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J Cole - "Forest Hill drive" live

j cole forest hills drive liveThere is nothing that beats a well recorded live album, with the crowd just creating an atmosphere that sorta takes you to the gig itself (power of the ... mind...if only).

Elevate the stakes a bit, make than a hip hop act, who decides to do things the live route. Boom, the whole thing just explodes into a crazy scenario.

That's exactly what J Cole has done with his "Forest Hills Dive" Live release. A ROCNATION production, this be the one remarkable experience worthy its weight in gold.
"Do you wanna, do you wanna be ...happy. Do you wanna, do you wanna be ...free?" he rocks on the intro that drives the audience crazy. "January 28th" proves to be exactly the right track to get the audience warmed up.

"A few months back I dropped this album. It's called "2014 Forest Hill Drive ". They trying say it was the first album in 25 years to go platinum without no f**ing features and sh***t. They said that, they said that, I aint said that. But since they said that... if it's cool with U all, and only if it's cool with you all, I am trying to perform the whole fu***ing album for U all, if that's cool with U."

"...but you all know this whole album is a journey. So before we go too far in there fu***ng journey, I wanna press rewind and take you to a time when I was a young boy."

He then gets it on by taking the audience back with "Wet dreams", when "I was trying to get my piece of pu***y. He goes wild on the track that earned him hordes of fan.

J Cole is on fire and relentless, as he spits crazy lines on "03' Adolescence", before relating "Tale of two cities" that is about moving away from that place that ain't cool to live in and with no chance of progress in life. "I saw that everybody I had ever known had always been right here in the same spot, and I told myself I got to get the f***ck outa here " with the crowd going wild.

Feel him as he tears it all apart on "Fire squad" that goes wild with the DJ Dummy scratches, getting the audience to "put the hands in the air" on the beautifully introduced and tightly layered "St Tropez". Check out the guitar riff half way through the song, before calling it down and chatting to the audience about what it means to be back home, where he recorded the album, and what the song is about, to people who would understand what it was like "being from a small town" and the dreams that call with that, as far as moving on up, and the "mentality that comes with that".

"This sh**t been a long journey. It was not always like this, there was not always this many people, I am gonna take you to a time way before we had... The only thing we had, was classic sh**t like thing, and lets it lose with the Intermission including "Lights please", "In the morning", and crowd losing it as he delves into the bouncey "Nobody's perfect". ...guess U doing the same now, as the responsive crowd carries him through.

It all gets crazy on "G O M D", with that driving dry snare and Cole "I have to warm up, DJ Dummy warming up". "U wanna notice where I am at, I put this city on the map, they trying to say I can't come back,..." and so it goes.

"No role modelz" that takes audiences to Hollywood and what happens there, the reminiscent and introspective "Helo", with the sizzling super hit "Apparently" still hitting it hard. He then locks it down with "Love yourz" that he planned to clarify what the album was about, and for folk to dream big and start to see the world with their "own eyes".Relating how a guy who got billions, and folks coming from worse conditions being happy. "...Why do you think that is"? ...The track seeks to give answers to that. Just listen again.

Wooh, ...its on! Review by Mandla Motau

August Alsina - This thing called life

This Thing Called Life"I don't really know..." '...I don't know', 'I wonder were...', "I gotta do better ...", "I gotta do more...", "no fuck that...," these and the in betweeners are sometimes how thoughts run through our minds, and is the intro to August Alsina's realistic outlook on life latest album, ''This thing called life?"

There is something about August Asina's honest outlook on life skits that comes up at most of his track ending on his latest album. Brutally honest, these are brilliant as they resemble the kinda one on one conversations that we have with ourselves, and just what one needs to realise they are not the only one having these.

August Alsina goes down South with the help of Anthony Hamilton and Jadakiss assist on the gotta be done "Job". 'God know I work hard, but I still got to sail my job...' goes the chorus on the inspired track. Breezy is on the assist on the driven "Why I do it". As they both claim, they ain't gonna tell "why I do it", the track lets on to much on the whole plan and will hopefully move you to action. The perky "Hollywood" praises a young ni***ga doing good' cause "I 'm on way to the top" goes the inspired cut.

The motivational, inspirational, and revved up "American dream" is about living one's dream. A Jay Z's "Hard knock life" reminder, his "American Dream" has the kids joining him to spread the word in saying "they told me that I wouldn't be anything", of course pushing the boundaries and looking at the bigger goal and what he needs to achieve.

