VIDEO: RJD2’s “Descended From Myth”

More Is Than Isn’t (RJ’s Electrical Connections) is the latest album from RJD2 and he has decided to get heady again with his new video for the song “Descended From Myth”. If you’d like to hear music from the album and other tracks throughout his career, and whatever he feels like throwing into the mix at any given time, RJD2 will be going on tour at the end of the month. It will be a treat for the audience and a treat for him to create some good music for you. He’ll also be appearing at this year’s Moogfest in Asheville, North Carolina at the end of April so plan ahead.

January 31-February 1… Denver, CO (Bluebird Theater)
February 8… Lancaster, PA (Chameleon Club)
February 15… Austin, TX (Empire Garage)
February 21… Philadelphia, PA (Union Transfer)
February 23… Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
March 1… Wichita, KS (The Crown Uptown)
March 8… Tampa, FL (Gasparilla Music Festival)
April 23-27… Asheville, NC (Moogfest)

AUDIO: RJD2 featuring J-Live’s “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request (Candy Panther Remix)”

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Satisfaction guaranteed here in this remix by Candy Panther of RJD2’s “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request”, and when you add the great J-Live into the mix, how can it not be good? You may want to sit and calm yourself down after hearing this.

VIDEO: Ivan Ives’ “8mm”

Ivan Ives has been getting a buzz for the last six years, and it has lead to this fruition known as “8mm”. We’re not talking about guns here, but about looking through old school 8mm film cameras. As someone who had parents who used a super 8, and who has fooled around with the camera, the video (shot by Ives) definitely has that 8mm feel but in this case, he used an 8mm app to give it that grainy and worn out feel. Also giving the track a warm, grainy, and worn out feel: producer RJD2. When I say the track is “worn out”, I mean that it has and can be trusted, and it’s RJD2, you can’t go wrong there.

Ives will be releasing the Stranger album, which is where “8mm” can be found upon release.

REVIEW: Foreign Exchange presents “+FE Music: The Reworks”

Foreign Exchange photo FEReworks_cover_zps1e38af7a.jpg The new Foreign Exchange album is not a “Foreign Exchange” proper album, although it could very well be an extension of what Foreign Exchange have established over the years. While they’re calling it a remix album, +FE Music: The Reworks features not only FE songs but also tracks that various members of the +FE family have done, plus a few cameos from Phonte, a number of remixes from Nicolay, and more. I feel more artists should make a “resume album” this good and this deep.

On one hand, it’s a great way to hear new mixes of familiar material, so if you’re a fan of Foreign Exchange or Phonte’s solo album, you can hear new interpretations of what you like. If Phonte had a special guest spot in something, you may hear it here. While FE has been about the soul with touches of pop, he has a few rap verses on this, for those who still demand what he had offered with Little Brother. All of this makes the album quite good, but then it gets better.

If some feel that soul music in the United States went down the tubes in the last 15 years, one can argue that it has been European artists who have helped to keep it strong, if not alive, at a time when it could have laid itself to rest. I look at Nicolay’s remix of Deborah Bond’s “Say It” and it reminds me of something I would expect to hear on a 4Hero or Jazzanova album. As for 4Hero, he handles the remix to Zo!’s “Flight Of The Blackbyrd” and with Phonte’s sweet vocals helping out in the background, it feels like a project that was… I was going to say “made elsewhere” but perhaps a better phrase would be that it sounds like worldwide music, as if I might catch it in a hot club in Japan as I would somewhere in Germany or France. Nicolay’s remix of Vikter Duplaix’s “Electric Love” sounds like it has a few purple shades to it, with slight musical hints to Prince’s “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” or Vanity 6’s “Drive Me Wild”. Hear Duplaix’s vocals made me think “the only thing that would make this song better would be background vocals from Clara Hill.” Phonte’s tracks are all standouts, and hearing these new music will make you ponder on which is the better (or preferred) mix. He has one of the best voices out there, and it doesn’t matter if he keeps things mild mannered or breaks out, I like hearing what he does.

+FE Music: The Reworks is soul, it’s a club album, it’s electronic soul, it’s disco, it has the slow jams, and there’s more than enough tracks on here deserving of maximum exposure and airplay. This is a double album with close to two hours of music, and it has some grit to it, in that there’s substance to what I’m listening to. A part of it reminds me of the music I grew up listening to, but it also sounds like the music I found a liking to while exploring magazines that looked elsewhere for inspiration. What I could not find domestically, I had to hunt for and this sounds like a great accumulation of the many things one would love to hear in an album. It may very well be an assortment of songs but it’s put together as if it was a concert performance, a set list for a concert you would feel foolish in missing. Whatever Phonte and Nicolay plan on doing with the Exchange they have organized so far, it has been a very healthy union and one that I hope will continue for many years to come.

REVIEW: J-Live’s “S.P.T.A. (Said Person of That Ability)”

Photobucket The title says it all, but also suggests a need to look further if you do not know what it means. S.P.T.A. stands for Said Person of That Ability, but is meant to be pronounced as a word: a “spitta”, or “spitter”, as in someone who spits, as in a rapper. In the last 25 years, as countless rap songs have suggested, a rapper is now a dime a dozen, and the problem is everyone thinks they’re a baker when they’re just opening up a can of soup and waiting until it boils. The problem with that is they’re waiting for a beep, and that soup has boiled over onto the stove. My point is that one of the major things to focus on in the S.P.T.A. equation is “A”: ability. A lot of people are able, but having an ability means action or “doing”, and someone seeing and hearing your capability. But being capabl… fuck it, here’s my review.

