Thursday, January 31, 2013

Joe Budden

No Love Lost (to be released February 5, 2013)

When you hear the name Joe Budden, what's the first thing that comes to mind? His 2003 smash "Pump It Up?" His Mood Muzik mixtape series? His Slaughterhouse brethren?

Or do you immediately think of baby mama issues, reality show drama and half naked chicks on Instagram?

It's pretty tough to separate the man from the madness, and Budden probably likes it that way. No Love Lost is the finale in a series of four concept albums, his redemption following years of confusion and confinement  The major theme is love - love of his craft, his family, and yeah, those Instagram chicks, and the ups and downs of those relationships.

Even Joey's biggest critics can't knock the man's lyricism. He's easily one of the most underrated spitters in the game today. Listen to him runs laps around your favorite rappers on "Castles," warning us about the dangers of leeches in the process  - "We were supposed to eat together but I became the main course." There's no hook, just Joey baring his soul over soft piano keys.

Budden switches his flow to give a glimpse of the hood on "Ghetto Burbs" and envisions escaping it all on "Runaway": "Being alone is the only way I know to never be near it all," he solemnly spits. Joey's at his best when he gets all moody and introspective on us.

But we all know emo hip-hop doesn't move units, stripper anthems and guest spots do that. Unfortunately, and probably not surprisingly, No Love Lost is filled with tons of both, which hurts the experience. First single "She Don't Put It Down" sounds WAY too similar to DJ Khaled's "I'm On One," and it even features Lil Wayne and Tank stepping in for the Drake hook. It'll likely be Joey's biggest radio hit since "Pump It Up," but his flow is dumbed way down. Thankfully the remix, featuring Twista and Fabolous instead of Wayne, steps things up.

Most of the many (many) other features tend to hinder instead of enhance. Kirko Bangz does his lame Drake impression (as usual) on "Top of the World"; Wiz Khalifa mumbles about weed (as usual) while French Montana mumbles about nothing (as usual) on N.B.A. Meanwhile Omarion's lightweight vocals add nothing to "Switch Positions" and Joey's verse on "Last Day" gets lost among Lloyd Banks' solid contribution and Juicy J's typical one. Joe sounds much more comfortable when joined by Slaughterhouse cohorts Royce da 5'9 (along with Kobe) on "All In My Head" and Joell Ortiz and Crooked I on "Skeletons."

At 17 tracks, No Love Lost really could use some trimming. But even thought there's lots of fat, Joey still pulls you back with punchlines that cut to the marrow, like this one from "My Time": "Higher than Whitney, headed to the top again/everything I write crack like it's with a Bobby pin."

The song that best encapsulates No Love Lost, and Joe Budden as well, is "You And I," where he tries to shake off his rocky past relationships for a chance at redemption with a new love: "She been through so much so she carry on/so if she comes with baggage it's a carry-on."

Like that lovely woman with baggage, No Love Lost is everything that's good and bad about Joey. The flaws cast a pretty big shadow but the potential for greatness shines a bit brighter.

Best tracks: "Castles," "You and I," "She Don't Put It Down (Remix)"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Parents, if you could select any celebrity to share their wisdom with your child, whom would you pick?

If you said Gucci Mane, log off now and go watch Icki Garbaj on American Idol.

Image courtesy of
Yes, that's Gucci Mane, who was a featured speaker at Crawford Long Middle School in Atlanta. Gucci, looking like someone's uncle who got lost on his way to pick up lottery tickets and mac n' cheese, shared sage advice with youngsters.

What on earth could this dude talk about?  Ice cream cone face tats? Pushing women out of moving cars? Fighting other rappers?

Lord, we need to do better. HE needs to do better.

Seriously, I just hope Gucci talked about the consequences of his endless rap sheet instead of glorifying it. Judging by his attire he certainly doesn't look photoshoot-ready - and that's a good thing in this case.

By the way, the message on that boy's backpack probably serves as a better example to the kids behind him than Gucci himself.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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Batman and Superman. The Avengers. The X-Men. Battletoads and Double Dragon.

Eh, forget that last team. That was kinda lame. The latest combination of blogging superheroes is much cooler than that.

