jeremih = subway



Jeremih’s album sold about 60K this week. It was a good effort from a newcomer. Musically, it sounds like he stole a bunch of songs that The-Dream had written for Chris Brown, and sung them accordingly. I swear when “Make Up To Break Up” came on, I had to check my playlist to make sure Breezy didn’t slip in there by mistake. The stripped down “Starting All Over” and “My Sunshine” get points for their sweet simplicity, but really could’ve been better song by the Ne-Yos of the world, and I’m still not 100% on Jeremih’s vocal ability (especially after that Wendy Williams performance). Overall though, I don’t think he’s breaking any barriers. It’s still no Donnel Jones Where I Wanna Be.

It might not be over for him though—maybe he’ll do a feature on a hit song that catapults him to fame. If not, he’ll be relegated to that category of music reserved for pre-teen girls on the brink of exploring love. Like the 2009 equivalent of Subway’s Good Times back in 1995. Most R&B fans remember that one hit with 702, “This Little Game We Play.” But only true fans (read: the ones who bought the album) remember “Fire” and “Sticky Situation.” (I discovered today that I still remember all the words to both.) And by “true fans,” I mean pre-teen girls who thought the guys were cute. The same ones who probably bought the aforementioned Soul IV Real album.

Sure the songs shuffle in and remind us of kinder, gentler times and we jam along to it with an upside down hairbrush in the mirror, but it’s not like we’re winning any arguments about musicianship. Still, those songs are on the soundtrack to my life, and others like me.

So if Jeremih can be satisfied with that, then maybe he’ll be alright with his SoundScan numbers.



1 comment July 21, 2009 upmysleeve83

i’m ready (a true story)

The magazine is closing, which means late nights, take out sushi, and expensed car rides home. I hop in the cab, tell the driver my addy and we whisk up 6th Ave. I hear the familiar strains of Tevin Campbell’s “I’m Ready.” Me being me–an old-school T.E.V.I.N. (what did that stand for anyway??) fan and the type of person who’s unable to NOT sing along to songs I like/know the words to–I start to sing along–just a little bit.

My cab driver, apparently encouraged by my appreciation for 90s R&B teen hearthrobs-turned-flamboyant Broadway semi-stars, turns up the music and begins to sing along too.

“Can We Talk” comes on as we clear Columbus Circle and we’re both singing along, jamming. Every few blocks, the driver turns up the volume a few more levels. By the time we reach Harlem and are listening to the final strings of “Always In My Heart,” the volume is maxed out, and I’m convinced that my driver has totally forgotten that I’m even in the car. He’s wailing and emoting like he’s channeling Tevin himself, the Broadway version–not the version that sang to Ashley Banks of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air–and I’m highly amused.

Amused like the time I randomly bumped into the singer himself at an event 1Oak last year. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be like when I was a pre-teen and his pictures covered my walls, but I did get a picture out of it (and a chance to express my childhood devotion!), my excitement for meeting him– the object of my first-ever crush, my-first ever poster, and my-first ever CD—overwhelming my need to maintain the appearance of being an uber-cool, extra-“over it” industry party-goer.

Looking back, I probably could’ve played that one a little cooler. Offered to buy him a drink or something, maybe chopped it up with him a bit more. Who knows, we could’ve been BFFs, the Stanford to my Carrie B. But alas, I just took my picture and bounced—after all it was an industry event, and reality set in soon-after the pic was snapped.

I thought of that moment as I sat in the backseat of that cab and texted my friend, the one who plus-oned me to that party where I met him. Before she could reply back, though, we were in front of my building and “Back To My World” was beginning to play.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was over Tevin by the time that album came out–what was up with that hair??–and remember listening to that album exactly one time before deciding that I didn’t like it. (Though, I’m Ready still gets regular rotation on my Ipod.)

Besides, begging someone to come back to my world? That’s not a good look. I’m beyond the fine–well subconsciously anyway, one can’t control one’s dreams–and I definitely don’t want that back.

But those innocent times of my PG-rated crush on Tevin–before the fine (and before I learned of Tevin’s arrest for soliciting sex from an undercover officer), when happiness meant little more than a serenade and a peck on the cheek? I wouldn’t mind getting a little bit of that back.


