How do you make a classic of a classic?
First you take a legend in the form of Aretha franklin with her distinct captivating voice and add in producers like of Babyface, Terry Hunter, Andre "3000" Benjamin and Harvey Mason, Jr. The results speak volumes on the Aretha Franklin Sings the great diva classics.
The album, in a class of its own, opens with the Babyface/Antonio Dixon produced Etta James' "At last" featuring Kirk Walum on saxophone. Of course this song by the artist named Rolling Stones' Greatest Singer of All Time hits a nerve and creates something passionate as it gets a new lease on life. The vocal and sax throwback towards the end is so amazing.
She adds a feeling nobody else could add to the chart topping "Rolling in the deep" by Adele. Spicing it up with Ashfor & Simpson's "Ain't no mountain high enough", it takes you along as it reaches a new high and just stays right there.
Enjoy the (Cissy Houston & later popularised by Gladys Knight & The Pips) "Midnight train to Georgia" that emancipates your emotional senses. Guided by Babyface/Antonio Dixon again, it creates that warm fuzzy feeling inside that grips you from beginning to end. If you find yourself singing along, don't deny the feeling and just let it be. Cissy actually appears as one of the backing vocals on this song and many others).
"I will survive" is a breath of fresh that Aretha and Terry Hunter/DJ Wayne Williams manage to steer in a classy funky feel that has its own life. Old folk, young at heart and those who appreciate good music will be moved into a new sphere by this vibrant and explosive interpretation that gets mixed with elements of Destiny's Child "Survivor".
The two take her to the dance floor with the funky "You keep me hangin' on" (The Supremes) with the star on the piano. Just move to the beat.
The Underdogs steer the ship to the green Caribbean fields with a take on Alicia Keys' "No one". Also featuring Kirk Whalum on sax, "Teach me tonight" is a lesson in taking things gentle and means so much more in its laidback mode.
She fully encompasses all thing woman with "I 'm every woman (Chaka Khan)/Respect (Otia Rdding)" that does things deep inside and oozes beauty. This luxuriating and stupendous classic is guided by Eric Kupper.
André 3000 adds something spunky to the groovy and aptly titled "Nothing compares 2 U" (Prince/Sinead O'çonnor). Love the scatting and instrumental play on the jazzy song that is just warmth all the way. By Mandla Motau
Jonathan Butler is living his musical dream on his latest album that sees him flaunt his guitar prowess and just as comfortable vocally.
Setting off with a percussive start, the star kicks off the album with the pacey and powerful "African breeze" that surely puts you in the mood for a great musical time. Led by his guitar and featuring a thumping bass-line, this upbeat breeze ushers in something energetic and stupendous.
"Living my dream" is a statement making track about what he has been through and where he is at now. 'Looking back on my life, can't believe I am still here, all the struggles, all the fights, all the things that I feared, 'They can't touch me now, they can't hold me down,' he boldly recounts on the track. "This is real, he continues, '...I gotta tell the world.'
Shhh..., "Be still" as his guitar tells you a story worth listening to, and should I say going through with the monstrous track. Co-written by the late great George Duke, the sincere track gets groovy as it moves on, with the accompanying instrumentals making it a marvel, especially the piano by the late. Marcus Miller also appears on the track with his statement making bass.
"Let there be light" adds brightness to the mood and leaves everything as clear as they should be. This is a sedating track that opens up your musical senses and will rhythmical leave you in a stupor.
The passionate "Heart and Soul" takes you on a soulful journey that will surely strengthen your partner's love and commitment to you. In case you thought real r&b is no more, this track straddles in a beautiful way as he Jonathan lays down his vocals in a touching way that is filled with excitement and the music just creating the perfect mood.
"Song for you" will knock off of your feet and work its way to you jolly mood soundtrack. A bit of funk here and there, some step and reggae elements in the mix, this is an elegant track that could easily be a radio single masses will move too in unison.
