Sene x Blu – “Backboards”

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. This cliché is best demonstrated in the form of great musical collaborations.

Exhibit A – Sene x Blu

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The Cover Up: Selah Sue

Selah Sue is nothing short of amazing. At 23 years old, the Belgian singer/songwriter has the depth of someone who’s been around for ages. Her voice is what you’d get if you took a little bit of Amy Winehouse and mixed it with a little bit of Coco Maja Hastrup Karshøj (if you don’t know who she is, you’re in the right place…allow me to introduce) and a little bit of Erykah Badu. I know, those are some pretty heavy comparisons. But this is my party and I can write what I want to.

Back to the business at hand – the music! Check out this double feature of The Cover Up with Selah Sue.

First up, her rendition of the blues/reggae classic, You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No).

Up next, her cover of Erykah Badu‘s, “Appletree”

Two’s Day: Two For Happy

This weekend was a weekend of unspeakable tragedy. The type of tragedy that leaves a lasting impression on your heart and in your mind. The type of tragedy that renders you speechless and momentarily breathless. A catastrophe of such drastic proportion that it’s complicated to see any silver lining, bright side, sunshine, or any hope of healing.

Although it’s not blatantly visible, there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. Beyond the politics and debates about citizens and their rights to own, hoard, carry, conceal, or whatever else they’d like to do with guns, beyond the discussion about the recognition, diagnosis, and cure of mental health issues – there is bigger perspective to gain and bigger questions to answer.

What are you doing to add value to the lives of those around you? What are you doing to add value to your own life? Are you happy? Many people try to place a box around “happy”. They want to give it one definitive definition. They say happiness is only acquired by success and profit. They lead you to believe it’s only attainable through constant pursuit of greatness (and we already discussed how dangerous that can be). Today, I challenge you to define your own happiness. I dare you to track down your happiness and embrace it. I encourage you to take a break from the man-made demand of your profession and focus on the God-ordained peace of your purpose. Recognize that you weren’t created to stress or fear or waste time. You were designed to prosper and to love and to live a happy life.

Even when we are aware of what we were created for, we tend to dilute the strength of revelation with the notion that we have unlimited time. Although we were created to be happy, we were not created to live forever. So while you’re here, you have a choice – be hurried or be happy. What is happy for you? Define it and find it. Even if you’re there for only a minute, make it there before it’s too late. Enjoy what God has placed in front of you. Be present. Be open to new experiences. Be purpose driven. Be happy.

The Foreign Exchange – Happiness

“…good people, good loving, good music in my life – that makes me happy…”

Frankie Beverly and Maze – Happy Feelings

“…these happy feelings…I’ll spread them all over the world”

What’s on your playlist?

Two’s Day: Two For The Good

Good is often a very lonely adjective. In a society that has a healthy obsession with “great”, few people ever want to claim it. No one ever wants to just be good at anything. Or have a good day. Or do a good deed. If it’s not exceptionally great, it’s as if it doesn’t count at all. We spend countless hours in search of perfection. We self-proclaim our excellence and expertise over popular topics. We completely ignore small victories when they fall short of absolute dominance. Small, incremental progression becomes unacceptable. We want to be the ‘Michael Jordan’ of our profession and the ‘Mercedes Benz’ of our past-time. Winning the war isn’t enough if the battle record isn’t immaculate and without blemish.

In most cases, we applaud, admire, and encourage those that chase greatness. But like anything done to the extreme and beyond moderation, complications sometimes arise. The problem with this aggressive pursuit of greatness is that we sometimes forget to just be good. We develop a tunnel vision that blocks out anything and everything we may encounter on our climb to the summit. Cheers of accomplishments are drowned out by the voice in our head telling us that good just isn’t good enough.

When we deprive the world of our good, we potentially hinder someone else’s great. When we don’t take the time to recognize our own good, we tend to miss our true value. We give a blind eye to all of the good things we’ve accomplished, learned, taught, etc., that lend themselves to our overall greatness. So today, take a break from your journey to greatness and just be good. Take a minute to appreciate that good and imperfect things around you. Do something good for someone around you. Don’t worry about the extremes, the absolute, the flawless. Just be in the now…with the good.

