We Plug to You... Aaron Camper - Welcome To My World

Hi guys, how are you doing? It's been a minute it feels like. If you are like me, you are still on a valentine's day high. Ok, just showing off a little, but what I mean is that I'm still very much on a love high and this next artist keeps this feeling going for me every time I listen to his songs.

Maryland-bred singer/songwriter Aaron Camper is not entirely new to the game, having lent his talents as a writer to artists like TYE Tribett & G.A, Marvin Sapp, The Clark Sisters, Stevie Wonder, Eric Roberson, J.Cole and going on tour with Jill Scott as part of her acclaimed All-Male background vocalists known as 'The Pipes'. His transitioning to a solo artist is therefore very natural and well timed if you ask me. The music scene seems to me to be lacking in the R&B scene, the days of Joe, Tyrese, Ginuwine, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass are so long gone, so long gone and i miss it so. But then Aaron Camper comes along and I'm glad for the future of R&B.

The 'Welcome To My World' mixtape is Camper's first offering to the world, a fusion of R&B and a little bit of Hip-Hop and Pop music featuring well known artists like Kanye West, Swiss Beatz, Brandy and Eric Roberson. He has a fresh, melodic, very soothing voice that I love. The production on this mixtape was very on point and Adam Blackstone who has worked with the "who is who" of the music industry deserves a very special mention for his work as executive producer on this. But let me let you listen and form your own opinions, right?

"Just close your eyes. Don't worry about the morning, cos i'll be here to tell you that love you."

What you just heard is my favorite song on off this mixtape and it's called 'Hold You Close'. I have listened to this song everyday for more than a month now. The way the songs starts off with the play of the instruments - the guitar, the piano and the drums - is so beautiful and even without Aaron's voice on it, I would listen over again. Aaron's voice on it though is very well suited, a perfect blending, very silky smooth thus making it the perfect love making song if you ask me. Soft, gentle, caressing in all the right places on my cocoa butter skin.    

What you just heard is 'Second Thought' featuring Brandy. This was originally sung by Brandy but I think this is definitely a better version. Brandy is undoubtedly one of the best female vocalists that this generation has to offer, even though she still lacks in her due respect, but that will be for another post. What I love is that Aaron holds his own by her side, showing just how vocally talented he is. Dare I say that he actually sounds vocally stronger than Brandy on this song and I don't think there are a lot of male vocalists that can say that.
"Should have did me right before, now I don't need you no more"

I love this next song 'How does It Feel', again straight off the bat as the instrumentals begin to play. If you can't already tell, I love instrumentals more than actual songs most days. More importantly, I love when an artist can mesh so well with the vision of the producer and not waste a beat or productionand Camper does just that on the drums and keyboard-infused 'How Does It Feel' by taking ample advantage to show us the range of his vocals.
 "I see what you doing and i just fall back. When i'm cool with it now, you don't like that. How does it feel to be cruel? How does it feel that i agree with you"
I was really torn on what the last song on this feature should be. I think Camper's cover of  Boyz II Men's classic 'Water Runs Dry' deserves a special mention because although I believe the original is still better, Aaron's take on it is fresh and 'now' and for the younger kids who may have never heard of Boyz II Men, it would definitely be a hit. Decided to end it on a more upbeat note however with an original song of his titled 'Take Off - the party track every mixtape needs.

So there you have it guys, it's a late plug so maybe some of you have heard about Aaron Camper, but for those of you who haven't, I encourage you to hit the download button below. Its free G.O.O.D music and you will not be disappointed. I have a chance to see him next month and I am really excited to hear him perform all these songs, especially with a live band. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Download: Aaron Camper - Welcome To My World (Mixtape)

Till Next Week
Peace, Love and Good Music

We Plug To You...Tyler Woods - The Mahogany Experiment (Free EP)

Hello GOOD people, yours truly is currently listening to Tyler Woods' (not the golf player) 'Stayed Away Too Long', as I type this! OMG, did I just reveal the first track of the EP in my first sentence? Not to worry you can listen too in a few minutes.When I got 'The Mahogany Experiment' on my desk, my gut said to me (and I quote), "you aint gonna like this" and considering the fact that I prefer Hip-Hop to any other genre of music, you can't blame the poor gut now can you? How wrong... I repeat HOW WRONG was I? I didn't just like 'The Mahogany Experiment',  iLOVED IT!

