Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five Reasons Why Spree Wilson Is Not a Nerd

Five Reasons Why Spree Wilson Is Not a Nerd

Magazines and websites are so predictable these days. Those cookie cutters ought to be shot. We can see their feature stories from a mile away. Like with this guy Spree Wilson. They’re gonna say he’s a nerd. They’ll take one short gaze at his derby, plaid-button up, and acoustic guitar and say he’s one of those geek hipsters who lives in the chic part of Brooklyn and performs at speakeasies. They’re not totally wrong, but they’re not totally right either. Yes, these things describe the 27 year old singer-songwriter and yes he wears Vans and rhymes with an endearing high pitch squeal, but no, Spree Wilson is not a nerd.

Now, although this young budding ATLien who recently released a dynamic mixtape, and is gearing to release a full length, The Beauty of Chaos, sometime this fall is very intelligent (peep the verbal linguistics on his teaser single “Word”), some proper investigation reveals that, indeed, there are some not-so-dorky things about Spree Wilson. So in the interest of presenting the findings in the most user-friendly way from a chat on a Fort Greene bench with the Atlantan musician, here are five reasons why Spree Wilson is not a nerd.

1. He Has Tattoos

And not just any tattoos, a tattoo of a robot angel and the Tasmanian Devil. The one of the Tasmanian Devil he got when he was 14 from a dude named “Tattoo Wayne” who was tatting up underage high-schoolers in a local hotel room. “He couldn’t be seen in the shop tattooing kids,” Spree recalls. “So he would have a suitcase of the things he put on people’s arms to dissolve the tatoo, to trace it.” If that wasn’t an unnerdly act of rambunctiousness, while other kids were hiding their tats from their parents, Spree came right out and showed his strict Seventh Adventist mother his new arm art. “I was so proud of my tattoo,” he says both playfully and defiantly. “I came in the house with my sleeve rolled up. She couldn’t do anything.”

2. He’s Good at Sports

Like every hood kid in Atlanta, Spree didn’t just played basketball and football in his formative years, he excelled at them. His best friend was the number one player in the state of Georgia. Even as a skinny 145-pounder, Spree played wide receiver for two years in high school until he got rammed at one game his mother was watching. He didn’t get up for like ten minutes, after which his mother put an overprotective end to NFL dreams. Spree can sum up the story even faster, “My mom was not having that.” After that fiasco, Spree got older and focused more on music and started getting cut from teams, which is kinda dorky, but at least he was good and not just some poindexter non-participant. “There’s not a guitar team you try out for,” Spree explains. “For basketball, that’s it. If somebody doesn’t get picked for a team, you’re going back to your neighborhood to play basketball. But music was always there. You couldn’t take it away from me.” Awww. You can still catch Spree at Prospect Park catching thirty yard touchdown passes in a rousing game of touch football.


3. He Got Bad Grades in School

It had nothing to do with intelligence. No, really, Spree did stellar his first year at Clark Atlanta University. It’s just really hard to concentrate when you live with the weed man. “You can’t live with somebody whose laying on the couch smoking and watching Good Morning America,” says Spree. “How are you going to start your day off with cereal and a blunt?” With all the partying and the music, he admits that college was a blur. In between massive toke sessions, Spree was all over the place yanking his guitar to open mics, talent shows, and campus events with white stripes and banners. He was that super artsy cool cat who listened to Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac, yet hung out with the regular guys with the white tees and fitteds. “Have you seen Crooklyn?” Spree offers rhetorically. “Remember Isaiah Washington? His character is the chill ass dude. That was me.”

4. He Gets Girls

Again, being the one alternative dude amongst a sea of white tees and fitteds has its benefits. While most of the Clark boys were listening to Pastor Troy (who Spree is also a fan of) and tripping over their oversized shirts, Spree was catching eyes with his airy ballads and songwriting talent. Remember, chicks dig guitars and Spree is no fool. He charmed his way through open doors even in the academic sector.

