2014 Grammys: When Certain Lines in Music Become A Little Too Blurred

HIP HOPAs an underground Hip Hop artist extraordinaire and songwriter in my past life, watching annual music awards shows was always a given. Nevermind the freakishly overt attempts to be extra-weird, the Grammys by far were my favorite because it was expected that I would get to see my favorite songs of the year performed live by my favorite artists. I would, in my expansive Indie Hip Hop artist mind, imagine that I would some day approach the stage with some trendsetting, urban attire to accept an award with my crew beside me. Finally, the world would take notice of all of our hard work! Back then, it took a great deal of work to make it to center stage. Afterall, we had barely stretched far enough for our music to reach an entire coast but still we worked.

We were underground because we were truly different; our music told stories from different walks of life, our music inspired change, our music empowered, our music was born from influences like KRS One, Erik B. and Rakim, GZA, Nas, Black Thought, and Biggie. We were anti-commercial, yet wanted to garner all of the fame and success that comes along with what else? A commercial hit.

Above all else, we were Hip Hop. My crew, consisting of the most raw talent would spit elaborate bars spontaneously; yet somehow it all made sense; we could relate, and we had a purpose. My crew, would collaborate and create, joining minds to develop sounds that trumped any sing-song pseudo rap by a pop culture celebrity. Our tales were unbelievably real as they were drawn from our experiences as young scholars, teachers, minorities, artists, friends, children, siblings, lyrical scientists, as we navigated through the muddy waters of life, aspiring to be successful, overcoming social adversity and stereotypes, wishing to have influence, possessing hushed voices needing to be heard. We were not narrowly focused on one style, our mixed influences and exposure to multiple genres were evident in our sound therefore creating a hybrid of honest music from the streets but, always staying true to the underground. We didn’t pop bottles and push whips although it would have been grand. We instead envisioned, we dreamed, we wrote, we created, we produced, embracing our own climb to wisdom through music.

So, I get young artist Lorde‘s attempt at “keeping it real”, with her single “Royals” yet, somehow hearing it rotated on urban Hip Hop stations makes me cringe if not feel the overwhelming need to vomit as do many of today’s mega hip hop hybrids that excel to the top of the charts. Often times, these songs are truly meaningless, overproduced, and so overpowered by bubble gum popping beats that you would expect from a children’s jingle instead of a true work of art. I understand the need of an artist to chart their own path and “stand out from the rest”, but when you haven’t a clue about the origins of a genre neither through direct experience or taking the time to learn it, what you end up with is a lack of authenticity, which is exactly what the song “Royals” represents.

While it is clever to poke fun at those who enjoy popping bottles of Cristal and pushing Maybach’s, while shinning up some gold fronts and then finally deciding to write a rap song about it; I’d have to wonder about a 17-year old who basically has aspired to do the same. Imagine, a neophyte, attempting to make a statement, while making a mockery of thousands before her.  Had artists before her time not ventured down the road of shiny whips and new kicks,  young Lorde would not have had the content needed to write her hit song, a song that is about as far from Hip Hop as Miley Cyrus’ single “We Can’t Stop”. Word of advice, perhaps you can’t stop, but you probably should. Rocking faux fronts, big ass hoops, and twerking is about as far removed from hip hop as a gothic-like comedian insinuating that their music is more real than that of the “wanna be royals”. Let’s face it, it isn’t music that matters, its money and in the grand scheme of things, many artists today are extremely in the dark, or are they?

From windy blocks in New York City where b-boys and b-girls battled it out with boom boxes on full-blast, to emcees beatboxing in the subways while their herringbone chains swayed in unison, to cypher battles at underground shows, the lines of Hip Hop have indeed become a little too blurred (no pun intended). From a sound that supposedly incited violent acts and rage against the police in the “hood”, music once considered evil and a bad influence, all the way to the kids in the midwest who embraced artists like Eminmen, making hip hop somehow more acceptable, the lines of Hip Hop have blurred.  With varying shades of black, to grey, and white, yet somewhere along these traces lies a world of misunderstanding, lack of knowledge, and lack of unity that the music and culture was once deeply rooted in. We continue to incorrectly categorize, creating sub-genres, of sub-genres of a style that when it was in its most uncut form, provided a voice of empowerment for those that may not have otherwise had one. Now overshadowed by comic relief from remote islands, oceans away, in an age where a single Top40 hit that garners enough spins can place a once unknown face in the forefront of influence, on the worlds hip hop stage, the lines have certainly been crossed. With the money and fame earned at the expense of music’s pioneers, the silencing of Indie artists struggling to make it to the top, what is the message that will be sent to the masses, and how will it be received?