"Look at how far I have come" then colourfully relates his progress so far. "Had a lot of sleepless nights, but still I had to thrive," moves the cut, "when they tell me it would never work". "...I gotta keep pressing on, to make it somehow" goes the self-pushing track.

He ups the tempo somewhat on the clap-to-this "Been around the world" featuring Chris Brown. The track has nicely rocks with elements of Notorious BIG's classic "Been around the world".

The call-response "Hip hop" has that 'bounce-to-this' feel to it, as it hits hard and the August dropping relentless lines. Now lemme hear you say, "hip-hop, hey; hip-hop, hey; hip-hop, hey..."

Nicely layered, the singer/rapper brings in some "Change" that he believes "you could be...". "I see no change, so I guess I gotta be that change", goes one line on the motivational track.

Love the fast spoken chorus lead up on "Dreamer". It's quit telling and with the nicely paced track will most get you into action.

He is on an appreciative mode on the gently "First time" that will see you bump your head. "Would you know" what hit you, as he asks for her heart on the track that tonally excites.

Hitting some fascinating falsettos "Song cry" screams out loud for guys to be honest with their feelings than stay "inebriated" or thinking about "suicide". "Sometimes I get emotional, then I can't seem to find the way I am supposed to go..." kicks off the track, where he also say "let me cry, they say a man ain't supposed to cry", "so I am gonna let the song cry, so, I am gonna let my song cry through this words..." goes the heartfelt track for a "gone to soon" lover.

More tears are shed as he hopes to see the lost one on the "Other side". Of course he hopes that he is "forgiven for his sins" just to be able to "kick it like we used to before" with her.

Hard hitting, "The encore" is exactly what you need to smooth things out after going through this exciting and motivational project. I agree with him when he says "I never had this good". 'See I started out with nothing", '...I have been clean, and I have been high", he throws it all out. Review by Mandla Motau

Rihana - Anti

Rihanna AntiOnly a few artists have managed to take dancehall music to mainstream chart success, and Rihanna is definitely the Queen of that sphere.

She has done that again with her current Drake assist super hit "Work", taken from her latest ground breaking and eclectic album, "Anti". Showing lots of muscle, the perky sing-along (...nana na nan/ ...la lala lala) has powered its way to top of music charts here at home and all over the world, leaving lots of sweat drenched bodies on dance floors, and proving her staying power all over again.

The album opens with another exciting raggafied (I just created a word) track (featuring SZA) "Consideration" that sets the forceful nature of the set that sees her puff it on your face with "James Joint" soon after. She "Kiss it better" with the groovy track that starts off with a guitar riff that inspires, and keeps the excitement going.

Rihanna recklessly (a deliberate act) and beautifully delivers "Desperado" that will keep the mood going. This track just has a way to blend lots of scenarios, as it graphically creates such images that can only be associated with moving music.

"Woo", it's definitely on, as she penetrates you musical senses with the systemically build-up of a creation. And in case you were still wondering, you will notice that the non-starter "Needed me" hits hard and lays down the law.

"Yeah, I said it" leaves you not knowing what hit you. Gently paced, it has its way with your musical ear, and takes you along its satisfaction inspired journey. The Piano led and accompanied "Close to you" is such a welcome and emotive rendition that has a calming effect, and can only bring you close to the singer.

"Same oláE Mistake" moves with its crazy bassline that accompanies immensely satisfying creation. Immaculate in approach and meant to control your music senses, it leaves such imprints in your mind, body and soul. It is such a work of art.

The acoustic "Never ending" is a welcome breath of fresh air, and one of those stupendous tracks you will wish to play again, and again, & she also places such implants with the unforgettable "Love on the brain" that is destined for evergreen territory. The latter vocally varied track leaves one on such a high that leaves such welcome silence that can be replenished by hearing it again. Memories indeed...!

Just when you think she is done, she offloads a number of bonus tracks including the trendsetting "Pose", "Goodnight Gotham", and the crazy ideas planting "Sex with me" – wonder where it will take you. What a way to leave you, but then you can go through the experience and be taken through the varied experiences offered by .... Review by Mandla Motau

Regina Belle - The day life began

regina belle day life beganRarely do selling points on album covers fairly and honestly capture what the album is about – talk about oversell.

"On this album, Regina brings together all the elements that have made her a beloved icon – heartfelt, soulful singing, inspirational lyrics, and her magnificent voice – making this her finest album to date," reads Regina Belle's "The day life began" album sleeve.

