New Music: Ciara ft. Future – Anytime

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I REALLY LIKE THIS RECORD! I am not a huge CIARA fan, by far, but there are always 2 or 3 songs from each of her albums that stand out to me at first listen. Last weekend, Ciara performed this new track at one of the 2014 Grammy after parties. I briefly watched some of the online footage, but was distracted by other things at the time. Today, the STUDIO VERSION of her latest ANYTIME track has surfaced.

The song is performed by Ciara and her fiancé, Future. Produced by Boi-1da and Katalyst, the track is a real mellow track that is layered by a slew of electric guitar riffs. Lyrically, Ciara and Future are simply declaring their undying love for one another. It’s basically an, ‘I got you forever and I know you got me’ type of record. However, the sound is very eclectic for Ciara. It isn’t a conventional, R&B ballad, but it isn’t exactly a mainstream pop song either. I enjoy the fact that Anytime trails somewhere in the grey area. It’s a dope track overall. It’s said that this will act as the lead single for Ciara’s forthcoming studio album.

TAKE A LISTEN BELOW:

New Music: K Michelle – I Dont Believe + Frank Oceans ‘We All Try’ (for the kidz who didn’t know of him then)

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What I love most about Miss. K Michelle is the vulnerability and transparency that she displays in her music. K Michelle always uses her artistry to reflect the wears and tears of her heart and soul. The lyrics are unapologetic and the melodies parallel to the raw emotion.

As K Michelle prepares to release her ‘Still No F*cks Given’ mix tape on Valentine’s Day, she has just now shared another cut from the compilation. I DONT BELIEVE borrows from my all-time favorite song by Frank Ocean, WE ALL TRY. The record was included on Frank Oceans, ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ mix tape; looong before he became a mainstream artist. I used the instrumental in the video I released of David Bridgeforth in July, 2012.

In the song, K Michelle makes mention of her troubled love life, losing her aunt, being snubbed by the Grammy’s, and she even takes a shot at rival, Tamar Braxton. It’s a very enjoyable record, and Im certainly looking forward to the full-fledged mix tape.

LISTEN TO ‘I DONT BELIEVE’ BELOW…

Xemmy’s Latest Obsession: Childish Gambino

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Obviously, Im the last one on earth to discover the artistic genius of CHILDISH GAMBINO. Last Sunday afternoon, a friend sent me a SoundCloud link for Childish Gambino’s ‘PINK TOES‘ record, featuring Jhene Aiko. Since this particular friend has incredible taste in music, I always immediately tap into whatever song he shoves in front of me. As soon as the PINK TOES track began playing, I was instantly amazed.

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Those of you who follow me closely via Twitter or Facebook saw that I kept posting the link to the record alongside the hashtag #nowplaying. I fell in love with the simplicity of the lyrics, as well as the soft rapture in the melody. Jhene’s vocals then blended perfectly with the blanketed rhythm of the song. It became my ‘song on repeat’ this past week. As the PINK TOES record quickly became my lullaby at night, I started researching more music and information about Childish Gambino during the day. Little did I know, this man is already an established actor, writer and bonafide star.

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Birth name, Donald Glover, Gambino graduated from NYU’s Tisch School Of The Arts. He moved to Los Angeles and started writing for the smash hit series, 30 Rock. He also stars on the critically acclaimed, Community series as a college student named, Troy Barnes. Ive never seen one episode of Community, so I suppose that’s one reason why I was so unfamiliar with this guy. In December, 2013, Gambino released his second album titled, ‘Because The Internet’. When I started making mention of Childish Gambino on Twitter, my followers were responding like, ‘Xem…you’re late.‘… ‘Umm, everyone already knows about him Xem‘… ‘Why are you just now getting into this dude?’

I felt crazy! It shocks me that an artist of this magnitude somehow slipped beneath my radar.

This past week, Ive been watching just about EVERY Childish Gambino interview that I can get my hands on. This man’s energy and vibe is so smooth and eclectic. He has this quiet synergy in his spirit that easily streams through his voice and mannerisms. When he speaks, its as if the words are a mere, spoken afterthought. I really love this guy, already. He is very worldly and conscious of social standards vs. living truth. Some of the exact things I say online and in my everyday life, Gambino states in his interviews. He talks about the fact that people fear following their dreams and their passions because they aren’t willing to sacrifice the comforts or ‘luxuries’. He’s an artist to the core.

