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Dawn Richard Is R&B’s Rebel Child on ‘Goldenheart’

In the class of R&B, Dawn Richard is the rebel child screaming at the top of her lungs for attention; she was far too untamed for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Danity Kane or Dirty Money roster.

Richard’s debut album, Goldenheart, is eccentric, yet it’s a shining of example of the limitless directions R&B could go. And while it’s Dawn’s official introduction as a solo artist, it’s more of a public service announcement, as her time at Bad Boy Records (i.e. Diddy-Dirty Money’s Last Train to Paris) already proved her musical chops and knack for coloring outside the lines.­

But Richard’s debut takes her peculiarity a step further as an audacious attempt to shake the status quo. Despite not having a major label backing her, Richard has proven that a unique sound accompanied by strong music visuals (i.e. “Bombs” and “Wild N’ Faith” off her 2012 EP Armor On) can often times rival that of major artists.

In a quest to find her voice outside the groups she once helped build, Richard may have accidentally (or intentionally) discovered an entirely new genre of music. Fusing rock, soul and electro-pop, she serves up a cohesive body of work that’s almost like a dramatic symphony without all the musical conventions. It’s amped up and ferocious.

The 16-track project is Richard’s bold declaration to the world that she’s staking her claim whether she has the support of music critics or not. “Return of a Queen,” the album’s first song, sets the warrior-like tone—suggesting that Goldenheart is more of a return than an introduction.

Contextually, many of the songs on the album are double-entendres in which Richard appears to be singing about her rocky relationship with both the music industry and an estranged lover. Sonically, Richard is exquisitely grim and gritty, yet she makes sure to not push too far. Dawn soars vocally with acrobatic rifts that seem to take a page from Brandy, yet remains to be something R&B has never heard before.

It’s almost silly to call Goldenheart an R&B album for it is the genre-bender of all genre-benders; so nuanced you don’t exactly know what to call it. Songs like “Goliath” and “Gleaux” are like rock anthems layered with soul. When pinned against some of her R&B classmates, Dawn stands out among the fray. Not quite as bluesy as Elle Varner’s Perfectly Imperfect, but edgier than Rihanna’s Unapologetic.

Pairing her soulful voice with producer Druski’s avant-garde sound, Richard taps into a dimension that transcends what is considered R&B. To classify Goldenheart would be a disservice to Richard, who could easily find commercial success on the pop charts with EDM standout “Riot” and “Pretty Wicked Things,” while holding its own among her urban contemporaries with “Northern Lights” and the tribal mix “86.” It’s a deliberate quest to craft a new era of R&B, and maybe even music as a whole.

If you listen close enough, you’ll learn a lot about Dawn; her insecurities, her heartbreaks, and her unwavering desire to be respected as a legitimate artist who isn’t afraid to push the envelope. But most of all, you discover her strengths. Richard showcases her vulnerability on “Break of Dawn,” a metaphorical play on her name, in which she affirms her resilience from being knocked down by personal hurdles: “I couldn’t find my way up out the dark/ Until I realized I was my help/ I found my light/ I told myself you’ll never crush me no matter how hard/ You’ll never see the break of Dawn.”

Rather than falling in line with R&B’s fleeting sound, which often gets lost in the shuffle, Richard gives you something you can hold on to. But as innovative and revitalizing as Goldenheart is, it could be ahead of its time. While listeners may shelve it as too far out of the box, it’s impressively gutsy—a risk she appears to be willing to take. – Gerren Keith Gaynor (@MrGerrenalist).

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DJ Cassidy

Watch: DJ Cassidy Debuts New Digital Music Show 'Pass The Mic' Featuring Legendary Music Greats

When we think of good times from back in the day, it's usually with some type of musical soundtrack that accompanies the action we think of fondly. Another layer to those scenes are usually the songs from the legendary artists that celebrity mixmaster, DJ Cassidy has on speed dial and in his new digital music show, Pass The Mic.

From the golden era to now, the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, Jeff Red, Patrice Rushen, Ricky Bell & Bobby Brown of New Edition and many more, take turns passing the mic virtually over an impeccably timed mixed version DJ set by Cassidy, all from the comfort of their homes.

Having secured the social platform Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/djcassidy) for the debut run on Thursday (July 2) to the huge success of over 20k viewers, Cassidy reposted the 24-minute soul session in full through his Instagram TV (watch below).

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A post shared by DJ Cassidy (@djcassidy) on Jul 2, 2020 at 8:16pm PDT

DJ Cassidy explains the idea and inspiration for the program:

"This week is my birthday week, and since I’ve been known to celebrate by uniting my friends in droves and surprising them with legendary performances by iconic artists, I wanted to find a way to revisit that tradition in light of the times. One evening, during the heat of the quarantine, I FaceTimed with my dear friend and mentor, Verdine White of Earth Wind & Fire. While we were catching up, his classic record, 'That’s The Way Of The World,' came on my speakers. Hearing that song, while on the phone with Verdine, put a smile on my face and brought me some much needed calm. I thought about how fortunate I was to have friendships with many of my heroes and how lucky I was to be able to enjoy their music in their company.

