All Articles Tagged "music"

The Story Behind The Names Of 15 Of Your Favorite R&B Groups

October 6th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Have you ever heard the name of a group and wondered to yourself, Where did that come from? With some of the very unique band names out there, it only makes sense. And while some stories are yet to be uncovered, including the story behind The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guy, and After 7 (seriously though, what’s the deal?), we did some digging and were able to get the backstory on the names of some of our favorite hip-hop and R&B groups. If you know the tea on others, feel free to share other unique group name origins below!


Brownstone album cover pf

Source: MJJ Music/Epic


I don’t know about you, but I still jam out to “If You Love Me,” by the group Brownstone. “Grapevyne” isn’t so bad either. But after watching their video for “If You Love Me” last night, my fiancé couldn’t help but ask, “Why in the world did they choose that name?” As it turns out, lead singer Nicci Gilbert told Essence in 1995 that the name was all about strength and stability, which described the friendship of herself, Charmayne Maxwell and Kina Cosper: “We picked our name because brown is the earth and stone is solid.”

11 Songs You Can Thank Grammy-Nominated Singer & Producer Kashif For

September 29th, 2016 - By Michelby Whitehead
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Tragically, Brooklyn-born producer and recording artist Kashif Saleem was found dead in his Los Angles home on Sunday. Updated reports state that he was actually 59, not 56, at the time of his death.

Kashif was an artist, producer and composer who played multiple instruments. At 15, he toured internationally as a member of B.T. Express, whose hits include the funky “Do It.” In 1996, he added author to his list of accomplishments with the best-selling book Everything You Better Know About the Record Industry.

As an artist, Kashif had 17 Top 10 hits. As a producer/songwriter, he sold over 70 million records worldwide, earning him six Grammy nominations in multiple categories. Saxophonist Kenny G credits the multifaceted Kashif for launching his career.

A product of eight foster homes, his later years were spent developing educational music programs for children and aspiring artists. He also taught at UCLA.

Although the height of his solo career came during the ’80s, his musical influence and legacy remained relevant decades later. The artist’s music was sampled by artists of all genres. Here are just 11 tracks you probably didn’t know Kashif was responsible for:



“You Give Good Love”

Originally, “You Give Good Love” was written with the incomparable Roberta Flack in mind. But as the producer of the song, Kashif eventually thought it was better suited for Whitney Houston. He convinced Arista Records to let her have it and the song became her third single from her self-titled debut. It also went on to be a pop crossover hit on the Billboard 100.

The 20th Anniversary Of Tupac’s Death Made Me Feel Like My Parents

September 14th, 2016 - By Chad Milner
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tupac's final words


Yesterday, September 13, marks 20 years since the death of Tupac Shakur. After a day of penning posts about the slain rapper, I had parenting to do. I felt compelled to listen to Makaveli’s songs as I drove my nephew, his best friend, and my daughter to baseball practice.

Song after song played and the only person that was into it was me. “I Get Around” blared and I was the only one who cared. The next song to play was “California Love” and there was nary a head nod. I sometimes wake up with mysterious aches and pains, but being in a car with children who didn’t care at all that Tupac was playing was the first time I felt old. 

I thought on that for about 30 seconds, but no longer cared and continued to rap all of the words to “Hail Mary,” making a conscious effort to censor my words accordingly.

I came to the realization that I am slowly evolving into my parents.  

I was the same age as my nephew and his best friend when Tupac was shot down. Back then in New York City, my parents would never listen to hip-hop, and that was all I wanted to hear while they would shuttle my sister and I from place to place. The parentals just didn’t get the music and were more than content with listening to what I considered “old stuff.”

As children, we vow that we will never be like the people that made us. We know that we will get older, we think we’ll be the ones to stay in the know with all of the new stuff and our kids will think that we’re cool. However, time happens. Slowly but surely we hit a crossroads, look at what the youth are into, and act like I quote Danny Glover in “Lethal Weapon”: “I’m getting too old for this s***.”

