Icon oozed its way into the hearts of every '80s kid. I'm talking about green slime, of course. Why were we so obsessed with it anyway?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

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Normally award shows are like my kryptonite, but I was actually looking forward to this year's installment of the Soul Train Awards. Last year's show wasn't too bad and this year's event promised to be a nearly three-hour tribute to Soul Train's grand conductor, the legendary Don Cornelius.

They can't possibly mess that up, right? RIGHT?

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm very thankful this weekend.

That's not just because that's what we're required to say at the end of every November. It's because a years-old mystery has finally been solved.

Over at Soul In Stereo studios, the end of the Thanksgiving holiday means the beginning of the Christmas season. And y'all know that leads to - a month of classic Christmas tunes.

We all know the classics: The Temptations' "Silent Night," Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas," Keith Sweat's "Be Your Santa Claus," but for YEARS now I've been unable to recall the name of a certain soulful track.

I had very little clues in my search. Dropping random lines in Google didn't work. Describing it to friends didn't work. Shazam proved useless too. Even my own encyclopedic knowledge of music didn't get me anywhere. Here's the best I could up with: The track sounded like an early 90s cut and the guys' voices reminded me of R&B group LeVert. But no such LeVert song existed.

But just a couple of days ago, my brother-in-law finally unwrapped the longtime Christmas mystery. I present to you the mysterious track that left me stumped for years:

"I Can Hardly Wait For Christmas," by the O'Jays.

I feel like I found The Great Pumpkin. Wait, wrong holiday special.

The song was released in 1991 and O'Jays, of course, features Eddie Levert, patriarch of the LeVert clan. Good to know my infinite R&B knowledge wasn't far off.

Make sure you add this one to your Christmas playlists. It's a banger.

What will you be listening to this holiday season?
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ghostface Killah and Sheek Louch

Wu-Block (to be released November 27, 2012)

Wu-Block should be my dream album.

Combining The Wu-Tang Clan (arguably the most influential rap group of all time) with The LOX (often considered the second coming of the Clan) is like a hip-hop Reese's peanut butter cup. It's a concept so simple, yet unbelievably satisfying.

Wu-Block was marketed as a union of the two groups - and at many times it is - but the album is clearly a join project between Wu's Ghostface Killah and LOX's Sheek Louch. I'm not complaining: GFK has been the Wu-Tang MVP for years now. And while Sheek is often seen as the low man on the LOX totem pole he's still stronger than 95 percent of today's nursery-rhymers.

"Your opinion didn't matter since BIG heard me rhyme," Louch defiantly spits on "Comin' For Ya Head." That's the story of Wu-Block, two industry veterans doing what they do best - painting street murals over pavement-cracking beats and soul samples. There's no cute commercial appeal here, and they could care less.

Ghost and Sheek are joined by Raekwon and Jadakiss on "Crack Spot Stories" for a great '90s throwback: A grimey tale about chillin' in the trap with ridiculous metaphors ("Garfield eyeballs/pulling all-nighters") against a soulful backdrop. You've heard it before, but you probably haven't heard it this well. "Guns For Life" is one of those tracks where rappers personify their weapons - sure, it's not Nas' "I Gave You Power" (the gold standard for living firearms) but the storytelling remains superb.

Wu-Tang vets GZA and Masta Killa stop by with Erykah Badu to give us a glimpse into street life on "Driving Round" while Method Man totally steals the show on "Stella," a tale of a deceiving mistress who gets caught trying to pull a fast one with Ghostface's cash.

Speaking of The Wizard of Poetry, it's Ghost who stands tallest on Wu-Block. His outlandish metaphors and limitless charisma make him the driving force behind every track. When he's not dropping killer punchlines ("Bob Barker microphones, I get paper" on "Cocaine Central") he's just unloads baffling but entertaining metaphors, like his wild rant on "Pour the Martini" about his glowing utility belt and demanding exercise equipment on stage.