S.P.T.A. is an incredible album by J-Live, whom I’ve been a fan of since the days when it had taken 45 minutes to download an MP3. But away from technology and into the core of the matter is this: J-Live has been consistent in not only in his lyrics and style of speaking, but in who he chooses to represent him musically. He has always dabbled in his productions over the years, this album is no exception, but S.P.T.A. features contributions from Diamond D, Nicolay, RJD2, Marco Polo, The Audible Doctor, and others. Each of these guys produce their music differently from one another, and yet somehow manage to create a unified sound in the spirit of the target, which is J-Live. I know as a producer myself, we all have to claim that we have to put our egos on the side when making tracks for someone else, but the ego/confidence is in how these songs are made and for those who use samples, what sound sources are used. J-Live doesn’t have to say “oh yeah, don’t hesitate, Illastrate, uh-huh uh-uh”, but he allows them to shine. Or at least J-Live didn’t tinker with the formulas that the producers offered to him.

Then of course: the lyrics. The cover is a hint of what you’ll hear on the album. It’s basically J-Live talking to himself, or variations of himself, and at times those conversations get deep. He offers listeners a fan to truly hear what’s on his mind, because no one can understand him but him, but these songs are open doors into the logic, wit, humor, and talent of this guy. There’s a line in a song where he admits that he does not mind the slow climb in his career, a way of saying he’s honored to still be around and that people care enough to want to hear him create and release more music, when others have fallen and crashed in their perceived rise to the top. In the self-produced “Life Comes In Threes”, he brings in the musicianship of Rasheeda Ali, Jeff Nania, and Bryan Bryan Brundrge and layers them over a funky and jazzy soundscaps that sounds like he’s been in tune with Jazzanova or Shinichi Osawa as of late. Is J-Live suggesting that his career has been in three phases so far, and are we currently in the shirt? All I know is, I’d love to hear more work like this.

All of the songs stand out, but one of my favorites is “Great Expectations”, where he discusses what we all go through with everything from romance to wanting to be the best you can be, and realizing that sometimes we have to pop our own bubbles in order to understand reality. The references about rappers who believe in their own self-made hype, but get lost when they’re still on top of that balloon that rises in a mental room with no ceiling is very funny and true.

The triad theme of the album comes to a close with “Have A Glass”, where it’s simply J-Live with Lyric Jones revealing the moral of S.P.T.A., and within all of the verbal games came a story and a lesson or two that’ll make you want to play the album a few more times to understand its full strength. While I have come to expect work I value from J-Live, it’s also a reminder of how well an album can sound when you know what you’re doing, and how to do it.

SOME STUFF: Dio Dos a/k/a RJD2 prepares to get colossal

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Fans have been waiting for new music from RJD2 for awhile, but early next year the wait will come to an end with the release of The Colossus on January 19, 2010. He will be attacking the road with new music and a new show, here are the confirmed tour dates:

Sat. – Jan. 9 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Sun. – Jan. 10 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Mon. – Jan. 11 – Charlotte, NC @ Visualite Theater
Tue. – Jan. 12 – Savannah, GA @ Live Wire
Wed. – Jan. 13 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
Thu. – Jan. 14 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
Fri. – Jan. 15 – Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder
Sat. – Jan. 16 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (Heavan Room)
Sun. – Jan. 17 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
Mon. – Jan. 18 – Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm and Brews
Tue. – Jan. 19 – Knoxville, TN @ Valarium
Wed. – Jan. 20 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
Thu. – Jan. 21 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theatre
Fri. – Jan. 22 – Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant Street
Fri. – Feb. 5 – Columbus, OH @ Sully’s Music Diner
Sat. – Feb. 6 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House
Sun. – Feb. 7 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
Mon. – Feb. 8 – Nashville, TN @ Exit In
Tue. – Feb. 9 – Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone Cafe
Wed. – Feb. 10 – Oxford, MS @ The Lyric Oxford
Thu. – Feb. 11 – New Orleans, LA @ Tipitinas
Fri. – Feb. 12 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
Sat. – Feb. 13 – Austin, TX @ Emos
Sun. – Feb. 14 – Denton, TX @ Hailey’s
Thu. – Feb. 18 – Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note
Fri. – Feb. 19 – Grinnell, IA @ Grinnell College – Harris Center
Sat. – Feb. 20 – Urbana, IL @ Canopy Club

No dates scheduled so far for the West, but I’m sure as we get closer to Spring 2010, there will no doubt be some announcements made, perhaps at some of the big music festivals.

By heading to his website, RJ’s Electrical Connections (media/audio junkies will know exactly what he’s referring to with that name), you will see new videos uploaded on a regular basis up through the release date of The Colossus, along with news on reissues of his back catalog and perhaps a few exclusives. I guess that commercial/advert money is being put to good use, now let’s see where he plans on taking his music in the next decade.