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From The Vault: Beyonce – ‘Irreplaceable’

From The Vault venture back ten years to a time when a premium Pop star was on the cusp of releasing her biggest single to date.

This week’s pick is Beyonce’s humungous hit ’Irreplaceable.’

Written by Ne-Yo and Mrs Carter, the track was produced by Norwegian maestros Stargate and was issued as the third single from the artist’s sophomore solo album ‘B’Day.’ 

With its now inked-in-pop-culture catchphrase “to the left, to the left,” the song stands as one of the sassiest breakup offerings of all time. Its Folk-meets-Pop production also helped popularize acoustic guitar-led songs among mainstream acts. Indeed, many a subsequent smash rested its back on the sound of the omnipresent hit.

Commercial, ‘Irreplaceable’ remains Beyonce’s biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100, spending a glorious 10 weeks at the top; it was also a chart topper on the Hot Hip-Hop/R&B and managed to take over the world scoring Top 10 placements in Australia, the UK, France, Canada and Italy.


Anthony Mandler directed the visual which depicted Bey taking a literal approach to the song’s lyrics. She’s seen throwing her ex-bae out of her house and recollecting everything she got for him when they were together. Prior to meeting her upgrade, she’s shown serving up her trademark fierceness throughout – proving she can channel Sasha on a mid-tempo too. The vid also serves as the debut of Bey’s all female band The Mamas’s.

The clip was included in her first video anthology for the ‘B’Day’ LP and was nominated for Video Of The Year at the 2007 MTV VMA’s.


As much as we love post-2013 Beyonce and her “unconventional” ways, we do miss the artist that was ready to perform at the opening of a door and that released songs which still had even a tiny flair of “made for radio” to them.

Whatever the case, it’s been fascinating experiencing the star’s growth over the last decade: a transformation from singer of Pop tunes to a mogul in full charge of her career.

Salute, to an artist who – even ten years later – remains irreplaceable.

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From The Vault: Janet Jackson – ‘Rhythm Nation’

People of the world unite, strength in number we can get it right…

In 1989, Janet Jackson released her fourth album, the socially conscious ‘Rhythm Nation 1814.’ Given recent political events, we thought there was no better time to spotlight the album’s title track as our From The Vault pick.

Released as the LP’s second single, ‘Nation’ was – once again – the result of the work between Jackson and legendary duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It contains a sample from Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Thank You’. Like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell before her, Jackson used this track to urge the youth to join forces and work together in order to improve their way of life.

A Pop-song-with-a-message, the release caused a colossal storm on a global scale. And although it missed the top of the US charts by one position – peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it still it reached #1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B tally.

Dominic Sena took the directorial helm of the anthem’s Grammy-winning video – which skewed more mini-movie that any of Jackson’s prior or subsequent efforts.

Set in a post-apocalyptic warehouse, it is arguably one of the most iconic dance videos and sequences in Pop Culture. Influenced by brother Michael’s own short film ‘Captain Eo’, the hard-hitting choreography remains a staple and an inspiration for even today’s biggest stars.

Ever the idealist, Janet’s idea behind shooting the video in black and white was so that everybody had the same skin color: grey. A minor detail to some, but the semantics of this reaffirm how well-thought-out the message and execution were.


From the US President-elect, to the BREXIT, to the one year anniversary of the Parisian terrorist attacks, it tends to be complicated to keep a positive outlook on life in such uncertain times.

Songs like ‘Rhythm Nation’ are what the world at large needs at this very moment; songs about hope, love, peace and unity.

Unfortunately, over 25 years after its release, the need for people to unite is stronger than ever. Hopefully 25 years from now we’ll finally be singing another tune.

More than ever, Janet, we salute you!

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From The Vault: Solange – ‘I Decided’

Solange has been receiving rave reviews for her new album ‘A Seat At The Table,’ yet her journey to emancipation started  five years ago.

This week’s From The Vault journeys back to 2008, a time when the rising star released her first single in 5 years.

Today’s pick is retro number ‘I Decided’.

Serviced as the first single from Solo’s sophomore set ‘Sol-Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams,’ the track was produced by the mighty Neptunes and sampled the iconic handclaps from The Supremes‘Where Did Our Love Go.’

In the US, the cut performed moderately well on the Billboard Hot Hip-Hop/R&B peaking at #44.

For its European incarnation, the throwback cut received a sonic facelift by British DJs The Freemasons which allowed it to access the UK and France’s Top 30 as well as Ireland’s Top 50.


Acclaimed director and family friend Melina Matsoukas directed the cut’s video which retraced different eras in Pop culture. Travelling through time, the talented songbird can be seen as part of a Supremes-like ensemble performing during the Civil Right Movement era, as a Disco queen on Soul Train, an 80’s popstar in the MTV generation, and finally romancing a love interest in the future.

With its vivid vibrancy and use of pop art, the visual shared similarities with Rihanna’s ‘Rude Boy’ which was released a year later and was also directed by Matsoukas.


We’ve long been rooting for Ms. Knowles – ever since ‘Hadley St. Dreams’ days. As such, we couldn’t be more amped about seeing her finally getting the recognition she deserves. What’s interesting with ‘A Seat At The Table’ is that its material isn’t far removed from what Solange has been servicing already for years.

Hopefully, the buzz surrounding the project won’t be temporary and will only allow Knowles to expand the conversation with her newly recruited supporters.

In there here and now, though, congrats to Solange for breaking through. At long last.

