Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #1: Night And Day

Me on my wedding day
"Night and Day” isn’t number of on my list because it’s Cole Porter’s best work (though make no mistake: its Porter’s best work by far).

Nor is it number one because of my long history with the song (I first heard this song in 2002, well after first hearing most of the other songs on my countdown).

Quite simply, “Night and Day” is my number one song from the Great American Songbook because it’s the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding. It’s a beautiful song and for the rest of my life I will always think of her when I hear it. I chose the song for the wedding because I thought it perfectly summed up my affection for my wife. Check out these lyrics:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown: #2 - Summertime

I’ve blogged about my love of Porgy and Bess before, so it should come as no surprise that one of George and Ira Gershwin’s tunes from the opera would make the countdown. I read somewhere that “Summertime” is the most covered song ever; artists from Janis Joplin to John Coltrane to Al Green to Ella Fitzgerald to The Roots have recorded this aria. The appeal of the song is evident on it’s first listen – it’s just a great song to sing and play.

Of the many versions in my collection, Miles Davis’ recording will always stand as my favorite. This version, arranged by Gil Evans, has become the de facto standard. (Note: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong also have a nice recording, but this is one time where I think the classy Fitzgerald sounds out of place -though Satchmo fits right it).

Miles Davis - Summertime [Download]

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beam Me Up, Robin

Robin Thicke's new video for "Magic" is a cross between a James Bond theme song, Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", Star Wars, and the end credits for Clash Of The Titans. Still... it works.

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #3: My Funny Valentine

I first heard Rogers & Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” on Rachelle Ferrell’s First Instrument. Right away, I fell in love with song. The words are so elegant: My funny valentine, Sweet comic valentine, You make me smile with my heart.

There are hundreds of versions of this song; notable covers include Chaka Khan's take(her smoky voice really works), Melinda Doolittle American Idol performance, and Cyrus Chestnut’s version (with Anita Baker on vocals). Still, I don’t think anyone sings this as well as Ella Fitzgerald; the lyrics sound so regal coming from her. I guess there’s a reason she’s called the First Lady of Song.

Ella Fitzgerald - "My Funny Valentine" [Download]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #4: My Favorite Things

Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote “My Favorite Things” for the Sound of Music; while Julie Andrews’ version is well known, I would argue that Coltrane’s 1961 cut is just as, if not more, well-known and significant. Released on Coltrane’s same-named album, “My Favorite Things” continues the modal exploration from Coltrane’s work on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. In addition to the modal rendition, “My Favorite Things” is also notable for introducing us to Coltrane’s work on the soprano saxophone. His solo, along with McCoy Tyner’s piano work, is a work of art.

John Coltrane - "My Favorite Things" [Download]

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Great Diss Records

A few weeks ago, I posted Shaq’s infamous Kobe-diss rap. That got me thinking… what are the best rap diss records out there? Off the top of my head, here are my top six:

6/5 – Kool Mo Dee’s “How Ya Like Me Now”/ LL Cool J’s ”Jack The Ripper
I’m combining these together because LL Cool J’s “Jack The Ripper” was in response to Kool Moe Dee’s “How You Like Me Now”. KMD diss was alright, but he loses style points for the silly dancing in the video (though I do have to give him props for the red Kangol under the wheel on the jeep on the How Ya Like Me Now album cover).

Still, at the end of the day, LL’s verses burn a hole straight through Kool Moe Dee.
4 – BDP’s “The Bridge Is Over
Of all the songs in the so-called “Bridge Wars”, “The Bridge is Over” best summarizes the feud between Boogie Down Productions (specifically KRS-One) and the Juice Crew (specifically MC Shan). You think 50 Cent killed JA Rule’s career; when’s the last time you heard something by MC Shan? Now that’s a career-killing diss record.

3 – Dr. Dre’s “Dre Day
I have more memories of this diss record over the others on this list because “Dre Day” came out just as I was getting into hip-hop. (Sl)Easy-E gets slammed in this track – mostly due to the superior skills of Snoop (Doggy) Dog.

2 – Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline”
When Cube left NWA, he came out swinging. “No Vaseline” is ruthless is its attack. The name says it all. (Note: The language is too extreme for me to include the youtube link).

1 – Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up”
‘Pac doesn’t pull any punches. He take’s Junior Mafia’s “Get Money” beat and proceeds to carve up Mase, Biggie, Puffy, Faith Evans, and anyone else associated with Bad Boy. Unfortunately, this song is largely seen as the tipping point in the East Coast/West Coast feud. (Note: The language is too extreme for me to include the youtube link).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #6: Lush Life

I was browsing Barnes and Nobles sometime during the summer of 1997 when I came across the simply-titled John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman album. I knew this was an LP that I had to own after hearing the duo cover Bill Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”. I still get goosebumps listening to it. No other version (not even Trane’s solo take) can compare to this recording.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman - "Lush Life" [Download]

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mixtape Offshoots: Great Albums To Use On A Date

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that making a mixtape is hard work. It takes thought, time, and energy. Given the current nature of dating, you may not have a week to put together a mixtape; heck, you may not even have a few hours.

Given that, it’s always nice to have some fallback albums to use in the stead of a mixtape. It won’t have the personal touch you’re looking for; however, in a pinch it’ll do. Here are my suggestions:
  • Jill Scott’s Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol 1- It’s not as overtly sexual as Volumes 2 and 3. Plus, I believe the overall flow is better. Tracks 5 (“A Long Walk”) through 13 (“Slowly Surely”) sound custom-made for a date.

  • Sade's Love Deluxe – Truthfully, you could probably go with any of Sade’s albums; I’m suggesting Love Deluxe as it’s my personal favorite. “Feel No Pain” and “Pearls” are the only sore spots on an otherwise perfect album. A bonus is the instrumental “Mermaids”; a high-school classmate said he put it on his mixtape as he and his date were driving to the beach. Could you get a better endorsement that that?
  • Love Jones: The Music (soundtrack) – Great movie – even better soundtrack (and that’s saying a lot). The weakest track is the Refugee Camp Allstars “Love Jones”; besides that, this album is goodness in digital form. The opening “Brother To The Night” might be too much for an intro, but I think most can pull it off.

  • Al Green's Greatest Hits - I think it’s a crime for any serious music fan to not own a copy of Al Green’s Call Me album; still, even that album won’t do here. Call Me is too personal and too powerful; the Greatest Hits album takes the more palatable components from Call Me (the title track and “You Ought To Be With Me”) and mixes it with The Revs’ other hits. Truth me told, this is even good for a night out with you and the fellas.

  • Marvin Gaye's I Want You - Let me be clear; this is playing with fire – not backyard barbeque variety – rather, Mount Vesuvius flames. If you’re brave enough to use this album, go with disc one of the deluxe edition (you get more bang for the buck). Be forewarned, this CD may make even the most extraverted date blush.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

World's Finest and Grayson

Last week, I blogged about fan-film Baman: Dead End. With The Dark Knight coming out in theatres tomorrow, I wanted to post two addition fan films about the Batman. The first is Greyson. This film tells the story of a grown up and retired Robin. The second, World's Finest, details an adventure between Superman and Batman (the world's finest heroes).

A quick side note: as I've told my wife many times before, Superman and Batman are BY FAR the greatest comic book characters ever created. When paired together, the dynamics are always interesting. One is a super-strong, near-invulnerable alien, loved by humanity, raised by loving parents. Clark Kent is the true man, Superman is the alias.

The Batman, on the other hand, was orphaned at a young age and grew to distrust humanity (seeing what their violence was capable of). Where Superman was born with unimaginable strength, Bruce Wayne is a normal human. He can bleed and he can die. He makes up for these inequities by developing his intellect (he’s known as “The World’s Greatest Detective”) and his body (he is skilled in multiple forms of martial arts and is one of the greatest athletes in the DCU). He is feared by both the criminals and the general public. In this case, “the Batman” persona is the real man, while “Bruce Wayne” is the public alias.

Another side note: Imagine if Bruce Wayne grew up with loving parents and a somewhat stable household; that’s basically the Robin character.

Anyway, enjoy the movies (after the jump)!

World's Finest (directed by Sandy Collora)

Grayson (directed by John Fiorella)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Art Of The Mixtape: The Closer

Note: This is the final post in a series on MixTapes.

So, you’ve made it this far. How you do wrap everything up? My belief is that you have to end with a closer. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but given the opportunity, a final “this is how thing would be if you were mine” song might be the difference between a second date and watching reruns of Stargate SG-1 in the basement of your parent’s house.

Like the message song, this is also in a voice – this time your voice. As a result, closer songs should be sung by a male. Michael Jackson’s “Lady In My Life” is the ultimate closer. Here are some other suggestions:

I’ve written about the Tony Toni Tone’s “Anniversary” multiple times; it still stands out as a great track to end a date (especially paired with “Castleers”). If you’re really technically astute, try to record the song with only the left speaker; it makes the track (after the 5:15 minute mark) really haunting.

