Brown Sugar Top 5 Albums of 2012
Follow me on twitter and you’ll realize I LOVE music. I listen to it as often as possible. Just one problem most of my favorite music was made prior to 2000 however every very now and then I’ll discover a new artist or an old favorite will bring out a project that instantly becomes a part of my life’s soundtrack. So why a top 5 and not a top 10? Eh I just wanted to be different lol! Alright let’s get to it…
# 5 (a tie) – Elle Varner -Perfectly Imperfect & Miguel- Kaleidoscope Dream- These two very different artists both hit the scene with major hits in recent years and followed them up with solid projects. Varner’s debut deals with everything from positive self-image (“So Fly”) to wishing for her version of home and family (“Welcome Home”). Her writing is thoughtful and her raspy yet sweet tone makes this an album I can play all day. I purchased Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream off the strength of the single “Adorn”! That song alone makes the album list worthy. Luckily “Adorn” is not the only dope track on the record. Miguel explores love, lust and everything in between in a way not seen since John Legend’s debut project. On songs like “Arch and Point” he describes exactly how he wants his partner to *ahem* perform, while on “Candles in the Sun” he takes a Marvin Gaye-sque look at our world with a nod to the late notorious B.I.G. Kaleidoscope Dream takes the listener on an extremely sensual journey. I’ll take that ride over and over again Miguel!
# 4- Jon Bibbs- Ode to Ode Flames- Dr. Jon Bibbs 4th studio album is most definitely one that belongs in your musical library. The album features soaring musical moments that transport you visually through the journey of loving and losing love. Bibbs toured the east coast this summer (with live band) to audiences sheer delight. My favorite track on the VA native’s project is “Gone” featuring Ms. Conya Doss. Other appearances include Derek 32Zero, Skillz, and the beautiful Alison Carney. Bibbs’ “Ode to Old Flames” feels like 1960, like a night by the fireplace, like the after burn left in that place where your heart used to be. His voice soars multiple octaves over jazz and soul tracks. If you haven’t hit iTunes yet just pause reading and go do that now.
# 3- Robert Glasper- Black Radio- Music so good it gets released twice in one year? Yep that happened! Glasper followed up the amazing success of “Black Radio”, released in February, with Black Radio: Recovered released in October. The Recovered EP features remixes, new cuts, and some yummy doses of Dilla (Fresh in Peace J Dilla)! “Black Radio” has something for jazz lovers as well as hip hop, soul and r&b fans alike. I play “Black Radio” and get lost in the intricate compositions of the covers as much as I do the original pieces. The February release appearances from everyone from Yasiin Bey to Chrisette Michelle, it is definitely the most bang for your musical buck. The Recovered EP features additions from J Dilla, Pete Rock, Phonte, Bilal and Black Milk (I mean seriously that line up is CRAZY). Also featured on production and instrumentation is Questlove! His track features Solange on vocals, and their “?uestlove’s Twice Baked Remix” is so good it made me a Solange fan real quick.
#2- Nas- Life is Good- When I heard Nas had an album coming out I was just glad that his name was in headlines and not followed by personal drama or hip hop beef, but about the MUSIC. Whew the music! As hip hop ages many emcees seem stuck, as if they’ve run out of things to say, or as if their fans won’t accept new material from them. Nas held a middle finger up to alladat and put out a project so thorough and so diverse lyrically that it was an instant classic in my book. After his nasty divorce Nas showed that there was also heartbreak from losing his life partner on “Bye Baby”, he showed he was not bitter but was willing to love again on my fave “Cherry Wine” which features the late Amy Winehouse. <~~~~ (Literally my fave I play on repeat A LOT) Then keeping to his Queens roots we got tough joints like “Back When” and “A Queens Story” and “Accident Murderers” (although I skip the Ross verse each time, I just can’t…). “Life is Good” was not only the right album for Nas to make it was the album he had to make! A declaration that he was still here and that he was still the same dope storyteller we met on “Illmatic” in ’94. I own the deluxe version and it’s 19 tracks of straight hip hop, grown hip hop for the 30 plus crowd, and that’s fine with me.
# 1- Emelie Sande- Our Version of Events – Earlier this year I was on VEVO looking for a new Jill Scott video and I saw an amazing image on the screen. Something about her bold haircut and the wonderful coloring of the video still made me click play. The song was “Next to Me” and the artist was UK singer/songwriter Emelie Sande (see her flex her writing skills on Alicia Key’s new album). I was instantly captivated by the clean crisp vocals and amazingly thoughtful lyrics. I hit YouTube and iTunes for more. At this point in the year she had not released any music here in the states so I clung to my videos until her album was released. “Our Version of Events” was released and my musical landscape was expanded. My favorite track is the inspiring anthem “Wonder”! The lyrics and melody of “Wonder” instantly up my mood and confidence. Sande discusses everything from relationships and family to making a difference in this world, definitely my kind of music.
Eric Roberson – Mr. Nice Guy
South Bronx Teachings: A Collection of Boogie Down Productions by Boogie Down Productions
Esperanza Spalding- Radio Music Society
Gravity – Lecrae
Wu Block – Wu-Tang Clan & D-Block Records
2013 is set to have releases from everyone from VA’s own Skillz (his alleged last LP as an emcee) to Missy to Charli Baltimore (no really, that’s happening), Jay Z, and of course Dre’s Detox (I mean one day in 2013 it might be released lol) So I’m sure there will be lots to talk about and listen to in the upcoming months.
Don’t forget Fresh Radio is music 24/7, everything from old school hip hop to classic soul and even some 1980’s MTV classics. The music that makes you nod, paired with turntablism by deejays from around the country. Fresh now has an official app for iPhone and one for Droid is on the way. Fresh Radio is a winning mix whenever these new releases fail you.