2014 #BrownSugarApproved Albums!
I listen to a lot of music. That is an understatement but it will do. From Hip Hop to Rock Soul to things that don’t have genres I’m pretty much listening to music all day. Here’s my wrap up of the Brown Sugar Approved albums from the year that was 2014.
Jean Grae # 5- If your rap name is a super hero then you should be pretty frickin amazing. Jean is my friend in my head and she’s in my Top 5. In 2014 she made inroads into everything from comedy, to starting a cooking column on Jezebel’s website. I’m a fan of this lady’s brain. Just when you thought she was done showing us her layers of awesome out came # 5. 5 is an EP of sexy time music where Jean was SINGING, and singing well. I like # 5 and I think you’ll dig it too.
Faves- Underneath You, and Nuthin were stand outs for me.
Condola & The Stoop Kids The Letter 9- Clair Huxtable’s daughter Condola Rashad is a thespian and a dope singer. She released a funky rock soul album this year and it got plenty plays on my ipod. I loved the theatrical nature of some of the songs. The intro is vocally genius and the whole project felt like she was having a really good time. Great writing and relevant subject matter. I’m here for it.
Faves- Stoop Kids Intro, Hej Hej, & Pictures Don’t Lie.
LeCrae’s Anomaly- I wrote on piece on LeCrae shortly after his first 106&Park appearance. I stated that his brand of hip hop was necessary on the current landscape. So when Anomaly was released I picked it up thinking it would be cool but the album exceeded my expectations. The tracks take the listener to the intersection of social justice and self-improvement. It’s great to get you hyped, it puts you in deep though plus I can play the whole album in my classroom, always a win.
Faves- Welcome To America, All I Need Is You, & Broken featuring Kari Jobe
Algebra Blessett’s Recovery- Her debut Purpose has been in my permanent rotation for years. So when I learned there was a new album coming out I was torn, I wanted it to be amazing but I wondered if I would connect with it like I did the 1st album. I gave it a Brown Sugar listening party to see how it was. I dug it. I like when artists take time to experience life and develop music rather than just pump out studio crap to have a presence. Algebra has an authentic and loyal fan base and we appreciated what came from Recovery. It’s r&b, it’s soul and it’s awesome.
Faves- Writer’s Block, Paper Heart, & I’ll Be Ok.
9th Wonder Presents Jamla is The Squad- Somehow between being a Harvard Fellow and now teaching at NCCU producer and DJ 9th Wonder put together a compilation of dope emcees & singers from his Jamla label and elsewhere. Really nice riding music.
Faves- Be Inspired (Pete Rock, LeCrae, & RAPSODY) ,Love Unconditional (Heather Victoria & Jadakiss), & God Willin (Actual Proof & TP)
Pharrell Williams’ GIRL – VA’s golden one did not disappoint with an album that was hip hop at its heart re: content and sampling but packaged in Pharrell’s own genre, a little R&B, a little electronica, all dope. This album also holds my most played track of the year LOST QUEEN. And sidenote I never tired of hearing Happy, cuz if we let trap music nonsense play 30 times a day then we can let this song with a great message that makes people smile get some spins and not crap on it.
Faves- Lost Queen, Brand New featuring Justin Timberlake, Know Who You Are featuring A Keys.
Elevation Worship’s Wake Up The Wonder- Live from the Hornets’ newly redesigned Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte Elevation Church recorded an album of original tunes from their amazing writers and musicians. I was at the recording and loved the songs and the vibe, I couldn’t wait to preorder the album. Listening to it is like reliving the experience, super uplifting and transcendent. Singer/Songwriter type tunes & Rock music with heart and soul.
Faves- The King Is Among Us, & Ever Glorious, Look How He Lifted Me.
Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ Give The People What They Want- Heard this playing at Starbucks and fell in love. It’s big band brass, it’s New Orleans, it’s real hard singing about heartbreak and love, and everything in between. I still need to see her and the band live. If I were a rapper trust and believe I’d be sampling a few of these tracks. So so good.
Faves- Stranger to My Happiness, Making Up and Breaking Up, Retreat
Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour- I kept singing Stay With Me, like nonstop lol. I decided on a whim to see if the rest of the album was as catchy. Given I love some Adele and Emeli Sande it was easy to assume I’d dig the album. In The Lonely Hour did not disappoint. Writing and Vocal win, happy for him and his success.
Faves- Latch featuring Disclosure (not on the actual album but sooooo dope compared to the acoustic version), Stay With Me, & Restart
Honorable Mentions and Addendum
-Aloe Blacc’s Lift Your Sprit, Fred Hammond’s I Will Trust, and finally The Roots’ …and then you shoot your cousin. Cool enough to purchase but I need to spend some more time with them before I welcome them into the cannon.