Tony Toni Tone - "Anniversary" [Download]

Bill Wither’s stuff is can be depressing, but “Make A Smile For Me” is actually kind pretty upbeat (by his standards). By the way, “Can We Pretend” is another great option here.

Bill Withers - "Make A Smile For Me" [Download]

Before Eric Benet was known as the guy that cheated on Halle Berry, he was known as a pretty decent singer. If you can erase his stupidity from your mind, then you might want to try “Love Of My Own”. If you’re looking to hammer home a point, then this’ll do it.

Eric Benet - "Love Of My Own" [Download]

Hope these suggestions help! Good luck! And remember: use your powers for good, and not for evil.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #7: Good Morning Heartache

I first heard “Good Morning Heartache” in 1993 (on Terence Blanchard’s previously mentioned Billie Holiday Songbook); I didn’t fall for the song until 1995, when I purchased Billie Holiday’s Complete Decca Recordings. The song is mesmerizing. Billie sings each verse as if she’s lived the lyrics.

Jill Scott does a decent turn on the song, but nothing beats Billie. Enjoy!

Billie Holiday - "Good Morning Heartache" [Download]

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mixtape Offshoots:Harmonizing With Yourself

I was taking another listen to Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" album and just had to share this. You know you're a bad man when you can harmonize with yourself.

Marvin Gaye - "I Want You" (Vocal and Rhythm) [Download]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #9: I Concentrate On You/ #8: Baubles, Bangles And Beads

In 2001, my not-quite-my-girlfriend-not-yet-my-wife let me borrow disc three of Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Collection. The disc, covering recording from 1966-69, included recordings from Sinatra’s sessions with jazz great Antonio Carlos Jobim.

I was already a Jobim fan, yet somehow I had overlooked these recordings. After learning of these sessions, I scoured Napster (back before RIAA started cracking down) and downloaded all of the Sinatra/Jobim recordings. Of those tracks, the Cole Porter-penned “I Concentrate On You” and “Baubles, Bangles And Beads” (written by George Forrest and Robert Wright) are my favorites from the American Songbook (Full disclosure: “Wave” is my favorite recording from the sessions, however, that won’t count in this list since it isn’t part of the GAS). Enjoy!

And for added kicks, check out this Jobim and Sinatra video from ’67. You just don’t get cats smoking cigarettes and wearing tuxedos anymore.

Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim - "I Concentrate On You" [Download]

Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim - "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" [Download]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Art of The Mixtape: The Instrumental

Note: This is the sixth post in a series on MixTapes.

After you’ve hit her with the message song, some cats will go for the kill with the closer. I prefer taking a step back with an instrumental. Why? Well, sometimes two “heavy” songs can be overkill. Plus, you want to use the mixtape to display some aspects of your musical tastes that might impress your date.

Incognito’s “Always There” isn’t an instrumental, but with a simple acoustic guitar and backing strings, it can pass for one. In fact, this is a song that could pass as another message song or an interlude.

Incognito - "Always There" [Download]

Lonnie Liston Smith’s “Quiet Moments” was made for mixtapes. Like “Crepuscolo Sul Mare”, this too oozes sophistication.

Lonnie Liston Smith - "Quiet Moments" [Download]

I know I said to leave the Marvin Gaye alone – except that all bets are off when using an instrumental. His “You Are The Way You Are” might be too stuck in the 70s for most, but an enterprising man will be able to place this appropriately on his mixtape. You get an added bonus of the song ending with Gaye’s backing vocals over a soaring saxophone solo.

Marvin Gaye - "You Are The Way You Are" [Download]

Be careful with “Bella”, as it may be too sensual for your mixtape (this was the song used as the love theme in Desperado). Still, if tempered with cooler tracks, this will work for you. I like it because it brings an international flair to your mixtape.

Santana - "Bella" [Download]

Friday, July 11, 2008

Batman: Dead End

Everyone is hyped (rightly so) about the upcoming Batman: The Dark Knight film. For those interested in seeing the real Batman, check out Batman: Dead End. Director Sandy Collora only takes five minutes to capture the essence of the Batman.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Art Of The Mixtape: The Message Song

Note: This is the fifth post in a series on MixTapes.

So you’ve got an intro, an interlude or two, and a few mid-tempo jams. What comes next? The message song.

