Posts by jeffwbaird
Posted by jeffwbaird on March 19, 2015
CJ Holland is back with his latest cover as part of his new #CJWEEKLY series, and it’s the most fully articulated display of his sound and aesthetic that we’ve gotten thus far, for sure. While the cover game isn’t kind to many, and has lost some of its charm as a whole due to congestion in the form, CJ has found a way to extend his releases beyond karaoke; his influences and style here are clearly in effect, and One Love’s original production, too, adds a new flavor to the track is a definite help to his cause.
Derulo’s “Want To Want Me” was last week’s most added song to radio, so here’s where song choice comes into effect. His last cover was of “Tuesday,” a song that really was on its way out of radio, so while his unique approach to it still made it compelling, it wasn’t able to capitalize on the song’s catchiness since the melody’s interest had all but faded. Here, though, CJ makes his mark on a song that he knew was bound to be successful, and yet hasn’t already been engrained in its listeners in a particular way. Cover artists take notice.
Posted by jeffwbaird on March 1, 2015
CJ Holland, a 21-year-old with a voice like silk and a classy style, is a name to know if you pride yourself on staying ahead of the blog curve. He’s clearly developed himself in the vein of pop darlings like JT and Bruno, and has been working on his debut album with the likes of Pharrell, Ne-Yo, and even Quincy Jones.
Recently, he’s performed a series of covers (“Uptown Funk, “I’m Not the Only One,” and “Thinking Out Loud”) that have continued to impress and showcase his range. This week he’s added a bit more of an inventive touch to his cover of “Tuesday,” as producer One Love (of Kinetics & One Love fame, primarily) provides an immersive, trap-infused interpolation of the beat, and CJ rewrites the verses, making them successfully his own while still retaining the original’s staccato flow and melodic touch.
Posted by jeffwbaird on December 12, 2014
Last month we premiered the latest single from the Queens-based rapper, “Sophisticated Thoughts,” and now he’s back with another laid-back video for a freestyle, “Simple Minds.” The video, directed by Jiggy Flix, fits well thematically with Julian’s rapping — he’s playful and doesn’t take himself too seriously; but don’t confuse that for a lack of skill. Julian’s flows are well-crafted and for all the comedic pauses and punchlines throughout the video, he drops some great rhymes as well. Stay connected with him here.
Posted by jeffwbaird on November 20, 2014
Julian Stephen is a name to get familiar with. This Queens emcee drops off his latest single, “Sophisticated Thoughts”, showcasing his charisma and wordplay as he raps throughout the three-minute track. The video has a distinctly old-school feel, and in many ways Julian’s rapping and demeanor follows suit, with the kind of dynamism that characterized work from that period. The upbeat production comes courtesy of Chicago’s brandUn DeShay, who’s quickly gaining attention due to his recent work with Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, Danny Brown, and Casey Veggies.
Posted by jeffwbaird on November 9, 2014
It is really hard to make smart pop music. The charts will always be predominantly filled by recent successors within familiar tropes: body braggadocio (“All About That Bass”, “Anaconda”); hater-denouncement (“Shake It Off”); dehumanization of women (“Animals”); relationship turbulence (“Stay With Me”) — I could go on; but when I hear a song that is smart, that contains a semblance of wisdom — I know that it’s something special.
“Bodies”, the first single from Lyric’s upcoming project, Garden of Even, was produced by Jonathan Buscema and is every bit as memorable and upbeat as those aforementioned. It feels and sounds like a traditional pop song, and yet it reads like the work of an established, eloquent songwriting talent, leaving the listener (as I believe all great art does) mentally engaged and aware throughout the existential track.
This is only our first taste of Lyric Lincoln — a budding NYC singer, songwriter, and model — but with a first release like this, she’s definitely got my attention.
Posted by jeffwbaird on October 15, 2014
After ending her run on The Voice in the show’s third season, semi-finalist and now 19-year-old singer/songwriter Melanie Martinez said that her primary objective was to express who she was and touch people’s hearts. Just a year later, she’s set to reach many more; her Dollhouse EP from earlier this year was critically-acclaimed, its lead single garnered over eight million views, and now her second single, “Carousel”, has both been listed as one of Spotify’s most viral tracks and was recently featured in the promos for American Horror Story: Freak Show. As of this afternoon, “Carousel” has gotten a visual treatment as well, and for an artist who cares as deeply about her aesthetic and brand as Melanie does, you know this is a must watch. The song was written and produced with the help of the NYC-based duo Kinetics & One Love—who have been her closest collaborators while recording her new album—and features the same kind of stirring, hip-hop-inspired production and breathy, commanding vocals that we’ve come to expect from Melanie of late. Do yourself a favor and check this video out now, and keep yourself updated with the links below.
Posted by jeffwbaird on October 15, 2014
I’ve said this before, but King Deco is an incredibly special talent. Too rarely do I come across a pop songstress who has all the vocal power and polish of a radio heavyweight, yet with a thoughtful aesthetic and resonant lyrics. Building off the success of her last EP, Tigris, Deco released a lyric video for “Ocean”, my favorite song from the project. It’s a heartfelt and thoughtful song that addresses her choice to leave her family in Jordan, where she was raised: “Am I really wrong now?/My family condemns me/But it’s empty in that city of sand.” As a writer, aided by the assistance of NYC writing/production team Kinetics & One Love, she has that essential skill of turning her personal stories into something accessible for others, and extremely poignant. The song was produced by Cobra Starship guitarist Ryland Blackinton and One Love, and is equally mesmeric and cinematically produced as anything we’ve seen come from her camp thus far. Take the time today to watch this compelling new visual from one of pop music’s brightest newcomers.