Posts by jeffwbaird
Posted by jeffwbaird on April 24, 2015
I’ve been really impressed by the way CJ Holland has kept this cover series fresh and compelling. This week he covers another song on the rise, Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up And Dance”—a record truly emblematic of pop radio today with its dense, up-tempo, formulaic production and heavily-processed sound. CJ, joined by frequent collaborator One Love, has given it new life before listeners even knew it was necessary. CJ’s vocal here is as smooth as it has been anywhere, and paired alongside the vocals of Nick Petricca it’s even more clear that CJ has a great texture to his voice and overall style.
One Love again provides the perfect supplement, never commanding the attention, but always helping the vocalist thrive. He’s a master of different styles, and has been able to create interpolations of big beats that are equally catchy, but have a new flair about them. His riff on the original here has a subtle melodicism to it fueled by synth pads, but it never sounds over-produced or solely slated for club speakers. He’s stripped away just enough layers to find a vibe for the song that is equally fitting, if not even more so.
Posted by jeffwbaird on April 2, 2015
CJ Holland is back with his latest cover, this time adding some soulful flavor to his acoustic cover of Nick Jonas’ hit “Chains.” As he’s continued to amass a steady following and work towards his debut album, we sat down with him to learn more about his work and what we can expect next.
Catch the interview after the jump!
READ ON >>
Posted by jeffwbaird on March 31, 2015
Hip-hop—more so than any other art form—seems to cause tremendous apprehension about aesthetic. It stems from the 90s gangsta rap binge, and the repeatedly glorified imagery displayed by prominent rappers. New York City rapper Maxxx Flair has struggled to find the proper balance over the course of his past four projects, but now on “Kiln Shelves” seems to have finally found his most authentic, genuine sound yet.
While the EP spans just fifteen minutes, it’s a remarkably intimate and revealing listen. The production, too, is decidedly more fluid, with the full project handled by the talented duo The Hittas. Maxxx has ditched the caricatures and employs his storytelling ability solely to tell his own; “70 West” vividly details his Upper Manhattan upbringing, and “Six Degrees” creatively describes the feeling of being just one connection away from someone who could give you your big break.
Check out the EP in full below.
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.