Tyler Woods (real name no gimmicks) is an R&B singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and is already turing into a household name thanks to his songwriting skills, good looks and a voice that can melt a heart faster than butter on a hot sunny day. On this EP, Woods joins forces with the veteran uber-talented producer behind some of the soulful sounds of the likes of Little Brother, MURS, Pete Rock and Erykah Badu, who also doubles as the owner of the record label that Tyler is signed to, Jamla Records... By the way, I call Tyler by his first name because I feel a connection with him after listening to this EP as you will too, you might even think you attended the same college or something but alas I digress... The producer I was referring to is none other than the incomparable 9th wonder but you already knew that. Did I forget to mention that Tyler Woods is from North Carolina - the home of 9th Wonder and some of the most burgeoning artists such as J. Cole, Yahzarah, Darien Brockington and amongst others!There must be something in the water right? Well, without any further 'ado', lets PLUG the music!

Tyler starts 'The Mahogany Experiment' on a remorseful note as he reminisces on the EP's first song titled 'Stayed Away Too Long'. On the song, he apologises after neglecting  his woman which is obviously a good subject matter as all the fellas can relate to this. 9th wonder comes clean with a monotonous backdrop that allows Tyler to adequately convey his apology, confessions and much needed request to be taken back in such heartwarming fashion that before you even get to the last hook, you're all smiles as his melodious voice penetrates your heart with so much ease. He does this effortlessly, no auto-tuning, just GOOD Music... Did I hear you say hype? Ok why don't you just listen below...

As we move further into the EP, Tyler steps up the tempo as 9th wonder comes through with an infectiously head-bopping Hip-Hop instrumentation, and if you only knew who he calls upon to 'put the knife in' on this next track? None other than Styles P (one third of veteran Hip-Hop group, the LOX) and he comes in to do what only "The Ghost" can do - lay a couple crispy clean rap verses on this truly Hip-Hop influenced track which still manages to remain R&B enough for Tyler to do his thing. 'Only Knew' sees Tyler lament about how he misses a lover with Styles P making the song more interesting as his opening verse gives the listener food for thought.
   "but she is gone with the wind/or gone with her friends/ but i'm like damn!! /i hope she aint gone with a MAN"?! 
Tyler also gives a teary but heartfelt rendition about the reasons why he misses her and how he wishes she "only knew" and I seriously can relate to Tyler on this song, especially the line; "kisses for no reasons". I particularly like the way these two artists share the verses on this track so before you make the same mistake and start screaming "had I known" or is it "if you only knew", listen and learn from Mr. Woods and Styles P below.

The final track I'd like to plug from this EP to your ears is titled 'I Wanna Love You (The Jodeci Tribute) and permit me to borrow the popular radio station slogan - "more music, less talk" as I describe this song right here because this is a prime example of the perfect use of that slogan. This is without any doubt in my mind, the best baby making song so far this year and if Tyler Woods was here two decades ago, he would fit perfectly into the legendary American R&B group, Jodeci. Did I just say that? Yes I said it... So get that special someone and kindly dim the lights - you know what i mean *wink*

'The Mahogany Experiment' is a very very good EP and what makes the release perfect is the timing - February, the month of love. The EP is better than a lot of R&B albums out there and my only major problem was in deciding the three songs I wanted to share out of the 14-track EP! The stellar guest appearances include Heather Victoria, Big Remo, Styles P and wait for it ....still waiting?! Talib Kweli (Track 8 - Ms. Diva is a must listen) as Tyler Woods makes an outstanding effort to appeal to all... Whatever genre of music you are in to, be it Rap, Hip-Hop or R&B, 'The Mahogany Experiment' is a classic example of all this genres coming together to make sweet love! Oops, sorry I meant sweet music... DOWNLOAD!! and play, judge plus jury... but dont forget to thank me later.