This is the most important track on your mixtape. This is the one song that you really want your date to listen to. You want the words of the singer to be her words. If you think she’s close to falling for you, then Teena Marie’s “Now That I Have You” might be the song for you. Or if she’s into you, but you need to get over the hump, try Rachelle Ferrell’s “Waiting”. If you’re stuck in the friend-zone, go with Mary J.’s “Seven Days” (be sure to use the George Benson scatting version).

Do you notice a trend here? All the songs are sung by ladies; it’ll be easier for your date to relate to the song if it’s in a female voice.

Some other suggestions:

I was introduced to Sepsenakhi’s “Let It Go” by way of Soulbounce.com. If your date is almost on the edge of committing, then this is your song.

Sepsenakhi - "Let It Go" [Download]

Incognito makes another appearance on the mixtape; this time it’s the classic “Deep Waters”. This is another great song if you’re trying to bust out of the friend-zone.

Incognito - “Deep Waters” [Download]

Chaka Khan’s voice can be overpowering, so you have to me careful if including her on a mixtape. Lucky for us, Rufus’ “Magic In Your Eyes” is just understated enough to be a slam dunk for you.

Rufus - “Magic In Your Eyes” [Download]

The previous three tracks assume that your date has a strong interest in you. Unfortunately, there will be times when your lady friend is actually dating someone else. In that case, you’ve gotta go with something that’ll get her thinking about going from the ex-man to the next man (namely, you). I think Teedra Moses’ “Rescue Me” would work well in this situation.

Teedra Moses- “Rescue Me” [Download]


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Great American Songbook Countdown - #10: I Cover The Waterfront

Usually my daughters and I “dance” (if you want to call it that) to music from our Sirius music channels before they go to bed. We normally stick to the classic R&B and hip hop stations; however, a few days ago, I decided to check out the classic jazz station. The station was playing Ella Fitzgerald’s cover of Duke Ellington’s "Sophisticated Lady". “Great,” I thought as I turned the volume up. “My kids are going to love this!”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I don’t think we even got through eight bars of the song before my oldest told me to change the station. I was a little disappointed; I believe that songs from the Great American Songbook (also known as standards) are some of the greatest compositions of American music ever created. Some of those songs mean just as much to me as the hymns I sing on Sunday or the music that I blog about here. Given that, it’s only fair that I run down my favorites.

My number 10 song is “I Cover The Waterfront”. I heard this for the first time in 1993, on Terence Blanchard’s Billie Holiday Songbook. I can’t count the nights I fell asleep listening to that album; in fact, when I met Mr. Blanchard some years later, I told him this album was the album that started my love affair with jazz. Even though Billie’s version is more melancholy, my favorite will always been Blanchard’s version. Enjoy.

Terence Blanchard - "I Cover The Waterfront" [Download]

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Art Of The MixTape: The Mid-Tempo Groove

Note: This is the fourth post in a series on MixTapes.

Assuming that you can pull off the intro and transition, then your next challenge is finding the right mid-tempo grooves for your mixtape. This is more challenging that it sounds; you’re looking for something light, yet soulful. Upbeat, but not “clubbish”. For lack of a better word, the mid-tempo groove is filler. Think of it as a longer transition. I would suggest that you figure out the other pieces first, then choose these songs last. That being said, you can’t just get any old song; you want something that fits your “flow”. Strong considerations include Rufus’ “Everlasting Love”, Zhane's “Crush", or Eric Benet's “Femininity”. My personal favorites are:

Janet Jackson’s “The Body That Loves You” might be a bit to sensual for a high school kid; still, I’d consider it just because it’s such a darn good song.

Janet Jackson - "The Body That Loves You [Download]

Before Kelis was wack, she actually put out good music. “In The Morning” is a great example of what she used to be able to do.

Kelis - "In The Morning" [Download]

You’ve probably never heard of Jaguar Wright; that’s too bad because the girl can sing. “Stay” is evidence of that.

Jaguar Wright - "Stay" [Download]

I absolutely love Incognito (I need to quit messing around and post a “best of” of their music). “Marrakesh” would be great on anyone’s mixtape. It’s one of Bluey’s greatest compositions. This is a song made for driving at night with the windows down and the sunroof open.

