Based on what we’ve seen this past week, Sean Combs may have been on to something when he named his music cable network REVOLT. In keeping with his concept, unarmed demonstrators have taken to the streets all over the world to raise their collective voice in protest of injustice and police brutality. Twitter has been a beehive of first person citizen accounts, photos, posts that give the time and place of protests and links to mainstream media coverage. Just as during the Arab Spring uprising of a few years ago, Twitter has been essential for anyone interested in accurate information about the upheaval that has been simmering since last summer.
Combs gave us early signs of his vision, twenty-five years ago when as a rookie A&R executive working at Andre Harrell’s Uptown/MCA Records he guided young Mary J. Blige to the heights of the Urban Music World when they collaborated on her debut “What’s The 411”. Because of that record and the two Notorious B.I.G. Projects he did on his own Bad Boy imprint, Combs established himself as the model for every Hip Hop/R&B A&R man to follow, and MJB has become the most important Black Music artist of her generation. While others have come and gone she remains funky. With all the stress and strife in the world, her voice provides comfort in trying times.
“The London Sessions”, her thirteenth studio recording was released last week while the world was in turmoil. The record features collaborations with some of Britain’s most exciting new songwriters and the pop/house production team Disclosure. It is a breathtaking return to form for the diva after a recent period of mixed commercial results. Her churchy, street and soulful vocals are surrounded by Disclosure’s rich layered synth work that simultaneously accomplishes the retro feel of late eighties and early nineties club music, and infuses the songs with enough melodic and lyric content to elevate the project to the level of worldwide smash contender.
Of special note: The gospel/doo wop direction of “Therapy”, the introspective modern day blues, “Whole Damn Year”, a look at domestic abuse, the standout dance track Follow”, “Right Now” and “Long Hard Look”.
If you didn’t know before now; Charles Barkley didn’t just become ignorant, Chris Rock did not just become insightful, The New York Post did not just become racist, cops have literally been getting away with murder and Mary J. Blige has been dope since day one.