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The Best You Never Heard: Ashanti, Monica, Mis-Teeq & LL Cool JHaving been rested on the bench for a few weeks, The Best You Never Heard returns this week with little known cuts by Ashanti, Monica, UK trio Misteeq as well as LL Cool J. Do you have any suggestions for future instalments? Drop me an email at [email protected]

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Ashanti – Freedom

 

Despite the fact that Ashanti’s third studio album 2004’s ‘Concrete Rose’ achieved Platinum status, the record was largely dubbed a commercial failure for the once Princess of Murder INC. That said, I felt as though the LP was Ashanti’s most solid to date and served up what IMO is one of her strongest offerings in the form of ‘Freedom’. Raw, vocally lucid and a welcome change from her expected norm, the song is an awesomely constructed response to her critics.

 

Listen: Freedom

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Monica – Getaway

Though the ridiculous decision to release ‘Everytime The Beat Drops’ effectively rendered Monica’s 2006 album ‘The Makings of Me’ dead on arrival, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the LP was far from poor; the record stands as one of my more recent favourites. Album closer ‘Getaway’ sees the songstress show her vulnerable side in a ballad that reminds us of the rarity of this voice we have grown alongside with since her mid 90’s debut. Great track.

 

Listen: Getaway

 

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Mis-Teeq – Scandalous

 

 

Some of our UK readers will remember Misteeq; the trio, consistent of Sabrina, Alesha and Su Elise, for a brief moment in time dominated what is now the non-existent homegrown R&B market here in the UK. Though the ladies split in 2004, they left behind a selection of chart hits, including their most successful single ‘Scandalous’. Produced by Stargate, this banger, one of the girl’s last releases, ensured the ladies went out on a high. Random tidbit: the song was the theme to Halle Berry’s ill-fated ‘Catwoman’ movie.

Listen: Scandalous

 

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LL Cool J – Down The Aisle (ft. 112)
LL Cool J’s 2006 LP ‘Todd Smith’ oddly wasn’t billed as a collabo record, despite only one track featuring solely the rapper himself. Despite the album boasting joint efforts with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez and Ginuwine, it was the 112 assisted ‘Down The Aisle’ that was the standout IMO. Having left the bravado on the back-burner, the song’s concept – growing and tying the knot with that special someone – is real refreshing. Good stuff.

Listen: Down The Aisle (ft. 112)

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Your thoughts: Hit(s) or Miss(es)?

Competition: 'The Great Debaters' DVD Give-Away To celebrate the recent DVD release of Denzel Washington’s ‘The Great Debaters’, That Grape Juice are giving you the opportunity to win a special 2-disc copy of the Golden Globe nominated movie, which also stars Forest Whitaker.
Plot: The film, loosely based on a true story, revolves around the efforts of debate coach Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) at historically black Wiley College to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American south during the 1930s, when Jim Crow laws were common and lynch mobs were a pervasive fear for blacks. In the movie as in reality, the Wiley team eventually succeeds to the point where they are able to take part in a debate with Harvard University.
In order to be in with a chance of winning this must-see movie, answer the following correctly:

Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for Best Actor in 2007. Which film was it for?
a) Dreamgirls
b) The Last King of Scotland
c) Street Kings

Email your answer as well as your full name, age, and address to [email protected]. Please be sure to put ‘Great Debaters Comp’ as the subject. Winners will be selected randomly from all correct answers. Competition ends Monday 2nd June. Good luck!

T.I. To Star In Reality Show It seems T.I. is the latest star to hop on the Reality TV bandwagon. The 27 year old has partnered with MTV for the project:

“[MTV] will follow the hip-hop star as he performs more than 1,000 of community service before beginning to serve his one-year prison sentence next spring. Ish Entertainment is behind the untitled series, which has scored an eight-episode order from MTV. Cameras already chronicled T.I.’s release from house arrest, and shooting will start in earnest this summer, leading up to his return to jail in early 2009. MTV plans to air the show some time soon after that.” {Source}

Though I’m kinda iffy about the prospect of yet another reality show, I must say the concept sounds pretty interesting. Having enjoyed Lil’ Kim’s pre-jail show ‘Countdown To Lockdown’ a few years back, this one definitely seems like it’ll be worth tuning into. It’s just a shame that our artists aren’t starring in such shows for more postive reasons.

Your thoughts?

Mariah At Japanese Baseball Game Diva Mariah Carey threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the start of a Japanese baseball game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Rakuten Eagles at Tokyo Dome in Japan yesterday. At 38, there’s no denying ‘Ms. Cannon’ looks good, but…
Mariah At Japanese Baseball Game Mariah At Japanese Baseball Game Mariah At Japanese Baseball Game

What do you think of the pics?

Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere
The New York premiere for the much anticipated ‘Sex & The City’ movie took place yesterday. A number of high profile celebs made an appearance including Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson – who stars in the movie, Mary J. Blige, Michelle Williams and Lil’ Kim – who also makes a brief cameo in the flick.
I must say, Jennifer Hudson and Michelle Williams looked particularly on-point. Even Kim made a decent showing; the age old adage ‘less is more’ definitely seemed to be one Kim took on board, as, having left the drag queen make-up at home, she looked the best she has done in a long while. Mary on the other hand looks like the gruelling tour schedule has caught up with her; she looked tired.

Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere
Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere Stars Come Out For 'Sex & The City' Premiere

What do you think of the pics?
More footage from Whitney Houston’s set at Morocco’s ‘Festival Mawazine’ last week has hit the net. Check out the 44 year old performing ‘I Love The Lord’ below (the vid quality is a shambles, but the sound is great):

‘The Voice’ really is on the comeback trail; she sounded awesome. Random, maybe, but vocally, with that performance, she squatted all over every showing Mariah has given thus far this year. Bring on the new album already.

Any thoughts?

Usher stopped by MTV’s TRL today in Times Square, New York to promote the release of his much anticipated album ‘Here I Stand’, which was released today in the US. Though briefly talking over the the LP, Usher had something else in kind that he wanted to voice out. Check out the vid below:

Wow. I actually think he’s giving his critics more to talk about, as the Tameka drama is evidently getting to him. For such a seasoned celebrity, I wouldn’t have expected such an outburst. If the negative publicity – stemming from the media obsession with Tameka – was still anything of importance to people, I doubt ‘Love In The Club’ would have achieved the success it did. Yet still Usher insists on keep bringing it up. Though I believe his intentions were good, I think he should go sit down somewhere.

Your thoughts?

Ray J Kicked Out Of Hotel; Caught With Drugs?According to TMZ, Ray J got himself into a little trouble over the weekend. Check out their report:

R&B boy toy Ray J was tossed out on his behind early Saturday morning from the Hyatt Regency in D.C., because Brandy’s bro allegedly had a stash of marijuana and a drug called “Boat” (a club drug) … this according to TMZ sources.

We’re told Ray J went to his room after partying it up, when hotel management got a complaint. It appears security went up to the room where they allegedly found all the drug stuff.

Our sources say the singer tried to bribe hotel security so he could stay but they didn’t bite. We’re told Ray J went crazy, arguing like a mutha. Eventually, Mr. J’s own security came to the hotel and carted him away.

Police were called, but no one was busted.

And the supreme insult — Ray J had to check into a Holiday Inn down the street. Oh the humanity.

Ray J’s rep tells us “The altercation did not directly affect Ray J — it was people in his entourage. But he did the gentlemanly thing and left the hotel anyway.”

A mess.

Any thoughts?

Ciara - 'Click' Ciara’s contribution to the ‘Sex & The City’ soundtrack, a track titled ‘Click’, has surfaced. Written by Rico Love and produced by Salaam Remi, the whimsical cut is a solid effort. My only gripe is that the song sounds near identical to Fergie’s hit ‘Glamorous’ – to the point where it’s unavoidably obvious. I had to double check that it wasn’t that song’s producer Polow Da Don recycling beats again (lol). Still, a pretty good track all the same.

 

Hit or Miss?

{Link Removed As Requested}

Missy Elliott Names New Album 'FANomenal'After lengthy hiatus, Missy Elliott is set to release her new LP ‘FANomenal’ later this summer. . Addressing the reasoning for choosing the album’s title, Missy said the following:

“I had a contest and we had so many people taking part. There were so many fans and I decided I wanted to dedicate it to my fans and spell it with F-A-N, FANomenal. I have had so many people sticking with Missy from day one. So this album is for them.” {Source}

Word has it the album will be preceded by the first official single ‘Act A Fool’. I’m not really feeling the album’s title, but I guess she justified her reason pretty well. ‘Ching-A-Ling’ wet our appetite earlier this year; it’ll be interesting to see what Missy serves up with the record itself.

Any thoughts?

Sad Xzibit News... Rapper Xzibit posted the following on his official MySpace yesterday:

ITS 4:32AM AND I HAVE SOME BAD NEWS……..

AS you all know, I shared with you the announcment of my newborn son Xavier Kingston Joiner on may 15th and also informed you that he was born prematurly. well this week was extremly difficult for him because his lungs were not strong enough to handle regular oxygen on his own. Xavier passed away this morning at 3:30am and I must tell you this, It is unatural for a parent to bury a child. I am telling you this because of the same reason I tell you when im having great times, life is too short to be fake. Hold on to your kids if you have them, protect them and show them you love them everyday you wake up and see them, dont take a second you get to hug them teach them and care for them for granted. You can have all the material wealth in the universe but it is NOTHING compared to having your family. I am thankful for all of my blessings and im not one to question God’s perfect plan, so I leave you with great love and thanks for the love that was sent earlier on my pervious blog to my son. Of course I need to take some time and handle my loss, STAY FOCUSED PEOPLE. Its not promised to any of us.
R.I.P Xavier May 15th 2008- May 26th 2008

Our condolences go out to Xzibit and his family…

Your thoughts?

Win Signed 'Ms. Kelly: Deluxe' CD!Many thanks to all of you who entered our ‘Signed Ms. Kelly: Deluxe CD Give-Away’
The correct answer to the question:

What was Kelly’s first Number 1 outside of Destiny’s Child?

c) Dilemma

The winners, who are listed below, each win a copy of ‘Ms. Kelly: Deluxe’ which has been personally signed by Kelly Rowland herself (email confirmation has also been sent out):
1) Ashleigh Yu
2) Maciej Terka
3) Nathan-Devonte
4) Kwabena Boateng
5) Terrance Walker
Congratulations to the winners! Remember to keep it locked on That Grape Juice for future competitions…
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