Album haul? Losing My Religion, You’re a Man Now Boy and more.

Recently I went on a shopping spree. For music. I decided that I was able to spend a little and treat myself for managing my finances well and don’t regret it because they were quality purchases. I don’t buy music unless I have previewed the release so I know and believe in the quality of music. Here’s a break-down of some of what I decided to buy and I’ll try convince you that it’s worth buying too.

LED EP – Kierra Sheard

The “Princess of Gospel’s” follow-up project to her successful Graceland album is exactly that. A continuation of the new musical direction she’s following, a pop/rock concept with modern R&B nuances. With the right mix and appeal, it is keepi46170-ledng her artistry on-point and adding to her versatility as an artist. In my opinion, there are a few quality songs that I imagine in my head have the right flavour to have commercial success, ‘LED’ and ‘Real Friend’ are some of my personal favourites. I would go right ahead and blast those songs while cruising in my car (once I get one) or play while enjoying a workout. Up-tempo, Up-beat and Uplifting to the soul. Definitely a refreshing sound to the majestic, instrument-laden, powerhouse sound of contemporary Gospel right now but at the same time, she hasn’t abandoned her foundation. A worthwhile, inexpensive buy.

You’re a Man Now, Boy – Raleigh Ritchie

With acting credits in Adulthood and Game of Thrones, Ritchie’s first full length offering to the world You’re a Man Now, Boy is a significant contribution to repertoire of the new age, quality British music that has the identity to compete with the very best. A British man, who sings/raps British with songs that are contextually British, what more can you ask for? His unique vocals go hand in hand with the experimental, alternative R&B sound the album has, with a good mix of radio hits, club tracks, commercial singles, festival favourites and ballads. My stand-out track has to ‘Keep It Simple’ with Grime heavyweight Stormzy and is the only song with a feature on the entire 18-track album. I compare Raleigh Ritchie’s artistry as being the lovechild of early Kanye and Coldplay. With a real eclectic group working on the production, I believe there is something for everyone on this album in the sense that if people genuinely give this album a chance, they would be vibing along to it at the end.

Losing My Religion – Kirk Franklin

The figurehead for modern Gospel, Kirk Franklin’s latest, Losing My Religion is his first project in four years. Fans were greatly anticipating, especially with the almost spontaneous release of the soul-stirring lead single ‘Wanna Be Happy?’ and they were not disappointed. I only had to listen to it through once to be convinced that it is Grammy worthy. The album sonically and content-wise takes you on a journey. It addresses themes of facing and overcoming adversity, redemption & honesty while encapsulating the authentic realities of many people in America and the whole world. My favourite song has to be ‘When’ which features two of arguably the best living vocalists in existence, Kim Burrell and Lalah Hathaway. Anyone who appreciates vocals, will love this one. Production-wise, the album embodies a whole manner of instruments and sounds which work together pleasantly for the listeners enjoyment. Relevant yet an ode to Kirk Franklin as a musician and his legacy.

Charlene – Tweet

It has been more than 10 years since Tweet last released an album but it’s been worth the wait. “Gorgeous” were my first impressions of her new album Charlene (which is her first name) as a true homage to real R&B flows throughout its entirety. Famed for her international hit ‘Oops (Oh My)’ featuring good friend Missy Elliot back in 2002, Tweet’s https://i1.wp.com/static.spin.com/files/2016/02/tweet-charlene-new-album-missy-elliott-somebody-else-will-compressed.jpegartistry has come a long way since then. Themes of Love, Intimacy and overcoming adversity is passionately paired with the sounds of guitars and pianos, the foundation of good R&B and Soul. Missy Elliot happens to feature on what is my favourite song on the album ‘Somebody Else Will’ produced by none other than Timbaland himself; R&B arrangements with a Hip-Hop beat equaling another Timbaland classic. Any appreciator of R&B, Soul, vocals or real instruments will appreciate the realness and emotions in every song she wrote and fall in love with this album like I did. Grammy worthy.