Jonathan brings it back home on the unmistakably Afro-jazz inspired "Catembe". Moving and fulfilling, it surely will make your day with its musicality and will see many respond to its interactive nature/feel.
You can't fault him and will easily understand what he means when he hits you with "Night to remember". The track captures the mood and simply spices up the atmosphere for such.
...and when he moves to "All about love", the mood has been set and the message simply flows from that. Just to keep the juices flowing, he nicely keeps the sparks going with the lovely paced and the laid back "Sweet serenade". This one of those tracks where you get lost in him as he straddles the guitar on stage.
He closes the album perfectly with the mesmerising and suave "Prayer". You will find yourself singing along to the muted vocals that will take you to a greater space towards the end of the song, ending this masterpiece in an elevated way.
Pure work of genius this is! By Mandla Motau
"Think like a man too" is accompanied by the Queen of Hop-hop/soul Mary J Blige, of course that's musically speaking.
The star has hooked with a number of respected R&B producers such as Pharell Williams, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Jerry "Wonda"Duplessis, C. "Tricky"Stewart, and more to record the movie's accompanying music and tracks inspired by the flick.
The album opens with the remake of the classic "A night to remember". Darkchild adds his funky beats to elevate the track to the now, while retaining its originality, age and edge. Massive and lovely work it is.
You will get your groove on with the moving "Moment of love". 'l wish you could feel what it's like in a moment of love.' You will love this moment and the track might just be the light you need to make you see it.
Pharell is featured on "See that boy again" that hits the spot with its emotive nature. Mr Happy adds happiness to the longing song with his calming voice that is full of promise for what she searches for.
"Wonderful", featuring a Tribe Called Quest's "Push it along", beams energy thanks to its moving and lovely bass line. "Kiss and make up" creates some warm memories worth the peace offering it's made off. If beauty was a song, this would be one of those tracks it would be made off."
I wouldn't mind such sweet sounding "Cargo" that lights up the mood. Vocally and musically strong, it takes you back to the days when R&B was the shit and will leave you fulfilled.
Adding some hard hitting bass lines, some raga undertones and hip-hop beats, "Suitcase" might be what one needs to help open their eyes and see what they could be losing. Hopefully this would be before the suitcase is packed.
"I want you" is an eclectic sounding number that oozes energy. Pounding and fuelled, it has that powered strike and surely sounds like Mary means business and just might get what she wants. Check out the guitar riff past the halfway mark through the song and elevated with the song, as it hits a higher level that also includes vocal delights.
If you about "Self love", this passionate track will help you look 'in the mirror' again and help you find your way. "Power back", is such a vibrant beauty and excites inside with its colourful nature. Mary takes her "Power back" with the honest words, 'I love me too much to wanna be you...'
"All fun and games" is a frank and direct approach track that doesn't mince any words. 'It's Áll fun and games 'til somebody gets hurt' hits the honest track that puts it like it is.
It all gets "Better" as Mary delivers this enmeshing track that is bold and engaging. The chorus is just captivating and hits home in the most touching way.
The epic "Propose" deservedly claims its place in that territory. It is huge, it glitters and moving, and definitely worth its worth in gold. By Mandla Motau
From time to time, an artist drops in and excites the music industry in more ways than usual.
Mali Music is one such artist and his album, available on iTunes, is a potpourri of different sounds and his vocals something to listen to without reservation. He also joins the elite list of artists who switch between rap and singing with stunning results.
"No Fun alone" opens in an explosive way and reminds of D'Angelo mixed up with some Fugees sound and some new elements, and you will be hooked. The scorching "Fire" then heats you up deep inside with its hip hop meets new age sounds. The delivery is just on point and just as illuminating.
He takes it to a love space and does it so passionately on the sing-along and undeniable "Beautiful" with the catchy 'say yeah'. Lemme hear you 'say yeah' to this beautiful track. It is amazing.
Mali turns up the heat with the vibrant "Happy love". There is no denying the intensity of the track that takes over with its power. It commands attention and delivers satisfaction.