I wondered if I could find a way to share that special feeling with others, so I sat at my turntables in my living room and began Zooming with my musical heroes of 1970s and 1980s, literally passing the mic from one home to the next, in effort to honor and uplift the heroes around the world on the frontlines of health, freedom, and justice. The result is PASS THE MIC.

I hope this virtual mix moves others as much as it has moved me. I am forever grateful to my musical heroes for their decades of hope, inspiration, and soul, and with them, I celebrate all the heroes around the world."

Overwhelming love for the project has Cassidy already looking at version two sooner than later. Be on the look out for more live home performances from our music icons and DJ Cassidy.

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Pop Smoke attends the Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 16, 2020 in Paris, France.
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Listen To Pop Smoke’s Posthumous Debut Album ‘Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon’

Pop Smoke’s heavily anticipated debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, was released on Friday (July 3).

The album dropped with new cover art after Virgil Abloh caught backlash for his initial design. 50 Cent offered to help Abloh rework the cover but its unclear if he had a hand in the final product.

 

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SHOOT FOR THE STARS AIM FOR THE MOON Available Now 💫

A post shared by @ shootforthestars on Jul 2, 2020 at 9:07pm PDT

Pop Smoke, whose birth name was Bashar Jackson, was shot and killed in February. The Brooklyn native would have celebrated his 21st birthday on July 20.

Last month, the late rapper’s mother family announced the official launch of the Shoot for the Stars Foundation, which was established before his passing. “The foundation is meant to inspire inner city youth to do just what the name said ‘Shoot for the Stars,’” his mother said in a statement.

As for the album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon features 19 tracks, with guest appearances from 50 Cent, Quavo, Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby, DaBaby, Tyga and more.

Listen below.

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Celebrate International Reggae Day With A New Bob Marley Music Video, "No Woman No Cry"

Amidst outbreaks of viral pandemic and police brutality, the best thing anyone can say about 2020 is that it's the year of Bob Marley's 75th birthday celebration. And while the year has been terrible and dreadful, Bob Marley's music has offered much-needed inspiration. The Tuff Gong's 1984 greatest hits collection Legend has topped the charts every week since mid-January when it knocked Stick Figure out of the top spot.

Today is July 1, International Reggae Day, and what better way to celebrate than by rediscovering one of Marley's classic songs, "No Woman No Cry"? Today, Boomshots and VIBE proudly present a brand new official music video, directed by Kristian Mercado Figueroa. Shot in Jamaica and New York City, the poignant, verite visual tells the tale of a family divided by geography yet connected by love and a shared commitment to providing a better life for their youths. In Jamaica, a strong and loving Mother strives to look after her children while their Father works tirelessly as a cab driver in New York City, grooving to Bob Marley while he prepares a barrel to send home.

"My feet is my only carriage, so I've got to push on through. But while I’m gone..."

Co-written with Bob's bredren Vincent "Tata" Ford, "No Woman No Cry" was inspired by real life events that took place "in a government yard in Trench Town, the same humble space on First and Marley resided, now known as the Culture Yard Museum. "Georgie," who makes the fire light, was a real person and some even say they know the true identity of the two women whose tears inspired the song. Marley's studio recording of the track, with backing vocals by the I Threes, first appeared on the 1974 album Natty Dread and has been covered by Nina Simone, The Fugees, and Erykah Badu, to name a few. The definitive version was recorded live at the Lyceum in London, the final stop of Marley's Exodus tour. Appearing on the 1975 album Live!, this rousing version became Marley's first hit single in the UK, and was later included as the second track on Legend. The new video shines a light on the genuine struggles many families face in the modern world, isolated due to poverty. In times like these we can all appreciate a song that reassures us "Everything is gonna be alright."

Boomshots and VIBE's celebration of International Reggae Day continued earlier today as Ziggy Marley joined Reshma B for a live Instagram chat on the VIBE's Instagram. Bob's firstborn son has been finishing up a new album called More Family Time, which is coming later this summer. The follow-up to 2009's Grammy-Winning Family Time. His 2018 album Rebellion Rises is more relevant than ever in 2020, with tracks like "See Dem Fake Leaders," "Rebellion Rises," and "Circle of Peace."

Ziggy and Reshma will be reasoning about Bob Marley's 75th birthday, surviving Corona confinement, as well as what actions we can take as human beings moving forward. And as a special surprise, she'll also be joined by a living legend, none other than the great Toots Hibbert.

Toots of Toots & The Maytals recently dropped a video for his latest single "Got To Be Tough," the title track of his first studio album in 10 years, which will be released August 28. The project includes a duet with Ziggy Marley singing another Bob Marley classic "Three Little Birds. Toots was lead vocalist of The Maytals, a Trenchtown trio that was making hits even before The Wailers. Toots even invented the term reggae with his song "Do The Reggay." Nuff respect to the legend.

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