Who’s Hot: Miloh Smith

cover            Imagine mixing Erykah Badu’s soul and attitude, the stylings and arrogance of Amy Winehouse and the wordplay and wit of your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. The outcome, commonly known in the music world as the sultry songstress and MC, Miloh Smith, is nothing short of enticing. Fresh off the release of her debut mixtape Suite 404, the Atlanta native is already creating a buzz in the industry. Fifteen tracks of flawlessly crafted material, from the smooth and often trippy production to the creatively written flow, Suite 404 is guaranteed to lull you into a trance as Miloh takes you on a lyrical journey. With production primarily handled by the talented Chris Calor, Suite 404 even features a verse from another New Atlanta member, Wavy Wallace, and several new names that fail to disappoint.  After checking out the video of her SXSR3 Performance below, make sure you head on over to LiveMixtapes and download Suite 404 for yourself: http://indy.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/19729/miloh-smith-suite-404.html

 

 

Editor of Music, Giselle B.

“Like A Match to A Flame…”—Album Review: Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire

aliciakeysgirlonfireartwork
Girl on Fire album cover

Singer Alicia Keys is back! The piano maestro returns to the music scene with the release of her fifth studio album, Girl on Fire. This is Keys’ first album since marrying super-producer Swizz Beatz (July 2010) and giving birth to her first child, Egypt (October 2010). Serving as the follow-up to her 2009 album offering, The Element of Freedom, and one thing that is sure is that Keys is fiery this go ‘round and the album rings a suggestive “new” her.

I suppose after getting married, and having your first child one would feel anew and have to take the appropriate time to adjust to the new happenings in their life. Alicia seems she has adjusted well and wasted no time in doing so. All together the album delivers a total of thirteen tracks. Beginning with an instrumental Intro titled “De Novo Adagio”, Latin for “anew”, “afresh,” and this is more validity that singer Keys has shredded some oldness to her. The piano driven Intro will sure to play with the hairs on your ears as Keys’ piano playing is teased, but magnificently so. Blending into the second track of the album, and coincidentally the second single from the album, “Brand New Me” starts with Ms. Alicia Keys sounding exactly what the title declares. Co-written by Scottish singer Emeli Sande, Keys croons “It’s been a while, I’m not who I was before/You look surprised, your words don’t burn me anymore.” If this is not enough to make you believe that something is anew with the singer well then you are out of luck. “Brand New Me” grows larger each verse with piano as the main backing. The song closes on a high self-empowering thought provoking note, a feeling that Keys is known for giving.

The album then kicks up a notch with “When It’s All Over” a jazz, and funk sounding track, in which singer John Legend lent his writing duties on the track, along with a newcomer singer Stacy Barthe. This track glides with a brisk feeling that we have never heard on a studio album from Alicia before but makes the listener feel they have because Keys sounds comfortable and breezy on the entire 3:46 of the track.

Taking a similar sound into track four, the album soothes with “Listen to Your Heart” another track that singer and obvious friend of Alicia, Mr. John Legend lent his writing talents to. “Listen to Your Heart” consists of a lot of repetition of Keys sweetly oozing “You gotta listen to your heart/Listen to your heart, oh/Why don’t you listen to your heart.”

Track five, “New Day”, shakes the album a little and gives you a glimpse of what Alicia Keys music catalog could sound like if she gave her best shot at Beyonce’s music. “New Day” is no stranger to fans of Keys as she released this as a promo single over Summer 2012. Produced by Dr. Dre and hubby Swizz Beatz “New Day” definitely shines as something “new” as Alicia’s voice blares over heavy drums, another attribute that listeners are not used to hearing from the singer on a studio album.

As if the loud production was not enough to get you rallied about Alicia’s new emancipation and free feeling vibe, the album dives into title track and lead single “Girl on Fire” with the Inferno version featuring rapper Nicki Minaj lending her influential lines about girl power, “Because I win the gold like Gabby” (a reference to 16-year old U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby  Douglas).

Seven seems to be a number of sensuality for Alicia because track seven, comes in as “Fire We Make” the sensual duet with Neo-soul veteran Maxwell. On Keys’ previous album, The Element of Freedom her “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” collaboration with rapper Drake debuted as track seven as well. Looking past the similarity, Keys and Maxwell bring alive a fantasy of what it would sound like if one was a fly on the wall during a fiery session between the two.

