Archive for the ‘Downloads’ Category

h1

secrets (my first album.)

August 19, 2009

Tonight I want to share with you the first collection of songs that I completed between August 2006 and March 2007.  I was listening to the songs while wasting time at work, and I realised that before I debut my new material in the coming months, I wanted to take you through a history of my previous songs (don’t worry, there aren’t too many! 😉 )  I entitled my first album Secrets mainly because I was writing a song with the same title that ironically didn’t make it onto the album, but also because this album was the first attempt at my realising my own dream of creating a collection of songs that were “my little secrets”, as it were.  The sound of the album is sorta a combination of R&B meets dance via pop, and I’m glad to say that it is a long way away from the material that I create now (though a couple of the songs on the new album Quiet Storm do hark back to that sound).  The vocal production leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s only towards the end of the album (which were the last songs to be finished) that the songs begin to sound anywhere near polished. Nevertheless, I am so proud of these songs because they represent my first attempt at realising my dream of producing an album and being able to share it with the world, and it allowed me to get to grips with Garageband (the studio program on my mac, which is an application that I am still learning with every song).  And some of them aren’t so bad!  I hope that you enjoy the album, and I’ve provided a track-by-track ‘review’ with my thoughts behind the songs and the songwriting process.

DOWNLOAD SECRETS HERE: megaupload rapidshare zshare

Prophecy (Intro)
I wanted an intro to my album that was ominous and mysterious, so I liked the sitar-esque intrsuments.  The words are from the Book of Revelation, which makes it a direct copy of Madonna’s “The Beast Within”… but what the heck.  I thought it worked as an intro, I liked the idea of it being a “revelation” (because the album is called “Secrets”!), and I thought it led nicely into the pounding alien synths of the next track…

Reach Out
This is the “lead single” of the album, very club ready and the second song that I ever did.  Things I like about this song: the use of strings in an uptempo, the pounding bass and synths, the twinkling piano over the top, and the tongue-twisting chorus which proved to me that I write lyrics which are sometimes too hard to sing: “All my ladies in the club looking fly in your Moschino sexy sophisticated / All my boys ridin dirty flexin muscles flossin twenty” is a little bit more of a tongue-twister than I realised.  Things I should have improved: the chorus is in a slightly different key to the “just reach out just reach out” hook which comes after it!  Although I am certainly a singer before I am a rapper, the rap in the bridge is not my finest hour.  But I played the hell out of this on my ipod, and I was so proud so this song means a lot to me.

Confession (Prelude) / Checkin’
The prelude comes after I had just gotten into Joss Stone’s most recent album, Introducing Joss Stone, which used a lot of old-school instruments such as horns and live drums, so I was flirting with that old-school sound.  And then for “Checkin'”, I liked the contrast between the brassy horns in the prelude and then the cold, spiky electronic backing of the song itself.  In “Checkin'”, I actually combine those horns into the dance-feel of the song, and the beat changes several times throughout the song (particularly in the prechorus change to the chorus) which is something I feel makes the song fresh.  However, the vocal production on it leaves a little to be desired… So there are things I appreciate about the song, but also things that I wish I had polished a little more, once again.

My Man / I’m Coming (Interlude)
Again, this song has subdued vocals, and the somewhat restrained vocal production means that it fades into the beats a little too much.  This is one of the most R&B songs, and the straightforward ballad backing is something I think I did a really great job of.  The lyrics are also straightforward “keep your hands off my man”, but I turned it into a ballad rather than an uptempo, which is what usually goes along with a more fiery message.  The song is confident and was written a lot in the spirit of Monica’s “Sideline Ho” – you might be the one on the side, but I’m the main dude, so don’t even think of coming for me.  I like this one, and I wouldn’t mind doing another song with the same sort of music backing, just stronger vocal production (especially on the whispers, which are barely audible).

Respect Me
This is the first song I ever did!!! This brings back memories, I was sat on the sofa in the lounge, before I was due to go off to Spain, and I just started messing about with what sounded a little crazy on Garageband. I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I made my vocals skip, and then I started playing with the different drum kits.  The crazy beat is a product of going “C D E F G A” on one of the kits, nothing more, nothing less!  The siren is stolen from Beyoncé’s “Ring The Alarm”, and I wanted the same kind of fiery approach to the vocals, without the screaming!  The vocals actually came out pretty good, so on some of the songs I did in between this one and the last two songs on the disc, I don’t know why I didn’t put so much effort into the vocal production.  The handclaps in the bridge are my very own handclaps, which is why they sound a bit fuzzy, but other than that, I feel that this song holds up fairly well compared to others on the disc.