Ghost's shining moment is on "Take Notice." In a raspy voice, Pretty Toney complains about being sick ("they telling me to throw onions and garlic in my socks! I ain't wit all that!") before going ballistic on the beat: "You can catch me on G Street, snowflake fur on/cuban'd out, neck looking all beastly."

Some rappers catch colds. Ghost is ill 24/7.

Wu-Block falls short of greatness because a handful of tracks - most notably "All In Together" and "Pull The Cars Out" - just don't make a mark, despite A-list talent. They're the kind of tracks these guys can make in their sleep and you can tell the effort just isn't as strong as other songs here.

Wu-Block isn't an instant classic but it's much more cohesive than the 2010 Wu-Massacre collection. Collaboration albums are notoriously tricky but I'm happy to say that Christmas has come early for Wu-Tang and LOX fans. Forget about those horrible joint albums from Jay-Z and R. Kelly, Wu-Block is the true Best of Both Worlds.

Best tracks: "Take Notice," "Cocaine Central," "Crack Spot Stories"

4 stars out of 5
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Friday, November 23, 2012

As you awake from your food coma this morning, I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

Whether you're stuck at work or stuck in the dreaded mall shopping, we've got the perfect songs for Black Friday.

Larry Robinson brings up the retirement album that really wasn't a retirement album.

Jay-Z, The Black Album (2003)

Larry said: "I've been on that Black Album lately. For his 'last album,' Jay-Z went out like a champ."

Also check out:

Edward won't go to rehab.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2007)

Edd said: "Oh lord, how I miss Amy. If she could have stayed on track she would have ushered in an R&B revival, based on live instruments. But it just wasn't meant to be. Thankfully her music lives on, even if it's an eerie reminder of her demons."

Also check out:
"Love Is A Losing Game"

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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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Alicia Keys

Girl On Fire (to be released November 27, 2012)

Want to know what I think about Alicia Keys' album? Just look at the sequence.

Alicia Keys is among a small group of artists (including LL Cool J and Ja Rule) that share a peculiar quirk: I like every other album they release. I call it the sequence curse. Alicia's 2001 debut was critically acclaimed but I wasn't impressed. However, her sophomore set, The Diary of Alicia Keys, is one of my favorite albums of the past decade. Similarly, I wasn't in love with 2007's As I Am but I loved The Element of Freedom in '09.

So according to my calculations, I shouldn't be very fond of Girl On Fire, Alicia's first album as a wife and mother. But just a few seconds into the intro, "De Novo Adagio," destiny gets slapped in the face. It's a beautiful opening that showcases Alicia's calling card - her impressive pianist skills. The intro gently eases into "Brand New Me," an affirmation of strength that climaxes in an explosion of percussion. It really accentuates the growth portrayed in the song.

"Brand New Me" works much better as an anthem than the heavy-handed singles "New Day" and the title track. "New Day" really takes Alicia out of her comfort zone with annoying chants and runs that really stretch her vocals thin. "Girl On Fire" isn't much better with its corny lyrics and the walking watercolor disaster Nicki Minaj sprinkling her trademark wackness all over the place.

Thankfully the album quickly recovers with "Fire We Make," a slow-burner with Maxwell that's a match made in heaven - with more fire. Uh, scratch that. Fire is kind of the opposite of heaven. Anyway, Maxwell and Alicia sizzle so seamlessly that I'm shocked that it took them this long to collaborate. Babies WILL be made to this song.

The remaining tracks like "101" and "Tears Always Win" find Alicia in her element - backed by her precious piano. "That's When I Knew" is similarly naked: its' just Alicia, acoustic licks and not much else. But these tracks, along with "Limitedless" all suffer from the same dilemma - nice, pleasant songs that will immediately be forgotten once your iPod jumps to the next track.

With the exception of "Fire We Make," that statement holds true for the entire album. It sort of reminds me of attending a jazz session. You'll find yourself enjoying it in the moment but if someone asks you to name highlights, not much comes to mind.