My mother and father were–and still are–fairly hip people. They were the cool parents. They weren’t clueless about whatever my twin sister and I were into. As a teacher and musician, respectively, they found middle ground with me by unwaveringly being themselves, yet constantly reaching out to relate. For every complaint about how what I liked wasn’t music, they made me listen to their oldies and pointed out what songs they liked that were sampled in mine.

Somewhere between nature and nurture, this is me, as well.  I’m a hip-hop head that constantly can put my kids up on whatever is new. I drop my daughter off to kindergarten with arms covered in tattoos, earrings in my ears, Jordans on my feet, and my hat worn backwards. We pull up at soccer and baseball games with 808’s rumbling from the speakers so that other children and parents know the stars have arrived. However, I refuse to do their silly dances and listen to more than one song by “Lil’ Nigglet” at a time…the two-step is always style and Tupac is way better (my parents feel the same way with regards to The Hustle and Earth, Wind and Fire).

My feeling old has absolutely nothing to do with it being 20 years since one of the most influential artists of my youth died. When he died, my mother told a similar story from 15 years prior about college students playing records in remembrance of John Lennon. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s much more fun being on the other side of the parenting coin. For all of the things I see my children are into, they borrow heavily from the ‘90’s and it all reminds me of a much simpler time.

Why We Need More Black Girl Anthems

May 20th, 2016 - By Erica R. Williams
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Young black girl/woman in college listening to headphones/music, Shutterstock


Nearly a month after dropping a surprise album, people of all races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes are still asking for more Lemonade. Why? Well, because it’s probably Beyoncé’s best work. But aside from the infectious hooks, jaw-dropping visuals, and FU given to cheating men, there is a deeper message in Beyoncé’s aesthetic album. This message affects one group in particular: Black women. Beyoncé reminded us (by way of Malcolm X) that “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” And though the civil rights leader said this more than 50 years ago, we needed someone, in the present day, of Beyoncé’s status and stature, to reiterate this sentiment, which still holds true today. We need anthems like “Formation” to remind us that yes, being a Black girl isn’t easy, but there is a power, also known as Black girl magic, in who we are.

Some may argue that songs won’t change the way Black women are treated or perceived in society, but music is a powerful weapon. And while it may not directly revamp the way everyone feels about us, it can help alter the way we feel about ourselves and other Black women. This, in turn, can indirectly initiate change.

It’s a fact that music affects moods, and according to researchers, it even affects the way people perceive the world. Black women have more than enough songs (most times delivered by Black men) that present us in a negative light. Either we’re bitter b—hes who are only good for pleasing a man sexually or we’re not good enough because we don’t fit a certain look or way of being. There aren’t enough songs reminding us of our beauty and ‘badass-ness’; and the ones that are out there, unfortunately, don’t make it to the mainstream airwaves. So when a star of Beyoncé’s caliber makes a visual album that highlights the strength and beauty of Black women, I can only be excited, and you should be too.

Nonetheless, not everyone is buying into Beyoncé’s delivery. Author and feminist bell hooks penned an essay on her website that accuses the pop singer of doing exactly what we are trying to do away with. Though she praises the album for creativity and “multidimensional images of Black female life,” she also says, “much of the album stays within a conventional stereotypical framework where the Black woman is always a victim.”

While Hooks is a respected feminist in her own right, we cannot pretend that Black women don’t usually end up with the short end of the stick. Acknowledging this doesn’t make us victims, but rather, we can relish in the fact that we usually overcome. And look good doing it. This is why songs like the ones Beyoncé is creating now are what we need more of. And while there are plenty of other Black artists who have been offering similar messages far longer than Bey (think Ledisi, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, India Arie, etc.), we still need those with the most power and influence as mainstream artists to make a concentrated effort to speak up for Black women.

Behind The Scenes: Vivian Green’s “Grown Folks Music” Video

May 2nd, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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Vivian Green

Vivian Green

Singer Vivian Green dropped by Mommynoire to give us a behind the scenes look at her new video for “Grown Folks Music,” the second single off her Vivid album.

