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Even before signing of the proclamation to make civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday, families across Black America sang the Stevie Wonder's version of his celebrated song, "Happy Birthday." The 1980 released tune will usually come after the more traditional "Happy Birthday" melody, with a soulful hand clap and bounce from side to side. Wonder made the song to bring attention to King's efforts for Black people and how he should have been honored with a holiday. He and many more started the campaign for the day well before it was signed into order by then President Reagan in 1983 and then officially recognized on January, 20th 1986. The day was also just made a federal holiday by the soon to be former President Trump.
With an official song dedicated to the man that gave his life for the betterment of people of all races, the emergence of a new song was experienced by the masses when the single, "King Holiday" dropped in 1986 by the King Dream Chorus & King Holiday Crew. The ode to showing the ultimate love to Dr. King was performed by the hottest R&B and Hip-Hop stars of the times. The King Dream Chorus included: Lisa Lisa of Cult Jam with Full Force, Stacey Lattisaw, El Debarge, Teena Marie, Menudo, Stephanie Mills, New Edition and Whitney Houston. While the Holiday Crew consisted of Grandmaster Melle Mel, The Fat Boys, Whodini, Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC.
The separation of the soul genres didn't come across in the song as much as it did in the billing of it. Both sides meshed well and grooved with a digital funk and futuristic pop that captures the feel of the mid-80s while laying down lyrics that are meant to stick to your heart:
"For the future generation/Dr. King's medication/For successful operation is peace for every nation/Sing! Celebrate! Sing! Sing! Celebrate! For a King Celebrate!"
Written and produced by Phillip Jones, Kurtis Blow, Mellle Mell, Bill Adler and Dr. King's son Dexter Scott King, the song has various versions that run from four-minutes to over seven-minutes. It is also spoken of that the one and only Prince, of Purple Rain fame, paid for the production. Regardless of the ways it was pulled together, the message of unity and honoring the man with the message for us to come together, the "King Holiday" song shows us how our talents can endure generations and still inspire change in the face of the adversity of present day America.
As we tread through the brisker months of the year, it's only natural that one's emotional and mental state can at times become downtrodden and weary, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that's currently ravaging the globe. Couple that with mandated and self-imposed isolation for months on end, catching a case of the feels has become par for the course, no pun intended.
That said, Rah-C has just what the doctor ordered, with the newcomer's debut album, An Unsurfaced Melancholy. The project finds him mirroring the signs of the times with music tailor-made to soundtrack your modern-day existential crisis. The follow-up to The Format, which was released earlier this year, An Unsurfaced Melancholy marks the next chapter in his progression as an artist, as the brazen lyricist is back for the first time, with a revamped approach and vocal style first teased on his previous single, "Whole Life." Produced by Rah-C and Identite Crisis in its entirety, the album begins with "Sooner or Later," an introductory cut that doubles as one of the more upbeat salvos on the album. Layering feathery vocals atop fluttery synths, the New York native vaguely recounts drunken nights in Denver, as he revels in his zest for living in the moment. From there, the tempo gets ratcheted up a few notches with "Back from My Lowest," an airy groove that captures him refusing to wilt beneath the weight of his shortcomings.
Drawing from his lyrical prowess, Rah-C kicks a couple of bars on "Lightning Stuck in a Bottle," which slightly misses the mark due to a grating backdrop, but regains his footing with "It Won't Matter in the End," a sublime offering that finds him in the crosshairs of the law. While An Unsurfaced Melancholy presents an ample amount of intriguing offerings, one that encapsulates the best of what the multi-dimensional crooner has to offer comes in the form of "Over Exposed," which is powered by robust production and stellar songwriting. Musing, "Hearing sweet words from your lips/And my fingertips linger with the taste of you/It causes tooth decay," Rah-C's experience as a seasoned lyricist is as evident as ever, as his clever quips leave the listener with a bit of food for thought to chew on.
In addition to showcasing his talents behind the mic and the boards, Rah-C's musicianship gets put to the forefront with "Til the Embers," a string-laden salvo on which he does work with an acoustic guitar, accounting for one of the more heartfelt compositions on the album. After waxing poetic about the days of yesteryear amid a flurry of rhyme spills on "Nostalgia, The Drug," the proceedings are closed out with "How To Break Free," which captures its host asking the complex questions life tosses us while providing his own answers on the road to peace and happiness.
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First hitting the scene on the strength of his skills as a wordsmith, An Unsurfaced Melancholy finds Rah flipping the script, returning back for the first time with new wrinkles to his artistry and a promising future ahead of him. Flexing the breadth of his abilities as a songwriter, producer, and composer over the album's ten tracks, Rah-C shines brightly, serving up a change of pace with An Unsurfaced Melancholy, which is sure to add an extra bit of brightness to listeners' day after giving it a spin.
Jazmine Sullivan and H.E.R. have tag-teamed on an honest and introspective song, "Girl Like Me," the second single from Sullivan's forthcoming project, Heaux Tales.
Produced by Bongo ByTheWay, the guitar-laden song walks us through the real thoughts that tend to go through a woman's mind after her man leaves her for another woman. Why doesn't he love me anymore? Was it me? Is it because of how I carry myself? Should I have dressed more like a stripper to keep him? What did I do and not do? Is being a good girl really worth it? Maybe I should just let go and be more like a hoe...
The ladies alternate between verses and background adlibs as they address these very things. By the bridge, Sullivan and H.E.R.'s powerful vocals weave in and out of each other as they get frank about why we've resorted to anger, frustration, and "acting like we don't care," even though it "breaks us to the core" when we're not wanted anymore. But their deliverance of the chorus drives the message of this song home.
"Boy, you must wanted somethin' different/ Still don't know what you was missin'/ What you asked I would've given/ It ain't right how these hoes be winnin'/ Why they be winnin'?/ No hope for a girl like me/ How come they be winnin'?/ I ain't wanna be/ But you gon' make a hoe out of me..."
Jazmine Sullivan's Heaux Tales project drops on Friday (Jan. 8). The world is ready to hear more from those pipes again.