In a year filled with great R&B releases (Frank Ocean, Usher, SWV, Miguel, Keyshia Cole), Alicia's Girl On Fire falls in the middle of the road and is nowhere near as good as her last album.

But I could have predicted that. The sequence curse strikes again.

Best tracks: "Fire We Make," "Brand New Me," "That's When I Knew"

3.5 out of 5
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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I love Thanksgiving - and I'm talking about the spirit of the holiday, not just the food. Still, it has always bothered me that we rarely give thanks unless someone is trotting out a turkey.

Your challenge for 2013: Take a brief moment every day to reflect on what you're thankful for. Whether it's a family member, job or a bag of Sour Patch Kids, we could all benefit from being just a bit more grateful. Things always - always - could be worse.

Now let's get back to the real reason you visit these columns - to watch me fuss about stuff.

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

Here's today's question: 
Do you think off-and-on relationships can ever come together and be a true relationship?

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving is almost here and that means the wife and I will be dining with the in-laws.

The wifey's family is a bit nontraditional. In fact, they're the poster children for role reversal. The wife's dad will be spending 24 hours in the kitchen making culinary magic while the wife's mom is off somewhere watching horror movies on DVD.

While her dad cooks, one thing is definitely for sure - he'll be throwin' down in the kitchen to the tunes of Tevin Campbell.

Y'all know how much I love Keith Sweat. Well, magnify that about a billion and that comes somewhat close to how much my father-in-law loves Tevin.

Roll your eyes if you like, but here's the truth: Tevin was once the unrivaled king of R&B. Bobby Brown has been lying to y'all for years.

Don't believe me? I bet you need a refresher.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

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Everyone knows I'm a big proponent of creativity. There's no way music can progress if everyone keeps blindly following trends, doing the same old thing.

I can't say that's the case for Haynzy and his video, "Mind On Your Body." I have no idea what's going on - but that's a good thing. It makes for an interesting listen, and that's the first step in establishing yourself with a new audience.

Haynzy, or Matthew Haynes, as his mama calls him, is a British Urban artist hailing from North London. Haynzy layers his smooth style across urban beats and edgy vocals - and, of course, memorable videos.

"Mind On Your Body," featuring Scorcher, will be released December 3. Check out the visual below.

For more on Haynzy, visit his website or follow him @Haynzy.

Looking to share your music with the masses? Send a track with a short description about yourself to or hit me up on Twitter @etbowser. If we like what we hear we'll feature you in an upcoming post. 
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

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One step forward, two steps back.

I was pretty excited when BET finally decided to stop suckling at the ignorant teat of "The Game" and reruns of "Baby Boy" and feature programming that really mattered. I was even more excited to learn that my boy T.J. Holmes would be leading the charge.

BET's "Don't Sleep" has been on the air nearly two months now, and while it has experienced growing pains, it's been a step in the right direction for black programming. I wrote a blog not long ago suggesting that T.J. cut out the lame attempts at comedy and focus on panel discussions. BET must read my blog (what up T.J.!) because they made those changes and Don't Sleep has been much stronger because of it.

And now, more change is on the way, from
BET announced Monday that it is scaling back its much-anticipated late-night, half-hour vehicle for T.J. Holmes, the former CNN anchor, from half an hour Monday through Thursday to an hour once a week.
The show launched Oct. 1. CEO Debra Lee said last month the show is "designed to be a mix of entertainment and news and commentary. We hoped it would have been a Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert-type show [...]. To be honest, the ratings haven't been great in the past two weeks. Our audience always says they want this kind of programming, but they don't show up."

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Keyshia Cole

Woman to Woman (to be released November 19, 2012)

Female R&B singers sure are grouchy.

You'd think Keyshia Cole's fifth album, coming off the heels of her marriage, would be sweet and lovey-dovey. Nope, she's as pissed as ever at the men who did her wrong. And anger is always great inspiration.