The busy mom also took the time to chat with us about homeschooling her son Jordan all week while booking her shows on the weekend. The Derek Blanks-directed “Grown Folks Music” video took so long to film because Jordan is such a priority in her life. Sound familiar, moms? It’s the balance all mothers strive to achieve.

Mommynoire: Why did you decide to homeschool your son?

Vivian Green: I chose to homeschool my son because in kindergarten he was fragile and I didn’t trust that he wouldn’t get hurt. Playing is a big part of kindergarten and I just wasn’t comfortable with it at all. Once he moved on from kindergarten, I still preferred homeschooling because it turned out to be just perfect for my lifestyle as a recording artist. It allows a lot of flexibility but it’s actually tough. His curriculum is a year and a half above grade level in our state. It’s not fun and games at all, but gives us a certain flexibility that standard school would not.

Vivian Green and son

Vivian Green and son

How have you found balancing your work on the weekends and devoting time to Jordan during the week?

We try to schedule concerts Friday through Sunday, so this way things in Jordan’s life don’t have to change too much. Sometimes there are shows on other days, and because of the flexibility I can take him with me, or leave school-work with my mother. It’s really cool because he has virtual classes online with teachers and other students; similar to college online. So he’s always able to sign in and attend class no matter where I am.

Does he ever travel with you? What’s your support system like?

He travels with me sometimes and he loves it. My mother is my co-parent and she’s wonderful. She was literally there from day one concerning Jordan, so when I need to leave him with her I’m never worried.

What has been a life-saver in finding time to produce your art and also make sure family time is a priority?

My mother (hands down) has been the magic that allows me to balance career and family.

Pick up Vivian’s album Vivid here on iTunes.

Here’s the full video!


Michael Jackson Never Wanted To Be White

February 9th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image Source: Showtime

Image Source: Showtime

Spike Lee’s Showtime documentary film Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown To Off The Wall premiered last Friday.  As a diehard, straight out the womb Michael Jackson fan, I got my entire life watching mesmerizing clips and giddy interviews of the man himself, conversations with those who personally knew him and the “witnesses” (as they were labeled in the credits) who were touched by MJ’s indelible body of work.  I happily sang along to tunes that will forever bring me joy and gained further insight into the man they called King.

In the documentary, Lee honed in on MJ’s early years and made a conscious decision to focus solely on the music created during that impressionable, history-making time, instead of the myriad controversies and scandals that plagued later portions of Jackson’s solo career.  One of those controversies, which sparks conversation almost seven years after the late singer’s death, is Jackson’s changing appearance over the years.  Though MJ’s legacy lives in the music he created and shared with the world, it’s almost impossible to mention his name without hearing the widely-held belief that Michael Jackson wanted to look and be White. A belief that has made its way back into discussion due to the casting of Joseph Fiennes to play the pop star in the film, Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon. But I think the answer to his physical transformation lies in a note Jackson wrote to himself, which was shared in the film.

Jackson was only 21 years old when he wrote his future into existence, much like Octavia Butler did, as we recently learned.  “MJ will be my new name,” he declared.  “No more Michael Jackson. I want a whole new character, a whole new look. I should be a tottally [sic] different person. People should never think of me as the kid who sang “ABC,” [or] “I Want You Back.”  I should be a new, incredible actor/singer/dancer that will shock the world. I will do no interviews. I will be magic. I will be a perfectionist, a researcher, a trainer, a masterer [sic]. I will be better than every great actor roped into one.”

One of the things that was painfully obvious throughout the film was that executives, producers, businessmen, and directors alike constantly doubted Jackson.  They doubted whether he would have a singing career past childhood, whether he could have an acting career and star in The Wiz (or any other film for that matter), whether he could create his own music and be a solo artist.  It’s kind of crazy, considering that he had already proven himself so many times.  His talent was undeniable. Jackson combined his innate sensibilities with hard work, passion and an unwavering appreciation for and study of artists like James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers.  He combined those influences into a unique style all his own, yet he kept having to prove himself to people who didn’t share or understand his vision.

