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From The Vault: Diana Ross & Michael Jackson Perform ‘Upside Down’

Next up on From The Vault is, without exaggeration, one of the most recognized songs around the world. We are referring to Diana Ross’ ‘Upside Down’. Talk about a classic!

Leading the campaign for Diana’s eponymous eleventh studio collection, ‘Upside’ is without a doubt what you’d call a timeless track. Helmed by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it was yet another #1 record for the Diva. At the time of its release in 1980, the track was helmed for its edgier sound and honest lyrics about a dysfunctional loving relationship.

The cut, for many, is considered Diana’s signature song; indeed it has been reinterpreted countless times by many a music hopeful on talent shows and covered and sampled several times over the years by the biggest names in music, most notably MC Lyte for her ‘Cold Rock A Party’.

With the onset of the “music video” not arriving until years after, the selected clip is one of a 1981 live performance where you can witness Ms. Ross commanding the stage by just being present and parading around.

While there exists many a stellar showing of the classic, we couldn’t resist showcasing The Boss and the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson grooving together like it’s 1999. Easily two of music’s most enduring and legendary figures,  MJ and his Dirty Diana had a very strong bond throughout the years – one which birthed timeless showings such as this.

We’d say we’ve come a long way since that performance; for while Diana is obviously flaunting what her mama gave her (as she should too), she executes the whole shabang with class and sophistication aplenty. Which leaves one thinking about how sad it is that most of today’s multi-colored-wig princesses don’t possess an ounce of this.

Still, Ms. Ross’ legacy lives on through the likes of Beyonce, as well as the countless classic memories she blessed us with over the course of her illustrious career.

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Cover Star: Shakka Covers Usher’s ‘Climax’…With A Twist (A Must-See!)

This week’s That Grape Juice Cover Star boasts a bit of a twist. Ever keen to pierce through the smoke and mirrors, the feature almost wholly spotlights performances unaided by studio wizardry. However, today’s instalment was picked because of it.

Londoners Shakka and Vula serve up an unmissable take on Usher‘s latest hit ‘Climax’. Check it out below…

Three words Off the Richter!

For more on Shaka, check out his oh so popping Youtube page

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Want to be featured on That Grape Juice’s ‘Cover Star’? Drop an email to [email protected]

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From The Vault: R. Kelly – ‘Ignition’

“Y’all tell me, what’s R&B without the the R?”

In the same way the Jackson siblings have inspired and changed the Pop landscape forever, a certain R.Kelly has left an indelible print on R&B; ensuring he go down in history as the undeniable King of R&B.
This week, That Grape Juice honors His-Highness with a throwback to the year 2002, a year when R. was commanding the world to “bounce”. ‘Ignition (Remix)’ is today’s From The Vault pick.
Unleashed during Fall 02, ‘Ignition’ was exactly the homerun Robert needed to keep his career afloat after some  very public drama saw him garner headlines for all the wrong reasons.
A critics’ favorite, it was the single that helped launch the Pied Piper’s fifth album ‘Chocolate Factory’, an LP that would see him write, arrange and produce every single song.
As with many of his releases, it was a worldwide smash, reaching the pole position of the UK Single Charts while peaking at #2 on the US Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Charts
This here is an excellent example of the authenticity and uniqueness of Kelly, from the minimalistic production to the way he rides that beat, the varied vocal delivery to the outlandish metaphors: classic. Actually we dare you to find any other artist who could pull this song off (or who could come up with a song like this entirely by himself).
If the track itself isn’t enough, its simple yet effective club set video will make you wish you were on a dancefloor ready to ‘have you some fun’.
To every R&B hopeful out there: if you are willing to learn, R.Kelly is the one.

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From The Vault: Lucy Pearl – ‘Dance Tonight’

R&B-Soul ensemble Lucy Pearl and their debut single ‘Dance Tonight’ serve as this week’s From The Vault pick.

Comprised of the great Raphael Saadiq, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and funky diva Dawn Robinson, the trio were somewhat of a super-group, having been part of Tony! Toni! Toné!, A Tribe Called Quest and En Vogue respectively. (Neo-Soul pioneer D’Angelo was intended to be part of the line-up but such plans fell through when he decided to concentrate on finishing his own record.)

Lifted from their eponymous album, ‘Dance’ was released during the Spring of 2000 and was hailed by critics who raved about its lush production and noted an incredible vocal chemistry between Saadiq and Robinson.

And yet, commercially, this piece of R&B-Soul only managed to reach the lower tier of the Top 40 (#36).  A respectable feat for a new band you’d say; only this song had (and still has #1 inked all over it) and was an edible anthesis to the Bubblegum-Pop that was flooding the airwaves at that time… and stays superior to most of the fast-food pop that is topping iTunes today.