Keyshia's been in a creative slump for quite awhile. After two phenomenally strong albums, 2008's A Different Me floundered. Not surprisingly, that's also around the time she became a reality TV star - if you equate stardom with getting upstaged by your family. 2010's Calling All Hearts was an improvement, but still lagged behind her earlier work. Finally, on Woman to Woman, Keyshia starts to regain her momentum.

And how does she do that?

A) Take your face off and reveal a scarier face on your album cover

B) Get really pissed off

The grammar-mangling first single "Enough of No Love" is the kind of song Keyshia can hang her hat on - a mid-tempo ballad that gives her plenty of room to let loose vocally. And there's plenty more attitude to go around. On "Get It Right," Keyshia blames her man's lame sex on his unfaithful heart, she laughs at her ex for losing a good thing on "Missing Me" and then dismisses her replacement on "Trust and Believe." Usually all that boyfriend-bashing sassiness would be a turnoff but the outstanding production is the key to success here. "Trust and Believe," for instance, triumphs with sparse instrumentals backed by a wailing electric guitar that would make The Isley clan proud.

Most of the album remains midtempo, but "Hey Sexy" livens things up nicely. It has the feel of a mid-90s R&B track, which, as most of you know, I'm a complete sucker for. Speaking of the '90s, Keyshia tries to rejuvenate the lost art of the duet on the title track - with Ashanti of all people. "Woman to Woman" isn't a remake of the old Shirley Brown track, but the spirit is there. Ashanti can't hang with Keyshia vocally and doesn't try, which is a good thing, but both play their roles perfectly.

Speaking of duets, I thought "Next Move" would feature Keyshia going back and forth with guest Robin Thicke, but he just hangs around in the background mimicking her vocals. The song could have used more love from Thicke.

Keyshia's detractors have pointed to the same criticisms over the years and I doubt this album will change their minds. Yes, Keyshia's vocals still leap from "soaring" to "SHOUTING" from time to time, especially on "I Choose You." Thankfully, nothing is as ear-shattering as her old track "Love." And don't forget Keyshia's tendency to rely on, ahem, strongly urban (i.e., ghetto) lyrics. Woman to Woman overall doesn't sound as juvenile as some of Keyshia's other offerings but occasionally tracks like "Wonderland" will make you roll your eyes - especially Elijah Blake's verse. Also, there's an odd lack of ballads, besides the somewhat sappy "Signature."

Guys might think this album is 50 minutes of catty complaining but that's a bit unfair. In fact, one of the best moments is "Zero," when guest Meek Mill offers a guy's perspective when Keyshia kicks him out: "You gonna think about me every time you see my son/and imma think about you every time I see the sun/in the morning." See, Keyshia, we're not all bad.

Keyshia fans and bitter single women rejoice: Woman to Woman is easily Keyshia's best album since the Bush administration. If anger produces quality like this, I suggest Keyshia remove her happy face and show her scary face more often.

Best tracks: "Enough of No Love," "Trust and Believe," "Hey Sexy"

4 stars out of 5
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Friday, November 16, 2012

It's finally Friday, folks, and it's been quite frosty around our way. Here's a couple of our favorites that are guaranteed to warm things up.

Javacia revives a legend.

2Pac, Me Against The World (1995)

Jai said: "I still can't be live how some of the people I met while living in California practically worshiped 2pac. I can't say I love him as much as they do but I always have been a fan because he truly broke new ground in hip hop with the content of his lyrics."

Also check out:
"Death Around the Corner"

Edward remembers the guy who jammed with Teddy.

Aaron Hall, Inside of You (1998)

Edd said: "This probably will surprise most of you but I wasn't a big fan of famed R&B group Guy. When it came to New Jack Swing, my allegiance rested with Keith Sweat. However, I was a fan of lead singer Aaron Hall and his solo career. Hall's 1998 album is often forgotten but it contained more than a few gems."

Also check out:
"If You Leave Me," featuring Faith Evans
"None Like You (Remix)" featuring Big Pun, Fat Joe and Cuban Link

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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Thursday, November 15, 2012

War and Peace.

