I feel so behind on my Music of the Moment, I mean in all reality this isn't exactly my Album of the Moment, anymore, more like in July it was. However I had it up on the right side of the blog at one time, so I'm going toplay catch up and talk about The Dream's "Love vs. Money." This album is without a doubt a sequel to his debut album "Love Hate". I wouldn't be surprise to hear, that a couple songs on this album were probably songs, that didn't make the first cut, of the "Love Hate" album. I think the first single, "Rockin' That Shit," was suppose to be another "Shawty is Da Shit," the first single from his first album...and yes, I always get the explicit versions. I am going to say something that, maybe very controversial, or may have a lot of people disagreeing. I think The Dream is the new 1980's Prince. Yes, I said it. Now don't get it twisted, but I am not calling him the new Prince, but more so a new millennium's version of 1980's Prince. Let me explain this, for those who are confused. When I listen to The Dream I get a somewhat Prince vibe to him and his songs. I think about Prince's song like "Little Red Corvette," "Purple Rain," "Raspberry Beret," and many other songs, when I hear The Dream's songs. Just like Prince I think The Dream has a sorta signature sound. I mean I usually can figure out that The Dream has written or produced a song for another artist. The Dream's protege girl group, Electik Red, Rhianna's "Umbrella" has The Dream sound; just like Prince's protege girl acts like Vanity 6, Apollonia, Sheila E, always had the Prince influence sound on their albums. I mean on The Dream's first album he has a song called "Nikki," and who else has a song called "Darling Nikki" too?...hmm let me think. Now granted The Dream's Nikki could be talking about his ex wife Nivea, but you get my point. I just feel that The Dream is very much giving us a new 1980's Prince retrospective. I think songs like "Walkin' On the Moon" and the beat to "Love VS. Money," very much sound like a new day 80s Prince. Ironically though it's R. Kelly he shows homage to on this album on the song, "Kelly's 12 Play." I don't care what The Dream says however, he could never deny that Prince has or is, a major influence on him and his music as well.
With that said, lets go into the highlights of Love VS. Hate. First let me say this The Dream to me successfully does something on every album, that Jagged Edge tried on the "Baby Making Project" album, but I didn't care for as much, as how The Dream does. That thing being connect each song, so there is no space, but it becomes one long song. With Jagged Edge, every song, started to sound a like on that album. In my opinion The Dream connects them better, yet they still sound like different songs. For example "Sweat It Out" is talking about a girl that he loves having sex with...a girl he loves having sex with so much he want to take her home to meet his mother in, "Take U Home 2 My Mama"...which is the first lines in the song "Love VS. Money"... which is a song about him wanted to take a girl home to meet his mother, but she left him for another guy she loves inspite of all the money and gifts he lavished her with, which goes into "Love Vs. Money Pt. 2"...and it goes on like that. I have to say my favorite line in the whole album, would have to be the first lines in one my favorite songs on the album "Sweat It out," which are "Girl, call up Tisha, your beautician, cause your hair is go'n need fixin..." I just think it's funny. This album is filled with a lot of slow jams made to get busy with. Songs like, "Put It Down," which is another one of my favorites, to other slows like "Fancy." The song "Kelly's 12 Play," actually samples his own beat from his first album. It samples the "Shawty is Da Sh**" remix featuring R. Kelly. The song is about how you can't go wrong with having sex, when you do it to r. Kelly's "12 Play" album; while this song is actually made to have sex with, like R. Kelly's album. Ironically, I have gotten completely naked and busy to the album. It has a nice overall groove that is great to have sex too, in my opinion. Overall I enjoyed
My Ah That's My Jam of the Moment, is Case's "Lovely." As corny as it maybe to say, it's lovely that Case is back. This is the first single of of his new album, and I really love this song. I think because it is such a classic song from Case, it like right where he left off on his last album.
My Ah That's My Jam II of the Moment is Mary Mary's God In Me featuring Keirra Sheard. I will say this, I'm not a huge Mary Mary fan, but I love this song. I actually first heard it on a R&B/Hip Hop station and thought as crazy as it sounds, that Monica had did a gospel song. Anyway even though the message is kinda superficial, I love the message. That you see my car and clothes, my lifestyle about me, and think I have it made. however what you don't see is me falling on my knees when I get home, and knowing it's nothing but the God in me that made it happen.
My throwback album of current rotation, is "Miss Thang." The debut album from one of my favorite female artist, this album embodies the attitude of the title of the album. Back in the 90's, "Miss Thang", always meant a women or dare I say a gay man...yes I said that...with attitude; and well Monica always seems to have that little attitude to her. In attitude, I mean she always had this sassiness to her, even at the age of 14, when this album came out. Here is the thing about the mid 90s, 14 year old singers were not producing music like 14 year old girls are now. Singers like Monica, Brandy, Traci Spencer, and the late great Aaliyah, who all seemed to be coming out at the same time, and were all around the same age, where producing mature music. The music was very mature for the age of the singers. I mean the songs and singing always seemed like it was coming from older singers, even if that meant just older teenagers, it was older sounds. I mean I find it amazing that several songs on this album was recorded when Monica was actually 12 years old. Ironically as teens are more mature today, the songs coming from teen singers are a little more bubblegum than in the mid 90s R&B, in my opinion, at least. Now granted there is this high school vibe to the album, but I still feel like it wasn't, pinholed to one certain age group.
