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Rogue Bar in New York City [Things We Like]

Posted by on December 19, 2010

I have a confession, one that isn’t a surprise to those who know me and shouldn’t be one to readers of That’s My Jam: I’m picky when it comes to music at bars and clubs. Seriously, I’ve been at this going out thing for several years and DJed plenty of times to know which songs are relied upon to start a party or excite a crowd. The Rogue Bar in New York City played few of those last night and showed the music videos, too! Attendees of the birthday party I was at very quickly flashed back to the glory days of MTV, when one could sit entranced for hours with the lasted videos and a few oldies thrown in for variety. We saw everything from classics from New Order and Kool & the Gang, to favorites from Jennifer Paige and Jane Child, to modern hits by the likes of Usher and David Guetta. There was no shortage of good tunes, so if you’re looking for music to listen to and watch, Rogue Bar is a great stop in NYC to complement your drinking needs.

Posted in Misc., Opinion | Leave a Comment »

The Rise of Urbantronica []

Posted by on November 8, 2010

You’ve heard urbantronica’s definitive jams and saw a list of black music’s top dance songs. Read how the Hues Corporation‘s “Rock the Boat” evolved into Usher‘s “OMG” in my latest article on

Posted in Afrika Bambaataa, B.G. the Prince of Rap, Bee Gees, C + C Music Factory, Captain Hollywood Project, Chris Brown, Culture Beat, Dance, Danity Kane, Death to Disco, Donna Summer, Erykah Badu, Exposé, Frankie Knuckles, Herbie Hancock, Inner City, Janet Jackson, Jody Watley, Jomanda, KC & the Sunshine Band, Kelly Rowland, La Bouche, Lady GaGa, Larry Levan, Lisa Lisa, Martha Wash, Missy Elliott, Ne-Yo, Ohio Players, Parliament, R&B, Rihanna, Shannon, Snap!, Soul II Soul, Soul Train, Stevie B, Sylvester, Taio Cruz, Tracie Spencer, Usher | Leave a Comment »

Soul Train-Approved Blue-Eyed Soul [Feel-Good Friday]

Posted by on October 29, 2010

This article made me feel good — mostly because I wrote it AND it’s featured on the one and only! Show some support to both of us by clicking and reading “Soul Train-Approved Blue-Eyed Soul.”

Posted in George Michael, Hall & Oates, Jon B, Joss Stone, KC & the Sunshine Band, Lisa Stansfield, Michael McDonald, R&B, Robin Thicke, Soul Train, Taylor Dayne, Teena Marie | Leave a Comment »

Time to Trash CDs? [Opinion]

Posted by on August 1, 2010

Brendan Mulligan’s blog entry — which was re-posted on hypebot — reveals how the ArtistData founder struggles with owning music. But his desire to remove clutter from his life has extended beyond getting rid of an entertainment center’s worth of CDs. He now wants to purge his computer of MP3s!

That’s a shocking consideration and something I could never fathom doing. But I do have my own personal battle currently raging in my tiny Queens, N.Y. apartment: I’m trying to figure out where to place five 200-plus-capacity books holding all of the CDs I’ve bought purchased and those that I’ve burned from friends, iTunes purchases and my stint working at a skating rink.

Like Mulligan, I love my music collection and I’ve uploaded a majority of it to an external hard drive. Once that’s connected, any song I want is searchable and playable through my computer’s iTunes. If I want music from a certain decade, for a specific mood or for a certain activity, there’s a good chance I have a nicely organized playlist waiting to serve me.

That said, my CDs rarely get touched anymore. Sure, I’ve taken a few of them to work with me to download some noise for the days where Internet streaming is more difficult or forbidden, but rarely do I rely on hard-copy discs to satiate my musical cravings. In fact, rarely do I listen to an album in its entirety or in its sequenced order after the initial purchase.

Naturally, I’ve recognized this and have begun to question why I keep the CDs I own. It would be an easy enough task to copy all of the MP3 files to another hard drive to back up my music. And while I respect the artistic value of packaging, I find myself looking at the artwork less, reading the lyrics online and not paying much attention to the liner notes.

So why do I still have all of my CDs? My guess is fear. I’m convinced that the minute I get rid of the books of CDs, something will happen and I’ll be forced to re-buy every disc I’ve purchased. Even though I could simply back up my files.

