VIDEO: Watch PJ Morton’s Redo of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You"

PJ Morton All I Want For Christmas Video

It might be too soon for holiday music, but I couldn’t resist not telling you about singer-pianist PJ Morton’s new holiday song and his upcoming Christmas album.

Although PJ Morton is the keyboardist for the pop band Maroon 5, as a solo artist, his musical style is deeply rooted in the soul songbook of Stevie Wonder. Case in point: His Grammy-nominated album Gumbo is a delectable listen (excuse the pun) of soul and R&B music. Songs like “They Gon’ Wanna Come,” goes full Innervisions in both its orchestral sound and introspective lyrics. He takes his Wonder influence a step further on “Religion” where he denounces terrorist acts done under the auspices of God, as well as on the reflective track “Claustrophobic.” You can stream his entire project here.

Next up on PJ Morton’s plate is his holiday album Christmas with PJ, which arrives at digital stores on Friday (Nov. 9). The eight-song collection features the 37-year-old musician’s unique reworkings of your holiday classics.

For example, the set’s lead single is his remake of Mariah Carey’s 1994 holiday mainstay“All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Unlike Carey’s boppier version, Morton gives us a Stevie Wonder-esque vibe with his rendition complete with Stokley Williams (from the R&B group Mint Condition) dueting with him and playing the drums.

In his music video below, we see old home movies of a young Morton and his family enjoying Christmas year after year. The visual is intercut with scenes of Morton and Williams performing in the studio.

Check Out PJ Morton's "All I Want For Christmas is You" Feat. Stokley



As for Morton's upcoming Christmas album, the singer-pianist re-flips several of your favorite yuletide ditties. For example, Morton remixes Donny Hathaway's soulful holiday song "This Christmas" into a joyous New Orleans bounce track. Along with bounce artist HaSizzle's energetic vocals on the song, it will no doubt make you want to shake your butt under the mistletoe.

“I went all the way there with the string orchestra and the horns on top of the bounce beat. I don’t think anyone’s gone that far, to have an orchestra over bounce drums," he told Offbeat magazine about the song. "But that’s me, though! That’s the dichotomy of PJ. A brown beat for Jesus’ birthday with a full orchestra on it. Come on!"

If you want to know how PJ Morton gets ready for Christmas, click the link below. Also, I included one of my favorite songs from his Gumbo project - "How Deep Is Your Love."

Don't sleep on PJ Morton. You can cop/stream his Christmas With PJ album here.

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'Black Messiah': Roy Hargrove, Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, Dies at 49

Jazz Trumpeter Roy Hargrove Dies at 49

Can we please have a moment of silence for legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Anthony Hargrove.

The 49-year-old musician passed away on Friday night (Nov. 2) in New York. According to NPR, the cause of death was cardiac arrest. Hargrove's longtime manager, Larry Clothier, told NPR that he had been admitted to the hospital for medical issues related to kidney function; he had been on dialysis for many years.

Born in Waco, Texas in 1969, Hargrove was an enormously gifted musician who was discovered by iconic trumpeter Wynton Marsalis while he was still in high school. He would often sit with Marsalis and occasionally play sideman to his band. After high school, Hargrove attended Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music but left after one year and began his musical career in New York.

Hargrove was a brilliant experimenter in jazz. He was among the first to incorporate elements of hip-hop music into his repertoire back in the early '90s when doing so was often frowned upon by jazz purists. He created the RH Factor, a collective of artists that included like-minded musicians like James Poyser, Jonathan Batiste, and Bernard Wright, among many others. Affiliated members included Steve Coleman and Greg Osby (both of whom are part of the illustrious M-Base Collective).

“I think that music is so spread out,” he explain to veteran journalist/historian Nate Chinen about the RH Factor in 2003 (via JazzTimes). “There’s so many different worlds within music to be explored. Why limit yourself to just one?"