The Great Gatsby.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Now, there's a new great American classic in the making:

Keith Sweat's releasing a book, y'all! From the description over on

Gaining its title from Keith Sweat’s R&B popular album and single, Make It Last Forever offers tools to help couples build and maintain strong, long-lasting relationships.
Here is detailed advice on how to better communicate needs and desires to your mate, including suggestions for keeping a relationship romantic and exciting for both parties. Keith also suggests how to fix, mend, and reinvigorate troubled relationships.
Finally, Make It Last Forever reveals the single-most important ingredient of a successful relationship: compatibility. Keith tells readers why it’s so crucial, how to find it, and how to sustain it over the long haul.
I gotta say, I'm disappointed. I've been cranking out relationship advice weekly on this blog for years - I could have at least written Keith's forward.

It remains to be seen if "Make It Last Forever" will be as successful as advice books from other celebs. One thing's for sure - it can't be worse than Steve Harvey's. Why would a woman need to think like a man? If she just thought like a woman she'd know better than to deal with some guy's crap anyway.

See, this is why I should be writing books. But I won't step on Keith's toes.

February 12, Keith makes literary history. Hopefully he can talk some sense into that pitiful Taylor Swift. Twelve hundred boyfriends later, you'd think she'd realize that maybe she is the problem in all these failed relationships, not all those guys.

More proof that I should have been Keith's co-writer.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wondering if your new boo is worthy of meeting your family this Thanksgiving?

Before he or she shows up at your table, run 'em by me first. You know I always have an opinion. Here's how:

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

Here's today's question: 

Why do men want a women that can cook?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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Can you believe there was a time when America's model family was black?

Nowadays, these are our televised role models:

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But the '80s were a simpler time, where any suggested butt-whippings were handled off-camera.

Today's '80s Icon is nominated by Ashley and I'm sure you'll all agree - "The Cosby Show" is an '80s Icon.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Christina Aguilera

Lotus (to be released November 13, 2012)

Don't front. You used to love Christina Aguilera. Back in 2000 she had grown men in the hood singing about genies and stuff.

For those who probably don't remember, the turn of the century ushered in roughly 10 billion interchangeable pop acts. I couldn't tell you the difference between Eden's Crush and 98 Degrees (other than their names sound like yogurt shops) but Aguilera always stood out. Even while singing the most sugary-sweet,  nonsensical record, her Sunday choir vocals always provided an edge over her peers.

And at some point, Aguilera completely fell off that edge and into a pit of drama.

Lackluster songs, relationship troubles, an underwhelming movie and a ear-shattering rendition of the National Anthem at last year's Super Bowl have pushed Aguilera to the back of the pop-star line. Just a couple of days ago, she made headlines again for allegedly trying coax Vanessa Hudgens into her bedroom. If not for Aguilera's gig on "The Voice," you'd easily forget that she was once a major music star.

Years of setbacks have allowed a new crop of pop pretenders to take the throne - which means we have Aguilera to blame for Rihanna. Ugh.

Aguilera's eight album, Lotus, aims to be return to her glory days but the results are certainly mixed.

The album intro lays the groundwork and promises a rebirth. One one hand it works well - Aguilera's voice as intense as ever. She hasn't lost a step vocally. But the track features weird auto-tune distortion that sounds both dated and distracting. The album is filled with similar highs and lows.

Speaking of highs, Aguilera is at her best when she can let loose on a ballad. "Sing For Me" is yet another entry in her self-empowerment catalog and it's a keeper. Her voice is magnificently strong, yet balanced and controlled. Piano keys serve as the backdrop for "Blank Page," a longing, emotional ballad that Aguilera is built for.

The problems arise when Aguilera tries to return to her pop roots. These days, she sounds more like an imitator than innovator. "Army of Me" is another girl-power track that's a natural extension of 2002's "Fighter." Unfortunately, the former lacks the individuality of the latter. It just comes off like a forgettable album cut, not an empowerment anthem. "Cease Fire" is even worse, sounding like one of those generic tracks American Idol alums would churn out every other month.

