Ohio rhymer Stalley is among our favorite emcees here at Beats and Rants. We believe he's going to bring some major heat in 2012. What an example? Check out this smooth joint called "Cash and My Cutty." Produced by the Almighty Ski Beatz, the bearded one raps cautionary street tales over a soft violin soundbed. "They can smell you from a distance when your pockets loaded / That's why I keep this semi-auto loaded," he spits. Ride out in your '87 Cutless Supreme to this.
Can we please have a moment of silence for soul icon Etta James. The blues songbird with the husky, soulful voice died on Friday (Jan. 20) have a long bout of declining health that included leukemia, kidney failure and dementia. She was 73 years old.
James died at a hospital in Riverside, Calif., just five days shy of her 74th birthday (Jan. 25). "This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world," said James' longtime manager Lupe De Leon. "She was a true original who could sing it all -- her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always."
Etta James, whose real name is Jamesetta Hawkins, helped lay the foundations of rock and rhythm & blues music with her influential recordings in the 1950s and 1960s. Although she recorded a slew of memorable songs for the famous Chess Records label, James will be forever remembered for her one signature tune, "At Last."
Chess co-founder Leonard Chess handpicked James to sing the classic ballad, which was originally written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the 1941 film musical Orchestra Wives. "At Last" reached the No. 2 spot on the R&B chart in 1962 and has be covered by a slew of artists including Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Lou Rawls, Miles Davis and many other performers.
James retired from music in 2010 when it was announced she was suffering with Alzheimer's disease. She released her final studio album in that year titled The Dreamer. In a statement, James told her followers, "I wish to thank all my fans who have shown me love and support over all these years. I love you all."
In 2008, Beyoncé played James in the biographical film Cadillac Records. The R&B mom also performed "At Last" during the 2009 Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Bey-Bey wrote a touching eulogy to Etta James on her blog. It reads:
"This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed."
Among James' accolades include six Grammy Awards and inductions into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2001.
Etta James leaves behind her husband, Artis Mills, and her two sons (from a previous marriage) Donto and his brother, Sametto, and seven grandchildren.
Rest in Peace, Etta James.
At last . . . you are finally home in heaven. God bless.
Can we please have a moment of silence for legendary funk band leader Jimmy Castor (aka the "Everything Man"). The singer-turned saxophonist died today (Jan. 16) at a hospital in Las Vegas. He was 64 years old. No official word on cause of death. Castor's grandson, P.J. Romain, made the sad announcement on his Twitter page earlier today. "My Grandfather Jimmy Castor died today at 2:30 on MLK day," he tweeted.
Chic producer Nile Rodgers also confirmed the news of Castor's death and sent out his condolences through the Twitter-verse. "I can't stop crying. How do I explain how much his brilliant upbeat music touched my soul? Jimmy Castor RIP," he wrote.
The hip-hop community owes a heavy debt of gratitude to Jimmy Castor and his band. His influential Latino funk-soul songs have been sampled over 3,000 times by every rapper (from A to Z) in the music game -- from Afrika Bambaataa to the X-Clan. Castor's most famously borrowed line, "What we're gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time," comes from his gold-selling classic funk jam "Troglodyte (Cave Man)."
Castor's most well-known and heavily-sampled song "It's Just Begun" was featured in the 1983 dance movie Flashdance.
I wrote an essay about that pivotal dance scene in Flashdance as well as Jimmy Castor's song "It's Just Begun." It was My Proudest Moment in Hip-Hop.
Rest in Peace, Jimmy Castor. Your musical legacy will forever prosper in Hip-Hop History.
Wow! After becoming a new dad two days ago, Jay-Z releases this heartfelt tribute to his newborn baby girl Blue Ivy Carter (aka B.I.C.). The soulful tune is just as touching as his confessional ballad "Song Cry" from his 2001 classic album The Blueprint.
Produced by Pharrell Williams, "Glory" features Hov baring his heart and soul to his newborn child. "The most amazing feeling I feel / Words can't describe the feeling, for real / Baby I'll paint the sky blue / My most greatest creation was you," he raps.
Jay even gets more deeper into the song as he reveals to his daughter that she was conceived in Paris and that Beyoncé previously had a miscarriage. "Last time the miscarriage was so tragic / We was afraid you disappeared / But nah baby, you magic," he says.
With Jay-Z releasing this song today makes this a wonderful hip-hop moment. I ain't gonna lie, I got a little teary-eyed at the end of the song.
Not to be confused with Dres of Black Sheep fame, although I'm quite sure he's a capable producer in his own right. This is producer dRes (produced dee-res) from Newark, N.J., and he's garnering some attention in the hip-hop blogosphere with this new song called "Rattle."
The banging track features Detroit gruff rhymer Guilty Simpson and Philadelphia spitfire Truck North. With its concrete beats, bopping bass and trumpet flutters, this joint should rattle your speakers.
The song will appear on dRes' upcoming LP Wild Produce, which hits stores on Jan. 17. You can listen to snippets from the album at Amazon.com. I hope he drops an instrumental album with this, as well. Producer dRes' beats are off the chain. Props!