"When I was going to school at Berklee I noticed that there were a lot of cliques that had established themselves. There’s group A, group B, divisions and then subdivisions," he continued. "Because in the funk world you would have the straight-up fusion cats, and then you have cats that play behind straight-up R&B, and then you would have gospel in the middle of that. And in jazz, you would have cats who only played like Bird, bebop. And then the Trane cats. And you would have the progressive guys who were more into original music. So it was wild for me, because I would just go in and out of each one of these. I just never believed in limiting yourself to one way of playing.”

Hargrove's creative Neo-bop sound can be heard on his 1990 debut album Diamond on the Rough and on 1992's The Vibe. These two albums are the precursors to the late Guru's Jazzmatazz series. Greg Osby's debut effort 3-D Lifestyles (1993), Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque project (1994) and Herbie Hancock's Dis Is Da Drum (1994) are just a few albums that followed in Hargrove's progressive lead.

But Roy Hargrove Presents The RH Factor: Hard Groove project is his visionary take on the jazz, soul and hip-hop fusion. Overall, the album is a meticulous jam session with Hargrove's fluttery horn riffs highlighting the band's infectious live instrumentation. Standout tracks include the jazz-hop-inflicted "Poetry" (featuring Q-Tip and Erykah Badu) and the soulful love ballad "Kwah/Home" (featuring Anthony Hamilton).

Hargrove's musical amalgam wasn't regulated to just hip-hop, he dabbled in different genres of music as well. On his 1994 album Blues 'n Ballads, he incorporated blues to his jazz compositions and on 1995's Parker's Mood, Hargrove teamed up with bassist Christian McBride and pianist Stephen Scott to pay homage to the father of bebop Charlie Parker.

Hargrove also delivered his beautiful trumpeting on other artists' projects. He performed on Common's 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate, as well as on Erykah Badu’s 2000 project Mama’s Gun and her 2003 effort, Worldwide Underground. He also contributed his brass arrangements on both D’Angelo’s revered albums Voodoo and Black Messiah.

Among Hargrove's accolades include two Grammy Awards -- one for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2003 for Directions in Music and Best Latin Jazz Performance in 1998 for Habana, his stellar Afro-Cuban album recorded in Havana.

After hearing the sad news of Roy Hargrove's passing, artists such as Questlove, Erykah Badu, Eric Roberson, Anita Baker and many others tweeted their condolences.

You can read some of their tweets below.

Roy Hargrove will be sorely missed in the music community. May he rest in peace.

Listen to Roy Hargrove/the RH Factor's "Poetry" Feat. Q-Tip & E. Badu



Listen to D'Angelo's "Spanish Joint" Feat. Roy Hargrove



Watch Roy Hargrove Quintet's "Soulful"



Watch Roy Hargrove Quintet's "The Seattle Vibe"




Snoop Dogg Boasts About His Whips on 'My Carz' (Produced By J Dilla)

Snoop Dogg My Carz

Snoop Dogg’s new album, Coolaid, formally drops on Friday (July 1) but he’s been releasing several tracks from the LP to get fans interested in the project. The hip-hop vet’s newest loosie is “My Carz,” a track produced by the late and great J Dilla.

The electro hip-hop-infused production is not entirely new. The late studio maestro used the beat on “Trucks,” which currently appears on the just-released The Diary album. Also, the song samples Gary Numan’s classic 1979 track, “Cars.”

As for the lyrics, the Doggfather is simply boasting about his fleet of whips and chicks he likes to rotate on the daily. "My carz, they hot / My paint is wet / My bitches, they bad / And that's probably why you're mad," he rudimentarily spits.

"My Carz" is not the best Snoop Dogg performance, but it's good to hear the hip-hop vet rap over a  Dilla beat despite it being a very dated J Dilla beat.

You can cop Snoop Dogg's Coolaid album via iTunes. Peep the track below.