Not only do I have his ‘PINK TOES’ hit on constant repeat, but Im also mesmerized by his accompanying music video for ‘THE WORST GUYS’. Visually, the music video reminds me of a moving series of vintage post cards. There’s a slight, pastel haze that hangs over every image. The hand held shots give the video a raw, vacation footage feel. It’s Gambino, Jhene Aiko and his homeboys out on the beach, absorbing the pure essence of LIFE. It’s a combination of birthed reality and a blue oasis of ‘how things should be’. I’ve been exposed to the song only through repeatedly watching the visual. My favorite part of the record comes at the end. The guitar riff echoes the natural high of standing in the sand with friends and twirling glow sticks against the darkness of night. It’s just a masterpiece as far as Im concerned.

Xem VanAdams Makes A Special Announcement

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Beginning tomorrow, February 1, 2014, XemSays.com will be updated with new content on a daily basis, seven days a week. My website has finally been approved for monetizing and AD placement, as I’ve also enabled the same for the majority of my Youtube videos. When you now visit my site, as well as my Youtube Channel, you’ll see advertisements displayed alongside the content. We have also added a few new features here on XemSays.com that allows you to immediately share my posts via your social media networks, as well as filtering through articles associated with present content. Both features are highlighted beneath the individual posts.

Certain individuals in my life have been encouraging me to utilize my online reach as we continue working towards ‘the next level’; nationally distributed, media programming. The fact that 9,800 individuals have watched ‘My Boyfriend Is The Bait’ in the last two weeks, and 12,120 individuals have read and/or listened to ‘Boi Inv sible: No Miracle On Monday’ since its December, 2013 release, says a lot about the loyalty that stems from my audience. I have worked extremely hard since 8/8/2008 to create and release material that both educates and entertains my viewers, readers and overall supporters.

I will be posting photos, articles, commentary and critiques associated with music, movies, men, love, relationships and other social issues, daily. If you’ve noticed, over the past few weeks, I’ve posted pictures & video clips via Twitter and Facebook that are related to pop culture. I wanted to see if my audience would click the links and embrace the material, even though it has been 3 years since I’ve included celebrities as a part of my online platform. The numbers don’t lie. You all are clicking in the thousands, and its time for me to once again profit from everything I’ve been doing online over the past six years.

To be 100% honest, I am very nervous and afraid of taking this step again. This is a HUGE commitment, as consistency has always been my downfall. I stopped posting daily content in February 2011 via XemVanAdams.com. However, it is time that I continue investing in what it is that comes naturally to me. I have a voice and a platform that many individuals believe in and support. In life, we sometimes have to create our own opportunities by using the tools and resources that are already accessible. I’m giving it another try.

I encourage you to continue supporting ‘Xem VanAdams’ by visiting XemSays.com daily beginning February 1, 2014. All of the links will be posted via twitter.com/XemVanAdams, facebook.com/xem.vanadams and facebook.com/xemvanadamsxva. Then, occasionally, BIG STORIES will be promoted with visuals via instagram.com/XemSays.

If you would like me to post or promote your products, projects, music, web series and events via XemSays.com, please EMAIL ME at XemVanAdams@gmail.com to receive weekly and monthly rate information. Place ‘ADVERTISEMENT INQUIRY’ in your subject line. I am also able to post or promote your products, projects, music, web series or events on my social media pages for smaller, daily rates. Everything I post and share publicly is seen by thousands of other people, so the financial investment is certainly beneficial to you and your associated team.