-Beyonce’s self-titled album is not in this list because it came out at the end of 2013 but you know I’m here for the Queen and played lots and lots of her music lol
-Mali Music’s Mali Is album was a late addition to my ipod this year but I really really like it. So if you need some introspective writing and crazy vocals listen to Ready Aim, Fight For You, Heavy Love. I likes a lot.
Okay so of course after writing this piece I want to go listen to all of this all over again. Ha. More Brown Sugar in 2015, hopefully. Be sure to check the #brownsugarapproved hastag on IG for my picks of music, and film and stuff throughout the year.
Brown Sugar is written by Andrea Michele/Angie C for Fresh Radio. Follow IG @bitofbrownsuga twitter @abitofbrownsuga and like our fb page- https://www.facebook.com/BrownSugaronFreshRadio
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8 things I learned from The Cosby Show: One lesson for each season J plus your favorite Cosby Show memories.
I grew up in Brooklyn,NY in the 1980s and ‘90s in a loving household with a married mom and dad. In my early years I didn’t think there was anything different about this. My mother is a registered nurse and my dad worked as a NYC sanitation worker. We lived comfortably, traveled, and visited museums and bookstores. Education mattered and good grades, manners, and decorum were expected. As I grew older I became keenly aware that this was not the case in many other homes. However for me this was my very normal life. But to many people who looked like me this kind of life was anything but normal.
Before I realized my reality was not everyone else’s I innocently enjoyed The Cosby Show assuming my most of my peers did as well. The Cosby Show was like a college course on life, a course I didn’t even realize I was signed up for. Eventually I realized The Cosby Show type lifestyle wasn’t everyone’s reality, but I had no clue there was so much backlash. Many in my generation felt the show was a farce and didn’t represent what many inner city brown 80s babies lived through. I can understand that but I think the show provided so much that people from any socio-economic group could have learned from the shows many lessons Cosby himself embedded in show. I decided I wanted to share why I loved the show and why I think the lessons taught in the show were universal.
In many cases the material on the show both commented on existing norms and thoughts while at the same time shaping a way of thinking about specific topics. Underneath the surface layer of the kids’ or Cliff’s shenanigans, the real “lesson” was about living a well-rounded life, communicating with your family members, and becoming your best self. Here are my top 8 life lessons from the Huxtables-
1. Culture- Pshhhh where to start? Family and Fashion- I loved how greeting a visiting family member or friend was an event in their home. Sitting on the couch to catch up and glean from the visitor. And 80s/90s fashion courtesy of Denise and Vanessa.Yassss. Playing records in the evenings, and celebrating special occasions. Everything!
2. Jazz-A love for the art form (and vinyl) and the greats popped up throughout the series. (Plus all the entertainers and artists who guest starred over the years.)
3. Art- I learned about auctions and the importance of heaving meaningful art in your home. (The painting in the living room)
4. Feminism- Claire, Claire, Claire. Long before I was old enough to know who bell, Audre, or Gloria were; Claire laid down the foundation of equality in my mind. She let me know that my accomplishments and my voice mattered in spite of and because of my gender. Lessons that came through conversations with Bud (and the thoughts of his older brother smh lol), and Elvin really shaped my thinking on why feminism was needed and what true (not abt man bashing) feminism could look like. Thank you Claire!
5. Possible Professions- Claire was a busy and successful layer in NYC, this spoke volumes. Dr. Huxtable was in obstetrics (we learned how demanding that kind of on call schedule was, and how important a good doctor was. Plus we saw handymen, musicians, teachers, entrepreneurs, and so many more.
6. Storytelling- Many, many of the episodes were centered on Cliff or some other family member telling a story. Some were significant in a historical sense, about how something or someone came to be, while others were simple like Rudy explain her day or a dilemma. We saw families gather to listen to these stories. We say closeness being nurtured. Storytelling is such an important tradition, one I hope we continue to nurture in the present.
7. Family- The writers of the show and the creator, Mr. Cosby, took great pains to ensure that many of the parts of growing up in a big family were highlighted. I was only child, so for me I was able to learn about that entire foreign side of life. Sharing clothing, giving rides, breaking toys, growing close, and growing apart. The dynamics and characterization were so well developed on the show. I also loved how one could also gather parenting advice from Clair and Cliff (that could be a book in itself).
8. College Culture- Even if it were never mentioned in my house, watching The Cosby Show meant that I knew about college and its importance. Simple things like Cliff’s tees, sweaters, and pins, to stories of Hillman, visits from professors, and trips to reunions. All of those elements nurtured a love for academia and also for the social side and lastings relationships that could be made at a University. The emphasis on college led to one of THE best spin offs in TV land, A Different World *hums theme song”.
