Mary J. Blige‘s 9th studio album ‘Stronger With Each Tear’ hit stores in the US today.
Though initially sceptical about the project based on earlier samples, we here at That Grape Juice are loving what Blige has served up with this and have had the LP on constant replay since receiving it. Best described as “one of those albums where (almost) every song could be a single”, Blige is clearly onto a winner this go round. Here’s hoping the record’s sales reflect that.
Will you be buying Mary J’s ‘Stronger With Each Tear’?
‘Fear of Flying’, a track said to be a left-over from Alexandra Burke‘s debut ‘Overcome’, surfaced over the weekend. Produced by hitmakers Stargate, the stirring piano-led ballad features (as usual) stunning vocals from 20 year old Burke. That said, the song lacks that certain ‘something’ which would have made it that more compelling and ultimately worthy of a place on the album’s final tracklist (which truth be told, wasn’t that great anyway). Still, not a bad cut at all.
Tidbit: Word has it Alex is re-working ‘Overcome’ for it’s US release in 2010. While it’ll likely feature more US-friendly material, Burke has gone on course to stress the essense of doing her first two videos (‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Broken Heels’) in America was so that they’d be ready-prepped to roll out for the US market. An interesting tactic, considering I’m not so sure both ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Broken Heels’ will work in America. Then again, stranger things have happened…
That Grape Juice recently conducted an exclusive interview with super producer Rico Love. In our discussions with the hit-maker, who originally broke into the industry as a rapper signed to R&B phenom Usher, elaborated on some of his current projects. Included in his extensive list of works are records for Kelly Rowland, Nelly, Jamie Foxx, Pleasure P and Usher’s highly anticipated forthcoming album, ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’ which hits stores on March 1st, 2010. Peep an excerpt from the interview below:
Which abum have you worked on thus far that you feel has produced your best work (released or unreleased)?
I don’t know but I’m really confident about this Usher project. I did like 6 records on the ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’. This is 360; this is bringing it back to where I got my start. I put everything into every artist I work with – new or old, legend or newcomer – but I go above and beyond for Usher because I have so much to prove. This is the guy who gave me my start, so this album I gave some of my best work; I wrote some of my biggest records.
It goes without saying that Usher’s had a hard time recapturing the success of the ‘Confessions’ era for one reason or another. What can we expect from his upcoming record?
I just want people to know that he sings better than ever. His vocals are better than ever. He is doing innovative, new-sounding music; just a new vibe. Also, he’s not neglecting the classic ‘Usher’ sound. I feel like that’s what happened before. I wasn’t involved in the ‘Here I Stand’ album. I thought it was a great record. I feel like now he’s just capturing what made Usher so great; those classic melodies that we’re tackling; just having him sing like he’s never sung before.
Usher goes in hard; he does vocal training still! After all these years, he still gets his vocal coach and gets better; he works out his voice still. I just feel like he’s got his mind right; he’s ready for war; he feels like his back is against the wall and that’s sometimes the best feeling; the feeling that makes the best records.
This is certainly some welcome news. As an advocate of many of Usher’s earlier records, I am enthused to hear that he is pushing himself both musically and sonically to new heights. Given the current tumultuous nature of the industry, and the fact that his last LP was generally underwhelming, Usher is going to have to give everything that he’s got if he hopes to make a major impact on the charts. With many of his younger contemporaries including Chris Brown and Ne-Yo vying for his top spot, the crooner is truly going to have to prepare for “war”.
In a rather unexpected turn of events, hit-makers The-Dream and Jermaine Dupri seem to have become involved in a public feud. Last evening, the studio titans, who are both probably best known for their work with diva Mariah Carey, took to Twitter to vent their frustrations surrounding the success (or lack their of) of Carey’s ‘Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel’ LP. Seemingly instigated by some of the songbird’s infamous ‘lambs’, the argument began on Dupri’s official Twitter page with the following post:
The-Dream, who was engaged in a heated argument with a group of Carey’s fans, then released the following statements about the situation via his own Twitter account:
Well blow me down! This has to be one of the most random arguments of the year. Although there have been rumblings of dissent amongst the critics and Carey fans alike about her decision to let The-Dream and Tricky Stewart handle her entire project, I don’t believe anyone expected Dupri to get involved, especially in a fan-lead dispute. In fact, many may wonder if this situation is merely a glimpse into the unseen tensions that exist within the industry politics. Is it that Dupri is upset that his material was not included on the ‘Memoirs…’? Or is this just a clash of the egos of two of music’s biggest hit-makers? Who knows. Either way, it would be interesting to see how events unfold.
Sidebar: Is anyone else itching to hear Carey’s thoughts on the matter?
R&B crooner Usher has been very busy with the preparations for his new album, ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’. One of the songs surfacing from his studio sessions is the Polow Dan Don-produced track entitled ‘Little Freak’ which features ‘it’ rapper of the moment, Nicki Minaj. ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’ hits stores on March 1st, 2010.
This is the first track from the Usher’s project that I hands down enjoyed from beginning to end. Usher really recaptured that sexual flare that made him one of R&B’s premiere acts of the decade. Nicki’s verse also ties in well, with both acts providing raw swagger over the production without getting lost in the mix. Polow did such a good job with the beat that I was happy that he let it play for over a minute by itself at the end. Great job!
As reported earlier, Que has been kicked out of Day 26, the reason, as cited by former band mate Willie, being his lack of commitment to scheduled appearances. However, the heated singer has responded to the accusations, claiming that the problems in the group stem from their manager, Screwface, who was appointed by Willie. The YBF has confirmed that Que will continue to pursue his music career with Soul World Entertainment.
As someone who observed Day 26 throughout the ‘Making The Band’ series, I find this news rather disappointing. The young men are all quite talented and had the potential to be a major force in the industry. Furthermore, they seemed to have their career paths more organised than their Danity Kane counterparts, and even voiced that sentiment several times when interviewed about the tensions that erupted amongst the ladies. Nonetheless, it seems that the infamous curse of ‘Bad Boy’ has struck again. Another one bites the dust.
Sidebar: Does anyone else think that this may just be another marketing ploy to attract interest to the group?
UK singer Alexandra Burke brought some high fashion to the Holiday season in these photographs. The images were shot for Sunday’s issue of UK periodical ‘News of the World’. Check out more of her winter wonderfulness below:
Hip-Hop icon Jay-Z and his apprentice Rihanna took the stage last evening at the Rockefeller Center in New York City. The event was filmed for ‘NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly’ and will air on December 31st at 10pm on the network. Peep more photos of the performances below: