Thursday, June 23, 2005

mash' ups

mashonda shines in blackout

Blame the great weather in NYC these days or blame a collection of medium hot singles or blame the Swizz Beats vibe that continues to entertain me but I’m on this Mashonda kick for the past few minutes (and apparently the Kitchen has taken Note as well). Like many other up-and-coming R&B divas (no promo) Mashonda’s been doin’ the do… meaning getting all the right MCs on her joints or vice-versa and repping on the mixtapes. It doesn’t hurt to have a Swizz resurgence beneath your wings.
The Game brings the needed gruff vocal tones to the extremely weightless “Back of the Club” a meta ‘club joint’ with a Swizz synth whine floating above the light-as-air-melody and brainless hook. The ‘get ya hands in the air’ Swizz-along doesn’t convince either. But add Fat Joe’s “Listen Baby” from his album and now we’ve got a couple joints working in tandem. Mashonda brings a seventies sound to the hook and Joe brings the perfect level of chilled thug rhyme to ride the hand-claps and wistful ‘remember when’ keyboard lines. The wind chimes and bells add to the warm weather breeziness but Crack brings it back to the gutter when he greets a honey’s arrival with the realization that she was just in time to break Joe off before his hotel checkout time.
The air stays clear as Kanye West joins her on “Hold me Down” and doesn’t ruin a joint that is almost interchangeable with his Brandy duet oh-so-long-ago.
The minimal track for ‘Shonda’s collabo with Jadakiss is overwhelmed by the mixtape host shouting over it but the simple ‘computer printout’ beepbeepbeepbeep forces a nice vocal rhythm on the hook and gives it a chilly futuristic vibe that counters the sentimental organ chords. The weird theremin-like wind-up to Jada’s verse is odd and nice but doesn’t distract from the typical thug-in-love vibe
The hardest guest MC of the bunch turns out to be an almost unrecognizable Remy on the “Used To” remix absolutely killing it far from softly.
Mashonda’s “Welcome to Harlem” jack starts out strong but doesn’t know where to go. The fuzzy off-key vocals remind me of Dynamitee or Res and I hope Juelz or Cam jumps on this one somewhere soon (Welcome to crack rock!... in the flesh?)
But the real joint to behold is “Blackout” with a below par Nas on an above par Swizz beat. ‘Shonda’s vocals are great on the tumbling tom-toms and claps as she does an MIA type squeal at the ends of her hook (“….make MEEEE!...Every time at least THREEE!”) that give way to Swizzpers of “blackout, blackout” and whoops that remind me of Hov on the Teairra Mari Rakim jack. Oh yeah, there’s plenty of comp, Shonda.
Now Teairra’s got arguably the best MC in the game (but just doing ad-libs), Nicole Wray seems to have a lock on the Mary J cracked vocal pathos, and Keisha Coles has genuine personality for days. But it’s nice to see that Mashonda doesn’t let any of that get in the way of a string of fluffy pop tunes that conveniently show up on shuffle during these lovely New York afternoons.

Mashonda feat Game (prod. Swizz Beats / DJ Finesse) “Back of the Club”
Fat Joe feat Mashonda (prod. Swizz Beats) “Listen Baby”
Mashonda feat Kanye West “Hold Me”
Mashonda feat. Jadakiss “Can’t Leave the Block Alone”
Mashonda feat Remy Martin (“Used To” (from White Chicks Mixtape)
Mashonda feat Nas (prod. Swizz Beats) “Blackout”
Mashonda “Welcome to Harlem” Freestyle