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Get Ready To Feel Exalted With Sir The Baptist’s Debut Album

Church service comes early this weekend.

Sir The Baptist is ready to officially bring us to church with his debut album, Saint Or Sinner.

The Atlantic Records recording artist, who hails from Chicago’s Southside, implements a healthy mix of hip-hop, soul, R&B and gospel-infused stylings in his songs, and his LP is set to drop on Friday, May 12.

As one of the first acts to perform that brisk Saturday (May 6) at Washington D.C.’s Broccoli City Festival, Sir preached the good word by performing some of his songs including “Creflo Almighty Dollar,” “What We Got,” “Second Line Ball” and “Heaven.” He implemented a gospel-tinged call-and-response section providing audience interaction during the latter, and also invited a young fan on stage to sing with him. The most interesting aspect of his set was when he surprised skeptical concertgoers by giving out his actual phone number, stating that he only wants to be called by those who are serious about making a positive change socially and musically.

During some downtime from the festivities, Sir spoke to VIBE about his goals for 2017, what he hopes to accomplish with his debut album, and how he hopes music can get back to a more holistic frequency to heal the world.

VIBE: What can we expect from Saint Or Sinner?
Sir The Baptist: It’s a balance of this church kid that tries to go and do the music industry, and realizes that it stole so many people. The Michael Jacksons: you know, he was pulled between his spiritual side and the side that wanted to just sing and be popular. Whitney [Houston]: singing in the choir, and then realizing she wanted to do more with her voice, but then when she tried to do more with it, they tried to steal her soul. It was push-and-pull with her, and you find her in a tub.

We're here to holistically heal all the wounds that they [the industry] gave us. These [artists] are traumatized, traumatized saints. With the album, you get to see the balance of saint and sinner, and how I went through that same process, but I escaped fame. Fame is hard. I wanna be famous for doing the right thing, and that's even harder. So many people would just turn away from fame and'll be like “f**k it." I wanna be famous for caring about people.

And you gotta make sure that they don't dig back and try to find the corruption within your story. People like to read about the bad and they like to make the best people villains.
Yes. They did that with Prince. They have video of him leaving the pharmacy getting drugs. They want this! All of these artists are falling into it. We need to put music back into 432 [Hz], that's the frequency that heals people. It’s probably the frequency that David played his harps in when he pushed away demons in The Bible days. We're not even in that frequency anymore, and if you look at frequencies, it affects how your body is. Your body is maybe 80 percent water, and frequencies make it move. Look at you! [Erykah] Badu is playing [at the festival] and now your stance is centered! Badu centers people. That's the secret, frequency and sound bathing. All the greatest people in the world understood frequencies.

What are you hoping that listeners will get out of the new material?
I hope they get the feeling. I'm trying to bring the feeling and the importance back into a frequency that we're not supposed to be in. I'm trying to calm down the frequency somehow with this music.

Any features we can look forward to?
I’ve got songs with Brandy and a bunch of people, Killer Mike, Twista.

How has your upbringing helped carve out the distinction of your sound?
The first song I released was "Raise Hell," and it had stomps and claps in it. Those stomps are sort of a reflection of the wood that was in the pews, or the wood that was in the choir stand that you would stomp, and you'd hear that when we were in the choir stand. Even down to certain frequencies that I put into the music, it's based on what I grew up with and where I came from. Even now, we're having a hard time with that song and putting it on the album, simply because people don't even know how to mix that type of music. They're like, 'how do I mix stomps and claps with 808's?' It's finding that balance of our higher and our lower self.

A Lion on stage!

A post shared by Sir William James The Baptist (@sirthebaptist) on

So, why perform hip-hop and not just straight-up gospel then?
Because gospel's so f**kin’ wack! Gospel is wack as sh*t. I think if I had done gospel, it would have been a bad idea. You know what I mean? If I wanted to reach you, and you're extremely valuable to me, I'd have to talk like we talk, like when we're not in church. Or even when we're in the pew and the pastor's up there and we're like, [out of the side of his mouth] "this mother f**ker right here..." [Laughs] I have to! I told somebody the other day, if Kendrick [Lamar] wasn't as much of a rapper and was more of a preacher, God would have put me somewhere else. It gives me a chance to be more spiritual and gives us something more to hold onto, spirituality-wise. There's a better balance.

Do you think you fit in with the “Chicago sound”?
I hate “Chicago sound.” I'm actually against it, I don't like it. A lot of people come from Chicago, they think it's a Chicago sound, it's really not. It's a New Orleans sound that migrated during the Great Migration to the north. I'm really sensitive about that. A sound without substance is nothing. Sound without history is nothing.

I can tell you every piece of what harmony, chord, arrangement, lyrics, inspiration comes from, and I can direct you to the neighborhood where that person lived, where that person walked. It's a South sound, it comes from the South. Mississippi, Alabama, New Orleans, know where that comes from. New Orleans is part French, know why I say "second line." When I say "I'm fresh to death, they're second linin' in the South" on one of the songs on the album, that’s reflecting what they do in New Orleans and they've got the horns, and they’re carrying the casket, coming down in the street. So, I like Chicago…but I don't.