Never one to mince words, first single "Your Body" features Aguilera practically demanding sex - and it's so catchy that it works. She's one of the few artists who can pull off such crassness without delving into self parody. I can't say the same for "Circles," where she demands haters to "spin around in circles on her middle finger." It can't decide if it's angry or goofy. And her one-liners are terrible: "Why you always tryna be up in my mixture?" She's dissing like it's 1999. Ugh. "Best of Me" is a much better kiss-off for her enemies - the midtempo track replaces bitterness with determination.

Lotus is a weird album that reminds me of Aguilera's Super Bowl performance. It's not terrible but it's all over the map, which makes for a baffling listen.

Fans of Aguilera on "The Voice" likely will eat this album up (especially "Red Hot Kinda Love," her track with co-star Cee-Lo Green). The rest of us will just remember better times with genies.

But as Aguilera states time and again on this album, the last thing on her mind is criticism. Plus she's too busy singing "Your Body" to Vanessa Hudgens.

Best tracks: "Sing For Me," "Blank Page," "Best of Me"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Corina Corina is an artist who is not afraid to speak her mind.

From gender inequality and her resistance to social norms to self love and her own bisexuality, Corina Corina's music definitely isn't watered down.

The Brooklyn-based R&B siren's album, Eargasm, is set to drop Nov. 13. Her single "The Familiar" is an ode to her native Bay Area, while still giving props to her new East Coast home. Her light vocals may seem like sweet naivete, but her honest lyrics and production make her edges a bit more rough. It's a great mix. And, as usual, she doesn't hold back.

For more on Corina Corina, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @CorinaCorina_.

Looking to share your music with the masses? Send a track with a short description about yourself to or hit me up on Twitter @etbowser. If we like what we hear we'll feature you in an upcoming post. 
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Today we pay tribute to a pioneer of soul. From
Major Harris, the R&B singer who helped pioneer the sweeping sounds of Philadelphia soul during the 1970s as a member of the Delfonics before achieving fame as a solo artist in his own right, has died. He was 65.

Per published reports, Harris passed away Friday morning at a Richmond, Va., hospital from congestive heart and lung failure.
The Delfonics' didn't quite achieve the worldwide notoriety that groups like The Temptations enjoyed, but their hits are undeniable classics. "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)," "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," "La-La (Means I Love You)" are some of the best songs of the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Harris achieved a bit of solo success too, with his most notable hit, "Love Won't Let Me Wait."

I think Harris' greatest claim to fame will be how he influenced a generation of music fans - fans that grew up to become some of hip hop's biggest stars. You don't have to look far to see The Delfonics' influence in their work.

Sit back and enjoy just a few of my favorite hip-hop tracks that were fueled by The Delfonics' sound. Major Harris definitely pioneered soul, but he's a hip-hop pioneer as well.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

To quote my favorite character from Futurama...

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Good news indeed. Friday is here and the sweet embrace of the weekend awaits. What are you listening to?  Here's what we're rocking.

Javacia returns to a childhood favorite.

Anita Baker, Rhythm of Love (1994)

Jai said: "Lately, my car stereo has been tuned to my local NPR station, so I haven’t been listening to music much these days. When I do occasionally turn to one of Birmingham’s R&B stations I always hear the same song. But this time when I say this it’s not a complaint. Have you heard Anita Baker’s cover of Tyrese’s 1998 hit "Lately?" It’s amazing and she really makes the song her own. The song was released this summer but seems to just now be gaining traction in my town. Her rendition of Tyrese’s hit has made me want to revisit some of Baker’s beloved ballads. You see, Anita Baker is my dad’s absolute favorite songstress, so I was singing her songs before I was singing my ABCs. This weekend I’m pulling out one of my favorite album of hers, Rhythm of Love, which includes a great cover of Carly Simon and Michael McDonald’s "You Belong to Me.""