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“I Wanna Be Afraid” The New Single from Hard Rock Band Sprightly Moans

Sprightly Moans_ProfileAlong the intricately tangled roots buried deep within the origins of rock, emerges  a powerful force known as Sprightly Moans. The Austin, Texas duo has just unleashed the latest single “I Wanna Be Afraid” From their upcoming album Demos III scheduled to be unveiled January 30th, 2014. If the single is any indication as to what Sprightly Moans intends to bring to the discriminating ear, be ready for a chilling meet and greet filled with a perplexing, yet fascinating musical experience.  Laced with a mysterious voyage through the inner-workings of darkness and desire, the single is surprisingly accented with energetic twists and turns.

“I Wanna Be Afraid” is a carefully crafted Hard Rock piece that lyrically dances with the taboo while also redefining the rules of engagement for avid rock consumers. The use of conscious wordplay and elaborate vocal changes  throughout the song worked in a cohesive  manner with the instrumental elements to produce a flight of the imagination into an unchartered realm. The lyrics work effectively to blanket the atmosphere with a heavy, shadowy cloud that becomes surprisingly  weightless as the chorus lurches in. When a band can actually make the tiny hairs on your neck stand up, it is fairly certain to say that they have delivered.

Sprightly Moans, who on their official website sprightlymoans.com fittingly illustrate themselves as a rumble between Jimi Hendrix, Lightning Bolt, The White Stripes, and The Bad Plus are an eclectic pair who, while known for being Hard Rock, have daringly innovated an experimental undertaking.  Most certain to be one of the most coveted records of our generation, Sprightly Moans latest single “I Wanna Be Afraid” is a fearless expression of sound rooted in the core of rock. From the thrashing guitars and wicked drums, to the hauntingly moaned vocals, Sprightly Moans has managed to capture the classic elements of Hard Rock while giving fans a contemporary snapshot into their ever- growing catalog of musical prowess. Keep an ear tuned for their upcoming album Demos III due out January 30th, 2014.

Listen to “I Wanna Be Afraid” by band Sprightly Moans on SoundCloud

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International Music Find: A Peek into Rehabb Rhythm Album w/Various Artists

Having transplanted from New York City to Virginia Beach where International Music is not played over the airwaves very often, I often find myself longing for the rhythmic sounds of the Caribbean that I would hear while walking home from school or while I was outside playing during the summers. This is the type of music that gives life, the kind that you can smell and taste at family functions, that reminds you of your origins, and the type of music that makes you move freely with energy.  There is actually only one station here that plays Reggae on Sundays and it has done so faithfully for years but somehow it is not quite enough.

As we venture further away from our places of origin, it is in this music where one can maintain some grasp on their sense of culture, not clouded by commercial pop tunes, but really digging into the underground.  I often find myself turning to the web to uncover new music since there is a never ending sea of artists from all genres sharing their sounds with the world.

I recently came across an amazing compilation called Rehabb Rhythm: Juggling Various Artists while stumbling across Amazon searching for something fresh, new, and upbeat to add to my digital collection. Of course, you cannot cruise the beach without jamming out to some really hot music on full-blast.  In case you haven’t had the chance to take a listen, the album features 20 songs from several popular Reggae and Dancehall artists in the international music arena. The album is a fun and upbeat blend of music which of of course acts as the perfect party soundtrack.

The album which was originally released in 2009 by Fresh International Sounds includes Jah Mason, artist Determine, Gabriel, Kashu, Culture Lyon, and many, many others. The album remains intense and high energy throughout it’s entirety. Each artist makes a powerful and unique contribution to the elaborate conglomeration of rhythms. Purchase your copy of Rehabb Rhythm: Juggling Various Artists on Amazon.

All Eyes on American Idol Singer-Songwriter Didi Benami: New Single “Watching and Waiting” from Upcoming Album ‘Reverie’

Watching and Waiting by Didi BenamiSinger-songwriter Didi Benami’s latest single “Watching and Waiting” from her upcoming album Reverie is an energetically charged work of love, pain, loss, and resolve. You may remember Didi from American Idol where she wowed the audience and judges with performances of “Hey Jude” , “Terrified” and many others. You can catch YouTube videos of her performances, which have amassed millions of views across the globe. With a remarkable voice, and commanding stage presence Didi opened the floodgates to unlimited possibilities. Making numerous appearances on shows such as David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres; the eclectic singer-songwriter has garnered international fame and recognition.