Jackson, who admittedly was never satisfied, was a complicated, misunderstood genius driven by an impossible quest for perfection. That quest led to a desire to physically reinvent himself with the release of each solo album, from Off The Wall to Invincible, the last album he recorded prior to his 2009 death.  Reinvention translated to numerous alterations to his nose, a cleft in his chin, his changing hair, and, yes, lighter skin, though induced by vitiligo.  Despite those changes, I don’t think Jackson was seeking to become a different race, that he saw flaws in his blackness, or that he equated whiteness with greatness and perfection.  Different was the name of the game.  He was striving to both outdo himself and to be in a league all his own.   He sought continually to distance himself from his boyhood image, though he longed for the childhood he claimed to have missed.  And he wanted to create an identity entirely separate from his brothers.

I recognize that there are so many issues that complicate this reading.  The fact that Jackson took in three White children, for example, and that he seemed to have body dysmorphic disorder.  He was also rendered untouchable by his exorbitant level of fame, which probably fed into a belief that he could alter his appearance and continue to go about his business without being questioned, like unexplained magic.  Born and bred in the shock value era, reinvention was also a way in which Jackson could remain relevant, or rather, talked about in the public eye.  Which is sad because the only thing that ever really mattered was the music, but that was overshadowed by his persona.

Of course, all of this conjecture is predicated on a single, handwritten note that seemed to play a crucial role in Michael Jackson’s adult life.  But only he knew his innermost thoughts, the real reasons why he changed his physical appearance time and again, and why the changes never seemed to be enough.

Regardless, it’s the music that remains of importance.  I am grateful to Spike Lee for creating a film that didn’t succumb to the easy, “But what happened to Michael’s skin?” trap.  That’s a different film for a different director entirely.  Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown To Off The Wall gave us a glimpse into the makings of one of the greatest, most innovative entertainers to ever grace the earth, an enigma and cultural icon whose influence lives on in countless artists and in the hearts of countless fans.

Have You Heard The First Family’s Holiday Spotify Playlist?

December 26th, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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If you thought holidays in the White House were astronomically different from your own, think again.

Just like us, the First Family is all about having a good time with family and friends during the holidays. Earlier this week on Wednesday (Dec.23), the White House released Christmas-themed playlists from both the Obamas and the Bidens, as reported by CNN.

The Obamas playlist ranges from Destiny’s Child’s “8 Days of Christmas” to Frank Sinatra’s “The First Noel.”

Continue reading below to see the full “Holidays with the Obamas” playlist:

  • O Tannenbaum, Vince Guaraldi Trio (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
  • Let It Snow, Boyz II Men
  • All I Want for Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, The Jackson 5
  • 8 Days of Christmas, Destiny’s Child
  • Someday at Christmas, Stevie Wonder
  • The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole
  • Silent Night, Ledisi
  • Do You Hear What I Hear, Yolanda Adams
  • Away In A Manger, Kenny Burrell
  • Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
  • The First Noel, Frank Sinatra
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Luther Vandross
  • Little Drummer Boy, Whitney Houston

Listen to the playlist here.

13 Musicians We’re Still Willing to Buy Albums For

December 24th, 2015 - By M A
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Credit: Rob Rich/

Credit: Rob Rich/

To convince consumers to actually run out to their local record store (are those even a thing anymore?) or hit up Amazon to actually buy a record is quite a daunting task. But there are a select few artists who will send us in droves to drop $20 for their full-length record. Who are these incredible stars? Here we name the musicians that can still convince us to legally acquire music and not just stream it.

From Rick Ross To Rita Ora: Viral “Hello” Covers And Parodies Adele Lovers Can’t Stop Watching

December 8th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Apparently no one can stop listening to Adele’s megahit “Hello.” And that’s why it’s one of the most covered songs on the Internet right now. From a Korean high school girl’s uncanny cover to Rick Ross’s addition to the smash single, here are the “Hello” covers we love.

The Macarena, The Humpty, And A Few Other Corny Dances We’ve All Done

November 13th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

These may be the corniest dance moves out there, but we still love them. Well, most of them. Which ones do you know how to do?