Keep Tabs on the R&B sensation, Tyler woods via his Website

Until the Next Time... Be G.O.O.D 

King KC*
#PS If you download this EP and you dont like it, just send me your postcode and I will send you a dozen fresh roses for wasting your time although I doubt that I'll have to!

We Plug to You :: SALAKIDA

One glance at this caramel skinned beauty and you can't help but feel a sense of intrigue. With her long wavy locks framing her sweet and soft featured face, her deep dark eyes and becoming smile; her appearance screams 'Soul'. A guitar player herself, Salakida has toured and worked with a lot of big names in Soul and R&B music from the likes of Kenny Lattimore, D’Wanye Wiggins, Blackilicious and Jaguar Wright to Tony Toni Tone, N’Dambi, Tre Hardsen, PJ Morton and Anthony David and is now currently distinguishing herself amongst the sea of music flooding the industry via her "Spirit Music" as she calls it.

With her looks already predicting her music somewhat, however prejudiced that might seem, I prayed not to be disappointed when I clicked the 'play' button - hoping & really hoping that the sound would match (or better) the image before me and thank goodness, I was NOT disappointed. Smoky vocals with a tinge of sensuality serenaded me in her song 'In Bloom' and much like 'In Bloom', Salakida's songs are flowery and dreamy just like her personality.

Listen to 'In Bloom' below - An easy-listening smooth flowing one minute expression of comfort and natural feel-goodness.

Her earthiness and heart further shines through in the quicker-paced 'Wild Hair and Flowers' that tells a story of the usual "boy meets girl" and the heart conversations that follow. Listen below...

While she describes her music as "Black Hippie Funk" also known as "Blippie Funk" (referring to herself as the pioneer of this genre), it is a bit more than that... Her music reaches to the whole being - body, spirit & soul while her sultry vocals give you that 'feel good, no care in this world' feeling. It's kind of a merger of genres of sorts that most Neo-Soul artists try to aim for today. You can hear some Pop here, some Rock there but I'd say that it's mostly Soul that you hear from Salakida. Her voice is soulful yet rocky at spots with the electric guitar playing a major influence in most of her songs.

Her self-titled debut was heavier on good ol' Soul music though; released under Selket Recordings in 2005. Personally, I think this urban easy-listening mix is reminiscent of legendary American Jazz and Soul Singer/Songwriter Anita Baker's sound. Another comparison I'll make to Salakida's music would be the swing of Jill Scott mixed with the aura of India Arie. Neo-Soul....Yes? No? Maybe so?...Preview the album at CD Baby and decide for yourself.

The live version of the acoustic song 'Sick Days' is one of my favorites. It exhibits her voice nicely and the lyrics show her inner rebelliousness and quest for freedom. The song talks about the limitations of working at a job and a desire to be free free free...
"Am gonna use up all my sick days, Till I can leave this place behind"
I'm actually closer to Salakida (real name - Aminah Barry) than I thought, she resides in my city - Atlanta, GA, although originally from Oakland, California and the name Salakida means 'prayer music' in Hausa language, an ethnicity from the northern part of Nigeria - my country of origin. And hey, how about calling her a 'Black Bohemian' artiste? I think it fits perfectly.

Her current album, 'The Resurrection' which was released in August of last year is very different from the previous. I'll call it 'Alternative Soul/Rock' and it evidently shows that she has 'bloomed' into a more absolute sound and is more comfortable with going out of the box, musically. Majority of the songs on this album display more of an alternative rock edge with Brandon Thomas' guitar skills representing heavily especially on the song 'Kiss the Sky'- here she plays around with staccato vocalisms and gets very playful in her delivery.

"So High I can touch the sky... Wanna Kiss the Sky"
On the Album's title song - 'The Resurrection', the rocker girl in soulful Salakida definitely shines through without loosing her gentleness. Again, her carefree nature is spread across the lyrics to the song:

"Cause sooner or later, I know a brighter day will come Behold, The Resurrection So leave your cares behind Enjoy the music and just Ride"
Salakida, Oh Salakida! One can just tell she makes music that will take you on a journey to nowhere land. More of her songs are available on her BandCamp page. Her music/voice, lyrics, aura speak the same message: Be free, Be you, Be in touch with your inner spirit. She is definitely one to watch out for. For the free spirited, love and freedom conscious, her music would surely be worth a listen to. All hail the 'Blippie Funk' Queen!!!