For just the name only, I was gonna listen to the project, but then the music hit. Yeah, I was sold on the first listen, as she sets the tone with the title track on this perfect gospel album that proves that she will always be a force to be reckoned with.

After all these years, the distinguished singer still hits the high notes. "He's alright" takes it back to the church and mesmerizes with its zest. As she says when the driven song begins, 'clap your hands', and yes "...sing with me".

Taking it back, ...yeah taking it back with some crazy dance beats that are matched by her voice on the cheerful "You know how to love me". This is one of those tracks that will see even the phlegmatic move to the beat, and falling over themselves thanks to her delivery.
"Imperfect love" is the perfect emotional R&B track. Gentle in delivery, it oozes beauty and can only be about love.

The captivating "You" has that pacifying effect, and the piano just so immaculately played, it just has to re-create inner peace. Then there is her vocal genius that just has to have that fulfilling nature.

"Live for you" permeates the soul and will have its way with your musical senses. The thumping bassline is to die for and creates such a stupefying effect.

Talk about good music that strikes the point home, and you are talking about "You saw the good in me" as well, and then it's funk all the way as she helps "Open your eyes". Also check out the epic beauty, "A night of love", that builds up beautiful and reaches a high that has no limits, and she is on a motivational tip on the empowering "Be careful out there".

Talk about great music and on point messages. Review by Mandla Motau

Oliver Mtukudzi - God bless you

Oliver Mtkudzi God BlessIf you have been following Zimbabwean legend, Oliver Mtukudzi's music, you will know that gospel music has been very much part of his legacy.

It comes as no surprise now that he has dropped a full on gospel album. The release is made up of gospel tracks taken from his albums all over the years, and it is power all the way.

The collection opens up with the popular traditional hymn "Apo Jesu Anouya" (better known as "Hallelujah umusa ka Jesu" in Mzansi) delivered in Shona. Having that Oliver unique hand, the inspired hymn is taken from his album, "Pfugama unamate".

Also taken from that album are the album's real Africanised title track (what we know as "Inzima lendlela/Vuka uthandaze"), the influential "Chinyarara", and "Baba ndinodisa. The 12-tracker is also blessed with perky sing-along "Hear me lord" from "Ziwere mukobenhavn".

"Rumbidzai Jehova" is represented by the lively "Hakuna zita" and powered up "Jehova una masimba". "Tiregerereiwo" makes a spirited entry on the release from the album, "Nhava".

Another highly represented album is "Ndotomuimbira" that is in with four entries. These include "Tokunda Satani", "Rudo rwaJesu", "Nditungamire" and "Mamutora".

This is a nice departure from the usual gospel music delivery, and introduces exalted sounds in a welcome different way.

Stace Barthe - BEcoming

Stacy Barthe BEcoming fStacey Barthe, known for her work on Rihanna's "Cheers (drink to that)", is deservedly "BEcoming" one of the most exciting voices in the music industry thanks to her previous works with Britney Spears, Sean "Diddy Combs, Akon, and more, and now, with her praiseworthy debut album that is one amazing work of art, and rightfully so.

A haunting voice that is intoxicating, enwrapping and whimsical that will enthuse your musical ear and being with its poetic approach, Stacey has definitely laid a noteworthy mark with her release. Hers is one of those albums that manages to entwine one's senses after the first listen and entrenches her voice in the industry, it lives with you henceforth.

John Legend, who is one of the executive producers on the project, assists on "Angel" (of the classic Anita Baker track) that has a breath of fresh air breathed into it and hits with a huge punch of emotion. Sounding so sublime, the track that contains the drum beat from Biz Markie's "Make the music with your mouth" is emollient, remarkable and massively moving.

Common encourages her to "Live for today" on the flourishing and clappy track that contains elements of "Mas que nada", as South Africans know it from the Black Eyed Peas rendition of the classic track. Genre bending is the name of the track as is on the album, that will leave you in awe.
The zappy album opener "In my head" gives off a lot of ideas that have to do with one's attempts to make sense of what's happening out there. 'The stories I make up in my head make a little sense than what's going on out there...' goes the fiery track that will resonate with many trying to make sense of the madness of the rat race.

"Sleep to dream" is effective and has that honest delivery about it that strikes the point home. "Eyes wide shut" continues on her honest outlook at the world, a depiction that is reality based and captured well with her captivating voice. Nobody has defined us as "Flawed beautiful creatures" that we are in such a catchy and beautiful way like she does on the epic track, and then interestingly asks that 'you better stop lying to yourself' on the fixative that orders you to look in the mirror & say 'Hey you there' '...is it me you looking for' that ends of on a roots reggae tip that is short lived, but just as effective.