I'm excited to announce that Soul In Stereo, your favorite source for music news and madness, is teaming up with In case you aren't familiar, YKIGS is the Web's premier locale for the latest and greatest in R&B.

Moving forward, I'll be contributing R&B album reviews for YKIGS and I haven't wasted any time.

Here's my first review: Charlie Wilson's Love, Charlie. Check it out.

Don't panic, people, I'm not going anywhere. I'll still have plenty of music reviews here, along all the other columns you know and love - Love Letters, Flashback Friday, What Ever Happened to..., and more.

Here's to new friendships. I sure hope those YKIGS playas know what they're getting into. Y'all know how I do.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Here's a question that will burst your brain cells.

There have been quite a few talented pre-teens who went on to R&B stardom. Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder pop to mind.

But in the past three or four decades, can you name a singer who started out very young and matured into a megastar? I can only think of one - Usher Raymond.

Back in 2000, I would have added 3LW to the list. I'm serious, I just knew they'd be huge. Instead, they went the way of most female R&B groups and imploded, leaving vultures to pick at the fried chicken bones that represent their legacy.

What am I talking about? Y'all must've forgot 'bout the 3 Little Women.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

How insane is it that this is the last Friday of January? 2013 is in full swing.

Let's get your Friday in full swing too. Here's what we're listening to today. Feel free to share your favorites.

Henry Barnett remember a legend's triumph over an upstart.

LL Cool J, G.O.A.T. (2000)

Henry said: "LL hadn't released an album in awhile and he was coming off a beef with Canibus. It was very lyrical."

Also check out:
"Ill Bomb"

Edward shows the ladies some love.

Set It Off Soundtrack (1996)

Edd said: "'90s soundtracks were so prolific that I often bought the albums months before seeing the corresponding movie. Set It Off is one of those films. The movie was pretty good but the soundtrack was even better, making me fans of artists I had barely paid attention to in the past (Simply Red, Blulight, and what ever happened to Billy Lawrence?). Plus, this set featured the only En Vogue song I truly loved. I wish great soundtracks would make a comeback."

Also check out:
"Missing You," Brandy, Tamia, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan
"Come On," Billy Lawrence featuring MC Lyte

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, January 24, 2013

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I love when y'all send me timely love topics. Today's question hit at just the right moment.

Wanna add to my growing pile of love queries? Simply 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:

Why do people still feel some kind of way about interracial dating in 2013?

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Posted by in ,  on 7:30 AM 3 comments

Monday, January 21, 2013

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It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day for the President Obama - truly an important day in American histsory.

So you KNOW some rapper has to mess things up. From
Lupe Fiasco was booted off an inaugural party stage last night in Washington after dedicating his 30-minute set to the song "Words I Never Said," Politico reports. The rapper, performing at an event hosted by StartUp RockOn, repeated the lyrics, "Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist/ Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say s***/ That’s why I ain't vote for him, next one either," for an usually long time and said he didn't vote for Obama. He was told to move to the next song, but refused and was escorted off the stage.
Lupe fans shouldn't be surprised. He's been throwing shade at Obama for years now and has repeatedly reminded listeners that he doesn't vote. Lupe's mounting critics say that his outburst was wrong place, wrong time. But was it?

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Tired of listening to Tew Chaynz, Future and ... ugh ... Trinidad James? *shudder*

I'm here to rescue you from the Friday doldrums with a couple of forgotten hip-hop favorites. Cleanse your rap palate with these bangers.

Corey Peterson listens to 9th Wonder's rap proteges.

Little Brother, The Listening (2003)

Corey said: "The Listening was our introduction to the now separated, then reconciled LB crew. It served as the primer for an entire decade of 9th Wonder and fruity loops. "Yo Yo" and "Speed" still remain amongst highlights of the group's career and the latter was the catalyst that brought 9th Wonder to Jay-Z's doorstep."

Also check out:
"The Yo-Yo"
"The Way You Do It"

Remember a girl named Renee? Edward does.

The Lost Boyz, Legal Drug Money (1996)

Edd said: "A conversation with my man Corey above paved the way for this trip down memory lane. The LBs had an unbelievable run in '96 through '97 with their streetwise tales. Hype man Freaky Tah's tragic murder in 1998 and Spigg Nice's imprisonment for a rash of bank robberies derailed future success but when they were hot, they were hot."