Reverse
One of the things that annoys me about Garageband is that you actually can’t reverse any portion of any of the tracks.  Not vocals, not anything (if anyone knows a way to do it, please let me know!).  So instead I slowed my vocals down in the chorus; “strato-stratosphere!” More questionable rapping in the verses, but the vocal run in the first prechorus – “daaaaaaaaaaaaaaanger” – is one of my finest moments! (and yes, it is all me doing that! No special effects!)  The concept of the “tetris beat” is adapted from Gwen Stefani’s “Yummy”, featuring Pharrell.  The straightforward 4-4 beat, combined with the odd space-alien synth and hand-claps (not mine this time) served as a simple club-ish backing.  I also liked the idea of the ” count 1,2,3,4…” which broke the song after the first chorus and gains attention.  This song isn’t bad at all, but excluding the Latin piano in the bridge, I wish I had done more singing on it and less rapping/speaking.

Say Anything
I think I did a great job with this ballad, which I presume must have been inspired by Janet Jackson’s “Take Care” from her underrated 20YO album.  I was listening to this song in the store-room, and this and the final song (the next one) “Yur Boi” are by far the best songs on this cd.  It’s a sexy, slow ballad that goes beyond the physical to really express how I can relish a lover’s company, not only when we’re talking but even when we’re silent.  True communication goes beyond words… but I still ended the song with a poetic spoken-word coda.  The bassline shudders appropriately, and the finger-clicks accentuate the subtlety of the whole song.  I can imagine Aaliyah singing something like this, as well as Janet Jackson.  I look fondly back on this song, which I wrote in Spain along with…

Yur Boi
Originally, this song was meant to share the sound of Brooke Hogan’s “For A Moment” (which is referenced in the very last line of the song), but midway through my stay in Spain, I rediscovered Jaimeson’s garage-R&B album, and I was listening to “Complete” and decided to change the song so that it had more of a drum’n’bass feel, which ended the album on an unexpected note that drew away from both the R&B and dance elements that had come before.  The melody steals a bit from Beenie Man & Mýa’s “Girls Dem Sugar” (the part where she sings “If I could be your girl” is the little snippet I stole, though I rejigged the rhythm and everything so it’s not recognisable until you compare the songs side by side).  I also wanted the lyrics to tell a story that surprised the listener – the first half of the song gives the impression that I’m blissfully happy with my lover, when as the song transitions into its less beat-driven second-half, it transpires that I’m alone and missing that person terribly, wishing that I could live our love over again.  The dénouement was reflected by the musical changes, where the drum’n’bass beat was subdued in favour of an acoustic guitar loop, strings and the piano melody which was pushed to the forefront.  On a couple of songs on Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, I was impressed by the way that Justin transitioned between the principal club-ready mainstream song, and the more emotional, heartfelt coda that segued perfectly into what came before and after.  I’m thinking in particular of “Lovestoned / I Think She Knows” and “What Goes Around… / …Comes Around”.  So I sought to recreate that sort of transition.  I think that the song turned out great, and apart from a couple of production quirks, it sounds quite fresh and legit, even today.  This song and “Say Anything” I think are the two best songs on the album, as they sound slightly more polished and have thus held up better with time in comparison to my newer material.

Once again, I want to thank you for reading, taking all these different journeys with me.  Please download the album (let me know if I need to re-up any of the links), and rest assured there is more (and a lot better!!!) to come. I hope that you enjoy reading the descriptions along to the songs and that they shed light on where and what I get my inspiration from.  I also hope that you’ll listen to my new music and see just how much I have matured and how far I have come, both musically and as a person.  From the bottom of my heart, thankyou 🙂

Advertisements
h1

the sugababes get sexy.

July 7, 2009

Ok, the blog entry I was planning to write has been put on hold because today the Sugababes’ new single premiered on radio.  It’s called “Get Sexy” and it is very good.  It is the best thing they have released since Amelle joined the group, because it brings back the Sugababes sound of urban club pop as present on their previous songs “Freak Like Me”, “Blue”, “Whatever Makes You Happy”, “Gotta Be You” and “Future Shokk!”.  So to the people who are saying the Sugababes have sold out and are simply copying “Boom Boom Pow”, you are very 2000 and late because the Sugababes were doing this kind of music much prior to releasing Avril-lite pop such as “About You Now” (although the piano-led ballad version on Catfights and Spotlights went a long way to redeeming that song for me).

When Mutya left the group, I was very curious to see how the Sugababes would continue since, up to that point it had seemed like Mutya was the main creative energy in the group, and her attitude and swagger modified Keisha’s pop sensibilities into something much more angular.  Replaced by Amelle, it would seem that I had been correct – her voice just didn’t have that Sugababes blend (whereas when Heidi replaced Siobhan, her voice was a stellar compliment to the group – if you don’t believe me, go and listen to “Breathe Easy (Acoustic Jam)” and any live version of “Stronger”) and seemed harsh and grating.  Out went the streetwise edge, in came the high pop polish that remained for the Change album; IMO, the group’s creative nadir.  By Catfights and Spotlights, Amelle’s voice seemed to complement the others’ more and the mix of brass-led pop and R&B tracks such as “Side Chick” and “Can We Call A Truce” evoked 60s Motown as interpreted by Shola Ama.  An improvement, but still not enough for me to consider the Sugababes back in my good books.  Meanwhile, Mutya Buena dropped a fantastic solo album which underperformed and she was promptly dropped from her label.  As ever, my taste and that of the British public are very divergent.