The album hits a bump in the road as track eight shifts gears a little with the flat, and boring sounding “Not Even the King,” the second track that Scottish singer Emeli Sandi co-wrote. The track presents a raw and original recording feel but falls flat and feels out of place in the selecting of the album’s track order.

Picking things back up with Motown inspired “Tears Always Win” Alicia joins forces with singer Bruno Mars as the pair wrote the song. Keys remind listeners of her funk and soul capabilities on “Tears.” Following, she slows things back down with the Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds produced track “That’s When I Knew” which yearns her love for that special someone (Swizz Beatz, her husband, likely, of course).

The remainder of the album searches for direction and I am not sure if it ever finds that. “Limitedless” is a reggae, two-stepper track that finds Alicia singing in a zigzag sort of way, about there being no limit to loving her lover. If the made up word for the title shows any validity that the album does not find its focus in the remaining of its last fifteen minutes then maybe one should think harder.

“One Thing” co-written by R&B newcomer Frank Ocean is heavy on guitar and sounds nostalgic just like Ocean’s own music. Set to be a tear jerker, “One Thing” tells a compelling story that leaves the listener obliged to reflect on their own love life.

The final curtain call track, “101” the third track to be co-written by Emeli Sandi ushers in a pleading Alicia like we have never heard before. She sings in a wired, raspy voice that is filled with melancholy over piano about a lover’s one-hundred and one mistake, lie, and everything else he/she could do wrong. Sure to be the perfect final song, “101” is another one (no pun intended) that will leave the listener feeling emotionally heavy and thinking on their own romantic life.

After the track’s end there is a surprise hidden outro that blares Alicia’s voice as loud, and declarative of the new chapter in her life (I will not say too much on this surprise outro as it serves as a hidden track, and may surprise some at the force that Alicia brings).

Closing out to be a little underneath one full hour Girl on Fire is sure to reflect simply that. Critiqued to be the singer’s best album in a while the songstress’ fifth effort is one that surely burns and will leave its remnants for years to come, even after Keys is long gone, all in a positive way for the most part.

Pulling out major promo stops for the November 27, 2012 Girl on Fire album release check out this video of Alicia Keys performing second single, “Brand New Me” at the UK’s BBC’s Radio 1Xtra Event…

Editor of Reviews, Wil Rivers

Letter From the Editor

Hello Readers!

There’s just something about the holiday season that makes me feel whole. I don’t know if it’s spending time with family, the holiday season itself, or all of the food. (hahaha!) Seriously, I can’t help but feel cheery and warm during this time of year.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Las Posadas, Boxing Day or otherwise, I want to wish you all joy and good fortune during this holiday season. May you find peace, love and happiness as you prepare to celebrate this special time of year with your loved ones.

Sincerely,

Raena S.

The UnBiased NBA

Who is the greatest player to ever step foot in the NBA? Who is the greatest Boston Celtic to ever play? Who was supposed to be his replacement? Len Bias, the greatest player to never step foot in the NBA. Most of you have never heard this name in your life and it is a very infamous name in the NBA but should be a household story. Bias’s basketball career progressed through three stages: average college player, college superstar, top tier NBA prospect.

Len Bias was born on November 18, 1963 in Landover, Maryland. He grew up around basketball and he grew to have a “basketball body.” By the time Len Bias finished growing he was six feet eight inches tall and 210 pounds. He graduated from Northwestern High School in Maryland and proceeded to further his studies at the University of Maryland. Len Bias had a forty-four inch vertical leap to go along with his already astonishing physical size and strength. Vince Carter had a 43-inch vertical leap in his combine; Shawn Kemp: 40 inches, Dominique Wilson: 42 inches. The only true star with a higher leap was Michael Jordan with a 48-inch vertical.

Len Bias had all of the physical traits needed to be a true star at basketball. That, however, was not all he had. His jump shot was proclaimed as better than Jordan’s. He also had a defensive mind set to back up his incredible leaping ability. Bias did not get as many steals as Jordan in his final college season; however, he did get more blocks and rebounds. Len Bias and Jordan only met once in Bias’s college career. In that game, Jordan poured in 21 and Bias finished with 24. Unfortunately, Bias effort was not enough to carry his team to victory.