Catchy in its approach, "Here I am" is a groovy and perky track that has amusement written all over it. 'Watch while I dream my pain away...,' she says on the mood catcher that draws patterns of musical emancipation and revel with guitars that are the make of mzansi in depiction.

She faces herself on the acoustic marvel "Me versus Me" that sees her accompanied by the beautiful strung piano. 'You can run ..run ...run fast as you can, but U can't run from yourself...' she relays on the reality check track. "Find it (transition)" on the jazzy song that has her looking for '...a new way to live' and ordering 'misery yoh, misery yoo-hoo, stop chasing me down'.

Also check out the warm-hearted "Walk on water", the eclectic "War IV love" that will leave you conflicted and not know how to place her musically speaking, the funky stupefying "You wonder why" that will live you wondering how music can be so remarkable, the funky and lovely "In the meantime" and closing of the set with the eclectic and musically fired up "Enough is enough" that will have its own way with your inner soul.

Stacey Barthe is a revelation indeed. Review by Mandla Motau

Dr Dre - Compton

Dr Dre ComptonAfter years of waiting for "Detox", Dr Dre instead offers the music world the lyrically rich "Compton" – a soundtrack by Dr Dre.

This album dropped as the movie "Straight Outta Compton", about NWA, was released in the USA. However, it is not that movie's soundtrack, but a soundtrack into the life of Dr Dre, who has proven that he in no ephemeral phenomena, & with no doubt is an epoch-making player in the industry. You will be taken by the effects filled and atmospheric tracks, the music that has character, and rhymes that say rap is alive, track intros and endings that are stylish.

"I remember when I got started my intention was to win", goes the Dr as he spills his heart out on the album's last track "Talking to my diary". This here is a project that is just part of what goes on in the mind of the icon who sometimes 'got lotta sh***t in my mind'. 'I am just starring at the sky, U probably think I am high...' are some of the lines that have seen drop this soundtrack to share some of these things. Check out the saxophone, trombone and Trumpet assist that just elevates the perky and heartfelt track that has the line 'This is for passion, this where my heart is...,' definitely a perfect way to end the soundtrack. 'I know Eazy can see me now, looking through the clouds...' '...I know my nigga still proud'. 'A nigga having flashbacks...,' he makes more diary entires.

The album intro is that of a movie starting and a story told on what Compton is, how it shaped him, and the life experienced there. Epic in approach, this intro was perfectly made to prepare the ear, mind and inner self for what it has to offer.

"Genocide" is a killer track (pardon the pun) done with Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius & South Africa's Candice Pillay, and instinctively absorbs one's musical ear with its revolving spin. Talk about back to the future, this cut will take you back to the cutting edge sound that we have come to expect from the Dr. and still manages to find its space in the current sphere. Hard core in approach, it will break you down, as he does a soul spin towards the end and hits you in the face with it, as it takes you all up once last time.

Candice once again appears on "Medicine Man" that also features Eminem and Anderson Paak. This is one of those break-out tracks on the concept album, and you are guaranteed to feel its healing and captivating nature. Eminem is let loose on the track and the chorus is just to die for (...but then again, the Dr. with his troops is at hand to the rescue – musical rescue that is).

'That's just the way it is, and how it always was...' goes the track on "lt's all on me" that has the old G, still rhyming 'f***k' the police with Justus and BJ The Chicago Kid. Its "All in a day's work" in the realistic, hard-hitting and driven track that throws punches non-stop, well ...and also telling the men in blue to (...well, you know what).
"Darkside/Gone" featuring King Mez, Marsha Ambosius & Kendrick Lamar is a mixture of beats that is driven by the featured acts' rhymes throws a curve ball and makes an indelible mark. "Loose cannons" sees Xzibit, Cold 187UM & Sly Pyper on the ride on the track that shoots from all sides. Anderson, Lamar, and Justus hook up with the Dr. on the deep "Deep Water". Be immersed in the water, swim along with them and don't fight the tide.

NWA member Ice Cube marches along with the assist troupe that addresses real "Issues" with Anderson Paak and Dem Jointz. Love the cool off from the driven rhymes to the momentous chorus that is a big part and has a life of its own on the number. Uncle Snoop gets to pull the trigger on "One shot one kill" with Jon Connor on the killer track that rocks with the line 'You are now not in the presence of nice guys...' "Satisfaction" is the name of the game as an inspired Snoop (say wot? What did you expect? He is working with the Dr.) throws his weight (rhymes speaking that is) again, with Marsha and King Mez to add a fulfilling touch on the album.

