The Foreign Exchange — the Grammy-nominated, Durham-based musical duo — doesn’t hit Charlotte that often. And that’s a shame. This city needs more of the melodic, hip-hop-flavored soul sounds that FE members Phonte and Nicolay are famous for creating. We recently caught up with the pair via telephone and grilled them about the upcoming show and why they don't visit the Q.C. more often.
Creative Loafing: Last time you guys were in town was a few years ago at the Double Door Inn for a free summer show. And there was one point in the show when a guy actually jumped onstage. You remember that?
Phonte: I remember that. What the fuck, yo? I just hesitated at first because I thought maybe it might have been somebody ... like he might have been cool or something — somebody from the club that was like coming on stage to fix something because he had on all black. I was like, “Maybe it's somebody from the crew or something.” So, then he just got up, and I kept going. And then I just saw him going, and I was like “What the fuck?!” That was a wild one.
With this new date you have coming up, what kind of stuff can people expect from the show?
Nicolay: We revamped the show since the last album Authenticity, which came out last October. So the show now is largely focused on that album [and] material from that album. We have a new lineup that we actually think is our best yet. So we've been really doing this show pretty much since the beginning of the year — and we've done a lot of them — in the United States as well as in Europe. We definitely have a very seasoned and tight unit right now … people can definitely expect a great show and definitely hear a lot of our recent music.
OK, so why don't y'all hit Charlotte more often?
Phonte: For me, I've just seen over the years that you kind of have to keep your own town … you gotta be kind of scarce, because people take it for granted. They just really think: "Oh I can see him anytime.” When you're performing in your backyard, it's hard to shake that “local” stigma. You kind of have to keep it scarce. So, when you do a show at home, it’s an event and it's not just, “Oh I can see him Thursday again at the supermarket.” You have to have some exclusivity, I think.
Be sure to catch the group when they hit town on Sept. 10 for a rare (and undoubtedly awesome) performance. $20-$25. 10:30 p.m. Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E 36th St. www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.
Even if you know nothing about house music, I guaran-damn-tee youre familiar with the song It's Time for the Percolator. That tune has been the staple of non-house DJs house music sets for around 20 years now. Its one of those songs that house-heads vilify for its popularity and played out-ness, yet still jack their bodies to it when its played at a party. The man responsible for that anthem, DJ/producer (and former chemical engineering major) Green Velvet (aka Cajmere), will be spinning at Dharma Lounge on July 30 this is what he had to say for himself:
Creative Loafing: What makes a chemical engineering student decide to quit school and do music?
Green Velvet: Well, my love and passion for music is mainly what won me over. I did the chemical engineering because I was good in math and wanted to make some money. But at the end of the day, I talked to the Lord, and I said that I just want to do what I really love to do thank God it worked!
When organizers are planning charitable events, they want you to break out your checkbook and support their cause. And sometimes they offer you an incredible experience for your money. Thats the case with Lake, Land & Lyrics, which takes place Saturday, July 23 at Queens Landing on Lake Norman.
The event is a fundraiser for Autism Services of Mecklenburg County, which supports adults and children with autism, traumatic brain injury, and other developmental disabilities. In an effort to raise $250,000, this jam-packed evening features three dinner options (two dinner cruises on the lake and one dinner on land), the Brentson A. Buckner Celebrity Poker Tournament, a concert at the outdoor amphitheater featuring Boyz II Men and Jim Quick & Coastline, and several celebrity guest appearances. Packages range from $100-$400 and each of the festivities features an open bar. Visit www.lakelandandlyrics.org for details.
With Boyz II Men headlining this event, we caught up with group member Shawn Stockman. Younger audiences might recognize him more as a judge for NBCs The Sing-Off, but most of us adults know him as one-fourth of the most successful R&B group of all time, whom many of us grew up listening to, danced to at proms, and may have even tried to dress like in the early-90s (ahem, the buttoned-down shirt, tie, and jean shorts).
What can fans expect from the Boyz II Men concert on July 23?
The fans can expect that well bring 100 percent as we always do. We bring a ton of energy and a ton of enthusiasm, and all of the hits.
Do you tailor your song selections to the audience you anticipate attending your shows?
Our song catalog is universal. We do mix it up, but we make sure to play all of the hits and some covers as well. We play a little bit of everything. We really like to put on an all-inclusive show.
Which songs seem to be the most popular?