You’ve had a great 2016. Are you looking forward to anything in 2017?
I'm performing a lot, and then I go overseas a lot. I've never been overseas before, and I really get to implement what this [the mission of his music] really is. I guess in 2016, it got really gospel. A bunch of other artists in Chicago, they started talking about and using gospel music and the sound, the frequency, as a marketing gimmick, and I don't really do that. Mine isn't to pull in a certain type of listener, it's mission-driven, not music driven. So this 2017, I get a chance to implement that.

You said during your set that your music and your career isn’t about you, it’s about us. I really like that.
It’s not at all about me! Not at all. This [mainstream] stuff, you'll go home eventually and you're like "I can't even listen to that anymore, I don't want that in my system." This right now, it's in a certain frequency where if you were braindead, your brain would still process the frequency, but wouldn't process the key.

Any time I perform, anything I do, I never do it for me. I hope those fans see me as family too, because I really care about [them]. I want you to enjoy a song that talks about you, not a song that calls you a b***h. Especially someone of your intellect and your beauty, you should be appreciated and not depreciated.

The way I ran with Rodney Jerkins, who produced Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and all that, we understand that music surpasses understanding and reasoning. You're gonna remember this popular stuff whether you want to or not, and if I was to pass anything to you, I'd want it to be something that's soul food, good for your life. Not just "oh, I'm f**kin’ cool. Look what I could do."

I’ll never forget when Jay Z walking up to me and being like "thank you." He saw that I cared about you all and that I love doing what I do. From there, I got to open up a show for Beyonce and work with Brandy and all these other artists that we actually appreciate. These newcomers are just...

Some of them really want to do things for fame. It's cool to get recognized, but you can't do it just to get recognized, you have to do it because you love it.
Yes! Please put that in your article when you write this up? Oh G*d dammit! Listen, they’re abusing frequency! Whether we like it or not, they’re getting people to remember [their songs]. Like the McDonald's jingle, "ba-da-ba-ba-ba!" You didn't even realize you were rocking with that song, you were just buying into the frequency, the sound, and now you want a burger. Frequency is a part of hypnotizing. I know I sound crazy, but I care!

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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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The O'Jays Provide Political And Spiritual Grooves On 'The Last Word'

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The group previously released the lead single "Above The Law," a righteous track that highlights the state of the nation to a tee. The rest of The Last Word is noticeably lighter with songs like "Do You Really Know How I Feel" and "Enjoy Yourself" bringing out the flower power child in all of us. The latter of the tracks bridges today's funk and soul rhymes as it was co-written by Bruno Mars and Patrick Monahan of Train.

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Stream The Last Word below.

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Review: Anderson .Paak Reroutes To 'Ventura'

Just five months after his last album Oxnard, singer/producer/drummer/entertainer extraordinaire Anderson .Paak is back with Ventura, his fourth studio LP. Depending on who you ask, the new project is either a surprise second course, or a round of comped desserts to make up for an overdone entree.

The Korean-African-American musician born Brandon Paak Anderson spent the first half of this decade intermittently recording under the name Breezy Lovejoy, converting rock songs into R&B, and drumming for an American Idol alumnus. In 2015, he emerged into the national spotlight thanks to six features on Compton, the long-gestating Dr. Dre album formerly known as Detox. He took advantage of the attention and released two full-lengths in 2016: Malibu was a sprawling solo album that showed him equally deft with bass-heavy club tracks or Sam Cooke-esque soul. Yes Lawd!, a collaboration with producer Knxwledge under the name NxWorries, was a chopped up stoner odyssey, Madvillainy if DOOM could sing as well as he spit. That same year, .Paak announced that he had signed to Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath in a brief but celebratory video featuring the rap mogul himself.

.Paak took nearly three years to unleash the full power of the PR by Dre machine: he debuted the lead single on Zane Lowe, soundtracked an Apple ad, and compared the album to landmarks like The Blueprint and The College Dropout. When Oxnard finally dropped last November, reviews were generally positive but mixed, and it peaked at 11 on the Billboard album charts. Enough fans felt the singer had strayed from his post-millennial soul sound that his own mother felt the need to clap back. With a sprawling summer tour schedule looming, .Paak released his follow-up, Ventura, last Friday.

To hear the artist tell it, that was always the plan. “I told Dre when we were maybe about 80 percent into the Oxnard record that I wanted to actually do two records and he started scratching his head. ...I was like, ‘Let me do two, man. One will be gritty, one will be pretty,’” .Paak told HipHopDX. It’s clear that both albums were compiled from the same sessions, but they are distinct. While Anderson .Paak’s last project emphasized the Michael Bay-sized hip-hop beats that Dr. Dre perfected at the turn of the millennium, Ventura has a more soulful sound. It doesn’t slap, it grooves.