While the road to stardom is often a myriad of experiences, Benami’s latest undertaking ventures to share her personal journey with fans. “Watching and Waiting”, which was featured on last night’s episode of American Idol, is just a bird’s eye view into the young artist’s quest.  Benami demonstrates her longstanding journey as a skilled songwriter as the lyrics are composed with great depth, emotion and quality.  The song leaves a lasting impression while it expresses heartache and reawakening through the lens of the young artist. Although Benami is a young performer, “Watching and Waiting” has proven that she has grown as an artist over the last few years and continues to evolve experimenting with different sounds and styles.

Didi Benami has one of the strongest sets of vocals that you will ever experience among the many acoustic, pop, and soul performers present on the world’s soundstage. She cites influences such as Adele, and Sheryl Crow and mentor Rebecca Joy Lear as being instrumental in her music. She delivers a crisp and clean performance on “Watching and Waiting”. Over the catchy drum and instrumentals, Benami’s voice is vibrant and energetic; formulating a phenomenal pop-rock sound. Fans will enjoy the feel of the song as well as the message that is being delivered as it is one that almost anyone can relate to.

Her presentation of a meaningful and inspiring track is reminiscent of artists such as Natasha Bedingfield, while her unique and well-crafted vocal quality is nostalgic of artists such as Nora Jones. If  “Watching and Waiting” is any indication of what is to come on her 2014 album Reverie, Didi Benami is poised to shine on fans with a brilliant radiance.

Born in New York and transplanted to Knoxville, Tennessee, Didi is a professionally trained vocalist and gifted song-writer. Her latest project Reverie is an independent production for which she has funded on her own; a tremendous feat for any Indie artist. Reverie is a conglomeration of songs put together by Benami to share her experience as an artist in Hollywood with her fans. She is truly an inspiration and we cannot wait to check out the full album. Learn more about Didi Benami by visiting her official website officialdidibenami.com.

Help Didi Benami launch her latest album Reverie by supporting her on PledgeMusic.

Follow Didi Benami on Twitter @DidiBenami and become a fan on Facebook.

Valentine’s Day Inspired Fashions at BellaDulce Clothing Boutique

heart cardigan belladulce clothingFrom now through February, BellaDulce Clothing Boutique is offering exclusive discounts on Valentine’s Day inspired styles. A popular item that is now on sale is the Heart Cardigan which can be paired with a basic tee, tank, pants, or shorts as pictured. BellaDulce will also be running it’s Flash Friday Sale which is an exclusive, invite only shopping event for V.I.P. clients who are able to gain access to discounts of up to 70% off MSRP on select items. Each week the sale features a special theme and is available between 8PM and 12 midnight EST.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to shop BellaDulce, you can earn up to 15% off your first order by joining the fan page on Facebook or following @ShopBellaDulce. BellaDulce Clothing offers adoring fashionistas an interactive shopping experience. Not only can clients shop the virtual boutique and showroom, but they can also enjoy after-hours shopping events, girls-night-in trunk shows, and pop-up shops. V.I.P. clients also have access to their own personal stylist and can book personal styling appointments for events and special occasions. heart bracelet belladulce clothingBased in Hampton Roads, Virginia, BellaDulce offers a selection of dresses, tops, bottoms, accessories, shoes, and a private label collection known as ‘Signature BD’ for women. Styles range from Indie, Couture, Street, Vintage, and trendy, as the boutique caters to a broad base of multi-faceted women from all walks of life.

heart scarf belladulce clothingBellaDulce Clothing not only services the 7 cities, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk but the boutique also delivers nationwide through it’s virtual boutique. Orders placed over $50 include free shipping.

Need a little inspiration for your look of the day? Check out BellaDulce Clothing on Instagram @belladulceclothing to see some of the styling combinations that you too can create!

Do you have a favorite online boutique that you would like to recommend or see featured on the site? Email us at info@lushlife757.com for more information.


A Different Kind of Brew: New Hit Single ‘Anchorman’ from Band Yesway’s New Album ‘Double Bubble Toil and Trouble’

COVER_JPGGenerally we can all agree that there is nothing better than a great pop-rock anthem that brings everyone to the dance floor. You know, those songs that surpass the hands of time, the ones played at parties where everyone will sing in unison. Consider it the Def Leppard effect; you know the one that happens when everyone in the bar hears “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and goes a full on rock star.