In case it isn’t evident, fear is blocking logic in this situation — and the pathway to my couch.

Posted in Opinion | Leave a Comment »

4hero – Play With the Changes [Reviews]

Posted by on July 28, 2010

4hero’s album, Play With the Changes, presents an interesting dilemma … iTunes classifies the CD’s genre as “unclassifiable.” Perhaps that’s because this foursome-turned-duo has explored the musical spectrum, with individual and group projects that have innovated drum ‘n’ bass and paid homage to hip-hop, house, soul, break beats and jazz. The group has additionally created music where all these and more were fused together. Clearly they’re unwilling to have their palates bored with the formulaic “same ol’, same ol’.”

Lucky for listeners, Play With the Changes is anything but bland. Though consistently mellow, the instrumentation and airy, atmospheric acoustics maintain engaging jazz, chill and electronic melodies for the slew of relatively unfamiliar collaborating vocalists. The most notable among the guest stars is Jody Watley. (There’s more than enough talent from the beat makers to offset the missing who’s who of mainstream “talent” ― those making appearances here are added bonuses to 4hero’s tunes.) The Grammy Award-winning songstress co-wrote the soulful “Bed of Roses,” a slap-in-the-face reminder that life ain’t a cakewalk, but it’s somehow easier to swallow when Watley reaches into her lower ranges and caresses the uptempo, drum-driven beat.

Carina Andersson graces the set opener, “Morning Child,” a stringier, more over-the-top and speedier cousin to British trio Morcheeba’s “Blindfold,” but this ode to motherhood is easily the most orchestral and horn-filled track on the disc. Darien Brockington and Little Brother’s Phonte could mistakenly be confused for John Legend and Common, respectively, on “Give In,” a song as supportive as it is an admittance of weakness (“I know there’ll be times of rain/Those are the days that I want to give in/I’ll be your friend through the cloudy days/Don’t be ashamed, I won’t let you give in”).

4hero further diversifies its set with Philadelphia poetess Ursula Rucker, whose foray into spoken word on “The Awakening” instantly punctuates and gives credit to the socially conscious deep thoughts presented in her verses. The art form is not as commercially popular as in the recent past, but still prevalent in works by neo-soul, underground and “alternative” acts such as Rucker’s fellow Philadelphians, The Roots. Here inside this song, Rucker uses it to challenge listeners to continue pursuing a never-ending revolution that’s equally vulnerable and questioning of her place in it. “Sophia,” one of the album’s three instrumental tracks, is busy and full of happy piano, moody strings and fast-paced drumming that evokes images of the hustle and bustle and colliding emotions on a busy city street.

4hero’s efforts on this collection are a welcome treat in the somewhat stale state of current chill and downtempo grooves, typically made by forgettable artists that somehow garner heavy rotation in trendy coffee shops and clothing boutiques. Arguments could easily be made that the music heard on this album should be boxed into jazz, soul or electronica, but part of the appeal is how much it embraces ambiguity between the three. Casual music fans might not appreciate Play With the Changes, but folks bored with what passes as the norm in pop music will be pleasantly surprised with this compilation of songs that sounds familiar, yet refreshingly new.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now
4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store
1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “Morning Child” feat. Carina Andersson
2. “Take My Time” feat. Jack Davey
3. “Look Inside” feat. FACE
4. “Sink or Swim (No Choice for Me)” feat. Lady Alma
5. “Give In” feat. Darien Brockington & Phonte
6. “Play With the Changes” feat. Talita Long & Larry Mizell
7. “Something In the Way” feat. Bembe Segue & Kaidi Taitham
8. “Stoke Up the Fire” feat. FACE
9. “The Awakening” feat. Ursula Rucker
10. “Sophia”
11. “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” feat. Terry Devos
12. “Why Don’t You Talk?”
13. “Bed of Roses” feat. Jody Watley
14. “Gonna Give It Up (Wanna Quit)” feat. Lady Alma
15. “Dedication to the Horse”

Posted in 4hero, Dance, Pop, R&B, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Kelis – Flesh Tone [Reviews]

Posted by on July 7, 2010

After a nasty divorce with her longtime beau Nas, Kelis found herself on the receiving end of vengeful fans. Unfortunate, given that for more than a decade, she was a sweetheart in the world of pop and R&B, serving up memorable hits such as “Caught Out There,” “Bossy” and “Milkshake,” and with fans and critics alike confidently proclaiming that she was the future.