And when he moves to familiar hip-hop space on "Fight for you", there is something different with the way he does his thing. It lights up in the most exciting way Here him flow relentlessly, as he moves from singing to rap and you will be impressed.
"Walking shoes" has that alternative music beat mixed up with hip hop elements. This mix just takes his music to the next step – like he sings 'step 1, step 2', and adds a spark that doesn't go off. Love it (oopsie, I mean I love everything I have heard so far for different reasons).
He is on a ragga tip on "One" and it's just amazing. Get blown away with the relentless delivery that ends off with a short lived dub run down and then clap along "Make it" and rap to it as it promises nothing but Joyous times. It will take you back to church, times with you boys/girls and deliver you to fun sphere.
He is on a mellow mood and hits with some hard raps on "Little lady", It is lovely, as it shines with the colourful 'little lady' all over. Check out the break before the end and then once again pick up.
Love the snare and the guitar that protrudes on "Royalty". Just the way the song builds up to the chorus that draws you in and doesn't let go with its captivating nature.
Mali does a reality check on the poignant acoustic "Johnny & Donna". The stupendous track relates a story of lovers who end up having a baby and all the trials and tribulations of what happens when life throws its twists and turns, as you think you are living it.
You will feel submerged by this talent, albeit breathing easy from its emancipating nature. By Mandla Motau
The Roots have stood the test of time and are testament that hip-hop can be both issue based and musical, and not just dependent on the computers, effects, and machines in the studio, and about living the high life and sometimes calling each other names.
Known to a worldwide audience as 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' (now "The Late Night show starring Jimmy Fallon) on NBC, the act is back with their latest album, "...and then you shoot your cousin", a potpourri of musical elements added to the hip hop base. It hits church, goes the down South, moves to the blues corner, helms classic halls, and still fully interest with its individuality and it is all played LIVE.
"Hip-hop's first legitimate band" according to about.com, Quest Love, Black Thought, and team prove once again that they haven't been taken over by the in sounds and stay true to their musicality. Theirs is a journey irrespective of the fact that it's on disc or enjoyed in your living room, or with friends who live music.
The legendary "Nina Simone" is on hand to open the album in a powerful way with the hypnotic theme from "Middle of the night". ...and then Patty Crash is on hand to lace "Never" with her warm and touching voice before Black Thought enters the fray with his conscious rap. 'This is reality man...', he states on the track that sets the tone for the album.
The piano leads the way before 'Lights, camera, camera co-reaction...' on "When the people cheer" featuring Modesty Lycan, who sings her lines in a welcoming way, and rapper Greg Porn throwing in some punches.
Who is "The devil"? "The devil looks a lot like you and I" states the introspective song featuring Mary Lou Williams. Before you get a chance to ponder on that, they hit you with the vibrant classic hip-hop fuelled "Black Rock" feat. Dice Raw, and Black Thought lighting the way for the rapper.
Black Thought is back spitting fire with Dice on the organ led "Understand", also featuring Greg Porn. 'People ask for, till the day he comes, see God's face, turn around and run...' goes the track. 'God sees the face of man shaking his head saying he never understand...' Probe yourself through this track if would you understand.
Get immersed in "The dark (trinity)" intensity that has a groovy rhythmic pounce. Poignant, this parental guidance track hits home with the above two (Greg and Dice) spitting some heavy lines to the raw beats. This is the power of music.
Mercedes Martinez leads the stupendous "The coming" with her arresting vocals. The epic track will rip you apart and stitch you up on with its piano and strings rendition.
Raheem DeVaugn is on hand to unravel something epic on "The unravelling". The hypnotic track feels like a journey and will have you wilfully joining in on the ride. "...free at last, free at last" goes Black Thought, "...a different me at last."