So “Get Sexy” is not a particularly deep song; “My Love Is Pink” was hardly a lyrical revelation.  But “Get Sexy” is a song that embodies fun, attitude and club-ready flirting, and it is a song that you can act sexy to.  It has multiple hooks (one of which riffs of that classic Right Said Fred song), and Heidi’s voice in the second verse is the sexiest part of the whole thing.  I doubt very much that the Sugababes aimed to ape the Black Eyed Peas, but I don’t care if they did, because it’s better than choosing to ape Girls Aloud or the Saturdays, which is apparently what people expected.  And if the Sugababes are still defying expectations and releasing fantastic music such as this, then I might just begin following them again with renewed interest.

Oh, after all that, you might want to listen to the song.  Here you are – enjoy! 😀

You can also stream it below:

h1

Something legitimate to blog about.

June 30, 2009

Okay, so I actually have something serious to say.  I know, that didn’t take long, this is only my second post, but late last night and early this morning two instances have occurred that kinda restore my faith in people.  Bear with me.

I have been searching for the mp4 of Ciara’s new video Work (which you MUST see!!! download it here) for over a week, since the video premiered on Channel 4 and subsequently on youtube.  No matter how much searching I did, the only place I could find the video was on youtubealike sites for streaming.  NO DOWNLOAD.  So I began to get frustrated, and I tried to do what the fast girls do… I found a link for the video in some random format (.mkv, as a matter of fact) and atttempted to convert it.  Now this is where the story gets sad… the conversion wouldn’t work.  No way, no how, no dice.  So I went back to the blog where I downloaded the mkv thing and asked very kindly in their shoutbox if they could upload her video in .mp4 format.

The other story is in fact very similar.  I like Toni Braxton.  I possess near enough all of her music (certainly all of her output that has been released on CD).  So I was idly reading about her on wikipedia, when I discovered that there was a song of hers that I did not have.  Once the world ceased to fall down around me, I subdued my anger and shock and went in search of this song (FYI, it is called “No More Love”, it features Irv Gotti, and you can download it here because I love you).  I spent over an hour on google, youtube, limewire, but all I could find was the lyrics to the song. The full lyrics, nonetheless.  This piece of evidence suggested that the song had ben widely heard, despite being quite a few years old now (2003-ish I believe) and being blocked from release by Toni Braxton herself after she got her panties in a bunch found out there was this whole controversy with another song she wanted to release, which sampled the same 2pac song as Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s “Bonnie & Clyde ’03” (which only copies Queen Mariah’s “How Much” anyway… why am I supplying all this information?).  So to cut a long story short, I couldn’t find the damn song, despite using all of my (usually more-than-sufficient) resources.  Same as with the damn video.  So let me tell you, dear reader, what I did.

I reached out. I went on Last.fm, I found somebody who had been listening to this song recently, and discovered that they were already my ‘friend’ (because we’re all friends on here, yknow? *strokes cat*).  So I messaged him and asked him very kindly, once again, if he could upload the file and send it to me.

In both instances, it took them less than 12 hours not only to fulfill my request, but do so with a smile.  Not only was I overjoyed to have the video and the song (disclaimer: it’s not actually that good, and I can sorta see why Toni blocked it… if you want some real Toni Braxton recommendations, hit me up and I’ll see what I can do for you 🙂 ) that I had sought for more time than I would care to admit yesterday (hell, I went to the gym!  I can waste the rest of the day if I want, it’s already a qualified success 😛 ), but I was really touched (I’m being serious now) by the fact that these two people whom I have never met, and whom I don’t really know and who don’t know me, went to the lengths to share this material with me.  Just because I asked them to.  And they did so so promptly.  It was a really nice thing to do, and even if you’re not interested in Ciara or Toni Braxton (which, btw, if you’re not, I advise you to keep that on the DL because otherwise I will have to swing my ponytail on your ass block you cry), I wanted to do the same for you and share the love, share the links and hope that you download one or the other and enjoy.

If you have any requests, let me know and I’ll do my best to hook you up.  I do have more to say, and I will probably say it sometime soon, but I actually have to go and do a real-life thing so I will close by saying that in a world where people often let you down and mess you around, and sometimes / often it is easy to believe that you can only trust you, yourself and you (which is not a sentiment I entirely disagree with, actually), there are still those certain human beings that will overlook self-interest to help someone out.  That makes me smile, and that really is something I thought was worth writing about today.

(don’t worry, more red danger miniskirt sexy love to come soon. probably)