To try to live up to that potential, Kelis releases Flesh Tone, a nine-song compilation of electronic compositions produced by the likes of Benny Benassi, David Guetta and Will.I.Am. The soulful house rhythm of the lead single, “4th of July (Fireworks),” blends with heavy piano keys as Kelis compares America’s birthday to her own newfound independence and reborn love life.

A little house, but definitively trance is “Home,” full of “whoa-oh-ohs” and deep thoughts of “running in a race to find what we’re searching for.” “Brave” is an acidic-with-a-touch-of-strings cut on which Kelis declares her strength and growth.

“Song for the Baby” channels modern disco, the likes of which haven’t been perfectly executed since Modjo’s “Lady” and Stardust’s “The Music Sounds Better with You.” Over rousing horns, Kelis promises her young son that she’ll “love you more than you’ll ever know” on Flesh Tone’s most emotionally uplifting inclusion.

The disc flawlessly fuses dance, pop and R&B. On one hand, the album’s short track list is essentially dance floor heaven, but given Kelis’ previous work, the album seems to come up short, lacking much lyrical depth and even the cleverness of previous outings (“I hate you so much right now” and the screaming that ensued afterward on “Caught Out There” are, in our minds, pure genius). It doesn’t stop us from fully enjoying it, though, as Kelis continues to chase her “full potential.”

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now
4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store
1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “Intro”
2. “22nd Century”
3. “4th of July (Fireworks)”
4. “Home”
5. “Acapella”
6. “Scream”
7. “Emancipate”
8. “Brave”
9. “Song for the Baby”

Posted in Dance, Kelis, Pop, R&B, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Macy Gray – The Sellout [Reviews]

Posted by on June 23, 2010

After a shaky stint on Dancing with the Stars and a foray into DJing, Macy Gray is back to doing what she does best on her latest disc, The Sellout. Since it had been a while since her raspy soul had been sung out on hits such as “I Try” and “Sexual Revolution,” what would a musically missing Macy give to fans who have been longing for her return?

Well, there are some gems. “Pick your diamond, pick your pearl” is a lyric that could be referring to “Beauty in the World.” The lead single sets the tone of the album’s upbeat tracks with its feel-good reminiscing of tunes from the ’60s and ’70s. Conversely, the title track offers vocal variety and Macy’s trademark rasp that is complimented by a feeling of giving up, as the singer repeatedly proclaims “This is my gimmick, and I wanna win it, I’m selling out, I won’t fight you no more.”

“Kissed It” finds Gray teaming up with rock supergroup Velvet Revolver for a whimsical hand-clapper. Here, Macy’s strong determination to move on from an unappreciative lover is constantly pacified by a simple kiss — wherever on the body it may be.

“That Man” is heavily influenced by ’60s girl groups, complete with backup singers. As Macy croons about her ideal man, we learn that he’s a complex creature who blends hip-hop swag, sophistication, the experience of being racially profiled and Savior-like qualities.

Gray’s colorful language sprinkles “Stalker,” a raucous serenade that’s a stark contrast to the back-and-forth of her duet with Bobby Brown, “Real Love.” The snappy tune showcases Brown’s vocals at their best, which is far better than one would ever realize based on some of his earlier solo hits.

Though some of Macy’s career moves were questionable to fans, The Sellout proves that she never sold out on her ability to craft a song and authentically sing it, or avoid taking her music in a trendy direction based on what’s hot on the radio. By injecting each song with passion, playfulness and ‘The Rasp,’ Gray re-establishes her status as a neo-soul songstress with pop sensibilities — qualities that will lead to sold-out shows in the near future.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now
4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store
1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “The Sellout”
2. “Lately”
3. “Kissed It” feat. Velvet Revolver
4. “Still Hurts” feat. Romika
5. “Beauty in the World”
6. “Help Me”
7. “Let You Win”
8. “That Man”
9. “Stalker”
10. “Real Love” feat. Bobby Brown
11. “On & On”
12. “The Comeback”

Posted in Macy Gray, Pop, R&B, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Samantha James – Subconscious [Reviews]

Posted by on June 16, 2010

Counter to the overpowering vocals of many female dance singers, Samantha James’ low-key delivery meshes with her underlying beats to hypnotize listeners and take them to a euphoric state.