Schoolboy Q ft. BJ the Chicago Kid and Punch I’m Good

“I know I’m not perfect…and I know what you see ain’t what it’s gon be cause I know my worth”

Slakah the Beatchild ft. Drake Share

“…take what you want, but you gotta share it with the world”

What’s in your playlist?

Two’s Day: Two For Silver Linings

“Every dark cloud has a silver lining”

For over 400 years, this phrase has often been thrown about thoughtlessly as a gesture of empathy. It’s usually directed at someone who’s at their wit’s end, on the brink of surrendering. And it’s usually delivered with the utmost sincerity. But we use the phrase so frequently that I believe we’ve been somewhat desensitized to the true power of what we’re saying.

The cliche was first introduced in 1634 by John Milton in a poem titled Comus. Its meaning then was the exact same as its meaning now. The poet’s silver lining represented the good part of a not-so-good situation. At face value, it’s a fairly simple concept to grasp. And when you take a closer look, it doesn’t become more complicated…it actually becomes more significant.

“Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. The key word here is every. By definition, it encompasses everything. Every situation. Every cloud. Every obstacle. Everything. Whatever you’re going through, however dark it gets, there is an ever-present silver lining. It’s so easy to overlook or downplay the silver lining’s presence, especially when the clouds are so massive that the lining may be out of our immediate scope of vision. When clouds move in and start to soften the glow of our sunshine or moonlight, we start to lose faith in the sun or the moon. We give undeserved power to the clouds. We tend to lend the permanent nature of the sun and moon to the temporary presence of the clouds that cover them. We forget that regardless of density, darkness, or duration, those clouds are designed with an expiration date. They aren’t meant to last forever.

We must learn to see the shine beyond the shade. We have to recognize the value of our silver linings. Their presence alone reminds us that the storm has an ending. They exist to provide a glimpse into the future. They let us know that what we see isn’t what we’ve sown…it’s just an inevitable part of the journey. We ought not allow the climate to dictate our confidence. In the midst of the darkest clouds, know that the sun still shines.

PJ Morton – Mountains and Molehills

“…making mountains out of molehills when they’re not even real…”

Daley – Those Who Wait

“Take your time…I know I’m gonna be next in line to claim my prize and be all that I want to be…”

What’s on your playlist?

The Time Is Write

Homonym [hom-uh-nim]: a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning and spelling. Example: Right and Write.

Right, we know to be directional or correct and in accordance. While Write is defined as the act of composing and, more recently, as Emcee. For proof of the latter, meet Chicago native and burgeoning artist, MR. WRITE.

MrWrite

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Windy City writer to discuss everything from his writing process to who would write his biography. Check out the full interview and download the album below.

Much of music, especially hip hop, is built on storytelling. And most storytellers have a process when it comes to writing. What does the MR. WRITE process look like?

Most of the time I’d say it depends on the music. A lot of the time (especially when we cut records with samples in them), the beat sort of tells its own story, and I, as the writer, just add my perception of said story. I get a lot of my inspiration from driving in the car and watching television. It’s just something about driving with that new track in the car that just tells me “where to go”. I get a lot of ideas also via television commercials. Whoever comes up with some of the car company slogans are geniuses. So I’ll take one of those slogans and try to write something pertaining to that subject.

Who is your favorite storyteller (could be anybody – dead or alive, musician or not)?

My favorite story tellers: From a rap perspective? Nas, Biggie, Jay-Z, Ghostface. Ghostface tells a story EVERY time he rhymes. He’s incredible at that. Other people who I’d consider a favorite are people like Smokey Robinson, R.Kelly, The-Dream and Missy Elliot. Look at any of the artists they’ve written records for and I’m willing to bet those artists have one hell of a story for a song.

You’ve mentioned in a few of your songs your appreciation for words and language. What is your favorite word? Why?

Awesome. Awesome just personifies any and everything good. There’s no ambiguity ( <—-Another favorite.. LOL ) when that word is used. And I like to pattern my music so that the listener can feel that what they’re hearing is awesome!

Fellow Chicago emcee, Common, has a biographical song dedicated to Assata Shakur titled “A Song For Assata”. If you could pen anyone’s musical biography, who would it be?

Great question! I think I’d have to say Spike Lee. He’s never caught a brick as it pertains to film! Not one bad movie! If I have the proper amount of time to research him, I feel I could tell his story using mainly the titles of his movies and character names. I think that would be cool.

What writer would you pick to pen your biography?