Download: Salakida - Resurrection

Keep Tabs on Salakida: Facebook // Twitter // Website

We Plug to You... Elena Tonra aka Daughter

I was first introduced to emerging London-based singer/songwriter Elena Tonra, who's also now known as Daughter and her music about five weeks ago through Pigeons & Planes and I have been a huge fan of hers ever since. I have listened to her everyday for multiple times over the last month and a half and the sad fact that I am only just sharing her with you will say horrible things about me because music this good should definitely always be shared.

Describing Elena Tonra as an artist would seemingly be easy enough - She is a Folk/Acoustic singer/songwriter who plays the guitar but that is NOT even the half of it! She is an amazing, if not complex songwriter who speaks about love and hope and finding and losing both and that much more in the most real, honest and beautiful way and while the musical backdrop upon which she turns her poetry (Yes Poetry) into song are some of the most simple you will hear, her stories remain ever so compelling... Her words are simple yet they are so heavy and it lies in the way and in the cadence that she conveys them. I could go on and on about her exquisite songwriting because I feel it cannot be overstated (her songs are that good, trust me) but something has to be said about Elena Tonra's voice! Something has to be said about Elena Tonra's voice - ethereal, soothing, commanding, haunting, true, passionate, intense, lingering and all in all IRRESISTIBLE - much like her music in all honesty.

I thought I should be careful to paint Daughter to you in the best possible light not only because she's that sublime and I may not eloquently convey that knowledge to you but also so that the very next place you go to after here is to download her music but I really do NOT have to worry because the music does that all by itself.

The song you just listened to - my favourite Daughter song - is titled 'Your Kisses' and is off of her latest 4-track Demo EP. Backed by the simplest of guitar strings, Elena sings beautifully about only ever wanting her ex-boyfriend's heart and not his "kisses" and losing both to "this girl" - her ex-boyfriend's new lover. On such a musically stripped down song, all you're really left with are the vocals and the lyrics and what Elena (Daughter) does on this song is nothing short of amazing, captivating you from the start to the very last note. You can almost taste the despair and defeat in her voice.
"I bet she can't sing / I bet she can't write the lyrics to make your heart beat / Sing notes to make you go weak / But her kisses were just what you wanted..."
This next song titled 'In The Shallows' is also off of Daughter's brilliantly crafted Demo EP. I talk about Ms. Tonra utilizing her vocals and her lyrics to captivate you on 'Your Kisses' but on this here song, it is the more pronounced guitar-driven musical milieu and more so it's collaboration with Tonra's hauntingly rich and strong vocals that leaves you spellbound. The lyrics are understated on this one and although not because any shortcomings, take a back seat to the outstanding vocals/music tag team and you have to and should too really listen to this one to get it because either way (lyrics or music), it's a great song. Listen below...

Daughter's DEMO EP is one of the best collection of music that I have heard in quite a while and I instantly fell in love with it. The trip is that the quite shy and reserved Elena calls these songs "demos" but you would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this EP as all four songs are perfect as they are. I won't include any more songs from the EP in this feature and will leave them for when you download the EP so you can get the full EP experience. What I will do however is share this song from three years ago when Elena was still known as Elena Tonra and what I will say is that her music was as beautiful, sincere and breathtaking as Elena Tonra as it is now as Daughter. In comparison, you can certainly hear the progression in her lyrics and songwriting and how much she's matured on the Demo EP as against this song she aptly titles 'Twat'... Listen below

I'm really excited for 21-year old Elena Tonra as her music is beginning to make significant headway in various relevant circles in the UK and internationally with The Independent recently putting her on their barometer, Who's Jack Magazine calling her the "Future of London Music" and songs from the Demo EP receiving national airplay from the good people at BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio to playing at the HMV Next Best Thing gig earlier this month along Andrew Davie and charting at number 3 on the Hype Machine Popular Charts earlier this year with 'Run' (a track off of the EP). I really hope 2011 sees her music get further out there to the masses because as I attested to at the beginning of this article - music this good SHOULD be heard by everybody and with the early success of her absolutely divine demo EP, our wish just might be granted sooner than later. Whatever the case, Elena Tonra aka Daughter is a class act and her music simply needs to be heard.