And then whistle along to the lively and motivational "Tomorrow". "So see that happiness will never find you, until you find yourself..," hits the vibrant track. "...I say you free to be yourself," it later continues, "..we all fall short sometimes," rhymes Raheem on the track that closes the album on a perfect high. By Mandla Motau
'Long as the n***gas right then we alright, long as the women right then we alright....' powers in Euro, Birdman and Lil Wayne on the bold statement making "We alright" from the fierce "Rise of an empire" album from Young Money.
Of course, the stable has been making lotta noise and money for a long time now, and has pinned down the success route all over the hip-hop world and pop charts. This latest album features names under the label from Captain Lil Wayne, Birdman, Drake, Tyga, Nicki Minaj and is just a showcase of the star power within the label.
Leading the album is the punchy first single "Trophies" helmed by Drake. Drake makes it known why he is one of the top acts in the rap game now, as he spits relentless on the groovy track, and yes it has caught on with its vibrancy.
Euro teams up with Lil Twist and Cory Gunz on the hard-hitting "Bang". 'Check, ...sometimes I think I'm Michael Jordan, Michael Tyson, Michael Phelpson, Michael Jackson.... warns the rappers on the track that hits from all sides. 'Should I ...bang...!"
Euro then makes a rousing "Induction Speech" that takes a well-deserved break halfway through and when he says 'but I..., I don't think I'm done yet' you just know that it's on and he rips the track apart non-stop, and you can't fault him when says '...I think realise that I made it tonight, U gotta hear how I made it tonight, cause its crazy how I made it' after relaying his story. 'Thanks to my flows, now you be more than good if you pay for my verses....' continues the rapper, "now I am running stage after stage with a story....'
Take a "Moment" to be taken on a smooth and yet introspective ride by Lil Wizzy. This is one of those multi-layered 'rollercoaster' tracks that will get you thinking, while pulling you in with its power. 'Turn the music up'.
Tyga, Nicki & Lil Wayne are vibrant on the reverberating and bouncy "Senile". Nicki is "Looking a***" as she honestly says it like she it in only how Nicki can. "N***ga this, b**tch A** n***ga that, ...'stop looking at ma a*** n***as' ," she openly lets loose.
Tyga rides with Lil Twist and YG on "One time" that takes you right back to the G funk era, reminding you of the late Warren G along the way as it hits from right to left. "Hittin like" by Shanell & Channel West Coast stays true to its title in the gentlest way possible.
PJ Morton, Mack Maine, Gudda Gudda & Jae Millz gang up "You already know". Stating the obvious like 'Numbers don't lie, you should check the charts' and 'what you make for a year's salary, we make in one night, I ain't bragging, I ain't boasting, It's a sign of success, It's the fruits of my labour' the track is about what the label has done. 'They say life is a movie, you should act like you know'.
Say what you wanna say, but young money is fresh, young and well, flashy. Young money baby... By Mandla Motau
Donald's rise and rise in the music scene has been "Unpredictable".
The same applies to the award-winner's latest house and acoustic double album, "Black and white" led by the single "Unpredictable". Delivered in a falsetto of note, the track has been rising up the charts and making some crazy marks along the way. It is an example of what the potent album possesses.
Musically attuned by producer Percy 'Mr VIP' Tlokotse and co-producer Steve "Sticky" Raphadu, "I rise" kicks off the House disc with its sentimental melody. The claps are just perfectly placed in this groovy track that deserves applause.
Be drawn in by the beautiful guitar immersed "Searching". The instrument makes the search even more enjoyable and something to look forward to every time the vibrant song begins. It also has these captivating percussive elements, which puts it in a class of its own.
The perky Bucie of Superman fame gets on the ride with him as they deliver the torchy "Don't let it burn". She oozes life when she comes through and helps take the track higher. You will love the way they blend together on the chorus that is just beauty itself.
Passionate and exquisite, "Crazy but amazing" will make you fall in love with his music, while "Spirit" has that emancipative feel to it and frees you up inside. Feel the funk as you "Rise and fall" gentle to Donald's excellent beats and rhythmically spectacular track.