Incognito - "Marrakesh" [Download]


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mixtape Offshoots: I’m not ashamed (well maybe a little)…

My brother-in-law left a comment on my first mixtape post about how he would introduce my son to “Atomic Dog”. The song, recorded by funk-a-teer George Clinton, is the unofficial anthem for member of Omega Psi Phi. Being a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, I should hate the song…

Except that I don’t. I actually love the recording. I remember first seeing the video when I was a kid, thinking that it was really cool. Of course, I didn’t know what “chase the cat” meant; in a way that makes the song more special – maybe a sign of innocence lost.

Anyway, the comment got me thinking about other songs that I secretly like:

  • All of R. Kelly’s remixes from the 24 Play album. Yeah, he’s twisted, sick, demented even… but darn that, the man can remix the pants off a song. I remember listening to this album in high school and hating it (it just didn’t strike me as very interesting)… then Kels started dropping remixes. You know that your school has R. Kelly mania when you use the “Bump and Grind” remix as the background music for the morning announcements. I couldn’t decide between The Old School “Bump and Grind” remix, the Extended “Your Body’s Callin’” Remix (love the Marvin Gaye references and you can't help but like it when the Pied Piper spells out his name), or the "Sex Me (Part II)" remix ("so call your other man and say you've found another man'), so I've linked to all three.

  • 8Ball and MJG’s “Space Age Pimpin’”. I threw away all my 8Ball and MJG recording a few years ago (the last thing I needed is my daughters running around the house singing the choruses to “Don’t Flex” or “Sho Nuff”). Still, every once in a while I stream this song off Youtube (the original is much better than the video version). And you have to admin, compared to their other stuff, “Space Age Pimpin’” isn’t THAT bad. SWISH!!!

  • N’Sync’s “Gone”. Yeah it’s a boy band. Yeah, it’s got more cheese than Lambeau Stadium. I like it. And I’m not apologizing for it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Everybody Wants To Be An Author...

From The Smoking Section...

Mos is having one hell of a week.

First, there was news of his forthcoming album The Ecstatic that seems to have gotten the green light. Then there was the announcement of the Reflection Eternal & Black Star reunions that clearly bought glee to many a fan across the globe. Speaking of reunions and green lights, The Brazilian Job is also finally underway, and Mos is still co-starring in it. Mr. Dante Smith also rocked Carnegie Hall with Jay Electronica and went further to share the stage with the legendary Gil Scott Heron.

Life seemed like it couldn’t get better for M.Deffer.

Until Alana Wyatt(Smith), Mos’ (ex) wife decided to release a book about… well, their (past) relationship.

Sounds like Mos Def's ex is trying to be another Karrine Steffans (uggh).

At least we have Dante's music. Here's a live version of De La Soul's "Stakes Is High" (thanks to delaMELon's blog for the track).

Mos Def - "Stakes is High" (Live) [Download]

The Art Of The MixTape: The Transition

Note: This is the third post in a series on MixTapes.

After the intro you’ve got a couple of options. You could roll into another 4-5 minute cut; however, I would recommend switching things up by including a transition song. The transition is an under three minute song, interlude, or instrumental. Its purpose is to “transition” from one song to another. In this case, we’re transitioning from the intro song (which is probably upbeat and most likely performed by a well-known artist) to an unconventional mid-tempo groove.

The key with the transition is to not weird our date; not any song can be used. Most interludes are too cheesy to be used on your mixtape; you’ll want to go with something sophisticated. Sade’s “Like a Tattoo” would work perfectly here (it also comes after “I Couldn’t Love You More” on the Love Deluxe album). Jill Scott’s “Crown Royal” or Shuggie Otis’ “Rainy Day” also make great selections. For me, I’d probably choose one of the following:

“Theme from the Bodyguard” is a great, haunting interlude. It just works – especially if followed with a high-energy groove.

Alan Silvestri - "Theme From The Bodyguard" [Download]

Alicia Keys’ stuff is well known, but you can probably swing her “Feeling Me, Feeling You” teaser. It’s just sultry enough to be interesting, but not long enough to detract from the overall flow.

Alicia Keys - "Feeling Me, Feeling You" [Download]

I’m a huge fan of using music from soundtracks; The Illusionist’s “Meeting In The Carriage” might work if paired with the right intro song. The strings are a bit redundant, but it could work.

Philip Glass - "Meeting In The Carriage" [Download]

“Aleme's Theme” from Shaft In Africa is another gem from the soundtrack crates. It’s a bit slow, but could work (due to it’s brevity).

Johnny Pate - "Aleme's Theme" [Download]

Piero Umiliani's “Crepuscolo Sul Mare” is about one minute too long, but you’d be a fool to let that stop you from considering it. It just oozes sophistication. If it was good enough for Rusty Ryan, then it’s good enough for your mixtape.