“One thing that got me as far as I got in school was I had a good personality to teachers,” Spree reflects. “I learned from my mom that I could charm most females. It’s not that I charm them to want to have sex with me, it’s a charm like ‘wow, you look beautiful today’”. It would be grossly negligent to omit that Spree, with his baby face and understated sense of style, is unconventionally handsome, but even so, it’s the Atlantan musician’s unassuming honesty towards women that melts hearts. He doesn’t woo chicks with witty one-liners. He tells it how it is, confronting a girl’s prettiness head on, whatever the result may be. Like this one time when he first moved to Brooklyn from Atlanta where everybody is either "White, Black, or maybe Mexican," he was at a party and saw a fine ambiguously ethnic girl surrounded by several big bulky dudes. “I was like, man, Imma go talk to her,” says Spree candidly. “I remember walking up to her and I was like, ‘excuse me, I don’t wanna make this seem like a line or anything, but I feel like you are absolutely gorgeous and where I’m from in Atlanta, we don’t have anybody as remotely beautiful as you are.” She gave him the warmest smile, told him it was the sweetest thing she had ever heard, and gave him the fullest hug you ever did see.

According to the nerd stereotype log, nerds are supposed to strikeout with the females. That was the type of story that would make the four eyes club not invite him to sit next to them at lunchtime or better yet, the type that would make them ceaselessly fan him in worship.

5. He Hustles

Extra hard. Not in the ancient Jay-Z “cough up a lung where I’m from” way, but in the, “I know what I want out of life and I’m working hard to get it.” The hustle certainly helped him when he needed an extension or two to keep from failing, but it also helped him bring his brand of Hip-Hop Soul to a wider audience. Think about it. How did Spree really go from campus balladeer to major recording artist? The answer lies in the clothing racks of Dallas Austin’s The Rowdy Store in Little Five Points, Atlanta where Spree worked tirelessly in addition to being the famed music producer’s intern for a year and a half. “Was the first person there and the last to leave,” Spree recalls like an old soldier verifying mettle. “Nobody there knew I did music. The most Dallas knew was that I was a black kid who played guitar and was into Rock music.” So Spree put in his work and bided his time for the right opportunity to hand Dallas his demo CD and the rest was history.

Well, not exactly, the Grammy-winning soundman lost his demo three times, but when he did finally listen to it, he was so moved that he allowed Spree to use his studio where he met No ID, Motown rapper/singer Novel, and a slew of other folks. He even got to do a song with Talib Kweli. “I just tried to find clever ways to be in the presence of the people who were making moves and who could eventually put me in the position where I could make my own moves,” says Spree. Gee wilikers, that’s grindin’.

And there you have it, five reasons.

As Spree’s solo debut is on the eve of dropping, more and more people will identify him as a nerd, even Spree himself might self-proclaim it. Don’t believe these people, at least not entirely. Nerds are cool people, too, just in idiosyncratic ways. So, in a way, yes, Spree Wilson is a nerd. But beware of typecasts. There is a big difference between Saved By the Bell Schreech-type nerds and real life nerds. In real life, don’t be surprised if nerds get tattoos and have sex.

- Sidik Fofana

REVIEW: Aloe Blacc's Good Things
On his debut album, Aloe Blacc officially trades in his MC mean mug for a soulful red bow tie. With deft song-writing that only ripens with the indie star’s coal-simmering vocals, Good Things is an assemblage of groovy life lessons, the kind that only a poet can pass down. On “Miss Fortune”, a funky allegory that warns about the fickleness of wealth, Aloe sings, “I met a girl by the name of ‘Miss Fortune’, daddy was a very rich man/ He told me, ‘Son, proceed with caution, if you wanna take my little girl’s hand’.” It’s the same cool storytelling that made his first single “I Need a Dollar” (also the theme song for HBO’s How to Make It In America) a hit.

Though Bill Withers may be the most obvious ghost loitering on the record, Blacc blooms into a style all his own. Whether it’s his tone (“Loving You is Killing Me”) or downright cynicism (“Hey Brother”), the young singer does not just borrow the Classic R&B formula, but updates it. The album’s title track is full big twangy guitars straight out of 1970’s Soul Train episode, but on it Aloe creatively addresses his mystery woman by four different titles. It’s been over seven years since Aloe made the decision to do more singing than rapping, but very fortunately on this LP, the MC pen has infiltrated the R&B tune.

Jamiroquai's "White Knuckle Ride"

After twenty years in the game, UK band Jamiroquai is back in the driver's seat and taking you for a “White Knuckle Ride”. The lead single from their forthcoming album Rock Dust Light Star invokes some disco fever with its electric voice tuning and bouncy guitar riffs.