I AM Looking and Moving FORWARD…

The Slow & Unsteady Promotional Pace Of Brandy’s Two Eleven Era

Some artists have reached a stage in their careers where the music sells itself. Based on the power and prestige of their name, very little promotion is needed to push their albums off the shelves or shoot their official singles up the Billboard charts. Brandy, however, hasn’t conquered that particular territory. Though she is loved by many, recognized in a mass market, and praised for the musical trends she set a decade ago, Brandy still needs the backing of a solid, marketing campaign.
Despite the fact that Brandy’s fans are anticipating the release of her sixth studio album, I fear that the project will have the same fate as 2004’s, AFRODISIAC and 2008’s critically celebrated, HUMAN lp. During a time when albums are selling slowly over time as oppose to reaching platinum status within months, Brandy is faced with an uphill challenge. For an artist of her caliber, the absence of her music and voice from the forefront makes her a relative stranger to this generation of iTune and iPod consumers. Teens and very young adults aren’t familiar with Brandy’s legacy. As a result, Brandy will need double the television and high profile exposure to ignite interest from non-fans. So far, the pace of Brandy’s promotion in support of her new single and forthcoming album has been extremely slow. I am bothered.
I have been a Brandy fan since the dawn of classic, 90’s music. Brandy emerged on the music scene in the summer of 1994 with a girl next door style and a smooth, honey coated voice. She was packaged and presented as an artist that appealed to music listeners who favored both urban and popular music. As Brandy has managed to sustain a career that has spanned almost two decades, she has also struggled to achieve a massive radio or chart topping hit since the release of her 2002, FULL MOON album. Brandy was recently featured in VH1’s Behind The music series. The highs and lows that have framed her rise to stardom were showcased through various interviews with family, close friends and Brandy, herself. Though most of the hour long episode focused on the personal life drama that has forced Brandy to mature into her womanhood, she did indeed express excitement about her future in the music industry.It has been four years since Brandy released a full, studio album. She has peppered the fans with several youtube videos that were filmed in her bathroom. Brandy sang renditions of classic songs to showcase the deep, melodic tone of her vocals. Several tracks that were left on the cutting room floor from the Afrodisiac and Human recording sessions have also leaked online over the past few years. Fans were misled in 2010 to believe that a new album would hit shelves in February, 2011. Following two full seasons of Brandy’s VH1 family reality show, no further talks of a new single or studio album surfaced. We then saw Brandy take center stage at various listening events in and around Los Angeles as her rap alter ego, Bran Nu. Many began to wonder if Brandy was merely playing around with her art form or if her rap stylings would become a staple of her live performances.As Brandy continued to make guest appearances in several television programs, as well as filming a new movie for the Tyler Perry franchise, she finally seemed to get serious about recording new material. Inspired by the newfound success of her contemporary, Monica, Brandy paired with her former chart rival to record and release their second duet, IT ALL BELONGS TO ME. Though the single did very little to peak the interest or spark excitement from loyal fans, Brandy embarked upon a promotional tour to give the record steam.The untimely passing of her fairy, industry godmother, the Legendary Whitney Houston, ignited a new flame beneath Brandy’s career. She solidified her return to the music game by giving her long awaited album an official title. TWO ELEVEN pays homage to the life of Whitney Houston. Whitney passed away on Brandy’s 33rd birthday; February 11, 2012. TWO ELEVEN also represents Brandy’s rebirth as an artist.

We’ve now embarked upon a new season in music. A shallow wave of young, pop starlet’s have made a major impact on the music front. Brandy needs to make a big splash in order to regain her notoriety. In an effort to build buzz for the release of her TWO ELEVEN album, Brandy has released her comeback single. The song features the rap boasts of bad boy, Chris Brown. The Rico Love produced record is titled, PUT IT DOWN. While it seems that the urban audience is truly embracing Brandy’s record, mainstream, pop audiences haven’t displayed enough interest in the single for it to be placed in heavy, radio rotation.I expected Brandy’s new label home, RCA Records, to create a massive, promotional push for the single. Unfortunately, PUT IT DOWN wasn’t made available for purchase on iTunes until weeks following its release to radio. We are just now beginning to receive a sneak peek of behind the scene video choreography and treatment details. The momentum of the PUT IT DOWN single has slowed down tremendously. The delayed timing of the music video release isn’t going to aid in increased sales or public interest in this first single.I always imagined that the first record to be released from Brandy’s sixth studio album would be uptempo. If Chris Brown was to feature on the track, he should have been enlisted to sing as oppose to rapping. I wanted Brandy to release the accompanying music video no more than two weeks following the distribution of PUT IT DOWN. While everyone was still focused on Brandy and her relationship to Whitney Houston, the field was wide open for her to storm the horizons. Instead, interest has dwindled. I wouldn’t be surprised if TWO ELEVEN is pushed from August 28th to a fourth quarter release date.In this day and time, veteran artists have to be quick and yet very precise in their marketing campaigns and strategies. It isn’t enough to simply appear on reality television showcases or guest starring in films. The public will view an artist exactly the ways in which they present themselves. If Brandy doesn’t focus 100% of her attention into developing a solid comeback in her music career, she will find herself struggling to avoid the slump of another commercially unsuccessful album.