Also check out:
"Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz"
"Lifestyle of the Rich and Shameless"

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, January 16, 2013

OK playas, take a look at the guy below. You know him well.

Yeah, William Levy, the 'iz dat mad uv choklat tu?' guy from the M&M commercial. I'm hatin'. The wifey is in love with the guy. I bet she's hugging her laptop monitor right now.

While I try to repair my marriage, I'm happy to help you fix your relationships. I can multitask. I just don't have an accent like M&M guy.

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 cool nowadays to be the sideline woman or man?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

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Ready to party like it's 2002?

A few of R&B's biggest hitmakers are finally ready to return to the game and I couldn't be happier. Anything that saves us from the current dubstep demons pillaging R&B will make my soul rejoice. 

Instead of our usual Flashback Friday, when we reminisce about the good ol' days, let's have a Flash Forward Monday and take a look at where R&B could be headed this year.

Destiny's Child, "Nuclear"

We haven't said their name since 2005, but the children of destiny are back. You can bet Michelle Williams is cartwheeling down the street - that woman has been twiddling her thumbs for about a decade. Beyonce announced last week that the trio is reuniting for a compilation album and a Pharrell-produced single, "Nuclear." 

I need to sue "Nuclear" for false advertising. It has to be the most misnamed track ever. The song sounds more like a creeping toxic haze than a nuclear explosion. It's certainly not bad - the girls haven't missed a beat and their voices blend seamlessly - but it's more fit to be a sleepy album cut than a triumphant comeback single. Even the wifey, a card-carrying member of the Beyhive, couldn't make it through the whole track without her eyelids drooping. We certainly expected more. 

Verdict: Thumbs in the middle

Justin Timberlake, "Suit & Tie"

This may surprise some of you but I'm a massive JT fan. He's the only artist from the dreaded Bubblegum Pop era that has constantly reinvented himself, with stellar results each time. His 2002 and 2006 albums are totally different but are both five-star affairs. 

Justin dropped a video last week announcing his return to the world of music and I figured we MIGHT hear new music from him by summertime. The dude wasted no time leaking "Suit & Tie," a bouncy R&B cut. JT's go-to producer Timbaland whips up a track that meshes big band sounds with familiar steppin' tunes. It's far from a "SexyBack"-level game-changer but it's extremely fun. Jay-Z drops a verse reminding us how rich he is (uggggggh) but surprisingly shares kind words for his in-laws in the last few bars. Those are the type of relatable lyrics Jay needs if he wants to remain relevant.

*Note*: YouTube snatched the vid off their site as soon as I posted it. Good lord they're fast. Visit my friends at You Know I Got Soul to hear the song for yourself.

"Suit & Tie" is a pretty good outing for Justin. His new album, The 20/20 Experience, better not be on Detox's schedule. By the sounds of it, R&B needs it ASAP.

Verdict: Thumbs up

What do you think of the two tracks?
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Show of hands, who is ready for the weekend?

Now put your hands down. We can't see them.

But it's all good - here are some old favorites to kick off Friday.

Diane Hawkins mentions Cross Colours so you know she's good people.

Shai, ...If I Ever Fall In Love (1992)

Diane said: " Picture it: 1992. Cross Colours jackets, high-top fades, Timberlands - and a boy band named Shai.  Even though Shai’s smooth, triple-platinum single “If I Ever Fall” was a hit in 1992, the lush harmonies of Darnell Van Rensalier, Garfield Bright, Dwayne Jones and George Spencer III continue to have a lasting sound. The lyrics also have a timeless message:  And if I ever fall in love again/I will be sure that the lady is a friend/and if I ever fall in love so true/I will be sure that the lady's just like you."

Also check out:
"Baby I'm Yours"

Edward falls in love with an android

Janelle Monae, Metropolis: Suite 1 (The Chase) [Special Edition] (2007)

Edd said: "My girl Desiree of Progressive Soul fame introduced me to Janelle way back when. (come back and write for us again, Desiree!) I instantly fell in love with Janelle, whose infection energy and entrancing voice won me over from the first note. This brief EP was just an appetizer for Janelle's greatest work, which is one of the best albums in recent memory."

Also check out:
"Sincerely, Jane."