Weve had a number of songs that have really resonated with people. They probably know us best for songs like End of the Road, On Bended Knee, and Ill Make Love to You.
This year marked 20 years since the release of your debut album, Cooleyhighharmony. How have you grown from boys to men?
I wouldn't say that our sound has changed over the past 20 years, but I would say that we have. We are older now, more mature with families and different views on life. That was a really exciting time for us it was thrilling to be recording our first album and to be working as a group to create something great.
Compare R&B music in 1991 to R&B music in 2011.
The sad truth is that not many artists are creating great R&B records anymore, and if they are those are the songs that the labels are weeding out in the album finalization process in fear of the sound being dated. While many artists have their fans grow old with them, our fans grow old but they also pass our music down to their children, which allows our fan base to skew much younger than one would think. Given the fact that the sound of music has changed so much over the past 20 years, introducing our music to younger fans is almost like introducing a brand-new style of music.
Why do you think there are so few R&B groups (compared to solo artists) in music today?
Were lucky enough to have incredible chemistry and we never lose sight of the fact that were a team. Its easy to let disputes and drama and egos come between you as a group, which is why a lot of people go solo. But we still know why we do it and thats because we truly love it. That is the key to being here 20 years. Things have not been 100-percent great for 20 years, but we know that is how life is. We were taught early to prepare for the down times because they always come, and because of that weve known what to expect.
You all released a statement last year informing fans that Michael McCary, whod been on hiatus for several years, wouldnt be returning to the group. Have there been any new developments?
As always, we wish Michael nothing but the best. Who knows what the future holds, but as it stands, there are no developments to report.
Congratulations on the recent announcement that Boyz II Men will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Thank you. Its a wonderful honor. Its an incredible validation of all the time and passion and love that weve been putting into this for two decades. Were proud of all that weve done and we would be regardless but to have our own star on the Walk of Fame is truly amazing.
What new material or projects are you all working on?
Were releasing an all-new album this fall and I can tell you this: the fans wont be disappointed. Were truly excited about this. Were back in the studio with many of the guys whove given us some of our biggest records as well as some new, younger producers. So it will be classic Boyz II Men with a twist.
From their humble beginnings in Gary, Ind., to their rise to the top of the pop charts, the Jackson family has been a force to be reckoned with for decades. Their contribution to music has helped shaped the industry over the years and they show no signs of stopping. The Jackson's new generation is moving into the spotlight, but one in particular is venturing into his own lane ... by stepping outside of the singing roots of the family. Siggy "Dealz" Jackson, son of original J5 member Jackie, is introducing the Jackson flavor to the world of hip-hop.
Music has always been a part of me, but I decided to pursue it because I wanted to bring a change to music. Its not about the money or material things, for me music is more about helping others; if the people listening get something out of my music, then Ive done my job, says Dealz. When I was a kid, we used to do talent shows for the family. Everyone else was singing, and I always rapped. Rap is in my heart, always has been, to me its more poetic. Rap has always been considered as 'gangsta' music, but its actually just more passionate than anything.
That passion is evident in his new single Thats How I Feel, which features his father Jackie and his uncle Jermaine. "The song is me basically telling my father how I feel about women," Dealz says. "You dont have to call women names and degrade them just to have a song.
Dealz isnt new to the music game; he released a self-titled mixtape in 2007, and a new album is expected this summer. And despite having a famous last name, he isn't relying on his familial notoriety to open doors or propel his career forward.
Nothing has ever been handed to me; I have worked hard for everything that I have. I started out doing street promotions for artists and have worked my way up from there, says Dealz. Its important that I do continue to represent my family, but more importantly continue to respect the name and brand that they have worked to build.
This year marks the two-year anniversary of Michael Jacksons death. Dealz is using his passion for fast cars and motorcycles to honor his uncles memory. My friend Porkchop and I just unveiled a custom dedication bike that has pictures of my uncle on it. I also built a custom dedication vehicle for him named 'Melody.' Its a 2005 black-and-red Mustang with custom interior, with about 550 Horsepower under the hood.
As fans around the world continue to mourn the loss of the King of Pop, Dealz hopes they keep one thing in mind, I hope people remember my uncle at his best and for the good man that he was. He genuinely cared about everyone.
To learn more about Dealz Jackson check out his website www.officialdealz.com.
