As we approach what is considered the end of summer, this is actually one of my favorite times of the year. Why? Because this is when a lot of new releases come out.
Let’s see…we’ve got two white girls battling in the Pop category of the Billboard charts. For those over 35 years of age, we are approaching the anniversary of one of the most horrific days in US history. And I can’t help but reminisce over some of the talent that we have lost over the years.
So, let’s get started, shall we…
This month’s article and mix start with a tribute to a bright talent that got snuffed out before she could reach her full potential. I’m speaking of Aaliyah. On August 25th, 2001 Aaliyah, the cast and crew for the “Rock The Boat” video died in a plane crash in the Bahamas. For me, it was the warning shot that something more was about to happen because death always seems to happen in three(s). A week later, death claimed American Saxophonist, Jay Migliori. I’m sure most would not have even known that or cared. I, on the other hand, started in Jazz radio back in 1980 with my uncle. So, his death was significant for me. And then came September 11th.
For today’s youth, this is just another day. For those who lived through it (especially those who lived in New York City like I did), that date lives on in my memory as one of the worst days of my life. The things I saw and the fear that swept over the city can never be a meme or a quick footnote in some MTV style news spot. And I always say that Aaliyah’s death spoke of the nonsense that was to come. So, our first selection is the DJ Valid remix of Aaliyah’s tragic hit, “Rock The Boat”.
You know…Lana Del Ray kinda fell off my radar at some point. I think her dreamy California approach to song writing kinda left me bored. Last thing I liked was the MK mix of “Blue Jeans”. But her latest release featuring The Weeknd got a nice makeover by Bloodpop. The sexy vibe of “Lust For Life” fit right in with Aaiyah and the next track.
I was so thinking that Fifth Harmony might change their name since they lost a member (not to death, but to the promise of a solo career). But they didn’t and haven’t. Their latest release is “Sauced Up” and it makes me think of a college girl at a frat party….drinkin’ and being naughty.
Honestly…one of the most contagious hits these days is “Mi Gente” by J Balvin & Willy William. I don’t understand a word of it because it’s in Spanish. But the sound and hook always gets me going when I hear it. In fact, it always gets everyone going. I kinda feel like we are having another Latino Explosion in the music industry. With songs like this one and “Despacito” folks don’t care if they understand the lyrics. That Moombahton sound is floor-filler these days. And the DJ Sol & SixreHouse remix of “Mi Gente” is hot!
Another sound that mixes with Moombahton is today’s Reggae Pop. The David Egebjerg & Alex Walk remix of “Tik Tok” by Kongsted x Marwo x GC has that beach party vibe where folks are enjoying the sunshine and the water on a hot summer day.
I would have to say that this is the year for recording artist Dua Lipa. I’m really enjoying her sound right about now. Born in the UK with an Albanian background, this singer/songwriter and model, in my opinion, is part of the destruction of the racist narrative that seems to be plaguing the United States today. Look back at the last two selections. Today’s Pop music comes from many shades of skin colors and races. Why? Because the world is moving towards being one. It’s the old guard that is fighting change and progressive ideas. I call it “The Last Hoorah of The Old White Men”. And I don’t know if she got the idea for the title of “New Rules” from Bill Maher but I love this song. She’s basically giving a guideline on what not to do when your ex calls.
Guess who’s back? Fergie! Her latest single is a collaboration with Nicki Minaj. Damn dat gyrl is on err-body’s records dees days! “You Already Know” has all the elements to be a hit…James Brown samples and sassy lyrics. Can’t wait to see the video.
Recently after returning from my Black Pride bookings and birthday celebration in New York City, my husband and I hosted a good friend who is a Grace Jones impersonator. She had come to Toronto to check out the bar scene and possibly set up a few bookings for the future. I tried to warn her that although they like to describe Toronto as “The New York of Canada” it is a far cry from The Big Apple. Definitely a small town with many cliques. We had hoped since Grace is coming to the Toronto International Film Festival this year that one of the gay bars here would book my friend. No such luck. Small towns tend to think small…not seeing that building a bridge between New York’s LGBT bar scene and our own is a good thing but that is going to be what keeps Toronto stale.
So, in honor of Grace’s upcoming appearance to promote the new documentary about herself, “Bloodlight And Bami” I chose Ronando’s “Hard Nipple” remix of her classic “Nipple To The Bottle” as my next selection.
It seems the obsession with 90s R&B songs is at its peak. With Diplo ripping off “Don’t Walk Away” by Jade and Tough Love reclaiming “Pony” by Ginuwine, it’s no surprise that Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” has yet again been reappropriated. I say this because I keep hearing these vocals on House tracks and sometimes she is not even credited. However, Route 94 & SecondCity did credit her on their renamed track “Freak”. Why can’t they just say it’s a new remix of her track? Why do the producers and remixers have to put their names first now? I mean…without the vocalists you it’s just an instrumental!