It is appropriate, then, that her latest album is called Subconscious and that the set ventures away from exclusively utilizing house melodies, which were so prevalent on her last release, Rise. Not that they are gone completely, as proven with “Illusions,” a lightly pulsating composition which drives James to proclaim that visions are illuminating her mind and “showing me the magic in my life.”

The fragile song that’s sung on “Subconscious” gives nod to an unnamed source whose “energy is turning [her] on” while also giving permission for said source to “take me where you think I belong.” Requiring less thought are the “aaaah-aaaah-whooooas” of “Life is Waiting,” a proverbial dance porn with repetitious statements sang over music made strictly for dancing.

Making a foray into pop is “Satellites,” a smooth, guitar-driven cut tinged with light nursery rhyme and symphonic elements that speaks of transcending beyond the here and now. “Again and Again” is all piano, as Samantha goes acapella to speak of loss and grief.

“Waves of Change” embraces James’ traditional sound as her voices gently wraps around the track’s atmospheric touches and paradise themes. By comparison, “Veil” is a more up-tempo, though the subject matter can be interpreted the same, as Samantha encourages listeners “to be one.”

Subconscious demonstrates a versatility that’s rare among dance music vocalists, as James successfully showcases pop-crossover potential, an ability to handle a club groove and a smooth jazz delivery of intoxicating vocals. Taken together, these traits make the disc an audible treat compared to mainstream music’s over-caffeinated offerings.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now
4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store
1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “Waves of Change”
2. “Veil”
3. “Satellites”
4. “Amber Sky”
5. “Subconscious”
6. “Tonight”
7. “Life is Waiting”
8. “Illusions”
9. “Tree of Life”
10. “Free”
11. “Find a Way”
12. “Maybe Tomorrow”
13. “Again and Again”

Posted in Dance, Reviews, Samantha James | Leave a Comment »

SIRPAUL – Music & Me [Reviews]

Posted by on June 16, 2010

Lady GaGa
is a favorite here at That’s My Jam, but even we have to admit that some of her latest work has “devolved” into dissertation-quality think pieces. Does anyone make enjoyable dance-pop that requires little thought and plenty of feel-good?

Fortunately yes. Such qualities saturate SIRPAUL’s latest effort, Music & Me, which is full of electronic-based cuts that manage to include catchy verses and choruses.

This is done quite effortlessly on “Don’t Stop (Break the Beat),” an anthemic banger that pays tribute to the party-starters of the past while concurrently finding its place among its contemporary competition. “Don’t Stop” sets the tone for the mellowed out “Give It Up,” which uses metaphorical computer references to center the echoing, transistor-laced groove.

“Music & Me” picks things up again, as SIRPAUL romances the melody that’s at once Chromeo’s “Fancy Footwork” and GaGa’s “Starstruck.” “Mistaken,” on the other hand, is heavy on the disco and the beat crafted here could play alongside some of Donna Summer’s classics, with few recognizing SIRPAUL’s work as a 2010 release.

The playful “Love Taboo” also conveys a time period and genre, specifically late ’90s/early ’00s pop made famous by the likes of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. However, the song has more adult themes, yet remains modern enough that one can’t help but think that this is what pop would have evolved into had the genre remained in that turn of the century sound.

Plenty of other vibes are present on the disc, from the cosmic (“U”), to the closet one can come to a dance ballad (“Colors”), to the lyrically complex (“Deal with the Devil”). The inclusion makes the compilation a guilty pleasure, yet interesting and engaging, and without trying to provoke thought.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now
4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store
1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “Don’t Stop (Break the Beat)”
2. “Give It Up”
3. “Music & Me”
4. “Deal with the Devil”
5. “Colors”
6. “Love Taboo”
7. “U”
8. “Press Rewind”
9. “Loser Lover”
10. “Digital World”
11. “Mistaken”
12. “Shine”

Posted in Dance, Reviews, SIRPAUL | Leave a Comment »

1996 Dance Countdown [Mixtape Memories]

Posted by on June 10, 2010

Welcome to the first “Mixtape Memories” posting. Here, our readers, writers and artists are invited to list songs on their old self-made or gift mixtapes and mix CDs; share why the mix was created; and reveal their thoughts when they look back at  their compilations.