Picture that moment when all the ladies suddenly become professional stage dancers reenacting Coyote Ugly, and for some odd reason, everyone knows the words. “But how can this be?” you wonder, some of these kids weren’t even born yesterday! Surely, they’ve been digging in mom and dad’s vintage crates for yesterday’s sounds. But, you shrug it off and immerse yourself in the music, the experience, the excitement. Well, the latest release called “Anchorman” from band Yesway manages to conjure up a similar effect and so much more.

“Anchorman” is the first single from the band’s highly acclaimed album Double Bubble Toil and Trouble’, a clever name to match their clever sound. Something tells us this band is brewing up something mighty savory. The song is an up-tempo, pop-rock blast of energy with contagious lyrics, and powerful guitar dynamics. With a classic rock and roll feel and new age edge, “Anchorman” is a simple arrangement that delivers a powerful punch to the stomach of radio-ready commercial pop icons.

The band provides fans with a clean, unplugged sound rather than a highly overproduced, artificial version of recording laden with synthesizers, vocal changers, and all of the shiny gadgets that make today’s pop sounds less than tolerable. The band consists of Sean on drums and as lead singer, Colin on bass and backup vocals, and Eric on guitar and backup vocals. Together, the band has mastered a progressive pop sound laced lightly with a slight retro vibe, and remarkable guitar action.

The songwriting in “Anchorman” demonstrates clear, and concise precision. The song is entertaining, bouncy, and extremely catchy. The lyrics are written in such a way that they are easy to understand and enjoy against the backdrop of the smashing guitar riffs, bass and drums. “Anchorman” is definitely a song worth having in your playlist. The lead vocalist carries a mean tune and the song is an inherently fun-filled listening experience.

‘Double Bubble Toil and Trouble’ is a collaborative undertaking that consists of a collection of projects new and old as developed by instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer E. Meyers. The end result was a collage of sound carefully crafted to include music in it’s most natural form, uncut and minimally processed; leaving fans with a razor sharp yet, entertaining sound encounter. We wonder what this group of innovative rockers will come up with next. Learn more about the band Yesway on their official website www.yeswayband.com. You can also check out their popular new single “Anchorman” from their album ‘Double Bubble Toil and Trouble’ now on sale.

Are you digging the latest single “Anchorman” from Yesway? If so, click the links below to share this with your friends and musical cohorts. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of their full album from the band’s website www.yeswayband.com.

A Deeper Look at Underground Oceans’ Latest Single “I Still Wish You Were Mine”

Underground Oceans Single I  Wish You Were MineWhile digging through the digital crates of new releases one particular single caught our attention with a blinding ray of light. The band is called Underground Oceans; the song “I Still Wish You Were Mine” ; the man behind the band is named Brett Stewart. If you are a devoted acoustic rock fan, our recommendation is to pop in your ear buds, grab a cold brewski and take a listen because artists like this don’t come along very often.

“I Still Wish You Were Mine” is the 2nd single from Underground Oceans’ latest album Broken Heart Gadgeteers; released just this month. The song itself is a satisfying blend of passionate songwriting, melodious vocals, and cascading musical expression. As Stewart sings on the outro, “I’ll be your one man band”…and that he is, fans are left intrigued by such an unrivaled approach. The established musical artisan plays each and every instrument on the track as if there are multiple instrumentalists; he indeed has ventured down a road that very few are actually able to travel successfully.

The vocals on “I Still Wish You Were Mine” are highly developed, mature, and ear-pleasing. Stewart has a warm voice that sings as if it has lived ages past yet, his vigorous delivery abounds with carefree youthfulness. The single is reminiscent of sounds brought to us by timeless performers such as Eric Clapton. Stewart’s songwriting ability as indicated by this latest piece of work, also extends beyond a borderless region where the heart and soul of music lives.

Exploring the dimensions of human relations, Underground Oceans produced an enjoyable love song with a warmhearted acoustic feel. Fans will enjoy the savvy use of instrumentals, guitar performance, and sound technique as well as the ultra soulful rock vocals of Brett Stewart. Stewart has a broad range of musical projects available for your listening pleasure on his official website brettstewart.net. A seasoned performer, he is known for his collaboration with Larson Ross on ‘The Twin Thieves’ and ‘Loss of Peaceful Places’. Check out more from Brett Stewart and Underground Oceans’ live performances on YouTube .  You can also snag a few soundbytes  from  his latest single “I Still Wish You Were Mine” on SoundCloud.

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