Add comment July 16, 2009 upmysleeve83

mr. telephone man (aftermath of the fine)

You can delete the number from your phone. Throw away the scrap of paper where you wrote it down after you deleted it, just in case you ever needed it again. You can even reassign the ring tone. But if at any point, you unwittingly committed the number to memory, it’s damn-near impossible to just un-remember it.

Add comment July 16, 2009 upmysleeve83



It’s funny, right now, this life of mine,
how things have worked out over time.
Not ha-ha funny, but ironic, you see
that I love a man and a man loves me

The quandary, though, is cupid’s crafty game–
The lover and the loved are not one and the same

(so glad that THIS siutaion is over. keyshia cole is no longer in constant rotation on my ipod. time heals all wounds or whatever.)

Add comment July 16, 2009 upmysleeve83

candy rain


Seems like yesterday I was falling asleep to Soul IV Real’s Candy Rain album (on tape), my walkman tucked under my pillow so my mom wouldn’t see it when she peeked in to check on me. All snuggled up, dreaming about love and longing for the day when all these love songs would have meaning in my life beyond catchy hooks and nice vocal arrangements.

Fast forward over ten years and I’m listening to the same album (on my computer via downloaded mp3s), wondering what happened to that hopeful little, light-skinned southern girl with big dreams and wondering if she’d have still have those same dreams if she knew how applicable all those sweet, silly songs would actually turn out to be. 

Every little thing you do, you’re on my mind/The way I feel lately is driving me crazy
Every little thing you do, you’re on my mind/I can’t get over you, I think about you all the time.

Yeah, okay, the lyrics aren’t that complex. But you can’t tell me that you haven’t been there before. I know there’s a guy to whom those words are more than applicable right now.

If he wanted it, he could surely have it (Track 4). But he doesn’t, so that’s a moot point, right?

For those of us who’ve been through the highs and lows of love, you’d think that it would be a wrap on those sentimental dreams of “candy-coated rain drops.” But for some reason it’s not, not for me anyway. I’m just not one of those people who gives up so easily on love.

Guess it’s the R&B in me.

Add comment July 16, 2009 upmysleeve83

the r&b in me



It’s the R&B in me.

It’s all my mom’s fault really, this love I have for R&B music. Whenever rap music would come on the radio when I was a kid, she’d immediately switch the channel to the classic soul station, or the “old people music,” as I called it then.

My appreciation of old school R&B, and all of my musical tastes today, can be traced back to those hip hop-less car rides. My love for the male singing groups of my time (starting with Immature and ending most recently with Boyz to Men and Day 26) began back in the day with her love for The Jackson 5, The Temptations, and The O’Jays. Her love Diana Ross directly translates into my love for all things Beyoncé. Her Luther Vandross is my Brian McKnight (musically, not vocally).

Just like hip hop heads revel in the days of “the golden era” of hip hop, I live for those early days of 90’s R&B. Because those were the days when I my love for music, for R&B, was just beginning to bloom. So in a way, those songs were like my first loves. I can still get with the Lloyd’s and Bobby Valentino’s of today. But nothing will erase the fact that Tevin Campbell’s T.E.V.I.N. was the first tape I ever got, and his follow-up I’m Ready was my first ever CD. (Which is why a part of my eight-year-old self nearly died when I saw him in Hairspray a few weeks ago, but I digress). Or my best friend and I sitting in her room, listening to a record of Whitney Houston’s trying to memorize the words to the “Greatest Love Of All.”

So this is my new blog: The R&B in me. Come along with me as I share my thoughts on R&B music. You may think my tastes are too commercial, too southern, too whatever. But at some point, I hope to help you remember that long-lost song that you used to love and the corresponding memories that it evokes. And who knows, maybe I’ll even introduce you to some new songs as well. Either way, we’ll all remember how incredibly influential this thing called rhythm and blues is.

(And, of course, you can’t talk about R&B without talking about love. So there will be some of that, too. Some of it autobiographical, some of it not. But all of it, certifiably R&B.)

Add comment July 16, 2009 upmysleeve83

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