Seems simple enough, right? If you have a majority dance, pop and/or R&B mix you’d like to share with other readers, drop us a line at

Now that the formalities are out of the way, we present to you J.Ly‘s “1996 Dance Countdown.”

The ‘1996 Dance Countdown’ was created for a party during my junior year in high school. No one asked me to make it, but I couldn’t and still can’t stand a party with lame music. My solution: come up with a countdown of the ‘hottest’ dance songs based on the tastes and shared experiences of my friends who would be in attendance. The list truly captures that moment in time, yet reflects the music my crew listened to while growing up in Phoenix. In fact, the idea for this mixtape was inspired by local radio station Power 92’s Top 250 Dance Songs of All Time countdown that aired Labor Day weekend. (Gloria Gaynor‘s ‘I Will Survive’ was No. 1.) The songs played in countdown order, so No. 50 was first, followed by 49, 48 and so on until we reached No. 1 — and all the songs filled two and a half 90-minutes cassette tapes (Maxells, my favorite brand). Today, I’d never in my right mind put ‘Baby Got Back,’ ‘Macarena,’ ‘California Love’ or ‘Me So Horny’ on a mix CD and, if I remade this countdown, ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ would probably rank higher. —- J.Ly

1. Los Del Rio – “Macarena”
2. 2 Live Crew – “Me So Horny”
3. MC Luscious – “Boom! I Got Your Boyfriend”
4. Pebbles – “Mercedes Boy”
5. Ruffneck feat. Yavahn – “Everybody Be Somebody”
6. Junior Vazquez – “If Madonna Calls”
7. Madonna – “Into the Groove”
8. TLC – “Shock Dat Monkey”
9. C+C Music Factory – “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”
10. 2 Unlimited – “Tribal Dance”
11. La Bouche – “Be My Lover”
12. Sir Mix-A-Lot – “Swap Meet Louie”
13. Exposé – “Come Go With Me”
14. Katalina – “DJ Girl”
15. Cynthia – “Change On Me”
16. Jody Watley – “Don’t You Want Me”
17. Karyn White – “Secret Rendezvous”
18. Planet Soul – “Feel the Music”
19. Sir Mix-A-Lot – “Baby Got Back”
20. Madonna – “Express Yourself”
21. Janet Jackson – “If”
22. MC Hammer – “It’s All Good”
23. Quad City DJs – “C’mon and Ride It (The Train)”
24. Exposé – “Point of No Return”
25. Coolio – “1-2-3-4 (Sumpin’ New)”
26. La Bouche – “Sweet Dreams”
27. Shannon – “Let the Music Play”
28. Outthere Brothers – “Boom, Boom, Boom”
29. 20 Fingers – “Short, Short Man”
30. Dis n’ Dat – “Party”
31. Crystal Waters – “100% Pure Love”
32. Tupac feat. Dr. Dre – “California Love”
33. Gabrielle – “Dreams”
34. Taylor Dayne – “Tell It To My Heart”
35. Debbie Gibson – “Shake Your Love”
36. Bobby Brown – “Don’t Be Cruel”
37. MC Hammer – “Pumps & A Bump”
38. Laura Martinez – “Ritmo Latino”
39. Boyz II Men – “Motownphilly”
40. Paula Abdul – “Cold Hearted”
41. Zhané – “Hey Mr. DJ”
42. 2 Unlimited – “Twilight Zone”
43. Planet Soul – “Set U Free”
44. 24K – “Don’t Go There”
45. Montell Jordan – “This Is How We Do It”
46. Whitney Houston – “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”
47. Jody Watley – “Looking For a New Love”
48. En Vogue – “Free Your Mind”
49. BLACKstreet feat. Dr. Dre & Queenpen – “No Diggity”
50. New Kids on the Block – “You’ve Got It (The Right Stuff)”

Posted in Mixtape Memories | Leave a Comment »

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