One of my favorites on the album, the High tempo, heavy bass infused, "Don't Take It Personal(Just One Of Dem Days)," is an example, of one of those songs, that is not just geared to one specific audience. I love this song. Now I know this song is more so talking about a woman feelings, and more specifically PMS, at least I think; however I connect with it. I feel this way a lot. I have them days, where I just one to be left alone, and do just that. It is the only song she co-wrote on the whole album. I have a feeling it was one of the songs recorded when she was 14, than at age 12. I have a feeling songs like "Skate," was recorded when she was 12. Anyway another favorite of mine would be, "Before You Walk Out of My Life." One of my earliest memories of Monica, would have to be the video, for this song. The video always left a sad feeling in me, when her and obviously her best friend, which was a boy, moved away from her. This album also contained a lot of covers and sampling. I feel like this album debuted during a time when sampling was just becoming the big thing. Not taking the whole song like previously was done for years, but just sips and nibbles of older songs or the productions, and remaking them. She has two covers on this album. The first being, "Tell Me If You Still Care," which I think is fairly decent remake of the S.O.S. Band's hit song. Does she make the song hers..hmm that's debatable...I think personally think she did, for a cover. The next cover being the first of two collaborations she does in her career with Usher, the Latimore' hit "Let's Straighten It Out." I will have to say, that it doesn't seem like a song that a 14 and a 16 year older is singing. Not the most remember song from the album, but it's decent. I think that her slow jams out shined them, like "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Now I'm Gone." Anyway this album was the beginning of me being a real Monica fan, even today with her recent stuff.
Now I'm not going to even lie, when Hezekiah Walker divorced Monique Walker 10 years ago, I thought it would be the last time I heard from one of my favorite soloist. I mean it had been years and no music or anything about her surfaced. However one day I happened to be listening to one of Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir's old albums, and I happened to think about Monique. I got home and Googled her name, and to my surprise, her name came up and a new album "My Genesis," appeared. "My Genesis" is the debut gospel album, from a music veteran. For some of you is unfamiliar with the power house Monique Walker, she was one of the lead soloist of Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, since the late 80s and early 90s to the Family Affair album in 1999, when they split up and divorced in the following years. In the "Let's Dance" music video, from the "Family Affair" album featuring David Hollister, she is the female soloist in the video, with the strong high cheek bones. Well anyway, after the "Family Affair II" release and the "20/85 The Experience," and still nothing was heard from Monique, I thought that she had went into Ex-spouse obscurity, and the last we heard of her singing on an album release ever again. However I am glad that I was wrong, with the album "My Genesis."
She named her debut album "My Genesis," after the first book and the beginning of the bible, and this being her new beginning. That is very much the theme that was carried through this album and through her songs. From songs like "Starting All Over" and "Right Now," she sings about how its her season and her time, to shine and reap her blessings from the Lord. This album has a very anointed impact from the beginning to the end. Although establishing herself as a solo artist and her own sound, she didn't stray to far from her roots as leading a choir. Half of the album is live with a choir or heavy music grouping of some sort and the other half is studio productions. Her first single "Crazy Praise," is just that a crazy praise, and just what a live production should do, make you feel like you are there. I for a moment get caught up and can actually image myself in the church sanctuary, being apart of this service and watching her sing and lead this song. I will have to say her ex husbands influences on her is very much apparent in certain songs like "More of Your Glory," and the way she directs the different sections, is a classic Hezekiah move. On one of my favorites songs on the album "Right Now," is without has that Love Fellowship Crusade Choir vibe written all over it. In the strong beat and everything from organ and I want to say the Hezekiah Walker horn sound. I can't put my finger on what is that sound, that distinguishes the Walker sound. I think this song has my favorite lyric on the whole album, "This is my season...this is my time, I'm not conceited, but I got to get mine!" Another one is the powerful and stirring, "Tried in the Fire," which is about how you can go through the fire, through so much in your life but with God you will come out your situation as gold.
Now for some it may seem weird that she would have a song on her debut solo album, from her past when she was singing with Hezekiah and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, like "Second Chance." However if you ever heard the lovely Ms. Walker perform this song you would know that she couldn't have her first solo album, without this song. Although Monique was lead soloist on many LFC Choir songs; "Second Chance" was her signature song, from the "Live in New York" album. It was her "I Will Always Love You" to Whitney Houston, it was her "I Will Survive" to Gloria Gaynor, her "Lady Marmalade" to Patti Labelle, it was the song she always sings. I have seen Hezekiah sing live multiple times, some with Monique and a couple post Monique, but there was never a song that brought down the house like Monique singing "Second Chance." It was always an emotional song that touches, and gets everyone. Now this is a different rendition than the "Live from New York" album. I don't know if it was purposely sung in the middle of the song or that's when they decided to start the live recording for the album or what, but I care for it when she starts off from the beginning, but still you get the effect of the song regardless. I will have to say the live recordings got me more than the studio productions, but they were still fire too. It's just she seems to shine more and really get you with a choir behind her and the powerfulness of the choir and probably the support of the audience. The heavily produced Darkchild singles "Greatest Gift" and "Trust and Believe," definitely gave her a new and different sound, that she probably needed to establish her self as a solo artist. However I think the soft sweet ballad "We Worship You," is by far the best studio song on the album. I just love that one. All in all this is an album to me was a very personal and powerful album, about trials and tribulations, and about making it through, with the grace of God. With his help anyone can cope and see the brighter day, that God has for us all. This is without a doubt an anthem album of claiming your season and what's for you no matter what anyone says, or you go through.
Sorry if this whole post feels dated...it sorta is!