On the third day of 4-Star my city gave to me...some new tracks to get me 'bodied. In the true spirit of New Music Monday, I felt compelled to post something fresh. Elle Monee and Loren D's The Songbook proves that great music has no expiration date. I've said before and I'll say it again, a lot of contemporary rap and hip-hop is trash. Constantly manufacturing out processed beats and unoriginal concepts. Add that to constantly weaning censoring of inappropriate language, it pretty much makes me want to pack up all my pre-iTune era musical devices and go stay on an island inhabited by scantly clad men with excellent musical tastes. These young sisters with not only voices but brains were just what (as my favorite blogger Kid Fury puts it) my "spirit animal" needed.
These young singer/songwriters use their craft to cultivate a new form hip-hop surprisingly borrowing from classic tracks to rework and replenish a sound that is needed in today's music. Originally located in Chicago, Loren D has branched out to St. Louis to continue her career while Elle Monee has stayed planted at home constantly gaining new experience in the music field.
After listening to the 8 track digital album, I extracted a few of my favorite pieces from the collection.
Lola's Definition- Opens with a lovely vocal, reminiscent of Jill Scott, connecting to some of the fundamental techniques of hip-hop as the ladies sing, "1-2-3/Elle Monee and Loren D/Our harmony will take you to the tip top/We are the soul of hip-hop." But I nearly died when I heard the Pharcyde's Passing Me By beat drop as the ladies sang perfect pitches that lure the listener into the album's musical journey. The song then goes into a sort of spoken word piece as the ladies come against many of the stereotypes and unsavory artists that have weakened the craft. And they name names! "Flacka not talking bout shit you fucking idiot...And yes gucci I'm speaking on people like you/ Who equate my temple to a strip club/ And your fucked up validation/To bent over booties that spread precipitation" I loved the versatility in this song. A lot of different musical styles and influences all rolled in one.
Moody's Mood For Love- This song fits the old adage that if it ain't broke don't fix it. The ladies croon to the classic jazz hit adding slight twists through the arrangement and vocal accompaniment of the piece. I love that the piece exposes younger generations to this style of music who may not be familiar with the genre. And somehow the piece didn't feel dated to me, for some reason I was strangely getting an early Mary J. Blige feel from it. But an overall good job as the ladies have joined the ranks of those like Van Morrison, Brain McKnight, and the late great Amy Winehouse as those who have successfully covered the hit.
People Make the World Go Round- This gave me my life! The rewritten verses paired with the original chorus from The Stylistics really strike a cord "Chicks save up for their nails and hair/ On Section 8 and welfare/Kids ruining what we worked hard for/ The revolution is no more/But that's what makes the world go round/The ups and downs of carousels" It really makes you notice that things, especially the bad ones, never change. And the struggle of our culture is still a hardened reality. I also enjoyed that all the music, sounds and arrangements were created from the ladies vocals.
Overall, the album serves as a showcase of the range of the ladies vocals. From slow melodic ballads to dancy tunes to A Capella flow sessions. But there was a point where I wondered while listening just was there enough original content. Some songs caused me to read the album as more of a cover album than pioneering work. I can grasp the concept of a journey through music ranging from different influential times in music but still I think another original song would have been nice. That aside, these ladies have amazing voices and I think I appreciated their forward thinking in regards to music the most. For me, The Songbook was really was a reawakening of what good music sounds like and I would definitely like to see this duo take things further. With that said these ladies are not giving up on their unique dreams. Elle has already put out new songs available for download and I got to preview a few new tracks from what seems to be a promising release of Loren's newest EP. I'm no poker player but I'm willing to bet coin that you will be seeing these ladies in the not too distant future.
Decide for yourself. Click to listen to Elle Monee and Loren D's The Songbook and comment below on what you think!
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