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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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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Good news, Love Letters fans, I'm reaching the end of my submissions. That means it's the perfect time to get your burning (hopefully not literally) questions quickly answered by yours truly.

Here's how you get some of my sage wisdom.

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

Here's today's question:
Who plays the game better? Men or women?

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Y'all know what time it is - time to hop in our time machine and revisit a couple of our favorite albums. Want to share your favorites too? All you have to do is ask.

The wifey introduces you to true talent.

Emily King, East Side Story (2007)

Jai said: "Emily King is one of my favorite musicians, but unfortunately many of my friends have never even heard of her. Her album East Side Story did earn a Grammy nomination for "Best Contemporary R&B Album of the Year" but I still think she's terribly underrated. If you're one of those pals who don't know Emily King, be sure to check out her music ASAP."

Also check out:

Edward remembers one of rap's most underrated crews.

Diggin' In The Crates Crew, DITC (2000)

Edd said: "One of my favorite rap crews has to be DITC, which consisted of Lord Finesse, Show, A.G., Diamond D, Fat Joe, O.C., Buckwild and the late Big L. They were no frills, just lyrical skills. Their legacy seems to have evaporated, with only scant mentions about how great Big L would have been had his life not been cut short in 1999. They deserved a higher profile. Their 2000 album was filled with gems and still stays in rotation today."

Also check out:

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, January 2, 2013

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I just walked back into Soul In Stereo Studios after watching Quentin Tarantino's highly anticipated "Django Unchained," the story of a former slave searching for his lost love. Yeah, I'm a little late making it to the theater but I have to work for a living. Those Keith Sweat albums aren't cheap, you know.

Anyway, my friends' opinions of the movie have been all over the map, from calling it the best film of Tarantino's career to saying the film spits in the face of black history. Spike Lee, who has somehow become the voice for black filmmaking (sorry, Madea), called the film "disrespectful to (his) ancestors" and vowing not to see it.

Here are two thoughts for Spike:

1) How can you diss a movie you haven't even seen?

2) You missed out on a great movie, playa.

I think a lot of the confusion over "Django" comes from early reports that cast it as some sort of historical piece. That couldn't be further from the truth. This is a love story, plain and simple, not something students should write book reports on - and honestly, it was never presented that way in the first place. If you go into the film expecting "Roots" you'll be highly disappointed.

"Django" is a Tarantino movie so of course it's over the top. In one particular scene, an overseer's blood stains the lily-white cotton fields. People get shot and fly into ridiculous backflips like the Power Rangers used to do back in the day. And oh, yeah, have I mentioned the blood? It flows as wild and freely as hot sauce at Rick Rawsessss's house.

There's especially been a lot of complaints about the frequent use of the dreaded N word. People, it's the 1880s. Do you really think slaveowners said, "excuse me, African-American, please work a little faster." Playa please.

Still, Tarantino does a great job of not cheapening the horrors of slavery. When slaves are beaten and even mangled, it's not played for laughs. It correctly conveys the horror, fear and helplessness blacks faced. No, Django as he's portrayed on screen isn't historically accurate but that horrific part of our history is very real.

Instead of thinking of "Django" as a historical piece, it's more accurate to look at it as new-age blacksploitation. It's wild, entertaining and humorous, but look deep and it's a great narrative about black culture. And judging by a conversation between a teen and her mom sitting behind me, that message is reaching younger generations. It's just in time too - 2013 marks 50 years since the civil-rights movement. It's important to foster these conversations with our kids. Just remind them that Django wasn't some real-life mix of Kunta-Kinte and Shaft.

If you don't like "Django," that's fine. I think Elle Varner sounds like a crow being strangled and y'all are quick to come to her defense. The beauty of art is truly in the eye of the beholder. Criticize "Django" if you must, but don't dislike it for what you think it should have been. Examine it for what it is.

And if you ask me, it's a really good movie.
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Happy New Year!

I'm usually not big on New Year's resolutions. Why wait till January to get your act together? You can start today with these simple steps.

Step One: Ask me to get your love life right.

Step Two: Follow my advice.

Step Three: Happiness.

Enough with the infomerical. Here's how you can contact 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 that in our society when a marriage is broken up due to an affair the woman is blamed so harshly for the situation and the man isn't when it takes two for the mess?

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