WBEZ | R&B http://www.wbez.org/tags/rb Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Why Kelly Rowland's 'Dirty Laundry' is one of the most important songs of 2013 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/why-kelly-rowlands-dirty-laundry-one-most-important-songs-2013-107213 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cropbrit.jpg" title="(AP/Kin Cheung)" /></div><p>I am thinking about my friends and acquaintances in high school, how they arrived to class with bruises on their arms.</p><p>&quot;What happened?&quot; we used to ask.&nbsp;</p><p>And then they whispered something about their boyfriends, a volatile argument, and how it was their &quot;fault.&quot; They would brush questions aside, blaming themselves for the violence in their relationship. My friends were across the racial and ethnic spectrum, but their situations were eerily similar.</p><p>On Wednesday, former Destiny&#39;s Child member and solo artist Kelly Rowland released &quot;Dirty Laundry,&quot; a highly emotional, personal, and startlingly blunt song about her career and personal life. Production-wise, &quot;Dirty Laundry&quot; is as clear and straightforward as the lyrics. Structured with steady, yet ominous piano chords and a static drumbeat, &quot;Dirty Laundry&quot; plays like some of the best confessional r&amp;b songs. Rowland sings:</p><blockquote><p>Started to call them people on him/I was battered/He hit the window like it was me/Until it shattered/He pulled me out and said &#39;Don&#39;t nobody love you but me/Not your mama not your daddy and especially not B&#39;</p></blockquote><p>In the song, Rowland talks about her feelings in the industry and a violent relationship with an ex, but her situation is applicable and relevant to the circumstances of her listeners. According to a study from the U.S. Department of Justice in a compilation of statistics from the <a href="http://www.americanbar.org/groups/domestic_violence/resources/statistics.html#african_americans" target="_blank">American Bar Association&#39;s Commission of Domestic Violence</a>, &quot;Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races.&quot; As a singer in the r&amp;b genre with audiences largely both black and female, Rowland&#39;s release can act as a call for action and a means of shedding light on an issue that still receives little attention.</p><p>The statistics for domestic violence are sobering. We assume that because we are not actively talking about it all the time that it is not there. We assume that if it is not in front of us everyday that it can&#39;t possibly exist. And yet, the numbers do not lie. The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former partner, says the ABA. As well, only 17% of African-American sexual assault survivors report their assault to the police. The importance of this song and Rowland&rsquo;s experiences can&rsquo;t be reiterated enough. Later in the song (and years after her relationship ended), she sings:</p><blockquote><p>I got my shit down pat/Think I had it good/And they don&#39;t know how bad/Fooled everybody/Except myself/Soaking in this hurt/Bathing in the dirt</p></blockquote><p>Like many of her listeners, Rowland kept her experiences a secret. Outside she exuded strength and charisma, but inside she kept a secret. She was shamed herself, never being able to reveal her experiences to the public.</p><p>The question of how much a public figure owes the public is debatable. I do not believe it was Rowland&rsquo;s responsibility to reveal this part of her life. And as the lyrics of the song indicate (Phone call from my sister; &#39;What&#39;s the matter?&#39;/She said, &#39;Oh no, baby, you gotta leave&#39;) family and friends like Beyonce knew. But Rowland&rsquo;s experience began nearly a decade ago. The courage to speak out can be difficult for many. If only one woman listens to Rowland&#39;s work and sees in it the courage to speak out that is one life potentially saved.</p><p>Art can and should mean different things to different people. As a whole however, art in and of itself is something that we consume constantly and voraciously. Music is the most accessible form of art. We seek in it something personal and true. It is no surprise that a variety of different genres exist to speak to both our personal tastes and our desire to clarify and reiterate life&#39;s questions through notes, chords, or lyrics. In &quot;Dirty Laundry,&quot; Rowland reveals her truth. That it is shocking to the public reflects our unwillingness to address an insidious facet of our culture.