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Music

From The Vault: Eve – ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind (Ft. Gwen Stefani)’

Long before Rihanna’s arrival to the music industry, Eve’s blazing red hair shined in all its glory such as in this week’s From The Vault selection, ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’. Released on May 15th 2001 as the 2nd single from her platinum-certified ‘Scorpion’ LP, the song featured Pop sensation Gwen Stefani.

‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’ was the 1st song ever to win the Grammy Award for ‘Best Rap/Sung Collaboration’ when the category was established for the 2002 ceremony. Peaking in the top 5 several charts around the world including at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, the record remains Eve’s biggest hit to date.

Back when the Hip-Pop (Hip-Hop mixed with Pop music) movement pioneered by Mariah Carey was still young, this track was a definite standout. Eve delivered rhymes that would make even the most successful male MC blush and Stefani’s vocals on the hook were subtle yet quite effective.

What was most impressive about Eve was that in a era where female rappers – Lil Kim and Foxy Brown – relied on their sex appeal to help them generate airplay, she stayed focused on her craft. That is the key reason why she will always be remembered for her talent and not because of Diana Ross played with her breasts at an award show.

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Music

From The Vault: Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim & Mya – ‘Lady Marmalade’

This week’s From The Vault feature comes from Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim and Mya. On March 27, 2001, the group released a cover of the Labelle classic ‘Lady Marmalade’ for the film ‘Moulin Rouge!’. Produced by Missy Elliott, the song was a monster hit, climbing to #1 in almost every major territory in the world including the US where it won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals’.

Vivacious and powerful, this record was enjoyably inescapable when it was released. All 4 women delivered on their parts and brought something distinctly unique to the table.

The thought of any such collaboration occurring amongst today’s younger crop of singers, however, is almost frightful. Can you imagine Rihanna, Katy Perry, Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj doing something like this? With the exception of Minaj’s contribution, the song would amount to nothing less than blaspheme.

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Music

From The Vault: Christina Milian – ‘Dip It Low’

Christina Milian’s ‘Dip It Low’ is this week’s selection for From The Vault. Released as the 1st single from her ‘It’s About Time’ album in March 2004, the song peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #2 on the Official UK Singles Cart, becoming Milian’s biggest hit to date.

The remix of the track, which featured Fabolous and Samy Deluxe, also achieved critical acclaim, scoring a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. ‘It’s About Time’ also received a Grammy nod for Best Contemporary R&B Album.

Although Milian does not have the most powerful voice, she is certainly competent with a mic and has a natural star quality that cannot be denied. Once Milian manages to keep her personal and professional life separate, and stays focused on her music, then there is no reason why she couldn’t have a successful comeback.

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Music

From The Vault: Brandy – ‘What About Us?’

There is no better way to kick off 2011’s From The Vault series than with a song from Brandy. Coincidentally, ‘What About Us?’ was released as the 1st single from the R&B singer’s ‘Full Moon’ LP on January 1st 2002 – New Year’s day.

The track, which was co-written by Brandy herself and produced by her longtime collaborator Rodney Jerkins, peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #3 on the  Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. ‘What About Us?’ performed even better in the UK, climbing to #4 on the Official UK Singles Chart.

At the time of its release, this video was one of the best of Brandy’s career. Edgy and artistic, the visual distanced the singer from the relatively safe and innocent appeal of her earlier projects, demonstrating an artist who was ready to take the next step in her career.

The entire ‘Full Moon’ album illustrated Brandy’s continued growth as a vocalist as she continued to explore the full extent of her brilliant contralto. Hopefully, she can once again make music like this because if she wants to return to prominence in 2011 she has to deliver nothing but the best.

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Music

From The Vault: Jill Scott – ‘Golden’

‘Golden’ by Jill Scott is this week’s From The Vault selection. The song was released as the 1st single from Scott’s 3rd album, ‘Beautifully Human: Words & Sounds Vol. 2′, in 2004.

Although the record only peaked at #110 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #31 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it has gathered a strong following in the years after its initial release. In fact, because of the inspirational message boasted by the lyrics, Scott is often asked to perform this song on many occasions, with many regarding it as her signature tune.

This is what music is all about – inspiring people and invoking emotions. ‘Golden’ is an amazing song that was performed by an amazing singer. Great stuff!

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Music

From The Vault: Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion & Others – ‘A Natural Woman’ (Divas Live 1998)

With reports surfacing this week that she is experiencing serious health complications, I see no better time than the present to pay homage to the Queen, Aretha Franklin. Hence, this week’s From The Vault features the icon belting out one of her signatures tunes - ‘A Natural Woman’. Alongside Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Carol King (the song’s writer), Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain, Franklin created a legendary moment in television at Vh1’s ‘Divas Live’ in 1998.

There is absolutely no question that Franklin is the most influential artist of the last 50 years. Every singer to emerge in the industry after her arrival has been inspired by her voice, either directly or indirectly. From Michael Jackson to Whitney Houston to Mariah to Beyonce to Lady GaGa, there isn’t a single artist who can deny her influence on their music.

Moreover, Franklin personifies the very meaning of the word ‘diva’. She is more than just an act with a few hits – she is a woman who has changed the game, establishing a legacy that will live on for generations.

Thus, that filth that Vh1 aired last weekend - ‘Vh1 Divas: Salute The Troops’ – should be viewed as an insult to her and all of the other singers who previously appeared on the show. Still, I digress. Long live the Queen!

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From The Vault: Spice Girls – ‘2 Become 1′

This week’s From The Vault selection helped the Spice Girls to become a global phenomenon. ‘2 Become 1′ was third single to be released from their massively successful ‘Spice’ debut (which sold over 23 million records worldwide since being released in 1996).

Co-written by all of the group members alongside Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard, the song peaked at #1 in the UK and #4 in the US, achieving platinum and gold status in both territories respectively. The song was praised by critics for the clever inclusion of a safe sex message and some even compared the composition to a Mariah Carey-styled ballad.

The best feature of this song is that all 5 was members of the group had the opportunity to sing. While it is clear that Sporty Spice was by far the most talented vocalist, every member was able to lend her voice (or lack thereof) to the record.

Very few groups often give all members the chance to shine like that. In fact, with the exception of Danity Kane, En Vogue and Rich Girl, it is difficult to find other examples.

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