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.