DO YOU THINK BRANDY’S SLOW PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN WILL HINDER THE SUCCESS OF HER FORTHCOMING ‘TWO ELEVN’ ALBUM?

Channeling Gay

written by Jamal Ibe (Contributing Writer)

 

Frank Ocean is having a good week. On July 10th, he made his debut television performance on Late night with Jimmy Fallon. That same day his album, Channel Orange, was pushed ahead of schedule by a week for digital download. Early sales predictions see Channel Orange entering the charts with a very impressive 110-125k copies sold from just the digital downloads alone.

Coldplay has selected Frank Ocean to open select dates of their European tour in July and August. He has been the hot topic on various social networks for weeks now.

What pushed this sudden surge of attention? Frank Ocean decided to share something personal and honest with the world…his first love was with another man. 

 
Rumors first sparked after a music reviewer noticed that the subject in a few of Frank’s songs was “he” instead of “she.” Then, on July 4th, Frank took independence and freedom to another level when he posted a letter on his tumblr page. The 4 paragraphed letter vividly described the feelings and emotions he experienced when, at 19, he realized he had fallen in love with a guy he was seeing. His bold and blatant honesty was/is something extremely rare from a male in music industry; 10x more so for an African American male. 
 
The public reaction was mixed. Many, including other artists, supported his honesty and bravery. However, there was also some backlash. There were individuals who claimed they would no longer support Ocean or his music, which is odd considering that his lyrics and music had not changed since he posted his letter. Either way, one thing was very clear, the spotlight was on Frank Ocean. Def Jam didn’t miss that fact and pushed up the digital release for his Channel Orange album. Fans have not only purchased his music but also posted pics on instagram, praised their favorite songs on Facebook + Twitter, and have encouraged others to buy it as well. 
 
It appears that Frank’s moment of truth will work in his favor; at least for the moment. Thankfully, he has more than enough raw, authentic talent to carry him through.

The situation does make one wonder though…how many other male artists longing for the spotlight could be contemplating their own moment to come out. We all know they exist in the industry, singing to the females but looking at the males.

So now could be the time to follow in Ocean’s footsteps. but will anyone? At the end of the day it is nice to see someone not only bring a breath of fresh air to the music industry but also the African American male community.

Frank Ocean, I commend you. 

CONTACT JAMAL IBE’

Twitter.com/Ibe_Jamal

Have Temperatures Cooled For Usher & Chris Brown During This Climate Change In The Music Industry?

