Monday, 28 December 2009
As promised SO BONES is not dead and buried, rotting somewhere in a diamond encrusted casket underneath the bones of so many defunct, DOA crunk&b girl groups. I just needed to mull things over and wait for this generally terrible year to pass me by. Well I guess we only have a few days left until we enter into the "XXs", and I would have held out if it hadn't been for Usher's new song totally rattling my brain in the best possible way. My feelings towards Usher have always been conflicted. On the one hand his pinched vocal delivery and smug as fuck "playa in need of redemption" schtick have often proven to be less than appealing, but on the other hand, he's had a undeniably decent track record for managing to bag the kind of productions that make jaws involuntarily drop. "Yeah!", "Dat Girl Right There", "You Don't Have to Call", and "Love in This Club" are some of the decades finest examples of aggressive R&B invention, and as we enter into a new decade he's pulled it off once again hooking up with his old sparring partner Polow Da Don to come up with "Little Freak", which I'm happy to report is genuinely something quite different. Usher is in familiar cocksure swagger mode and the song has all the hallmarks of a Polow production what with the hollow, dead-thud drums, and the luxurious synth melodrama, but in "Little Freak" both figures push themselves into stranger, darker territories. Don't let the carnal numbskullery of the lyrics fool you.
Putting "buzz" single "Papers" aside, it's certainly an interesting way to kick off a campaign for a record, which following the breakdown of his marriage, we've been led to believe will be a return to Usher's XX friendly, bleeding heart throb "Confessions" days. Instead of weepy domesticity "Little Freak" positively oozes with Caligula style excess, Usher, sounding old and jaded, assuming his role as the cold hearted emperor of clubland, demanding to be brought "freaks at the bar who like fucking with a star", as if he hasn't a clue how sad and shallow his existence appears to almost everyone outside of the court, a certain atmosphere of nihilistic entitlement offset by a sample of Stevie Wonder's - Living in the City which is transformed into something overarching and sickly decadent. It's almost on the same level as Britney's seminal dead eyed stripper jam "Get Naked (I Got A Plan)" in being a sex song that takes on a whole other dimension in being entirely devoid of sexiness. Everyone says their having fun, but no one's smiling.
For those who care the following, in no particular order, are my favourite R&B/hip hop songs of the year. Excluding "Blame It" and "Diva" (kinda) it's a shame none of these songs were hits (the ones that were at least released)...they deserved better. Anywho, let's not dwell on such things.
The Dream - Fancy (Prod by The Dream & Tricky Stewart)
Jamie Foxx - Blame It feat T-Pain (Prod by Christopher "Deep" Henderson)
Christina Milian - Chameleon (Prod by The Dream & Tricky Stewart)
Electrik Red - Drink In My Cup / Bed Talk (Prod by The Dream & Tricky Stewart)
Young Money - New Shit (Prod by Chase N. Cashe & B.Carr)
Tay Dizm - Beam Me Up feat T-Pain & Rick Ross (Prod by Bangladesh)
Trish - Bump (Prod by Major Music)
Vistoso Bosses - Delirious (Prod by Mr Collipark)
Lil' B - I'm God (Prod by ?)
DJ Quik & Kurupt - 9 x Outta 10 (Prod by DJ Quik)
Sean Garrett - I Wanna Get Up In Your Heart (Prod by Bangladesh)
Cassie - What She Don't Know Wont Hurt Her (Prod by Darkchild) / Must Be Love (Mario Winans & Bryan Michael Cox)
Rich Girl - He Aint Wit Me Now (Tho) (Prod by Rich Harrison)
Rich Boy - Drop (Prod by Polow Da Don)
Lil' Wayne - Yes feat Pharrell (Produced by The Neptunes)
Amerie - Why R U? (Prod by The Buchanans)
Dudley - Hot Car (Prod by The Underdogs)
Lloyd - Day N' Night (Prod by Jim Jonsin)
Keke Palmer - Superjerkin' (Prod by ?)
Ashe Watson - Shallow (Prod by Battery 8)
Gucci Mane - Weird (Prod by Zaytoven) / Lemonade (Prod by Bangladesh)
Beyonce - Diva (Prod by Bangladesh)
Jennifer Lopez - Fresh Out the Oven (Produced by The Neptunes)
Omarion - I Get It In (Prod by Tank)
If you want to know what else I liked this year check out more of my ramblings at 20 Jazz Funk Greats, where right now we're hosting some pretty great mixes made exclusively for the site, namely the Darkstar mix which is beyond brilliant. N-Joy.