Still, justice was soemwhat served when the cut was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001 in the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group or a Duo category.

From its vintage sets and an overall ‘zen’ vibe, the groove’s accompanying video is a perfect fit, bringing an already shy-high track to even higher grounds.

With the likes of Nas & Damian Marley, The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye) and Duck Sauce (Armand Van Helden & A-Trak) killing in more ways than one the charts and stages of the world, it seems the music industry is slowly re-embracing the idea of supergroups like Lucy Pearl. Leading us to ask you…

Which artists would you put together in a supergroup?

 

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From The Vault: Mary J. Blige – ‘No More Drama’

Mary J. Blige‘s 2002 smash ‘No More Drama’ serves as this week’s From The Vault pick.

Lifted from the 2001 blockbuster album of the same name as its second offering, ‘Drama’ peaked at #15 on the US Hot 100 and on the lower tier of the Top 10 on the UK Charts at #9.

And while Blige boasts higher chartings with other releases, the stirring cut  stands as one of the most well knowned cut from the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul.

Helmed by the ever-so-creative dynamo duo of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the heartfelt track is built around a sample of classical piece ‘Nadia’s Theme’, the very same song used as the theme from never-ending American soap opera ‘The Young and The Restless’.

And while such sample was sourced from fantasy, the song’s lyrical narrative was akin to the happenings in Mary’s wold. Indeed, ‘Drama’ represented a turning point in her life; she would reveal that it marks the first time she would let go of the pain in her life and finally allow herself to be happy or at least seek for happiness. For the music world at large, the song -for a period of time- served as an unofficial response of sorts to the September 11th calamity which rocked the free world to its core.

The track’s accompanying video (which sees cameos from Mariah Carey and Diddy) does a great job of capturing the song’s embedded passion and  raw emotion through an array of storylines. All of which relay different “strands” of drama folk face.

Through her stellar career Ms. Blige-Isaacs has experienced many peaks and troughs, yet has always stayed true to her colours musically and morally. A practice which has cultivated her a level of respect from her peers, critics, and fans, which can be neither shaken nor stirred. True talent can, and often will, win.

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From The Vault: Shanice – ‘I Love Your Smile’

This week’s From The Vault selection comes courtesy of Shanice, with her 1991 hit ‘I Love Your Smile’.

Considered the vocalist’s signature song (alongside 1999’s ‘When I Close My Eyes’), the cut remains in heavy rotation of many a music countdown globally. And with good reason too.

‘Smile’ was a major hit at the time of its release, only missing the top of both the US and UK charts by one spot. The track would go on to peak inside the Top 10 tally of many other other territories.

In stark contrast to the Electro-Pop which pervades today’s airwaves and chart, the beginning of the nineties saw the masses salivate for the sounds of  New Jack Swing – a genre ‘Smile’ embodied, while also boasting a strong Pop undercurrent.

The carefree, colorful and almost whimsical aspect of  the cut and its accompanying video are reminiscent to the work of another female entertainer who was also slaying something vicious at the time  – Janet Jackson (side note: she can be heard at the very end of the song laughing with her then-husband Rene Elizondo).

Like Jackson and most of the biggest artists of that decade, Shanice was the total package: voice, moves, looks… We sincerely can’t wait for the time when record labels go back to looking for such triple threat talents, instead of only focusing on the fickle. For, while good looks and dirty red wigs fade with time, true talent facilities greatness and greatness lives forever.

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From The Vault: Beyonce, Britney Spears & Pink – ‘Pepsi ‘We Will Rock You’ Commercial

This week’s From The Vault pick  differ from previous editions, in that it comes in the form of a commercial. But not your typical commercial. No. Try the mother of all commercials.

Featuring an all-star cast of leading Pop megastars, we are talking Pepsi’s 2004 Gladiator campaign.

With such venture, Pepsi Co hit the nail on the head in more ways than one. Using a reworked version of the already immense ‘We Will Rock You’ by Rock outfit Queen, the commercial for many is Pop “nirvana”. In that it brought under the same arena four of modern times leading acts: Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias, Pop-royal Britney Spears, Rock-chick Pink, and of course Ms. Sasha Fierce herself Beyonce.

Journeying back to the Roman Empire, our three heroines join forces to take down General Caesar. Each of them are afforded ample time to shine; with Britney serving up sex-appeal in earnest, Beyonce displaying ‘Diva 101’ and Pink repping for the rock community with her trademark “power rasp”. Like the adorning audience, we ate this up!

From the faultless casting to the impeccable cinematography, the big-budget affair is a prime example of the force Pepsi the brand is and how it operates to stay relevant to its younger generation – after many a successful past campaign with the likes of Michael Jackson.

EPIC, quite literally!

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