The Game rides "Just another day" with his musical master and Asia Bryant on this track that is shortlived. Thank God for repeat, you get to enjoy it "Just another day". "For the love of money" is blessed by Jill Scott, Jon Connor and Anderson Paak, and carries that love of gangsta rap, and of course the loot. Riding on a dry snare and thumping bassline, "Animals" has that energy that was associated with rap back in the day, and Anderson Park is just perfect for it. Yeah, you will agree with Dre when he says 'what the f***k, I feel the rage...', as you enjoy the ride with the pack on the DJ Premier produced cut.

No need to despair, apparently "Detox" is done (...with Dre you never know), and this, is just the perfect start to the main course. What a starter it is. Review by Mandla Motau

Jordin Sparks - Right Here Right Now

Jordin Sparks Right hereJordin Sparks is back on the music frontier with some music that sparks and excites in many ways.

Her latest album, "Right here, Right now" kicks off on a high with the bounce-to-this "Work from home" featuring B.O.B, and the high powered and claps inspired "1000" featuring J-Doe, helping her bask in some hip-hop inspired beats, and club glory, thus augmenting her make-me-move creds. The vibrant title-track that has some ragga tinged lines excites in a special way.

2Chainz backs her up as they "Double tap" on the mellifluous and paced number that rubs ones emotions the right way. The magnanimous and fresh "Boyz in the hood" has this moving bassline that drives the amazingly driven and inspired track, and will touch your inner parts of your musical soul in a rocking way.

She takes it down a notch and showcases her vocal strength with the powered "Silhouette", "They don't give", and the effective "Left....right" that hits from all sides in the gentlest elatedly way possible. The persuasive and perspicuous "Tell him that I love him" doesn't need anybody to refer its clear message. Sung so well (check out the high notes), it just has the right effect that will strike the point home with less effort.

"Casual Love" has never sounded so gently. Shaggy makes an appearance to help guide this reggae sprinted track, and yes, they bring on the heat. Elijah Blake is featured on "Unhappy", as if to heal the pain on the track that sounds inspired. It so does away with the pain thanks to its spirited delivery.

"11:11" is smooth, gentle, emotive and oh so lovely, and you will not get enough of "100 years" that is worth its weight in gold. 'A 100 years is not enough time with you' goes the sincere track that is convincing and has honesty written all over it.

Jordin clocks the miles on "It ain't you" that is meant to move the body and the heart. Yeah "this one is for all my ladies" she bold states on the remarkable and exuberant track. Review by Mandla Motau

Chanté Moore - Mooré is more

Chante Moore more"Moore is more". Such is the stark reality of Chante Moore's musical talent that keeps on giving.

Her latest album, "Moore is more", adds to the repertoire of beautiful music that we have become accustomed to over the years. Smooth, heartfelt, captivating, that has been the name of the game previously and she continues where she left off on this latest giving.

She sets the tone with the laidback "Baby can I touch your body" that touches your musical senses, as calm as she can. You will be agreement that she can touch your heart anytime she wishes with her music, ...and maybe your body as well.

When hit with such amazing and calming interpretations, "Talking in my sleep" is one of those things that can be welcome. Love the instrumental that hits hard every time she approaches the chorus.

Promise that you will not feel "Alone" after listening to the groovy track. The welcome track satisfies immensely, satisfies and is the perfect accompaniment track.

"Don't make me laugh" exudes greatness and is one of those tracks destined for epic sphere. A vocal powerhouse it means business and will leave you captivated.

She moves a gear up on the bouncy "Doctor Doctor". "Hey Dr. Dr. got what I want, hey Dr. Dr. got what I need" she rolls on the track that is likely to get even the phlegmatic moving. To the bedroom dance floor it will lead you.

And in an unexpected move, she also delves into the dance music space with "On and on". Well, guess what, Da Brat comes out to assist on the track that excites with vocals matching up with the beat. We won't fault you for feeling the need to move to the thumping and track.

Also check out the relentless "Mrs. Under. Stood", "Giving you my always" that builds up nicely to hit the right spots, the exulting gospel track "Jesus I want you", and the marvellous jazzy interpretation of "Cry me a river".

Keep giving us more of the good stuff Chante Mooré. Review by Mandla Motau