Keep Tabs on Daughter: Facebook // Twitter // Myspace

Photography: Jay McLaughlin

We Plug to You... Mister Rae - The Brand New Masquerade EP

Hello people! As you know, there is nothing that gives me more joy than serving you some GOOD music so it is with great pleasure that I plug to you - Underground Hip-Hop artist, Mister Rae a.k.a Rae Diaspora (real name Rinre Idris). A member of Nigerian Hip-Hop collective 'Str8Buttah', Mister Rae poetically addresses personal, social and political issues on his highly anticipated EP titled 'The Brand New Masquerade' which we are about to get into.

My favourite song  on this 11-track EP is the Teck-Zilla produced Afrobeat-infused 'Here Now'. On this celebratory song, Mister Rae beautifully details the life, times and struggles of an up & coming artist before he finds success and is in celebratory mode on the hook in reference to the later-found success.
 "I'm here now, you can rise the chair now; Pull yourself a beer, Grab yourself a chair now, I didn't write the script so don't ask me how; let's toast to the past, celebrating here and now" 
Firstly, I love the way he uses Afrobeat music as his musical backdrop on this and still makes the song sound so modern, his flow is so infectiously smooth and he totally owned the beat with some sharp clever lyrics and wordplay. The uplifting sensation of the song also serves as a major inspiration for everyone going through a hard time and the song affirm that while tough times don't last, tough people certainly do.

This next track is titled '3rd World Superstar' - a glorious and hard-hitting production laced with heavy drum patterns and lush keyboards; this beat was obviously cooked up by a lover of  80's and 90's Hip-Hop music and I think it was a perfect choice on which Mister Rae tackles the issues that he does on this song. We all know how 80's and 90's rappers were inspired to write and make music by their environments and that is what Mister Rae taps into on this track - he expresses his anger towards the current state of his country; the economical and political issues and the fact that although he manages to shine in spite of the system, it hurts that his people are still going through the same struggle. I really love how he brings the ol' school Hip-Hop vibe and sense of having a strong message to the table, not many rappers have that anymore. Honestly this song almost brought me to tears, I really love it and I hope you guys will too.

'Easy Lover' is the final track I'll be sharing with you from the very enjoyable EP and on this Segun Bucknor-sampled, he features fellow Str8Buttah group member, Teck-zilla. This should be a favourite for those who love the Highlife, Funk and Afrobeat genres of music. With a vocal sample of Segun Bucknor being served on the chorus, Mister Rae and Teckzilla take turns in spitting some really dope verses. The sampling on this track is what really makes it more interesting. These emcees take charge of the beat and their ability to enunciate rap lyrics in a unique and creative way, paired with poised breathe control and impecabble delivery are what make this song go down especially well.

This mixtape is unlike any other project I have heard this year and to be candid, I don't think anything like this will be released anytime soon. Mister Rae burst unto the Nigerian Hip-Hop scene in 2003 and instead of following the route of a lot of rappers and rapping about trivial issues, Mister Rae is bringing something to the mainstream audience; he is bringing back the essence of Hip-Hop by exhibiting powerful lyrical content and amazing song-writing. I leave you with just one word: DOWNLOAD!

Download: Mister Rae - The Brand New Masquerade (EP)

We Plug to You... KELLI-LEIGH

This here feature on UK-based singer/songwriter Kelli-Leigh has been a long time coming as I've been a huge fan of her's ever since I saw her perform an 'open mic' slot at performance showcase 'iLuv Live' about a year ago now. On that night, she outshined even the showcase's headline acts and that was only just a tip of the iceberg that is Kelli-Leigh.