"Beautiful people" sees the singer delivering vocally strong lyrics, accompanied by the blowing hot and hot horns and killing it with its piano lines. Big Nuz gets on the ride on "Party for 2", creating a massive party for four with an open invitation for music lovers, and lovers. The track has that wedding step to it and it wouldn't be a surprise if it ends up as many a holy matrimony soundtrack.
"Love lost" will find you with its arresting beat and captivating vocals. No one will be able to hold you back as you want to "Carry on" to his capricious music. It is on point.
Disc two sees the star slowing things down and delivering the very house songs in an acoustic mode. In case you doubted him and thought he was hiding behind the faster house beats, you will be blown away by how he manages to hold your attention vocally and deliver these songs in a gentle and applause worthy way.
You don't have wait long to get testimony to this as the disc opener "I rise" carries the mood beautifully and with such passion. And just when you think that is as far as he will carry you, "Unpredictable" does exactly that and more, and easily gives him a deserving platinum status that will see him easily accepted on jazz and soul stages as well, where they will easily comprehend what he is about musically.
US star Kenny Lattimore is brought in to drive the "Spirit" home. The two create an epic soul jam that proves that the local star is just at home with any international star and has that voice, which can make it anywhere in the world.
He sets fire on "Don't let it burn" with Bucie. This stupendous song and "Spirit" have just booked spots in the elite duets arena.
You will fall all over in love with him again as he delivers "Crazy in love"; the effective "Searching" with its remarkable guitar; "Rise and fall" lit up by the thumping bass lines; creates beauty with "Beautiful people"; the moving "Carry on" and the Mr V.I.P accompanied poignant "Love lost".
This guy is a vocal powerhouse and he will blow you away. By Mandla Motau
Kid Ink has been making a lot of noise and giving musical pointers with Chris Brown on "Show me" with Chris Brown, from his album "My own lane".
The feel good and naughty track will 'remind you of something' as you gleefully try to figure out what it is. One thing for sure is that the music will speak to you. The thumping bass line hits along the same rhythmic lines, as the earlier, on "Rollin'" that will see you bowling.
Chris Breezy also makes a turn on the naughty "Main Chick". Being bad boys, well, they are doing what they do and putting themselves up on this takeover number over the main man.
Kid Ink re-introduces himself to the world with the fitting album opener "Hello World". He then takes it a notch up with the vibrant "Movement".
"Iz U down", ft Tyga asks the relevant question in a percussive bounce-to-this way. He lets loose on "We just came to party", ft August Alsina, seeing the two just 'looking for a good time'.
He is relentless on "No option", featuring the King Los, who spits like crazy on the track, thus leaving U wilth no option but to appreciate the way it is delivered. Pusha T joins in as they "Murda" you with the rolling and forceful cut.
"Tattoo of my name" is one of those hard-hitting tracks that creates a '...different kind of trust when you I see you got a tattoo of my name on you' goes the track. 'Forever, ever, ever ....'. 'yeah, it makes everything official ....' he lays it on the different of love...' track.
Elle Varner & MGK feature on the catchy and pulsating "No miracles". Kid hits back at haters trying to come between him and his love on "I don't care", featuring Maejor Ali. 'B**s tell me just tell me that they love me, they be lying to my face'. That's the price you have got to pay, U wanna lead a life of fame...' he laments.
The bold statement making "More than a king" sees the rapper putting himself high up there and will touch nerves with the poetic run in the sing that changes beats halfway through, thus creating a different animal. 'More than a man, more than a king, more like God....' goes the track.
The album also features the driven star inviting his girl to join in for that "Star power", running things his way on "My system", and brings it on on "Money and the power". He is a "Bad A**" on the groovy and powerful track featuring Meek Will& Wale, saying he is 'feeling like man of the hour ...' and he is 'Bossin' up', as he wraps things up on a high with Asap Ferg & French Montana . By Mandla Motau