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/why-kelly-rowlands-dirty-laundry-one-most-important-songs-2013-107213 Miguel proves to be a potent voice in R&B http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/miguel-proves-be-potent-voice-rb-103230 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2Miguel.jpg" style="height: 372px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>A much-buzzed up-and-comer in R&amp;B for half a decade, singer, songwriter and producer Miguel Pimentel made his name in the background, writing for other artists such as Asher Roth and Usher, and failing to wow&mdash;aside from the hit single &ldquo;Sure Thing&rdquo;&mdash;when Jive Records finally put him in the spotlight and allowed him to drop his own debut album, <em>All I Want Is You </em>(2010). But with the new <em>Kaleidoscope Dream</em>, he proves himself a potent and very welcome voice expanding the boundaries of the genre in a year that has seen some exquisite examples of that, including the recent releases from Frank Ocean, the Weeknd and (to a degree) Passion Pit.</p><p>As the title indicates, the San Pedro, California-born artist of Mexican and African-American descent draws more heavily on elements of great psychedelic rock and pop to color his soul and R&amp;B than anyone since <em>Around the World in a Day</em>-era Prince, even going so far as to fold a taste of the Zombies&rsquo; 1968 hit &ldquo;Time of the Season&rdquo; into his own &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t Look Back.&rdquo; But this is less gimmickry than an appreciation of the devotion to a wildly diverse sonic palette and the goal of achieving synesthesia (or seeing sound as color) that drove all of the best psychedelic music, whether he&rsquo;s in ultra-minimalist mode quietly cooing over an acoustic guitar or riding high on lush layers of synthesized keyboards.</p><p>Unlike so many of the R&amp;B lotharios who have dominated the genre in the age of R. Kelly (with whom he shares a record label), Miguel is a happily married man at the ripe old age of 25, seemingly devoted and monogamous. Yet this is hardly to say that he is any less obsessed with sex than anyone from Marvin Gaye to the aforementioned Pied Piper. Rather, he&rsquo;s man enough to admit his own insecurities and question whether he&rsquo;s worthy of love&mdash;or lustful indulgence. Don&rsquo;t let the titles of songs such as &ldquo;P---y Is Mine&rdquo; and &ldquo;How Many Drinks?&rdquo; (as in &ldquo;would it take to get you to sleep with me&rdquo;) fool you or scare you off. The singer isn&rsquo;t bragging but either wishing for what he doubts he&rsquo;ll ever achieve or hoping he has what it takes to do so.</p><p>If at times Miguel makes his debt to Gaye and <em>Sexual Healing </em>a little too obvious, well, that&rsquo;s sort of like saying someone writes too much like Shakespeare or paints too much like da Vinci. Finally breaking from the weight of expectations as well as genre constrictions, <em>Kaleidoscope Dream </em>gives us an artist with a unique vision, boundless potential and a weird haircut every bit as notable as that distaff visionary working similar turf, Janelle Monae. And wouldn&rsquo;t those two be a concert double bill to die for?</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Miguel.jpg" style="height: 640px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Miguel, <em>Kaleidoscope Dream </em>(RCA Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 07:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/miguel-proves-be-potent-voice-rb-103230 DJ AMPM lives on music day and night http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/dj-ampm-lives-music-day-and-night <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Picture 048.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the a.m., DJ AMPM-aka Alycia Ryan-works at <a href="http://www.gramaphonerecords.com/" target="_blank">Gramaphone Records</a> as their hip-hop buyer. In the p.m., she spins everything from southern hip-hop to R&amp;B and old-school soul music. Friday on &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; she gave a sampling of her sound throughout the hour. At the end of the program, <a href="http://www.mixcloud.com/djampm/" target="_blank">DJ AMPM</a> down with host Alison Cuddy to talk about what gets her turntables spinning.</p><p>DJ AMPM spins a couple of weekly residencies: Thursday nights she&rsquo;s at <a href="http://www.facebook.com/people/Barra-N-Elston/1739660584" target="_blank">ñ&nbsp;</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s Avondale neighborhood and Fridays she spins southern hip-hop and more at <a href="http://www.zentranightclub.com/" target="_blank">Zentra</a> on Chicago&rsquo;s near North Side.</p><p><strong>DJ AMPM Mini-Set:</strong><br />Sugar Hill Gang, &quot;Apache (Jump&nbsp; On It)&quot;<br />Bobby Byrd, &quot;I Know You Got Soul&quot;<br />Willie Hutch &quot;Brother's Gonna Work it Out&quot;<br />Showbiz and A.G., &quot;Party Groove&quot;<br />J. Cole, &quot;Who Dat&quot; (instrumental)<br />Slim, &quot;So Fly&quot; (instrumental)<br />Big Pun, &quot;You Came Up&quot; (instrumental)</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 16:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/dj-ampm-lives-music-day-and-night