Kelli-Leigh is a fusion of Rock, Pop, Funk and Soul and her voice has been described as "beautiful, intense, passionate and powerful, yet with a freshness that cannot be compared with many of today's pop singers" and if you've heard this woman sing, you would be hard pressed to argue with that. She's toured in over 12 countries with High on Heels, does backing vocals for Adele and is on the radar of Boy George, ElectroQueer and Matt Willis (UK Music Jobsjust to mention a few but as we're never one for 'hype' and are strictly about the music - let's get right into it, shall we?

I am in love with this next song 'I Am Here' which sees Kelli-Leigh go directly at 'the industry' and those that do not wanna let her through the door on this excellent fusion of Rock and Funk/Soul music. I've chosen to share the acoustic version with you though, as there's something about her vocal presence on this one that I'm totally in love with. On it, she starts off softly as if to complement the gentle acoustic guitar strums of her long-time collaborator, co-writer and guitarist Keir More but always controlling the direction of the music and as the song progresses, the passion and intensity of her amazing voice starts to dominate this song rather beautifully. This is an instant attention-grabber! On the hook of 'I Am Here', she sings...

"Why aren't you taking me seriously, Why don't you recognise that I have magnanimously been making waves but you don't realise (No... But No) I am here" 
Sonically the full-band treatment might appeal more to you so just for your listening pleasure, I'm gonna share that too and you're in for one hell of a musical treat because Kelli-Leigh's band go hard on the paint as soon as the second stanza of this song kicks in. Enjoy...

While we're still on full-band treatments, this next song 'Can't Get You Outta My Mind' is without a doubt one of my favourite songs right now. This one is heavily driven by lush drum patterns and divine electric guitar chords... Add to it, the infectiously catchy hook and you have that whole 'Arena Music' feel down to a tee with Kelli-Leigh highlighting her astounding vocal range that will certainly sing down stadiums and festivals in time to come. A special mention to Keir Moore and Ryan Haberfield on guitars because not only do they drive this song beautifully but the (short) guitar solo on this song does things to me every time. 

For this next song and only as a slight detour, I thought I'd take it completely left-field and highlight some of the other music Kelli-Leigh makes with London-based Electro/Dance/Club producer and DJ Butchered Beats. On the radio edit of this song 'Without You' which takes a completely different direction (within the Dance Music bracket) from the song you're about to hear, Butchered Beats and Kelli-Leigh show that their chemistry stretches further to making sweet 'Dance Floor Filler' Pop/Dance music to the delight of not only your ears but more so, your feet. You can listen to that here... The below version of 'Without You' is an electro-tinged Dance/House record upon which Kelli-Leigh lends her amazing vocals to add an ethereal soulful touch to Butchered Beats' hard-hitting musical backdrop.

I was in a dilemna as to what song from Kelli-Leigh to share with you (as the final song) as there are so many amazing ones to choose from, with her latest offerings leaning towards more acoustic-driven Pop/Soul renditions that all come out magnificently and leaving you rather spoilt for choice. On the well-crafted, vocally perfect 'Through The Storm', you can hear Kelli-Leigh sing beautifully about needing "to be saved" over just Ryan Haberfield's gentle acoustic guitar chords while Kelli-Leigh and Ryan Harberfield collaborate once again on the catchy mid-tempo 'Easy' to glorious effects and on the not quite acoustic but equally infectiously lush 'Missing You', Kelli-Leigh continues in the same vein of creating some very amazing music enriched with live musical elements. I cannot get enough of this woman. Listen to 'Through The Storm' and 'Missing You' below...

While I've harboured on about Kelli-Leigh's vocal abilities, her lush tone and the musical dexterities of her band, something should be said about her song-writing skills because all these songs are so beautifully written and all credit to the combination of Kelli-Leigh, Keir Moore and Ryan Haberfield.

I am a HUGE fan of Ms. Kelli-Leigh and it's a honour to share her with you because she is as music should be - Nothing but Good Music and without compromise. I hope you pay attention to this woman because Kelli-Leigh is a serious problem and with a bevy of beautiful and diverse songs across the genres of Pop, Funk, Soul, Rock and even Dance music on her Soundcloud page, all good enough to make for an excellent début album, it is certainly not long before she gets all the recognition she deserves.

Keep Tabs on Kelli-Leigh: Facebook // Twitter // Website

Until the Next Time...

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