 

A couple things I learnt from #TyeInLondon

Just over a week ago, I was privileged to see one of my long-time favourite artists, Tye Tribbett perform in London. For those who are unaware, Tye Tribbett is a Grammy Award winning gospel singer-songwriter and musician hailing from the US. He, along with his full band and choir, graced the Lighthouse Theatre in south London over two nights and I (against my own rationale at the time) went to both nights. It was definitely an experience I will never forget and the same can be said for those I went with. Being the analytical person that I am, I did take some things away with me from the experience which I will share with you.

1.      Tye is a performer

If you have watched the many YouTube videos featuring him you will know as well as I that Tye Tribbett is quite the performer. If you haven’t, go and search him up. Like seriously, go do it NOW. You won’t regret it. From the running, jumping, screaming, marching; His energy is electric and very infectious and he and his choir command every inch of the stage. Evidently a veteran at the game. I was so tired after the second night from all the praising. Then he had the audacity to do like two more encores. Where the energy comes from I don’t know but obviously the feeling you get from being on stage is next to none.

#jumpnwave 🙌🏿🙌🏿🙌🏿

A video posted by Tye Tribbett (@bowtyetrib) on

2.      Tye is a worshiper

As much as the performance element is necessary to be an artist live in concert, for Gospel artists in particular, the ministry is just as or if not more important. For the moments of high impact energy praise, there were also moments of powerful, out-pouring worship. There were moments where the worship engulfed Tye to the point where he would get emotional and literally bow down and surrender to the Spirit. On the first night, he literally performed back to back worship songs and even brought out Sonnie Badu at one point for an unexpected, impromptu mic toss (I didn’t even see him around and I was standing pretty much at the front). On the second night, he literally stopped and preached to the crowd during worship about not letting your situation consume you taking your focus away from God. He poured out everything he had and we gladly received.

3.      Tye has a clear standard of excellence

I can’t talk about Tye Tribbett and not mention his amazing team. First of all, his choir are all incredible singers in their own right. On the second night, almost every single one had their own solo, some were unanticipated but all smashed it vocally. It’s not just about the runs but their effortless execution, understanding of the music and the moment and also their worship vibe which made each solo powerful. They could all have music careers and they could all be successful, that’s how talented they are. And the band. THE BAND. The band were on point from start to finish. I do expect that if you are working with Tye Tribbett but boy, it was special. From when his keyboardist Brandon Jones gets a solo and slays vocally, you know that there’s something special there. The passion, the flawless execution and the ability to carry the crowd like they did.

That mic toss @msreva25 🙌🏾 #tyeinlondon

A video posted by Demetrius Lawrence (@demetriuslawrence) on

4.      We all need to step our game up

Having the chance to talk to Thaddeus, Tye’s brother and bassist, (Mega talented and has a voice on him) and also his drummer and seeing how happy yet chilled they were about it all after the show got me in deep reflection. Sometimes we get too overwhelmed when these artists come over and do what essentially is normal to them. It’s their job of course but even before it became their job, they put it effort and countless hours working hard on their craft so they can be more than average. And it’s their standard of excellence which is common thing in America too and that’s partly why we in the UK idolise them so much. We, as singers or artists or musicians, can be on that level; we just need to break away from the comfort of mediocrity. We can’t be content with the idea that “it’s okay as long as they are doing it for God”. Definitely sure God the almighty and exceptional does not condone ‘Average’. There were times during the concert where I would look behind me into the crowd and I could see and identify many UK musicians and artists at the back. As much as they were vibing and enjoying the show, I am sure that they were also taking notes mentally and learning from the masters. I know that we are great and are in the process of becoming greater. It’s evident from some of the supporting acts who opened for Tye (word to Naomi Parchment, Matthew Allen and Faith Child). I am positive we will get there soon though I do think occasionally we need nights like this to bring the US and UK so we can learn from each other but to also just remind and keep the fire alive.