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From The Vault: Bobby Valentino – ‘Slow Down’

Today we celebrate an R&B gem that was unleashed 11 years ago. This week’s From The Vault pick is Bobby Valentino’s ‘Slow Down.’

A modern day serenade, ‘Slow Down’ was produced by Tim & Bob and contains a sample of Hans Zimmer’s ‘A Way Of Life’ from the ‘Last Samuraï’ OST. It served as Valentino’s debut single and was included on his self-titled LP released in 2005.

A worldwide hit, the track reached the Top 10 in both the US and the UK, peaking at #8 and #4 respectively.

Directed by Erik White, the song’s clip was shot in Los Angeles, precisely Melrose Avenue, and took a literal approach to the cut’s lyrics.

Ludacris makes a cameo, as a way of introducing the new talent to the world. Literally. The rapper had signed Valentino to his Disturbing Tha Peace imprint.


Though neither visually nor sonically groundbreaking, ‘Slow Down’ reminds that the mid 00’s served up many a memorable moment.

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From The Vault: Leona Lewis – ‘Bleeding Love’

Almost a decade ago, a young lady from the UK was taking the world by storm with her first original single.

This week’s From The Vault salutes said starlet; Leona Lewis and her 2008 smash ‘Bleeding Love’ is our pick.

Helmed by hit-making extraordinaire Ryan Tedder, ‘Love’ was service as the lead single from Lewis’ debut album ‘Spirit.’

Singlehanded, the song silenced the then-mounting critique levelled against  The X Factor, which claimed nothing tangible could come out of such talent shows. Indeed, with its universal acclaim and colossal chart trajectory, the cut gave the Simon Cowell-machine and Lewis a buoyant boost in credibility.

Released exactly 9 years ago in the UK, the song was a record-breaking chart-topper on home-soil. For, it actually charted in three different years – from 2007 to 2009 – and sold over one million copies in Great Britain. It went on to top the tally in over 30 countries in 2008, including the US, Australia, Canada and France.


Melina Matsoukas directed the first version of the video which showcases the highs and lows of several relationships. It has been viewed over 140 Million times on YouTube.

A second version was released, directed by Jessy Terrero, and is known as the US incarnation. Currently at 114 Million views, it was nominated for a VMA in 2008.


It’s unfortunate that Leona’s reign atop of the charts ended so abruptly – thanks to politics, poor decisions, and sub-par material.

Because, from our vantage point, she is among the best vocal talents the industry has to offer. Still.

With Lewis’ reportedly a free agent after parting ways Island Records, hopefully the right choices will be made to bring her back where she belongs… on top.

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From The Vault: Maroon 5 & Rihanna – ‘If I Never See Your Face Again’

Today, From The Vault journeys back to a time when Rihanna was only beginning to embrace her “bad gyal” persona. This week’s pick is her joint single with Maroon 5 ‘If I Never See Your Face Again.’

Originally sung solely by M5’s frontman Adam Levine and included on the band’s second LP ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,’ ‘Face’ received quite the facelift when chart Queen RiRi was added to the mix.

The collaborative remix was dually serviced as a single from the re-release of Levine and co’s album as well as from Ms. Fenty’s ‘Good Girl Gone Bad.’

Produced by Tricky Stewart and Mike Elizondo, it was first intended as a duet with Janet Jackson which couldn’t materialize because of label issues.

A moderate hit for its headlining acts, it cracked the US Top 40 during Summer 2008 and climbed to number 28 in the UK; still, it managed to peak at #11 and #12 in Australia and Canada respectively.

RiRi’s frequent collaborator Anthony Mandler directed the song’s visual which focused heavily on editorial shots of sexy Rihanna, dapper Adam, and their titillating (yet understated) teasing.


Some, at the time, christened this collaboration random, yet it still “worked.”

Evidence, ladies and gents, of how Team Rih have successfully managed to broaden her brand and secure her place as the resident crossover crusader.

We wish more artists would follow that route and mix and match up for diversity. The results, as highlighted here, can be bliss.

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From The Vault: R. Kelly – ‘Step In The Name Of Love’

Say what folk will about R. Kelly, there’s no denying that his talent is unparalleled in the industry. Whether crooning, preaching, or partying, the man has blessed us with some of the most resonating music of the past 20 years.

Today’s From The Vault finds him stepping and spreading positivity the world over. This week’s pick is 2003’s ‘Step In The Name Of Love.’

The final single from the crooner’s fifth studio album ‘Chocolate Factory,’ the song serves as a celebration of love and also pays homage to the Chicago-birthed dance style “stepping.”

Like the entirety of its parent album, the cut was produced by Kelly and was a chart hit for the maestro peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100; it also claimed the top spot of the Billboard Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Singles – his last effort to do so to date.


The video for the single was directed by Little X and is set at an elaborate boat party. Mr Kelly can be seen serenading the ladies (as her has for length of his career) before everyone reports to the dance floor for the classic instructional stepping dance break. For the last sequence of the visual, the singer gets all Zorro on us and freestyles by himself on the deserted boat. Class act!


Kellz’ ability to go from turn-up to classy and back has always been fascinating to us. Indeed it’s mind-blowing how he can seamlessly service a “fresh out the kitchen” remix to ‘Ignition’ only to effortlessly evoke gentleman with his stepping shoes…all on the same album.

It might sound trivial to some, but not many R&B artists have managed to master that craft; the newcomers have opted to ban most things “heartfelt” and focus on getting lit, crunk and faded.

Yet, R. Kelly reminds the best of the bunch can (and perhaps should) do it all!

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