Ephect: “Just Like That” – focused on making an impression

Ephect is an Independent Rap/Hip Recording Artist and Music Producer born, raised and currently located in Indianapolis, Indiana (US). Ephect has released around 20 music, numerous singles, and his latest full length album titled “The Nphection”, which dropped back in September 2018. What makes this album different than other recent releases comes down to, how Ephect works with his producers. He doesn’t just compliment good production, he capitalizes on stunning production. In today’s hip-hop scene, fans tend to shy away from raw rapping talent. Gone are the days when the scene was more focused on how good the flow was

Lew Houston: “Safe” – a gritty flow that adds to the lyrical poignancy

Lew Houston is a hip-hop artist currently based in San Diego. Originally from Houston, Texas, Lew rose above the violence and poverty in his life by playing sports and creating music. Influenced by Southern rap styles, he began writing his own lyrics at a young age and released his debut album “The Progression” in 2016.  His latest EP “Back to da Money” is available now, and features the single “Safe”. With no forewarning, Lew gives us a sharp and compact four-minute statement on “Safe”. It’s just a quick and efficient declaration of supremacy, a warning for us not to underrate

Rodrigo Rocha gets the lead role in “SSW Of The Border”

Actor Rodrigo Rocha is not slowing down anytime soon. After a slew of roles, he is preparing to lead a feature indie movie, “SSW Of The Border”. Set to start production in the first quarter of 2019, the film is projected to be released early next year. “SSW Of The Border” will be directed by Felipe Bretas and Bruno Vieira. Other casts of the movie include Kayky Brito, Zhubin Rahbar, Eduardo Magalhaes, Dani Antunes, Eben Reinhardt, Joao Gevaerd, Dimi Papas, Kenzie Dodds, Rhaina Rodovalho, and Juliana Amador. “SSW Of The Border” movie will start production in April 2019. An official

Daud Aur Yahudy: “Home Bound” – The sounds are deep-toned

A former professional athlete in the NFL, now turned singer-songwriter, Daud Aur Yahudy has released his EP “Home Bound”, which follows the re-release of his critically acclaimed debut album “Soulful Life Within”. Daud has earned his right to experiment with his sound and release something that tells us who he really is. The eloquently presents his unique version of future soul lined with a touch of love, spirituality and enchantment. His distinct flare allows him to appeal to the masses without becoming a cookie-cutter R&B and soul singer. The silky smooth, 6 song EP features peaceful and melodic vocals that

Marcus Christ is the American prodigy known for his hit hooks, killer songs, and melodic voice.

Marcus Christ continues to move forward in the entertainment industry. He has just recently released two single songs edited for radio play called “It’s Like” and “If I Knew”, for sale on Cdbaby.com. Marcus Christ is the American prodigy known for his hit hooks, killer songs, and melodic voice. Marcus Christ was just recently released from jail after pleading no contest to vandalism charges. As an artist Marcus Christ has had problems in the past “expressing himself”. Marcus Christ expects his double album “Prince of the Universe” to showcase various producers, but especially his own productions. Marcus Christ admits he

AMARU: “CHAMPAGNE ATTITUDE (RAP-TITUDE MIX)” is totally on fire!

AMARU – a singer-songwriter and a trained actor, originally from the Republic of Suriname residing in The Netherlands since 1991 – has found critical success with enough Pop, Rock, R&B and Electronic influenced songs that there’s plenty of demand for more, but there’s nothing like hearing the gloriously hard-nosed Dutch artist rap a beat to shreds. This is something he does not often do. Now on his latest release – “CHAMPAGNE ATTITUDE (RAP-TITUDE MIX)” – we get to savor just that. The song is rap remix of the title track of his debut album, and is a completely new version,

Hookdiggy: “On My Way” ft. Sunja Dannette – full feel-good potential

2019 sees Atlanta-based Hookdiggy, continuing his growing momentum and his promise to put out well written hip-hop that appeals not only to fans of the genre, but fans of creative and innovative lyrical content. In fact he goes beyond that with his latest track, “On My Way” ft. Sunja Dannette. Utilizing full-bodied smooth instrumentation, Hookdiggy manages to pull off an almost cinematic-like ambiance throughout. The intoxicating mix of jazz, hip-hop, and neo-soul with a dash of dance is maintained at a very high level from beginning to end while the musicianship is top-notch every step of the way. Hookdiggy, together

Tony Marino: “Family and Friends” – a wildly rhythmic demonstration of every crowd-pleasing twist

Tony Marino – the South Philly composer, pianist, and bandleader – has been passionately carrying the torch for his love of Latin Jazz sounds since the release of his debut Cd “Tony Marino & Havana Heat: The Latin Jazz Project” which was dropped in January 1997. The artist who fell in love with the piano at just 7 years of age, has since recorded 10 more albums. Each bringing to the fore his songwriting and performing skills learned over the years, after crossing paths with Bill DelGovenatore, Frank DiBussolo, Al Stauffer, Tom Lawton and Ernest Hopkins – all of whom had an

KC Sisters: “Walk With Me” – sincere, authentic and absolute!