 

Listen to Snoop Dogg's Song "My Carz" Produced by J Dilla


Lalah Hathaway Gets Reflective in 'Mirror' Video

Lalah Hathaway Mirror Video

Lalah Hathaway tackles self-love in her new video for “Mirror.” The song is taken from her latest effort, Lalah Hathaway LIVE.

In the visual, the Grammy-winning songbird, sings an uplifting message for those who hide behind their inner mirror and judgmental thoughts.

“Sometimes you gotta make the mirror your best friend / And maybe then, you’ll find some peace within,” she sings. “Stop hiding yourself, love yourself when no else can,” she sings.

In an interview with Essence, the 47-year-old songbird said the ballad has helped her overcome some of her nagging self-doubts that has prevented her from expressing herself musically and personally.

"[The song] has gifted me with the keys to being okay, to understanding myself, to accept myself, to love myself, to live in my own truth," she said.

Watch Lalah Hathaway's video below and appreciate the singer's endearing message of self-love and positivity.

 

Watch Lalah Hathaway's "Mirror" Video

 


On a Memory Bliss: P.M. Dawn’s Attrel 'Prince Be' Cordes Dies at 46

 

Prince Be Dead At 46

 

The year 2016 has been one of the most mournful years that I can remember. So many of my musical and cultural heroes  have passed away this year. Today, June 18, we lost another Prince.

It’s with great sadness that I bring you news of the death of another influential figure in hip-hop. P.M. Dawn co-founder/rapper Prince Be has passed away at the age of 46. According to PEOPLE, Prince Be died of kidney disease at a hospital in New Jersey.

Prince Be (real name Attrel Cordes) formed P.M. Dawn with his brother, Jarrett Cordes, known as both DJ Minutemix and J.C. The Eternal, in 1988 in Jersey City, N.J.

The rap duo became only the third hip-hop act ever - and first black rappers - to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1991 with their single, "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," which utilized a sample of Spandau Ballet's "True." They achieved commercial success with their debut album, Of the Heart, Of the Soul and Of the Cross: The Utopian Experience in 1991.

P.M. Dawn's second album, The Bliss Album...?, was another gold-selling success thanks to the LP's classic ballad, "I'd Die Without You," which anchored Eddie Murphy's romantic comedy, Boomerang.

P.M. Dawn would go on to release three more albums together, but none of them would reach the commercial success of their previous efforts. Cordes and his brother would eventually split up.

Unfortunately, Prince Be will also be remembered for his infamous run-in with KRS-One. As the urban legend goes, KRS and his crew ran up onstage and shoved Prince Be off and performed "The Bridge." This is in response to an interview in Details magazine where Prince Be said "KRS-One wants to be a teacher, but a teacher of what?" Needless to say, the Blastmaster wasn't feeling that and confronted P.M. Dawn on their own turf. "I answered his question," KRS-One later told USA Today. "I'm a teacher of respect."

After the duo separated, Prince Be's health started to decline stemming from his ongoing battle with diabetes. He suffered a stroke in 2005 that paralyzed the left side of his body, and his one of his legs was amputated below the kneecap.

"Prince Be Rest In Peace forever more, Pain from Diabetes can't harm you anymore," Cordes' cousin and P.M. Dawn member Doc G wrote on the group's Facebook page following Cordes' death. "My Heart is at Peace B-Cuz U suffered so long, Tell Grandma I said Hi & Stay Blisstatic & Strong."

The Roots drummer Questlove also posted a heartfelt tribute to Prince Be who he called the "Brian Wilson of hip-hop."

"Eccentric. Rich. Textured. Talented. A Sad Beauty. Melancholy....Genius? 3 Dimensional?" he wrote in referenced to Prince Be's songwriting and musical style.

Prince Be leaves behind his wife, Mary, and three children Christian, Mia and Brandon.

I want to send my deepest condolences to Cordes’ family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Watch P.M. Dawn's "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" Video

Watch P.M. Dawn's "I'd Die Without You" Video

P.M. Dawn's "Looking Through Patient Eyes"