Bias’s college career was brightened with many high-scoring games but none were more memorable than his 41-point performance against Duke University. Bias scored the first 10 points against Duke and would end the game fourteen of twenty from the court and hit all 13 free-throws. Besides the fact that he scored 41 points against Duke’s big three (Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, and David Henderson), Bias scored all of his points without the use of a three-pointer. This was adopted in 1986 after Bias had left Maryland. Len finished his senior season averaging 23 points and seven rebounds per game.

Len Bias, moments after he was drafted for the Boston Celtics in 1986.

Len Bias went into the 1986 NBA draft as a top 5 prospect, the only player that was seen as capable of being drafted over him was Brad Daugherty. On June 17, 1986 Bias entered Felt Forum in New York City, New York. He sat down with his mom and waited for the beginnings of the draft. The first pick was awarded to the Cleveland Cavaliers and with it they selected none other than Brad Daugherty. After hearing Daugherty was selected, Len Bias knew he was destined to be none other than a Boston Celtic. Commissioner David Stern spoke into the microphone letting the world know that with the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft the Boston Celtics selected Len Bias. He went on stage gave a smile shook the commissioners hand and put on the team draft hat.

The next morning Len went back home to Maryland to share his news and celebrate with his family and friends. While back home he decided that he wanted to go back to the University of Maryland to pay his friends and former teammates a visit. He spent the day there and later that night attended a party with some of his teammates. While at the party cocaine was used and Bias was involved in the act. After taking a few doses of cocaine he fell to the floor and began to have a seizure. The ambulance was called immediately to survey him. When the ambulance arrived they found him unconscious, not breathing, and unresponsive. He was then rushed to the hospital for further analysis and medical help. The doctors and medical professionals did all that they could; however, they could not save him. Len Bias died on June 19th  1986, two days after he had been drafted.

The autopsy showed that he died from an overdose of cocaine and its speculated that it may have been his first time using the drug which is what caused his body to react in such a powerful way. One of Len Bias’s friends announced that Bias is the one who encouraged him to try the substance. The release of this news brought questions to the surface about whether this was just a case of trying to “run before you can walk” or an addiction turned astray. The fact of the matter is that neither of those ideas is important to the situation.

Len Bias was projected to be the one player who could compete with Michael Jordan on all fathoms of the game. To compare their situation, Bias was going to be Jordan’s rival as Larry Bird was to Magic Johnson. With Len Bias’s death, Michael Jordan was never presented with a rival that could compete with him throughout his great career. The questions presented are: if Len Bias had stayed alive would Jordan have been able to three peat? Would the Detroit Pistons ever have won a ring? Could the Boston Celtics and Len Bias change the course of history? It is a very strong possibility because although Larry Bird was on his way out of the league, he left behind a young Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Their inside presence combined with Len Bias’s crisp jump shot and athleticism could have provided a major issue for Jordan, the eastern conference, and The NBA as a whole.

Is Michael Jordan the statistical greatest player to ever play the game? The answer is a strong yes; but, could his awards have been cut by a beast coming out of the same conference in Len Bias? Would the Celtics have maintained their dominance well into the 1990s? would Len Bias have gone into the hall of fame as one of the greats that we look back on today? These are questions we will never have answers to, but you are able to form an opinion for yourself. Look into the highlights of Len Bias, check the stats, listen to how commentators think back on his career.  Lastly just imagine how different the history of the game of basketball may have been today if Len Bias would have stayed home on June 19th 1986.

Luvert Allen, Former Editor of Sports

Dreadlocks 101

Comb Coil Dreadlocks

 

 

Dreadlocks are a great low maintenance style.  If you’re interested in starting dreadlocks, there are many ways to start them and they can be formed in various styles.  Each style varies in levels of versatility.  Maintaining dreadlocks are also very affordable, both on your own and by a professional.

 

 

Methods:

Free-Form Dreadlocks

Free-Form or “Neglect” Method:  This method forms dreadlocks by simply leaving your hair alone and not combing it.  Years pass before dreads begin to form when this method is used.  This method does not form neat dreads.  One dread may be very big and flat while others are small and thin.  This style will not offer too much versatility.

Comb Coils:  This method is the simplest method for forming dreadlocks.  With this method single strand twists are coiled in one direction.  The only downside is that this method only works on highly textured hair such as African American hair that could keep the coil.

Two Strand Twists:  This method isn’t as delicate as the coil method.  The hair is twisted into two strand twists and then the hair is left to mesh within the twists as they get older.  Some say twists lock faster and smoother.