Also check out:
"You Belong To Me"

Edward remembers the man ever woman was obsessed with in the 90s.

Ginuwine, The Life (2002)

Edd said: "Everyone remembers "Pony," but Ginuwine doesn't get a lot of love for his later material. That's too bad because his third album was one of his best. It's not nearly as oversexed as his earlier releases - it's much more grounded and mature. For instance, his tribute to his deceased parents tugs on your heartstrings. It's far from the Same Ol' G, but growth is cool."

Also check out:
"There It Is"
"Two Reasons I Cry"

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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Thursday, November 8, 2012

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I still mourn the loss of The Notorious B.I.G. He was the most quotable rapper ever. Here's one of my favorite lines, from "Victory:"

Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike
Anyone -- Tyson, Jordan, Jackson

If you had one of the three most recognizable last names in pop culture, quoted by the rap titan himself, what would you do?

If you're Jermaine Jackson, and lack common sense, you'd change it. From
Jermaine Jackson has filed a request to legally CHANGE his last name ... trading out "Jackson" for "Jacksun" ... TMZ has learned. 
Jermaine filed a petition for a change of name with L.A. County Superior Court yesterday asking for the change in nomenclature.
In the docs, Jermaine says he wants to make the change for "artistic reasons" ... but he does not give any further details about the move. 

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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If you've been following Soul In Stereo lately, you know this is #BlogLikeCrazy month, in which yours truly has pledged to publish a blog every day for 30 days. Oh man.

That means I'll need a lot of content to get me to Turkey Day and beyond. If you have a burning relationship question, this is your best chance to get a quick answer. Here's what you need to do:

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

Here's today's question: 
If you're in a relationship and you happen to be on Facebook is it cool to keep your relationship status as single?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

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Well, folks, the day has arrived and there's not much left for me to say.

If your guys wins, you'll celebrate it as America's rebirth.

If your guy loses, you'll complain and threaten to move to Canada.

Who am I voting for, you ask? Don't worry about that. Growing up, my own parents would never tell me whom they voted for. That's because they wanted me to make my own political decisions and not just vote out of family or cultural obligation. Papa Edd is now passing that lesson down to you.

No matter which way you lean, just make sure your voice is heard. Vote for who you think is the best man for the job. And please don't waste this opportunity. So much blood was shed for this opportunity. Do your forefathers proud.

Here's hoping that the lines at polling places are as long as when the new Jordans are released.

Time to make history. See you at the polls.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

I've never been a man to hold back my opinions and I'll gladly unleash another:

Playa is the most underrated collection of R&B talent in the modern era. Bar none. And I'm not just saying that because their name happens to be my catchphrase.

I'm sure you remember "Cheers 2 U," but what else did they contribute? I'm glad you asked - they helped craft some of the best songs of the late 90s-early 00s. I'll be happy to remind you.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

As most of you probably know, I'm a proud '80s baby. I spend entirely too much time and brainpower thinking on the good old days, when life was simpler and colors were always neon.

I'm starting a new series called '80s Icons, where I reminisce about those things that made the 1980s so great. These icons aren't necessarily people, mind you (Ronald Reagan? Playa please). Still, they helped define a decade. Ready to step into the time machine with me?

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Saturday, November 3, 2012


R.E.D. (released October 31, 2012)

You gotta respect a man who comes right out and tells you he's a piece of crap.

Well, maybe he doesn't go that far, but "Cracks In Mr. Perfect," the first track on Ne-Yo's fifth album, is a declaration of all his faults. "I'm a little irresponsible most of the time/I'm a man of my word only when I lie." Wow. But it's hard to pass judgement on a person who admits that he's not flawless. There's a bit of maturity in realizing you're fallible.

That track made me flash back to Ne-Yo's last release, 2010's Libra Scale - a surprisingly inconsistent release from a usually reliable artist. R.E.D. showcases a more focused Ne-Yo, tossing aside the awkward superhero metaphors of the last album for a more accessible R&B collection.

