Premiere: Josh Dean's "Funny Valentine" And Debut EP Is The Vocal Hug We Needed

There's more than a few powerful nayhoos behind Josh Dean. The singer-songwriter has a vibrancy about him that instantaneously puts anyone that is touched by him in a good mood. It's what pulled him into Janelle Monae's Wondaland orbit and a spot on Hitco's roster. It's also what makes his latest single, "Funny Valentine" so lovable.

The visuals for "Funny Valentine" are just as nostalgic as his interpolation (Sixpence None The Richer). Shot in black and white, Dean is all alone as he sings about the wonders of a cautious love. It's almost insane to think Dean's strong vocals weren't heard until he accidentally left his vocals on an early recording of Jidenna's "Classic Man."

Dean, who was interning for Monae's Wonderland as a graphic designer, was given a slot on the label's roster as well as an opportunity to record his debut EP Dear BlackSheepe. Some might call it fate or mere coincidence but for Dean, this feels like destiny.

"When I first got to Wondaland as an intern, I was having a conversation with Mikael [Janelle’s manager] he was like, 'People change once they get fame or famous.'" he tells VIBE. "I never want to change. I do want to be smarter, more of a seasoned singer, I want my connection with people to be stronger now than it is. In terms of who I am and the things that have shaped me, my foundation, I don’t want those things to change. I’m happy to be where I’m from, I’m happy to have been raised on a farm, I don’t think I would be the same person without it. I don’t want to step into this next phase of my life and feel like I couldn’t be myself."

The Alabama native is a clear student of music. Thanks to his grandmother, Dean started at an early age. He was taught the importance of melodies in the church and continued to explore music in school. But shortly after his mother's death, Dean moved to Florida with his father where he enjoyed the thrills of graphic design. That passion would lead him to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta to study Marketing and Computer Science. The power of graphic design also led him to an internship at Doppler Studios for Grammy-Award winning producer and songwriter, Bryan Michael Cox.

“I went one day and I sat in on this session they were working on, and I was amused by everything that I saw,” he said. By the end of the internship, Dean's passions began to intertwine. “It reignited my pursuit of music again, it gave me more of a reason and hunger to not only be in [that environment] but I was sharing my gift at the time in order to be there.”

Dear BlackSheepe showcases this with an appreciation for pop-R&B and funk sounds, specifically on fan-favorite track "DropDead." Like his influences (Prince, Michael Jackson) the singer has found a way to use upbeat grooves to heal painful memories.

"'DropDead' came from a sad place," he said. "My uncle passed away before I recorded that song. I was afraid because the song doesn’t necessarily sound like that. [My family] all thought he was doing really great, but what we didn’t know and what he didn’t tell us, was [that he] was suffering from an illness. And one day he literally drops dead and my whole family was shocked by it."

It's hard to ignore the Jackson influence but it's also easy to see Dean's vision. The singer isn't trying to emulate anyone other than himself.

"For so long in my life, I shied away from really just singing or having this connection with myself," Dead admitted. "When I got to Wondaland I wanted to step outside of that box. The whole idea of Dear BlackSheepe is that. It's a journey piece for me. Dear BlackSheepe is like, ‘Yeah we’re all different but we’re all alike and there are these things inside of us.'"

With his talents blending, he's keen on how his music videos like "Funny Valentine" and "DropDead" will be perceived. Artsy but not overly provocative, his visuals prove just how much Dean is aware of his artistry.

"The video shoot for "DropDead" was also a release for me too because I had never performed like that," he said. "I do it in front of my mirror all the time but it’s different once you’re performing in front of a camera. I learned so much that day about myself, about what I want to see on future sets of my music videos."

It may be early in his career, but Dean is checking off many moments off his bucket list. This includes opening up for boss lady Janelle Monae later this month in New York.

"I’m just really grateful because I think back to four or five years ago, I was sleeping on Janelle’s couch in her studio," he said.  "When I stepped through the doors of Wondaland, I had no idea that five years from now I would be opening up for her. It’s amazing to see how so much growth has happened in that bit of time. It all went by so fast, time flew by. She’s my big sister and I’ve learned so much from her style of performance [just by] sitting on the side of the stage. I’m really excited to take a lot of what I’ve learned and put it on the big stage. This will be one of my biggest shows to date. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. I’m a little nervous, but the nervousness I think is a good thing."

Josh Dean is still evolving, he’s still growing. He's also a gem that can shine in today R&B space.

Stream DearBlackSheepe here.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Cardi B attends "The Road to F9" Global Fan Extravaganza at Maurice A. Ferre Park on January 31, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Cardi B Assures Fans She Doesn't Have Coronavirus After Hospitalization

Cardi B has clarified her recent hospitalization had nothing to do with the current coronavirus outbreak.

The rapper took to Instagram Live to clear up the rumors after she shared a photo of her with an identity band from a hospital. “I’ve been very f***ing sick these past five days–not corona,” she said Thursday (April 2). “I have really bad stomach issues. I started throwing up; I took a pregnancy test cuz a b***h never f***ing knows.”

As she tried to find out what was wrong, fans went into a frenzy with claims of coronavirus. “I threw up seven times," she said. "I didn’t want to go to the hospital, I went to the hospital. I was sick and [press] ran with it, then my publicist hit me up and it ain’t nothing coronavirus-related, thank God!”

The possible stomachache may be connected to the singer's first world problems of finding a perfect chef. “I don’t have nobody to cook for me. I hired a chef two times and they were nasty and expensive,” she said.

In lighter news, the rapper confirmed proceeds of her viral "Coronavirus" track will benefit those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Yes! That's what [we're] going to do!" Cardi B tweeted last week. "Keep in mind you don’t get your money right away...but even months from now there would be families with financial issues for getting laid off due to the virus. We will donate!"

Continue Reading
Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
KMazur/WireImage

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

Continue Reading

Nicky Jam Shows The Good, The Bad And The Hustle In 'El Ganado' Bio-Series Trailer

It's been years in the making but Latinx superstar Nicky Jam is finally ready to share his truth with the authorized Netflix bio-series, Nicky Jam: El Ganador.

Sharing the trailer this week, the series will highlight Jam's journey in the music industry as well as the struggles he endured in the streets and more. The project is directed by acclaimed film and music video director Jessy Terrero and produced by Endemol Shine Boomdog, a division of Endemol Shine North America. The series will officially hit Netflix on April 21.

In the trailer, we see Jam in three stages: his youth, his rookie days in the game and the actual artist in the present. The creative take is bound to give fans another perspective of the Grammy-winning artist.

“I’ve been hearing from many of my fans on social media and when I talk with them in person, that they’ve been waiting for the chance to see ‘El Ganador’ in the U.S. on Netflix,” said Nicky Jam. “Now they will get to see it starting April 21 and I hope they enjoy it like so many others have across the world. I’m really proud of what we created.”

“I am excited about bringing this level of story-telling that is related to reggaeton music,” added Terrero. “The genre’s popularity gives our story and others like it the opportunity to reach a much larger audience. This is my mission with Cinema Giants. Nicky’s story is inspirational in so many ways. I am proud to be part of it.”

Jam recently celebrated another feat on the Billboard Latin charts. "Muevelo," his buzzy single with Daddy Yankee, reached No. 1 on both the Latín Airplay and Latin Rhythm Airplay charts. 

Check out the trailer for El Ganador up top and revisit our VIBE VIVA February cover story with Jam here. 

Continue Reading

Top Stories