You can choose to have large, traditional, or tiny dreadlocks.  Sisterlocks are a specific style of dreadlocks that are very small in size.  They are very versatile and can be curled with styling tools.  However they are more expensive due to the small size of the dreadlocks.  Sisterlocks are usually done by professionals and are made using a very specific knotting technique.

Sisterlocks

If you decide to get dreadlocks, be aware that your hair should still be washed regularly, or it will start to smell bad.  Refraining from washing your hair to help your hair lock is counterproductive, since the buildup on your hair will give your hair more slip, thus preventing your hair from locking.  Plus, the water will help your hair mat up, thus helping your hair lock.  When just starting out hair should be washed and re-twisted every two weeks.  At night hair should be wrapped in a silk or satin scarf and product usage should be light to prevent product buildup.

Editor of Health and Beauty, Brandi Giles

Lip Balms: My Top Three

With the recent temperature drop this winter your skin always ends up feeling under the weather, or in other words, dry. One of the areas affected the most on your body is your lips. While you may frequently gloss them in order to keep them nice and smooth, this isn’t enough to keep your lips protected from cracking and chapping.   Here are some of my favorite lip balms to keep your lips looking irresistible.

 

1. I use Carmex which can be purchased at your local Walmart or any other grocery store or less than three dollars. Carmex will have your lips feeling and looking smooth as can be.  It feels very cool on your lips, therefore it can immediately stop any itching or other irritation. It is a yellowish color in the container but when applied to the lips, it is transparent.  Also, it comes in a squeezable tube and in a small tub.

 

 

2. Burt’s Bees is also another great lip protectant that I have used.  This can also be purchased at any local grocery store.  Burt’s Bee is clear with a little shimmer. Just like Carmex, Burt’s Bees lip balm looks natural when applied.  Burt’s Bees lip balm comes in different flavors so it looks and tastes good! (That is, if it ever finds its way into your mouth)

 

 

3. Lastly is the good old fashioned brand Chapstick. This and Carmex are my favorite because it looks so natural on your lips. Your lips look naturally glossy rather than looking like you stuck you lips in a bowl of grease. Chapstick is also cheap and works well.

 

Hope these brands work well for you because they are great and have worked well for me. There are many other lip balms out there if these don’t appeal to you.  If you want to wear lip gloss, apply lip balm before applying lip gloss to avoid chapped lips.  The winter is especially hard on your skin, make sure your lips are not neglected!

Author, Chasity Edwards

Holiday Love

Photo taken from cleverspeaks.com

Bells are ringing, cold winds are blowing, children are wishing and hearts are overflowing. The holidays are here at last. It is time for family, fun, food and love. During the holidays, relationships are put through one major trial: meeting the family. Family should always be the most important thing in your life; even if you don’t have “blood” family, there is someone significant in your life that your partner should have the pleasure of meeting.

The first step in meeting your partner’s family on the holiday is figuring out which family you are going to meet between the two of you. The proper thing to do is to meet the woman’s family first unless there is special situation. When you know whose house you are going over, let your family know that you are bringing someone special. Do not try to surprise them because you never know how your family will react to them. It also makes it a little easier for your partner to adjust to whatever craziness your family may contain.

Despite the cliché, always be yourself. Do not try to change to impress your partner’s family. Your man or woman loves you for who you are so their family should do the same and accept you for who you are. This is not to say go crazy and curse everyone out because that’s how you normally act. Show some respect, but still be you. Being someone your not will only hurt you in the end because you will always have to keep up the lie or eventually you would be pointed for the liar and lose any respect that you may have gained. Just do not try too hard.

If your partner and family are butting heads, stop it immediately! Some families are difficult to become comfortable around so it is your place to keep the peace between your family and your partner. Yet, if your family does not like your partner for legit reasons, then do not ruin your family relationship because of that one person. Your family is just looking out for your best interest. Most likely your family will recognize when someone is not good for you and are only meant to be in your life for a season. This is not to say take any rash actions, just take into consideration how you family feels and make the best decision for you.

In the end, just enjoy your time with your loved ones, all of them. Never allow drama to ruin a time of grand cheer and love. Get close with your significant other, hug them tight, find some mistletoe and let the love flow.

Eat well and love hard. Happy Holidays.

Editor of Love and Relationships, Tabia Wade