Tag Archives: Erykah Badu

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-14-20)

Inspired by the May 14 birthdays of Talking Heads‘ David Byrne, The Coasters/Cadets’ Dub Jones, The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Raphael Saadiq, Bobby Darin, Cream’s Jack Bruce, The Cult’s Ian Astbury, Shanice and Tom Cochrane.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3xyjTobbLV7QqayXVlTTXQ

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-5-20)

Inspired by Cinco de Mayo and the May 5 birthdays of Adele, Monty Python’s Michael Palin, Tammy Wynette, Johnnie Taylor, Echo & the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, Craig David, Chris Brown and Blind Willie McTell.

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Your (Almost)Daily Playlist (2-26-20)

Inspired by the February 26 birthdays of Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Erykah Badu, Sandie Shaw, Mitch Ryder, fun.’s Nate Ruess and Sharon Van Etten.

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Playlist For January 8, 2020

I just thought of a great line to use in an improv scene I was in six years ago. I wish I could turn back time (not intending to quote a song title from birthday boy R. Kelly there) and use it. Ironically, the scene was about traveling back in time. I won’t tell you more about it, because describing an improv scene is .00003% as much fun as watching the improv scene, and this scene was no great shakes to start with, though with the addition of the line I just thought of its shakes would be .07% greater.

Today’s playlist begins with songs from two music legends with birthdays today – Elvis Presley and David Bowie. It’s also Little Anthony’s birthday, which led me to lean heavily toward oldies from the early days of rock and roll. Dame Shirley Bassey also celebrates her birthday today, so I threw in a couple of joints from her catalogue. i opted to not include any R. Kelly songs in the playlist, though Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu are representing 90s r&b.

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Nineties R&B

Today is Janet’s birthday!

The most popular r&b group of the nineties was probably Boyz II Mej3y64t.,huy

Sorry. My head hit the keyboard. Just typing that group’s name puts me to sleep. I find their music devoid of personality, emphasizing vocal histrionics over soul-felt passion. They should call themselves Boyz II Meh! Am I right, people? Tip your waitstaff.

Much of nineties r&b suffers from the same. Technique over feeling. Not all, though. I’m not damning a whole genre with a wide paintbrush, or whatever that expression is.

Today’s playlist showcases twenty of the best r&b hits from last millennium’s last decade, the decade being 1990 to 1999, for the purposes of this post. Nothing obscure this time. All of these songs received a fair amount of airplay back in the day.

If I missed any of your favorites, let me know in the comments section, unless it’s a song by Boyz II Mebg;hev.

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Throwback Thursday – 1997

Randy Badazz Alpert received many requests to license “Rise,” a song he co-wrote that became a #1 hit for his uncle Herb in 1979, as a sample in hip hop tracks. He said no to Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice, Eazy-E, and the others who requested permission. However, when he received a cassette from the producer then known as Puff Daddy of a new song utilizing the sample, he consented. He loved the new tune and felt it could make his song go to #1 again.

He was right. The new recording was “Hypnotize” and it was performed by the Notorious B.I.G. “Hypnotize” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1997, less than two months after the rapper was killed in Los Angeles.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1997, kicking off with The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which uses a sample from a songwriter whose middle name really is Badazz.


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Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Here is your soundtrack:


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Throwback Thursday – 1999

Eminem has often been accused of being homophobic. Maybe it’s because he rapped “I’ll still be able to break a motha-fuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Maybe it’s because he rapped “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez.” And “All you lil’ faggots can suck it / No homo, but I’ma stick it to ’em like refrigerator magnets.” And “Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.” And “You fags think it’s all a game.” Anyone can see how the artist born Marshall Mathers got labeled a homophobe, even if he pretends he doesn’t see it.

So it’s ironic that in his first hit single, the song that put him on the map and into the international consciousness, the music bed is based around a sample from an openly gay singer-songwriter.

“My Name Is” became Eminem’s first single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #36. Its music is taken from a 1975 release called “I Got the…,” written and performed by Labi Siffre. Siffre, who was born in England in 1945, says he knew he was gay since age four. He met his life partner, Peter John Carver Lloyd, in 1964. They remained a couple for 49 years, until Lloyd’s death in 2013.

Before Siffre would allow Eminem to use the sample, he made the rapper change some of the words on “My Name Is.” The lyric “My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high / The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy” became “My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high / Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be 35.” The lyric “Extraterrestrial killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’” became “Extraterrestrial running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”.” Said Siffre, “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated “all versions” but at that time knew little about rap’s “clean” & “explicit” modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album.”

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour revisits some of the musical highlights of 1999, kicking off with Eminem’s “My Name Is.”


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U Should Know D’Angelo

You should know D’Angelo’s music. His debut album, Brown Sugar, turns twenty this summer. It’s a landmark in neo soul that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1995.

D’Angelo’s second album, Voodoo, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary a couple of weeks ago. It builds on and surpasses his debut, with D’Angelo’s singing, writing and production stretching beyond what his contemporaries were doing.

He surprise released his third album, Black Messiah, this past December. The Village Voice annual music critics poll placed it at #1 for 2014 album releases.

Today D’Angelo turns 41. Here is an introductory playlist. You should know D’Angelo’s music.

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Keeping The Music Of Curtis Mayfield Alive

Ringo + Curtis 004
In my role as the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music Group I oversaw the licensing of “samples.” A sample is when a newer song uses a portion of an existing recording. A prominent example is Puff Daddy’s sample of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” in his “I’ll Be Missing You.”

One of the most popular catalogues for sample licensing is that of Curtis Mayfield. Elements of his records have been used by many well-known and respected rap acts, including Kanye West and Beastie Boys. I’d run the requests by Curtis’ son Kirk, who was always a pleasure to work with.

Many complain of hip hop’s dependence on samples, and while often times samples are used in a lazy and uninspired way, there are many examples where the samples complement the new song perfectly. It can also be argued that samples keep the music of great acts of the past alive and introduce this music to younger generations. Where else might a teenager hear Curtis Mayfield or James Brown other than via a new Kanye jam?

Today, the third day of Black Music Month, we celebrate the birthday of the late, great Curtis Mayfield with some of the classics he had a hand in – as a solo artist, as a member of The Impressions, as a writer/producer, or via a sample. Click here for the playlist.

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