The KC Sisters aren’t old enough to remember when radio programmed pop records next to country, rock, folk, and beyond, but their artistic DNA tells them that’s the way music was meant to be heard. Their sound on the EP, “Walk With Me”, is like a warm embrace from a loved one. It’s sincere, authentic and absolute, taken from a legacy of sound that comes from their fondness for the all-girl groups of the 1960s. The Casey sisters – Deanna, Noelle, Tasha, Elise and Kathleen – highlight their acapella harmonization, as well as their mastery as skilled musicians, playing piano,

GentleBeatz: “Soul City” – the rhythm and flow of free form poetry

Sometimes a recording catches you off guard, rising from nowhere and worming its way into your ears with new sounds and ideas. Such a recording grows on you over time, and eventually can reorient what music and sounds you thought you liked. “Soul City” released on December 31 by artist and producer GentleBeatz, is such an EP. Emotionally rich, musically rich, and technically brilliant, it appeared with little fanfare or publicity to mesmerize our senses. GentleBeatz is an artist and producer currently residing in Mozambique. The eclectic creative crafts his tracks in the lo-fi hip-hop/chill-hop genres. Here he includes flavors

Juan Donovan: “Merlot & Marijuana” – a brilliant compendium of styles and luxurious production

As one half of the production duo Darkroom Productions, Juan Donovan has produced with his partner Jamal Roberts some of today’s hottest artists. That list includes R Kelly, Wale, Young Money, Maino, JellyRoll, 24Hrs (Royce Rizzy), Brick Squad, G-Unit, Bad Boy, and more. The duo also won multiple awards for its phenomenal work on HBO’s classic hit series “The Wire”, which garnered them featured in major publications such as FADER, The New York Times, VIBE, and dozens more. It’s not surprising then that Juan Donovan would want to drop a record that’s as much a personal statement as a collection of stunning songs. His long anticipated debut album entitled “Merlot & Marijuana” conveys a sense of summation, as Donovan deploys a lavish roster of all-star talent in a broad overview of R&B, and urban music flavors in general.

There is no stylistic redlining on Juan Donovan’s block, where contemporary R&B, RnBass, Soul, Trap, and Ambient all get credit – sometimes in imaginative combinations that occupy the same song. The album’s main strengths are a thorough smattering of variety that guarantees almost infinite replay value, and a plethora of stylish vocal thrust to go with Donovan’s brilliant compendium of styles and luxurious production touch.

Wonderful musicality says an awful lot –as Donovan doesn’t make beats as much as he produces songs – and the high points on “Merlot & Marijuana” are brimming with it. The opening song “Work” (feat. Devon Hill), which drops in after the intro, is a slow, bracing, potentially influential amalgam, in which Donovan weaves yearning choral motifs, around and over busy hi-hats and pianos, then turns up the melodic juice with some soulful crooning by Devon Hill. Donovan’s role on this album can be likened to that of a high class tailor who chooses the cloth then cuts it to perfection.

He shines with his ability to not just make human voices sound enticing, but ensures that together with the music they become irresistibly captivating. With his eyes, heart and musical mind always fully focused on the project, the occurrence of a perfect match between vocals and instrumentals, is repeated on every track on “Merlot & Marijuana”.

Both “Presence” (feat. Tatmancoop x Shayla) and “All Over Me” (feat. MKHL x Aliché) are such brilliantly constructed pieces of music. The melodies are infectious as the vocals transport you to a world of slow groove with some awesome arrangements.

Every element of “Fireworks” (feat. Aliché) has been carefully thought out. Every frame of its construction from the synth interludes, the vocals, and the ability to let the song simmer in its instrumental with Aliché putting in a stellar vocal performance.

Juan Donovan is able to arrange and compose songs to fit any sort of mood. His musical knowledge is all on display with this project, and can be savored on the piano-driven instrumental “Arturo Fuente”. Chrxstal’s mesmerizing vocals are in full force on “Running On E” (feat. Chrxstal). This mellow groove is pretty intoxicating with its finger-snapping beat.

For me personally, “Roses” (feat. Adria Jenée x KenTheMan) is one of the album’s absolute highlights. The instrumentation, especially the bass lines and thumping kick drum are intensely manipulating on the senses. The track also has an edgy urban flavor as the rapped lines perfectly contrast the soft melodic vocals and lush production.

To be fair, “Lost In A Minute” (feat. Danni Jackson x M.A.V.), is pretty much locked into the same hierarchy. It’s hard to imagine anyone listening to this downtempo groove on replay and not attempt to sing along with the chorus at least once.

Juan Donovan clearly wanted to bring together some of the finest voices in the game as well as compose and arrange some fantastic pieces of music. Many songs here play testimony to that fact. Sometimes he allows those voices to reach out on their own, as on the smooth and soulful “Win Your Love” (feat. Danni Jackson).

Even as I listen to the closing instrumental track, “Indulge”, I can appreciate the amount of work that has gone into these 11 tracks, in what is one of the most listenable R&B and urban music albums I have heard in a very long while.

Overall these tracks present a treasure trove of skills sets from Juan Donovan and his collaborators. It may take a few listens to fully grasp the source of each groove, the choice of voices, the song structures and the arrangements, but you will connect to it on the very first listening. And that’s a sign of great music – something which captures you instantly, and then allows you to unpack and unfold it for deeper, sumptuous and endless listening pleasure!

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