This next selection actually is kind of an angry track. I chose it because sometimes you just have to say “fuck you” to some situations. And although the lyrics sound like they would be better suited for a thugged out Hip Hop track, the House beat and the timing is kinda hot for “Whip It Up” by Sevenn.
One of my saviors for club remixers is Toronto’s very own Mr. Barry Harris. Lately, he has been venturing into remixing Hip Hop into accessible Club tracks with video edits by Andy Ajar. A lot of his work is used on my Friday night residency where I have transformed Striker Sports Bar into a video haven. Barry has taken a really hard Hip Hop song like “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B and made it something that I could play for my floor. Thank you, sir.
I keep seeing photos of Justin Bieber with his pastor, Carl Lentz. I probably shouldn’t say it…but I’m gonna! Canceling the rest of his tour, photographed holding hands with Carl shirtless (and fine I might add)….I think Bieber is in love! He’s also borrowing a page from the Nicki Minaj handbook….be a Pop Whore whenever you can. How many songs has been a feature on since 2017 started?
DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne sounds like a long list doesn’t it? Well, these days Bieber’s name is a guarantee that you will have a hit. And the Tommy MC Bootleg of “I’m The One” is the next selection. I really don’t care for the original version….too slow.
On August 29th, Michael Jackson would have been 59 years old had he lived. I still have mixed feelings about Michael. He was such a big part of my childhood and teen years. But like Bill Cosby, how do you separate the man’s legacy from his actions. They both changed the world and landscape of entertainment but are both accused of horrific abuse. As a tribute to the King Of Pop, I chose the rare Oscar G of Murk remix of “Billie Jean”. Definitely one of my favorite songs by Michael.
And now we come to the rebuttal by Miss Taylor Swift. “Look What You Made Me Do” has been marked as a swipe at Katy Perry since she released “Swish Swish” a few months back. Katy said in an interview that she would like to squash the beef between her and Taylor. But I have listened to the song about 20 times…the Barry Harris remix of course. And I have a different take on the song after watching the video. I think the song is more aimed at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The audio tape of her talking about Kanye using her name in his song “Famous” proved what I and Wendy Williams believed all along. Taylor Swift is a “mean girl”. She’s got lots of money and she’s used to having her way. I know her fans would not agree with this but Kanye taking that mic from her at the VMAs was the best thing that ever happened to her. It made her career. She got to play the victim and made him into the villain.
But think about….if that moment hadn’t happened Taylor might have stayed in her lane. She could have brought Country music to the forefront. But she got greedy. She wanted the Pop life. And she had the money and backing to work with whoever she wanted. She’s definitely not Country today.
And in “Look What You Made Me Do” she is still playing the victim. She’s basically saying that Katy, Kim, and Kanye (her personal KKK) made her into the person we see now. Blaming them for her fall from being perceived as “squeaky clean” and “innocent”. Uh…bitch you are far from innocent. Just look at your love life! Can’t seem to keep a man. Wonder why? And remember when you were picking on Demi Lovato. And mad because your backup dancers went to work for Katy. Maybe they were tired of you and your shenanigans. You threw the first stone with “Bad Blood” and now you crying that they made you do this. Gyrl, go sit down!
And oh…how do you make a music video in Africa without one person of color in it? Tell me that, Taylor!
Bottom line is….Taylor and Katy are Pop singers. Not the greatest voices but you appeal to a certain demographic. The trouble with Taylor is that like most rich people she doesn’t really relate to the common audience. She uses other artists, producers, and choreographers as props to perfect her Pop reign. In her latest video, she got Todrick Hall to choreograph. I was very disappointed to see him in the video. He should have thought about this move like Jennifer Holliday did about singing at the inauguration earlier this year. It didn’t win any “brownie points” for Chrisette Michelle.
A sellout is a sellout all day. And folks are saying that she copied Beyonce’s video, but I think her using all her characters to represent her career is actually stolen from Annie Lennox’s “Little Bird” video. Hell, even Gloria Estafan did it for her version of “Everlasting Love”. So, there’s nothing new here to see. Taylor has never shown any interest in any Black or Gay Culture ever. This was a move to show she is “down”, but the reality is she is a Republican who has never spoke up on Civil or Gay rights. She was rich enough to get out of dodge when the shit hit the fan from that audio tape. Notice that she was nowhere to be found last year during the election. But Katy was. She stood with Hillary Clinton and even wrote a song to back the campaign. Taylor…no one made you do anything. You just don’t really care.
And to close out the mix I dug up a mash-up that I did of the Ballroom Classic “I Don’t Like That Bitch” by Ms. Jay and “I’m That Bitch” by Livvi Franc. I called it “I’m That Bitch You Don’t Like”. And it pretty sums up how I feel about Ms. Swift.