Singer Al Jarreau is one of only a handful of jazz artists who has managed to successfully reach a mass audience while still staying true to his musical roots. Serious jazz heads know him for tunes like his groundbreaking rendition of Take Five while more mainstream music fans know him as the dude who sang the theme song for the old Moonlighting TV show. However you know Jarreau, be sure to check him out when he stops through Charlotte on March 20 (show information at the bottom of this artcile); he promises to put on a genre-bending show full of hits, both big and small (yes, even Moonlighting). We caught up with Al last week via telephone and chatted with him about his multifaceted career.
Creative Loafing: I was online a few weeks ago checking out performance videos of you online and found you doing your version of Take Five in 1976 (See video below). So far its been viewed more than 1,000,000 times. Do you have any particular recollections of that performance?
Al Jarreau: Well, a couple of things. Its Al Jarreau just working on the scene, and its Al Jarreau doing some very unusual music for a singer at that time and perhaps any time. I mean Take Five is a very special piece of music that takes a kind of special approach and understanding and ability to get comfortable with this rather unusually written, eclectic piece of music. I tell the story today on stage that whenever I see Dave Brubeck I tell him: I know you wrote that song, but Ive been doing it as long as you have and I feel like you owe me some money! (Laughs) Which is not the truth. But the truth is, I might have played that song as much as he has.
The way you were singing that song, it was kind of like you were mixing similar to a hip-hop DJ, which came years later. Its kind of interesting that you did that before hip-hop existed.
Isnt that interesting? (Laughs) Al doing that stuff 20 years before it became the thing to do. Isnt that interesting? Hello folks! Do I have to turn the spotlight on myself and drum roll? Gotdamn! Was Al a forerunner? Yeah he was way out there. Ahead of the pack! (Laughs)
Its funny to think that back in the day with songs like Moonlighting and such you were a pop star yourself. What do you think of the current state of pop music?
Oh my man. I dont recognize this sector of the universe! I dont know what I would do coming along these days with my brand of music. I mean, the Esperanza Spladings are rarities; still, its encouraging to find that there are some young people who are seeing through to the real deal seeing through the kind of haze of other stuff that can be music. Yeah, its a really different time. I just tell young people these days: Just do it cause you love it. Thats been my approach.
So what do you have coming up?
George Duke and I have a little CD coming from 1965. In 1965, we played at a place called the Half Note [in San Francisco]. George was a student at the conservatory, and I was a social worker living in San Francisco and singing nights. We recorded on one or two nights. We just went through those tapes, and theres some stuff there that we think is important for people to hear Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio 1965, doing some music that theyve never heard me or George ever do. Thats coming toward the end of the month. And Im gearing up for a big summer tour. And were working on a new studio record brand-new material. Were just really grinning about that. Ohhh wait till you hear this!
Show info: $38.50-$75.50. 7 p.m. Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. 704-372-1000. www.carolinatix.org.
If, like me, youve grown tired of hearing DJs spin the Notorious B.I.G.s hip-hop hit One More Chance, you should check out the man who provided the musical foundation for this and other tunes: El DeBarge.
Over the years, rappers like Biggie and Rich Boy (of Throw Some Ds fame ... see video below) have sampled classic songs by El and the DeBarge family. But, as he battled drug addiction, the legendary vocalist pretty much disappeared from the spotlight. (In a recent interview, El told me: It took me 22 years to get hooked on drugs and 25 years to get off.)
Now, however, hes back with a brand-new album (Second Chance), and a smooth new sound (According to El, Polow Da Don, the producer of Throw Some Ds that features a snippet from the beloved track I Call Your Name by the first DeBarge family group, Switch recently created some tracks for his new album. While in the studio El said to Polow: I like what you did for Rich Boy. Now lets see what you can do for me!), which you can hear live when he makes a stop in Charlotte tonight to perform new, and vintage, material.
$35-$65. 7:30 p.m. CPCCs Halton Theater, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. For more information, visit www.thesolkitchen.com.
There's a lot of chatter about the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. First, people are talking about the cover of the magazine which features Lady Gaga in machine guns and little else.
Second, they're talking about the article itself which discusses Gaga's desire to keep up an image and always portray Lady Gaga whether she's on stage or leaving a hospital. She says she won't even drink water on stage so that people will stay focused on the music.
Yep, she's a character alright...
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These guys are the shit!
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Pretty cool when a single 40-second clip makes you wish like hell you'd been there.