Ne-Yo is at his best when he's setting the mood, and first single "Lazy Love" is classic Ne-Yo. No matter how lustful the track, Ne-Yo somehow amplifies the sensuality without resorting to depravity.  He makes "Lazy Love" a baby-maker, without turning it into a booty-shaker. "Stress Reliever" follows the same formula - I would call it "Grown N' Sexy" music but that phrase is played out that it should be called "Old N' Seventy."

Ne-Yo continues to show maturity on "Miss Right," where he pines after his dream girl. No lame pick-up lines, no lustful comments, no attempts to get her liquor'd up or "gone off the Molly" (parents, ask your kids about that one...) - he's simply enraptured by a woman and wants to introduce himself. Even his vocals lift with a sense of wonder. And while I'd usually give him grief over the overused "I'm envious of your clothes cuz they get to touch you more than I do" metaphor, Ne-Yo's pitch-perfect vocals on "Jealous" win me over.

Along with "Jealous," Ne-Yo does a bit more borrowing. "Carry On (Her Letter to Him)" mimics the old R. Kelly trick of stepping into the pumps of a wronged woman and the results are pretty solid. He even teams with Nelly's old buddy Tim McGraw on "She Is" and the duo gel well.

Let's not forget, Mr. Perfect does have cracks. "Don't Make Em Like You" sounded better four years ago when it was called "Miss Independent." And since this is a major-label R&B release, we're required to get that mind-numbing Euro-synthy-pop nonsense. "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)" isn't too bad because the lyrics don't totally drown in the repetitive beat. The same can't be said for similar tracks - in fact, drop the album's last three songs ("Forever Now," "Shut Me Down," and "Unconditional") and I'd bump up the album rating at least half a star.

Nope, R.E.D. is nowhere near perfect. But as Ne-Yo points out on "Cracks In Mr. Perfect," "perfect is just glorified opinion."

That's probably true. But I stand by my opinion - R.E.D. is Ne-Yo's best work in a long time.

Best tracks: "Miss Right," "Lazy Love," "Jealous"

4 stars out of 5
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Sorry for my silence over the past week, Soul In Stereo fanatics. A bout with the flu left me chained to my couch like a very unsexy Princess Leah. But I'm on the mend, so let's celebrate Soul In Stereo style. Which is much better than Gangnam Style.

C.J. Harris honors a man who just got married.

Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

C.J. said: "This was my favorite album of 2006. The lead single "SexyBack" was a hit and 90% of the album was produced by Timbaland and my favorite producer, Danja. They introduced a new sound to the world of music."

Also check out:
"Summer Love/Set the Mood"
"My Love"

Kimberly Jackson has another classic in her deck.

Mary J. Blige, My Life (1994)

Kim said: "Mary's sophomore CD was something every woman could feel."

Also check out:
"My Life"
"Be Happy"

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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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fellow bloggers, here's your challenge for the month.

Starting today, the wifey is leading the charge to encourage writing across the blogosphere. She's going to publish at least one blog every day during the month of November. Being the supportive husband I am, I plan to join her in this endeavor.

Check in with me around Nov. 14. By then I may be in a blogging coma.

I think this is a great exercise. You certainly don't have to publish every day to maintain a successful blog, but coming up with posts (good posts, that is) for 30 consecutive days will force writers to reach beyond their boundaries. This exercise could help bloggers stumble across a creative concept that could lure an entirely new audience.

Want to try it out? Simply publish a blog every day this month and tweet your posts with the hashtag #bloglikecrazy. Also, if you need help getting your creative juices flowing, email Javacia at with #bloglikecrazy in the subject line. In the body of the email simply say "I want prompts so I can #bloglikecrazy!" She'll hook you up with plenty of writing prompts.

Good luck,everyone. Whew, I know I'll need it.
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Posted by in  on 6:48 PM 1 comment
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