Amy Winehouse: Valerie [Live on Radio 1]

Valerie, originally released by The Zutons in 2007, is without a doubt a beautiful song. Several artists have shown their appreciation for the track by releasing their own take on it, including: Panic! at the Disco, James Morrison, and Amy Winehouse. Out of every cover I’ve heard, Winehouse’s version takes the cake.

Winehouse released a studio version of ‘Valerie’ in collaboration with the talented Marc Ronson. As enjoyable as Amy’s studio version is, it doesn’t fully capture how ridiculously powerful her voice is.

Solution: a recording of Winehouse live.

Her live performance for Radio 1 is on an entirely different level. Her vocals sound bright and impassioned, dominating the otherwise spacious and simple arrangement.

For someone who was so rapidly falling apart, it’s pretty impressive that Amy Winehouse was able to put something like this together.


Jay Electronica: Exhibit C

Yeah, I took that picture…no big deal. But back when I took it, the man in the picture was in no place to be rocking such a damn fly sceptre.
Let me break it down for you. I was in attendance at a Nas concert in July of 2008 at Toad’s Place, a venue known traditionally for having a tough crowd. A packed in audience was growing anxious after having already waited more than two hours for the man they paid to see. When the boisterous opening act Jay Electronica walked in instead, it was pretty much the perfect storm for disaster. Booing ensued relentlessly from all angles of the room. Yet the seemingly overly-confident MC wasn’t going to go down without a fight… literally and figuratively. As he worked his set over thrown drinks and loud disapproval, Jay Electronica called out several people in the crowd to “meet [him] after the show.” I could’ve sworn that after such a dysfunctional act, Jay Electronica would never see the light of day again.
While he could’ve quit and let Nas take over, Jay went through a long and painful set in its entirety. Now, looking back, the persistence that Jay Electronica exhibited at Toad’s Place represents the exact qualities that breed excellence in this game.
It isn’t all that surprising then that nearly two years later, Jay Electronica is growing exponentially in popularity throughout the underground rap scene, showcasing lyrical talent and wordplay ability to boot. Check an excerpt from the well-crafted track titled Exhibit C to see what I mean:
They Call Me Jay Electronica
Fuck that, call me Jay Elec-Chanukah
Jay Elect-Yarmulke
Jay Elect-Ramadan Muhammad Asalaam-ica
Rasoul Allah Wa ta’ala through your monitor

Dope. It’s good to see that what could’ve been a devastating blow to a young career was averted. Jay Electronica has a lot going for him, and I look forward to witnessing his growth in the years to come.

Bruno Mars: All About You

You may remember Bruno Mars from when he absolutely killed the hook on B.o.B’s Nothin’ on You
After such a strong display, I felt compelled to hear more. Unfortunately, it seems that at this point, Bruno Mars only has a limited collection of songs floating around the internet. Still, from what I could hear, this dude has some serious potential.
Check both versions of ‘All About You’ to see what I mean. I’m a big fan of the studio version, and the unplugged version is actually chill-inspiring. It’s great to see that there are still some artists that sound just as good, if not better, outside of the studio.

Theophilus London: Always Love You

Theophilus London is a Brooklyn based electronic and hip hop rapper. In early 2009, London released This Charming Mixtape. There’s some really cool stuff going on in the tape, and one standout track is “Always Love You”. The track flips the crackhead with incredible lung power‘s classic “I Will Always Love You,” and turns it into a fun crossover between hip hop and dance.
Check 0:40 in for where the song really kicks into gear.

B.o.B: Nothin’ on You Feat. Bruno Mars

I have a feeling B.o.B’s most recent song, ‘Nothin’ on You’, will be turning heads. I’ve never heard of Bruno Mars, but his hook here is straight up ear candy. Don’t be surprised if this is blowing up your radio in the near future.
**Side Note**
I want to point out that I’m making this post more than 10,000 feet in the sky – mid-flight from Atlanta to New York. With the new Go Go service on tons of flights, you can get free wifi up until January by using the following promo codes:
AATRYGOGO (American Airlines)
Prettttty cool.

Animal Collective: My Girls & Bluish

Animal Collective is an experimental band that recently released the album Merriweather Post Pavillion to some outstanding reviews. Blogs all over the place are ranting about the greatness of the song My Girls, which, according to Pitchfork, is the 9th best song of the decade.
My Girls
For me, however, the most enjoyable song on the album is Bluish. There’s something about it that just makes me happy.
Download them both (in 320kb quality) here:

Young Jeezy: Dreamin’ Feat. Keyshia Cole

Jeezy gets deep (for once) on this song, and I’m a big fan.
The man has quite the story to tell:
“Mom’s smokin’ rocks, same sh*t I’m sellin’
So who’s wrong, her or me?
She addicted to the high, I’m addicted to the cash
Almost put my hands on her, when I caught her in my stash
How could I do her like that, Lord knows I’m wrong
Why would I do her like that, Lord knows she’s strong
I know it’s been hard but we made it baby
10 years clean so she’s still my lady… I must be dreamin…”
Artist Watch, Rudolph

Artist Watch: LOS

In our third installment of the Artist Watch series, we bring you LOS. Unlike our previous two artists in the series (XV, J. Cole), it’s going to take a lot for LOS to blow up. He’s got mad talent, but he recently decided to part ways with Diddy’s Bad Boy label in order to take the independent route.

LOS has a similar flow to Wayne, with plenty of punchlines to go around. Check some of these songs to see what I mean.
Los: Say Yeah (Freestyle)
This blows Wiz Khalifa’s original out of the water.
Now I’m about to Philip / fill up banks like I’m the Fresh Prince
Los: A Milli (Freestyle)
Some sick flow on this joint.
I’m so out of this world, I make telescopes squint”
If we beef, and bring your armor ‘for I knock a pothole out you, take that beef, bring some shells, make a f*ckin’ taco out you
Los: It’s Me (Freestyle)

And this, this is just ridiculous.
Frat whore, frat whore, the b*tch was a frat whore
The basketball team tapped that like a backboard
Frat whore, frat whore, she loved Iota
So she gave me head first
Then I told her I owed her
Then I told her bye bye now, see ya soon
B*tch I’m so fly I gotta look down to see the moon
Contrary to what he, or she assume
you still feel my swag in the air when I leave the room
B*tches still feel the dick in her when I leave the womb
That being said, as cool as these tracks are, they’re all freestyles. The dude has no stand out originals, and even when there is some potential on the verses, the hooks are weak.
LOS, if you’re reading this, which I know you are, my suggestion to you is to get into contact with some dudes like Colin Munroe, Robin Thicke, etc. and get a real solid hook, and then just do your thang on the verses. THEN you might have something.

Albert Hammond Jr: Spooky Couch

During finals week last year, this is the song that kept me going. I literally had ‘Spooky Couch’ playing on repeat, to the point where I had listened to the seven minute instrumental over 100 times. ‘Spooky Couch’ is a relaxing and simple piece consisting of several layered violins, guitar, and piano parts that work together beautifully.
A little background: Albert Hammond Jr is the rhythm guitarist of The Strokes, and, more recently, a solo artist with two albums to his name.