As the cover portrait of the artist with his child suggests, Ventura is an intimate record. He’s focused on sex and love in the long term, the ups and downs of relationships years after the introductory one night stands other pop stars sing about. His blunt-burnt yet sweet voice conjures a charming scoundrel character on record, a dad celebrating Friday night with a popped collar and glass overflowing with dark liquor. It’s a compelling persona .Paak previously exaggerated to cartoonish proportions on Yes Lawd!

Here, his pen shines on the small moments that hint at big feelings. On “Jet Black,” .Paak and his girl are getting physical for the first time in some time, sharing the peak of an unfamiliar high. “It’s been a while, baby, come here,” .Paak beckons. The house beat burbles with slap bass and descending organ as Brandy sings “Feels like someone lifted me.”

.Paak heats up a similarly chilled relationship on the luxuriant “Make It Better.” “Meet me at the hotel motel, though we got a room at home, go to a place that we don't know so well,” he murmurs. Over a laidback thump, .Paak tries to reignite passion in order to save his relationship. His voice desperately yelps on the chorus as the pressure he feels to reconnect emerges, but it quickly subsides into sweet nothings. Smokey Robinson’s backing vocals float in like he’s playing on a radio outside the lovers’ motel room. They’re buried low enough in the mix to suggest that if you’re cool enough to get a feature from a quiet storm legend, you’re cool enough not to rub it in.

Ventura’s precursor was stocked with verses from luminaries like Snoop Dogg, Q-Tip, and Kendrick Lamar, but Ventura’s only guest rapper, Andre 3000, appears on the first track, “Come Home.” It’s a rough start. The song opens with a piano melody that loops but never resolves, creating an anxiety similar to an iPhone alarm clock tone. .Paak begs for someone to come home, but it’s unconvincing, like he doesn’t yet understand why they left in the first place.

While Smokey’s feature is masterfully underplayed, Andre 3000’s verse gets a garish spotlight. Since Idlewild, 3 Stacks has made a habit of releasing guest verses on occasion in lieu of making an album of his own. When he’s on, he’s one of the best rappers alive, but “Come Home” is a rare misstep. The Outkast rapper fills entire bars with syllables about asking for forgiveness on a moped with a puppy, but it doesn’t feel charismatic. Fitting Willy Wonka, Tilikum, and Billabong into the same verse is admirable in a technical sense, but it feels like Andre’s “Rap God” technique for its own sake.

The album finishes much stronger. The last track “What Can We Do?” is built around a chiming sitar, and it savors contentment like a West Coast “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” .Paak duets with Nate Dogg on the hook, using recordings made before the legend’s untimely death in 2011. The deceased vocalist was a key G-funk ingredient, but his voice sits comfortably in a sunnier sound. It’s a credit to .Paak that the faux studio banter that closes the song feels natural.

The other features are similarly complementary to .Paak. Lalah Hathaway coos in unison with him on the disco half of “Reachin’ 2 Much.” Jazmine Sullivan plays the other woman, forced to climb in through the fire escape to retrieve her rings and “Good Heels” the morning after. Only Sonyae Elise spars with her host, offering a righteous rebuttal to his demands for the women in his life and sarcastically suggesting that he might be the “Chosen One.”

.Paak name drops to a few key inspirations in his lyrics as well. Later in “Chosen One,” he raps, “Heard your fans want to keep you in the underground, cool, when I blow up say I did it for MF DOOM,” a reminder of his pre-fame time in LA’s crate digging underground scenes. He contemplates leaving a relationship on “Reachin’ 2 Much” and all he can offer is “I’ll see you next lifetime, baby, what did Badu say?”

Like Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah diptych a decade ago, .Paak’s lyrics about current events are enough to provoke reflection without detracting from the physical pull of the grooves. He nimbly raps “Chicken wings and sushi, I’ve gotten used to the perks, narrowly escaping the holy war on the turf” on “Yada Yada.” Lead single “King James” praises people with public platforms for refusing to go along with a murderous status quo, promising to jump over any wall and bring the neighbors with. In the midst of his “Winners Circle” flirtation, .Paak raps “When I get the gushy, I go dumb like the President.” It’s not a jaw-dropping lyric, but it’s comforting to know that a bar that direct will be performed in arenas across America this summer.

Anderson .Paak’s talent is unquestionable and his spotlight is well-deserved, especially knowing he’s endured homelessness and familial legal trouble on his come-up. To his credit, he appears to be striving towards a magnum opus, a landmark album that becomes a household name like The Chronic or Midnight Marauders. Despite his strong catalog plus a plethora of excellent features, .Paak has yet to deliver that opus. (Yes Lawd!’s destiny as a cult classic aside.) Ventura is a fun, pleasant listen, and an improvement on the bombast of Oxnard. Like most double albums, one gets the feeling that there’s a great forty minute playlist waiting to be assembled from their best tracks.

Ventura ultimately doesn’t quite match the highs of his earlier albums, but it’s a leisurely stroll in the right direction. Nearly a decade into his recording career, it’s proof that .Paak can always find his way to the next beach.

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