So yeah those are the lessons I got from the show/course/history book known as The Cosby Show. I had so many specific show memories but I thought I’d let you share yours across the Brown Sugar social media platforms. Thank you for the outpouring of memories. Here are your favorites (Yall love some Theo stories lol)-
“Theo in the real world when they cleaned out his room!” - @brendassun
“Gordon Gartrelle!!!” Lol- @taleeheat
“Theo with his earring”- @aldonell
“For me it was the one when they made Theo pay rent w/ the Monopoly money”-@olderj
“Theo’s prom night gone all wrong, Dr. Huxtable’s dance-off with Rudy’s tap dance instructor, Sondra and Elvin announcing they aren’t going back to school but are instead working at a wilderness store, Cockroach shaving his head, Claire singing at Hillman college with their choir, the family singing with Stevie Wonder, Denise designing a terrible shirt for Theo, there are too many lol” – @cosmicinsanity
“When Theo wanted that Gordon Gartrelle shirt and Denise made him a terrible replica” -@bestablished73
“Please help….the lip syncing episode that included the whole family in tribute to the grandparents….I’m sure this adds to comments in agreement already posted ????”- @jermainelewis
“The very first episode where Cliff schools Theo about life decisions and getting an education–that really set the tone for the rest of the show’s 8 year run. The Gordon Gartrelle fiasco, LOL. Tailwind Turner and Combustible Huxtable–the track & field episode. All the men were pregnant, HA!!!!! And the very last episode….Phenomenal”. – Shawn Allison II
“I loved many many episodes but the one in which a group of elderly women became upset about the dented cans sold in their neighborhood store. The store in a suburban neighborhood had better selection and no dents. The wen formed a collective, made a plan and took a bunch of pennies to the store. Their actions held up the lines and caused a huge hassle. The women won their case and were granted better selections. Social Justice, community organizing, black women agency, and much more all in one episode. I’m sure I left out details & maybe mixed some things up but you probably remember that show”- Chaka S. Holley
“The Real World [episode], when Denise tried to make Theo a Gordon Gartrell shirt. LOL—that cracks me ALL the way up and the episodes with Lena Horne & BB King (loved hearing Kenny and Vanessa sing the blues)”- Tamarra J
“Me Say Ey, Mon”- Ms Pj aka Pj Leslie
“Way too many to list but a few notable mentions are: The Biiiig Fun/Wretched episode, the episode where the family tried to teach Theo about real life by pretending to be his landlord etc. and the episode where Cliff and Claire visited Sandra and Elvin’s raggedy apartment! I also loved any episode in which Claire delivered one of her signature reads or when she spoke Spanish! – Ugh she is just everything. I love the Cosby show!”- Sabrina Lewis-Brown
Perfect Quote to end on! We love The Cosby Show! Its memories and lessons are ever present with us some 20 years later. Now that’s a lasting impact! Thank you Bill Cosby, the producers/writers and the beloved CAST- Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Sabrina Le Beauf, Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Geoffrey Owens, Raven-Symone, Joseph C. Phillips,
Brown Sugar is written by Angie C for Fresh Radio. Media and interview requests firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter and IG @abitofbrownsuga
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“Don’t bump the tables” & other rules to live by: A Primer for Party Goers
How not to piss off your favorite DJ ~~~> *leans in and whispers* The good ones really don’t like it when you request songs. O_O oops I didn’t know either, yall. Much to our surprise fellow music lovers a real DJ pretty much HATES it when you come up to their tables and give them suggestions of what to play. An experienced DJ knows how to read a crowd for what to play and when to play it; they’ve also created a flexible set list in their mind of what they wanna rock that night. So basically LET THEM LIVE. Trust them enough to play music that’s going to make you move and nod. I’ve never personally tried to request a song but I have seen it go terribly wrong when pushy party goers try to tell a DJ how to do their job lol it’s not pretty.
J Live posted a shirt on Instagram about the “no request rule” and I was really curious about why it mattered so much to turntablists. I decided to go to one of the best DJs I know ? so I spoke with Fresh Radio’s creator Philly’s own DJ Bee about the subject.
DontBumpTheTables <—Click here for the entire article! (Wouldn’t format right SMH)
“I love to give artists room to grow in their art. Jane looks like she’s having a blast just being her & we love it. The evolution of Janelle Monáe has given us a nostalgic yet fresh take on everything thing that’s right about house parties, friends, & college in her latests video for the track Electric Lady. It’s mos def #BROWNSUGARAPPROVED – Ang