photo courtesy of Boi Genius

First week sales figures for music acts and celebrated artists have experienced a huge decline over the past seven years. It still comes as a surprise to many fans and music lovers alike when mainstream stars aren’t able to top the charts or push major album units during their first week of release. As both Usher and Chris brown have risen to the upper echelon of Pop and R&B success, their latest music efforts have commercially paled in comparison to the acclaim that each has experienced in the past. Usher’s 7th studio album, LOOKING 4 MYSELF, secured the top spot on the mainstream, Billboard HOT 100. However, the LP sold a disappointing 128,000 copies despite a massive, U.S. campaign to market the project. While Chris Brown saturated his fan base with free tracks, numerous singles and two collabos alongside his mega-star ex girlfriend, FORTUNE only managed to push 134,000 units during its first seven days of release. These numbers are quite puzzling. Usher and Chris Brown do an amazing job of appealing to a global audience without alienating their core, Rhythm and Blues fans. Both artists still receive public and critical praise for their high energy stage performances. Neither star can blame their support teams for poor promotion or a lack of label support.However, Usher and Chris Brown have become the latest storm victims in this modern day music forecast. Temperatures are predicted to be slow in album sales for artists who aren’t able to smash the music charts with monster iTunes singles. Usher’s core fan base have literally grown up alongside him. The then fifteen and sixteen year old teenage girls who once bought his albums on the release date, are now thirty two and thirty three year old women who have more important things to do with their money. Though Usher’s name and brand are recognized in cross-cultural markets, he hasn’t been able to appeal to this generations teen and pre-teen audiences. That’s the target group that consistently purchases music. However, they are now focused on Usher’s young prodigy, Justin Bieber. In the case of Chris brown, who does maintain a huge, teen following, his fans have become use to receiving Chris’ music for free. Though Chris was generous in gifting free downloads, mix tapes and compilations, he may have spoiled his fans into the comfort of not paying for his full fledged albums. Both Usher and Chris are faced with the dilemma of discovering new ways to package their albums in order to guarantee sales.
Though Usher has not yet been able to match the critical praise and commercial dominance achieved during his CONFESSIONS era, he has indeed grown musically over the past seven years. With the release of HERE I STAND (2008), RAYMOND VS. RAYMOND (2010) and his recent, LOOKING 4 MYSELF (2012), Usher has successfully created records that easily appeal to both urban and popular audiences. Some could argue that the R&B veteran has abandoned his roots for the latest trend in dance/techno music. Usher’s release of tracks that include WITHOUT YOU, SCREAM and DJ GOT US FALLIN’ IN LOVE, have made him the target of criticism from fans who fell in love with his strict, R&B music during the first ten years of his career. As he has now become an 18 year veteran in the music game, it’s clear that Usher desires longevity and ultimate legend status. Artistically, Usher maintains a sound that transcends genres. However, as a businessman as well, Usher understands the need to tweak his musical style to match the shift in contemporary, global success.There are very few urban records that have made a major impact on mainstream charts since the emergence of iTunes and other digital music retailers. Once upon a time, songs like Usher’s past hits, YOU MAKE ME WANNA and YEAH! were enough to secure his mainstay amongst other popular artists. Now, Usher has tailored his platform to display an ability to churn out records that showcase the roots of his career, while also promising him a platform that will stand the tests of time.

Chris Brown, as far as Im concerned, is the only other young, male artist who easily transcends beyond his R&B roots to appeal to a global market. Chris has managed to once again place his music at the forefront of his career and industry reputation. As a result, he has taken the approach of over saturating his audience with a mass release of singles, bonus tracks, viral footage, and accompanying music videos to support his mixtape and mainstream records. Despite the hide and seek tweets that address his public drama, Chris Brown seems to have focused himself on remaining relevant for his musical craft. In preparation for the launch of this new era, Chris pushed several promotional and official singles to radio. Strip and Turn Up The Music served as the musical gems to draw public attention to his Fortune. Chris Brown made high profile appearances on The Today Show, Billboard Music Awards and the 2012 BET Awards. He performed his new and some old material before viewing audiences comprised of millions. His name remained stitched in headlines for a busted chin he received during a nightclub brawl with Young Money rapper, Drake. Chris was also featured on countless blogs for his questionable lyrics in the THERAFLU remix. Chris was accused of taking verbal jabs at Rihanna, causing her to unfollow him on the Twitter social network. Though there was no blonde dye job or full frontal nude leak to further push the promotion of FORTUNE, it was expected that Chris would either exceed or at least match the initial sales of his previous FAME album.Both Usher and Chris Brown have framed their careers on delivering radio friendly records that receive cross genre airplay. Each maintains the ability to captivate audiences with a display of their physiques and intense choreography during stage performances. Additionally, Usher and Chris Brown have become two of the only male, urban acts of our generation who receive daily press amongst mainstream media outlets. As physically appealing as they are talented, Usher and Chris Brown aren’t competing with one another. They are both simply having to remain afloat as the tides of the music industry are constantly crashing.

DO YOU THINK THESE LUKEWARM FIRST WEEK SALES FOR USHER & CHRIS BROWN ARE SIMPLY A FLUKE? DO THEY BOTH STILL HAVE ROOM TO PUSH UNITS OVER THE LONG HAUL?