This is just a post to recognize some of the talent I’ve been noticing in music recently, some you may know and are from years gone by so I’m late on those I apologize! Some you probably won’t have a clue who the hell they are, even if they have been around for years! But that’s the joy of being a stan obsessed with liner notes, I can show you the behind-the-scene talent going into all these hot songs.
The reason for the title being simply that with the supersaturated state of R&B these days, its not easy to see when real talent really does shine. So without further ado I present….
The Clutch – Okay, so I mention them every day and in nearly every post but…. in case you haven’t been introduced, The Clutch are a writing team consisting of three awesome guys – Balewa Muhammad, J. Que & Ezekiel Lewis and two even more awesome girls – Candice Nelson (my wifeyyy!) & Keri Hilson (my second wifeyyy!). Although they are undoubtedly accomplished and extremely talented writers and arrangers alone, when two or more of these peeps get together some sort of magic happens and they come out with the most insanely arranged, well conceptualized, lyrically intellectual masterpieces in contemporary R&B! Seriously, any writer who can write an awesome song about an “Ice Box”, a pair of “Open Toes” or a “Joystick (The Game Song)” has to have their talent recognized! I won’t bother running through their “Hit List” (he he) as I’ve already done so elsewhere so check out their wiki page, made by me @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clutch
James Fauntleroy – Unless I’m late this guy is a relatively new writer to the game, seemingly introduced by now veteran producers (and arrangers – check out some of their solo written/produced tracks – these guys can write too!) The Underdogs he has written some of the songs that have been bumped to exhaustion on my iPod. After the funky urban hotness that was Katharine McPhee’s “Do What U Do” (Makeba gets credit for this one too) came the sultry and now massively and deservedly commercially successful Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown duet “No Air”. On a triple threat, he brought Brandy back to my favour on her recently leaked skittering, commanding joint “List”, which if she doesn’t put on her new album, I will have every right to assume she is crazy! I look forward to hearing more from this clearly talented dude!
The Runners – I have to admit, although having done production on countless southern rap albums, (which I hate btw!) I had never even heard of these guys until they got placed on the recent Bad Boy LPs from Day26 and Danity Kane. However, after hearing the tracks they produced on there, I am definitely needing me some more R&B productions from the talented duo of Andrew Harr and Jermaine Beyince. Day 26’s “Come In (My Door’s Open)” has a gorgeous horn-like pulsating sound combined with a dramatic slamming beat and a strumming guitar throughout, its simple yes, but its a beautiful production nevertheless, especially when considering these guys usually collaborate on hard-hitting dirty south rap records! Danity Kane’s “Ecstacy” is ironically a collabo with down-south rapper Rick Ross and is an equally stimulating number. With its skittering beat and hand-claps its clearly inspired by the boys immersion in dirty south beats but combined with the girls opera-like vocals, the constant sample of a sexual cry in the background and violin-inspired synths it makes for another riveting, sexy and most of all successful R&B joint.
Mary Brown, – who is listed as writer on the above tracks as well as some of the other standouts from both these highly consistent and enjoyable albums is an awesome writer and arranger and has proved so easily here. If she is the veteran soft voiced Mary Brown who had previously collaborated with veteran 90s R&B producer Malik “Zavy Kid” Pendleton on tracks like Mary J. Blige’s “7 Days”, SWV’s “Lose My Cool” and Diana Ross’ “So They Say”, provided choruses on tracks by LL Cool J and Heavy D and sung backgrounds for So Plush and countless other old school acts, she is even more legendary. Her arrangements on these 2008 tracks alone show such promise for her future so I’m glad Diddy seems to be giving real talent a chance these days. Whether its the echoing, throaty shouts of “Extacy”, the haunting operatic hums in collaboration with Jim Beanz on “Bad Girl” or the layered, gospel inspired cries of “My dooo-ooors opennnn!” on “Come In” this girl definitely had no problem writing an addictive track throughout with gorgeous vocal arrangements to boot.