Piero Umiliani - “Crepuscolo Sul Mare” [Download]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Art Of The MixTape: The Intro

Note: This is the second post in a series on MixTapes.
A mixtape is made up of a number of different types of music. They are:
  1. The Intro Song

  2. Transitions

  3. Mid-Tempo Jams

  4. Instrumental/Acoustics

  5. Message Songs

  6. Closers

This post will focus on the intro song. The intro is pretty self explanatory – it’s the first song off on the mixtape. The key with choosing an intro is that you don’t want it to sound forced. It should almost sound like it could be on the radio. Also, you never want the beginning bars of the intro song to start when she enters the car; the intro track sound be about one or two minutes from the end (depending on the length of the song). If she gets in the car and the opening bars of “Between The Sheets” comes on, then it sounds staged. However, if you crank up the car and the bridge from “I Couldn’t Love You More” is playing, then you’re set.

If I were choosing an intro song, here’s what I would choose from:

The before mentioned “I Couldn’t Love You More”; Sade’s sound is instantly recognizable, but this isn’t one of their better known songs. Plus, how can you not love that groove?!

Sade - "I Couldn't Love You More" [Download]

Leon Ware’s “Learning How To Love You” is the starter song for the excellent Musical Massage album. If you didn’t know, Ware was the brainchild behind Marvin Gaye’s I Want You album. As a result, “Learning How To Love You” has the same sound (tom toms, strings, bass) as some of Gaye’s material.

Leon Ware - "Learning How To Love You" [Download]

“Last Dance” is from Brian McKnight’s Back At One album; it’s a great tune for kicking off the evening. This is one that could even work as a mid-tempo groove later on in your mixtape (thought I think it’s a bit too sensual for a date).

Brian McKnight - "Last Dance" [Download]

Yeah, I know that I said to leave Luther alone, but you could get away with the last verse of “Make Me A Believer”; it’s too good of a song not to consider. An entire Luther joint is probably too heavy, but the last few minutes of this will leave you date asking “what song was that”.

Luther Vandross - "Make Me A Believer" [Download]


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Art Of The MixTape

Last year, I wrote a brief post about the art of making a mixtape. With the upcoming birth of my son (yup, we’re pregnant again), I decided to expand on that post. Every man needs to know how to make an adequate mixtape (not sure how I missed this in my advice to my hypothetical son). Why? Well, we’ll get into that; first, let’s define what a mixtape is and is not.

A mix tape is a CD (or tape recording) played in the car on a date or outing with the opposite sex. It is not a makeout tape and it’s not music that one should be listening to at the crib (with a member of the opposite sex)? Why? Two reasons. First of all, if she’s at your house, then you don’t need a mixtape. Two, any son of mine won’t have a young lady at my house unsupervised.

So why use a mixtape? Well, when on a date, you want to reduce the number of variables in motion; a mixtape allows you to control the music that’s played in the car. Believe me, the last thing you want is “No Scrubs” or “My Neck My Back” coming on when you’re trying be smooth and sophisticated. More importantly, not only does a mixtape allow you to control the music, it allows you to send a very specific message to your date (more on that later).

Over the next few post, we’ll dissect a mixtape and explain how you craft one. Believe me, you don’t just grab a handful of top 40 slow jams and burn them to CD. In fact, you don’t want slow jams at all. Why? Try driving to “And I’m Telling You” and let me know how that works out. The key to the mixtape is the mid-tempo groove. Here are some other rules.
  • Don’t overwhelm the listener. “Sexual Healing”, “Let’s Get It On”, or anything that screams sex shouldn't be on the tape. That’s overkill. It’s like putting on an entire bottle of cologne when a light splash will do.

  • Slow ballads – great for the bedroom, bad for the car. Seriously, who could drive to Kool and the Gang’s “Cherish The Love”?

  • No well-known songs. You don’t want the listener paying to much attention to the CD; you want the listener paying attention to you. Don’t pick tracks that she might feel obliged to sing along to. It’s a date, not karaoke.

  • No Rap/R&B combos - You may like "Hey Lover", "Trust Me", or "You Got Me", but it won't work, no matter how smooth it sounds.

  • No Marvin Gaye, Isley Brothers, Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson, etc; It’s too much of a cliché.

That being said, with thought all of these rules can be broken (as we’ll see throughout the series).

First post (on the intro song) tomorrow!!!