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Justin Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2’ Review: Album Of The Year?

13 Jul

The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2

Not many musicians would release a second album just six months after a massively successful one and a sold-out stadium tour with the reigning King of Hip Hop, Jay Z. But most musicians aren’t Justin Timberlake. “The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2” unfathomably tops its predecessor with an operatic exploration of soul, country, funk, R&B swaddled in JT’s legendary charisma.

If “The 20/20 Experience” was about the simple act of falling in love, 2 of 2 encapsulates the complicated work of sustaining it. The initial seduction is explored in the “Thriller”-esque “True Blood” and the ode to bedroom stripteases “Cabaret” featuring Drake. The darker times when love and hate are one in the same are referenced in the pain-smudged bluesy stunner “Drink You Away” and the scathingly badass rock-soul hybrid “Only When I Walk Away.” The sunny “Not A Bad Thing” details the happily ever after.

As with Experience, most songs are at least five minutes long with extended outros, which can enhance a track’s strengths or exaggerate its weakenesses. The last minutes of “Only When I Walk Away” is the audible equivalent to cubism, a raw, wild exploration of sound with robust drums and a funked up vocals. The closing riffs of “Not A Bad Thing” is another song entirely about flitting off in a cocoon of love, featuring Timberlake’s caramel voices, an acoustic guitar and a lush orchestra. On the flipside, the additional minutes renders the monstrous banger “True Blood” a little anemic.

Timberlake may rely a little too heavily on uber-producer Timbaland’s mad-scientist production, however, he also proves that beyond the smoke and mirrors burns an inferno of talent. 2 of 2 features Timberlake’s freest and strongest vocals of his career. The frills-free “Drink You Away” is unabashed Memphis soul steeped in a gritty country riff. And “You Got It On”-a showcase of Timberlake’s golden falsetto that rivals that of Maxwell and even the King of Pop himself-is a throwback to classic babymaking R&B. Along with the haunting “Amnesia,” these songs provide the ballads and slow tempos that the breezy “The 20/20 Experience” lacked.

As a whole, “The 20/20 Experience” is undoubtedly a platinum gem in Timberlake’s treasure-trove of a career, and more than likely the best album of the year. It also emphatically solidifies JT as an iconic musician among the greats that influenced him. Most artists directly reference their idols, but Timberlake’s varied inspirations resonate in the space between beats and the breaths between notes. While the musicality and vocals pay homage to Michael Jackson, Queen, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and others, the provocative execution is entirely Timberlake.

Grade: A+

Check out Timberlake’s video for “Take Back The Night.” “The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2” is available on iTunes and in stores now.

Photo Credits: RCA Recrods

Karyn White Makes Her Comeback with ‘Carpe Diem’

4 May

Karyn White

“I couldn’t even think or dream of anything else,” said Karyn White of what drew her to music. A multiple Grammy nominee and NAACP Image Award winner, she stepped away from performing in 1994 to focus on her family, but now she’s roaring back with the new album Carpe Diem. The singer and entrepreneur recently spoke to BFTV about what made it the right time for her to return, and what she’s learned from the journey of her career.

Karyn was not only a successful singer, but also writer and producer from the 80’s to mid 90’s, She released her self-titled debut EP in 1988, and it was certified Platinum, reaching the top spot on the Billboard R&B chart. Another album, 1991’s Ritual of Love, went Gold. She cultivated a fan base both domestic and international, including Japan, the UK and Canada. Yet she put down the microphone and found a second career in interior design and real estate. Once her daughter went off to college at Howard University, however, Karyn decided upon a return to music – one that’s kicked off by the arrival of her new album, Carpe Diem.

“I’ve grown and so it was more of an excitement,” she said when asked if she felt any pressure stepping back into the spotlight. “I know who I am even more. I’m living what I’m speaking about in my music. [That] just gave me a whole other confidence. I feel like there’s a whole bunch of ladies in their 30’s and 40’s that can identify with me.”

Yet Karyn is also quick to point out that for all the things she’s accomplished, she could not be as successful as she is alone. “”I have a great team,” she explained. “A great manager, assistant, publicist, my daughter helps me – and I think it starts there. It’s not just me.”

She’s definitely ready to make her presence felt. Carpe Diem is a reflection of Karyn’s growth as both an artist and a woman. There’s the motivating song “Seize the Day” and the empowerment track “Unbreakable,” which she says “is really where I am. I’m never going to let anyone or anything break my spirit.” She’s also proud of “My Heart Cries,” which is “an amazing composition about being a woman.” The disc also contains her cover version of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”

The album showcases her identity as a strong woman with the benefit of both professional and life experience. “People don’t realize your youth is hard because you’re trying to find it. We really compete with ourselves,” she explained. “My production, my whole brand, I knew who I was. And it was easier than ever.”

The new Karyn White is not just a musical artist, but continues to be a multi-hyphenate, with a brand that goes across countries and platforms. With the release of the album, she’s also going back out on tour, having visited Japan and on her way to Africa and Europe before she travels the United States. In addition to that, she’s hitting the small screen, with both a TV pilot and a reality TV series. And there’s a companion book to the new album, also entitled Carpe Diem. There’s nothing Karyn won’t try, and she encourages other artists to not let anything hold them back, either.

“I definitely want to always encourage entrepreneurship and ownership,” she said. “I have a heart for people in this industry trying to make it. Always believe in yourself and don’t rely on anyone else for that. Don’t measure your success based on finances, measure it based on the happiness in your heart.”

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do anything. Go after your dreams. I don’t care if you’ve had it all, been there, made mistakes, you have to seize the day. It is the time,” she continued. “I’m so excited because there’s so many talented musicians and entertainers who never get the opportunity in today’s world. Now you can create the opportunity. I respect that, I honor it and I’m excited. Music can only get better because it’s in the right hands of true artists.”

Artists like Karyn White, who is back in a big way, and this time she’s going to be making headlines for a long while to come.

You can keep up with Karyn at her official website (karynwhite.me), on Twitter (@Karyns_World), and on Facebook (KarynWhiteMusic). Carpe Diem is on iTunes and Amazon now.

For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my official website and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

Photo Credits: PR Photos

Madame Tussauds Unveils Four New Whitney Houston Wax Figures A Year After Her Death

7 Mar

Whitney Houston Wax Figure

Madame Tussauds debuted a series of four new wax figures of the late Whitney Houston on Thursday at their New York City location.

Whitney’s family was on hand to witness the unveiling, including her mother Cissy and Brothers Gary and MIchael and their wives.

The four new figures depict Whitney during the various phases of her career in music and movies and will reportedly be split up and relocated to some of the other Madame Tussauds museums in the U.S.

Whitney Houston Wax Figure

Houston’s smash hit ballad “I Will Always Love You,” from the soundtrack to her film The Bodyguard, was recently named the most popular love song in the U.S. according to a new Valentine’s Day poll from Harris Interactive.

The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” came in second; while Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman,” Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful,” and The Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” round out the top five.

Whitney Houston Wax Figure

Houston drowned in the bathtub of her hotel suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel prior to record producer Clive Davis’s annual Grammy Awards bash a year ago.

Davis throws his annual party at the hotel’s ballroom every year on the eve of the Grammys; and this year organizers invited the late singer’s mom, who wasn’t too pleased with her invitation.

“I got an invitation to the party, which is the most obscene thing…” she said at the wax figure unveiling. “I don’t know why they would want me to come to the party where she died.”

Whitney’s brother Gary and his wife Pat, who was her manager, will be attending the party, however.

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