I wrote a line in a song called “Write’s World” that said, “..won’t let my friends describe me, you’ll just get it misconstrued.” So I’m not too sure. Probably my mother. She’ll make me look good.

Aight, so Chicago is known for being a city of haters (unfortunately) when it comes to supporting local talent. And, for better or for worse, we’re also known for our politics. As an artist, how would you campaign to Chicagoans on behalf of all artists in the city?

“SUPPORT WHAT YOU LIKE. IGNORE WHAT YOU DON’T.” That would be the focal point of my campaign. I feel like we (as in Chicagoans), have to give a dissertation to explain why we hate something. If we just ignored what we didn’t like, whether it be music, people, anything; I think we’d be in a better place. I can’t remember ever having to stop doing what I love with the people I have love for to give credence to or even speak about something I dislike. If a song
comes on in a party that I don’t like, I order more drinks…LOL. We can easily substitute the things we dislike with more things we like. “SUPPORT WHAT YOU LIKE. IGNORE WHAT YOU DON’T.” Simple.

All of the major regions have had significant movements where there’s an explosion of music and artists that on the national stage. These movements are usually made more official by the level of support from all the artists in that region. For some reason, it seems like we’ve (Chicago) never been able to create a real movement on that level. Why do you think that is?

I believe a lot of it stems from the key word of the last question you asked; Hate. I can’t lie. I’ve heard other artists who I’ve felt I’ve had the upper hand on content/talent/skill wise and thought, “Seriously??” But I had to (quickly) realize that as long as I worry about others, then I’m essentially shittin’ on myself! I think a lot of us have a mentality similar that. But I also see that the city is coming together in a major way.

If you could work with any local artists in an effort to create a real movement, who would you connect with?

I think what Rockie Fresh is doing is awesome for the city. He gives a perspective not seen in a lot of music coming from Chicago, kind of similar to how Lupe and Kanye did. I tend to think I’m on that same wavelength as well. I like a lot of YP’s music. And there’s also so many people who’s stuff I hear and I’m just amazed at the amount of talent in Chicago. Personally, I’m willing to work with just about anyone if they want to see Chicago on top like I do.

To date, what is your favorite MR. WRITE project/song? Why?

My favorite project is the current album, Coded Language. I think it totally embodies what I’ve gone through as it pertains to life and the pursuit of making a name for myself in the music industry. I have a LOT of favorite songs. Too many to name.

Mr. Write's latest project, Coded Language

Hip hop artists are tasked with the job of painting pictures through their lyrics. What would your painting look like?

I would want the listener to liken my ‘paintings” to the experiences that led them to view it. I remember being in the the record store and trying to decide between Reasonable Doubt and The Score. I remember speeding like shit to get to a record store before it closed just so I could get Supreme Clientele the day before it came out. So I want that painting to not only look incredible, but I want a lasting memory that the listener can keep with them forever.

What songs/artists would be featured on the soundtrack to the MR. WRITE movie?

“Imaginary Player” by Jay-Z. “Hypnotize” by Biggie. “The Flyest” by Nas and AZ, “Devil In A Blue Dress” by Kanye West and Rick Ross. “There’ll Never Be” by Switch…I could go on for days. The MR. WRITE movie would really be more about the score than the actual plot. Think about Project X or Bad Boys II. The score in those movies are damn near more memorable than the actual films.

And there you have it…you have officially been granted access to the world of MR. WRITE.

Find him on…

Twitter @thewriteousone
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/getwriteorgetleft

For show information, updates, and to download Coded Language and other projects, visit http://www.thewriteousone.com

Guilty Simpson x Apollo Brown

Masterfully gutter. That’s the best way to describe this collaboration by two of the Motor City’s greatest ambassadors. Guilty Simpson and Apollo Brown combined to create Dice Game and the entire project is unapologetically Detroit. In the best way possible. Every track is overflowing with that unique and beautiful brand of gritty made (in)famous in the D. The album sounds like an ode to every one of Detroit’s hip hop elite – Slum Village, Black Milk, Elzhi, Danny Brown, Quelle Chris.

Apollo’s neck-jerking production and Guilty’s at-your-neck lyrics are the audio equivalency of a designer, spiked bow-tie. Yeah…I don’t know if that makes the most sense, but that’s just how I feel.

Check it out for yourself and let me know how you would describe it…