Jamiroquai - White Knuckle Ride by ryce

Gil Scott-Heron's "New York is Killing Me" feat. Nas

Perhaps soul music’s most celebrated and controversial figure, Gil Scott-Heron is one of the few "old timers" still making relevant music. This remix, “New York is Killing Me” , featuring the one and only Nas, comes off the legend’s recently-released  album I’m New Here. The music video to it was recently shown at the MoMa in New York City.

The Verdict: Mature spoken word and pretty snazzy rhyming.

Gil Scott-Heron feat. Nas - "New York is Killing Me" (Remix) by D-WHY

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eddie Schlong

Practice what you preach...

Crazy Soccer Goal

Had my roommate screaming "a cheeky bit of skill!" for three days straight...

Mark Ronson feat. D'angelo "Glass Mountain Trust"

I said a while back that Mark Ronson pulled D’angelo out of hibernation, but nowadays people don’t believe jack until the audio stream hits the internet. So here’s “Glass Mountain Trust” off of Ronson’s Record Collection LP due September 28th. The grapevine is also saying that the British producer will collaborate on Mr. Brown Sugar’s long awaited third studio album. Hopefully, it won’t be long until we have cyberspace goodies from that project as well.

Jazmine Sullivan's Love Me Back Tracklist

Just when you repaired those broken car windows,  young diva Jasmine Sullivan is returning with her sophomore release Love Me Back to make sure you never break her heart again. The album, which drops November 22nd via J Records, features production from Ne-Yo, Missy Elliot, No I.D., Salaam Remi, Anthony, Toby Gadd, and Los da Mystro. Peep the tracklist:

1. Holding You Down (Goin’ In Circles)
2. 10 Seconds
3. Good Enough
4. Don’t Make Me Wait
5. Love You Long Time
6. Redemption
7. Excuse Me
8. U Get On My Nerves
9. Stuttering
10. In Vain
11. Famous
12. Luv Back

Natalie Stewart feat. Musiq Soulchild "Forever"

For years, she put the “flo” in Floetry and now Natalie Stewart aka The Floacist has offered a sample from her solo album to drop later this year. The song, “Forever”, with guest vocals from Musiq Soulchild is a late night steamer with seductive whispering from Stewart. Who knew a British accent could sound this sexy?

Don't forget to check out Stewart performing at the Centric sponsored Tillman's Live music series in NYC. Log on to our sister site subCentric for information.

The Floacist feat. Music Soulchild - Forever by djbigdose

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For Colored Girls Trailer

Don't mess this one up, Tyler.

"Liberte" by Les Nubians

After Les Nubians released their canonical album One Step Forward, it seemed like the French R&B duo fell off the face of the planet. A reality that's rather weird given today’s recent affection for international artists. Thankfully, the Grammy nominated pair have resurged with a new track that draws listeners in with its island guitar vibe. The song “Liberte”, to be released off their forthcoming album “Nu Revolution” in December, is a concept anyone can translate.

  • [wpaudio url="" PLAY - Liberte" dl="0"]
  • Kanye West "Lord Lord Lord"

    Lord Lord Lord
    As part of Kanye’s campaign to release a track every week until Christmas, “Lord Lord Lord” takes the round robin approach to G.O.O.D. music. The star-scudded cast of Mos Def, Swizz Beats, Raekwon, Centric favorite Charlie Wilson (boy does Uncle Charlie add texture), and ‘Ye himself each come correct in this far out joint.

    Lord Lord Lord by steviegunz

    The Foreign Exchange "Maybe She'll Dream of Me"

    Probably the most genuine of the rapper/singer bunch, Phonte could stop spitting altogether and still bring home the bacon with his singing. On “Maybe She’ll Dream of Me”, the single off The Foreign Exchange’s new album Authenticity, his voice is as pure as a choir boy’s—and he drops a couple of bars for good measure. The album comes out October 12th.—Sidik Fofana.

    The Foreign Exchange -  Maybe She'll Dream Of Me (Album Mix) by pixelsamurai

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Dollar Redesign Project

    This Dollar Redesign Project is so cool! Richard Smith, you rock. Here are some of my favorite submissions so far.

    Halle Berry to Play Aretha Franklin

    The time has come. The blockbuster movie of Aretha Franklin’s life is coming into a fruition. According to the Boston Herald, Franklin announced which famous actors would land roles in the film based on her autobiography “Aretha: From These Roots”. The legendary singer picked Halle Berry to star as a younger version of herself, Denzel Washington to play her father, and Terrence Howard to play Smokey Robinson among other big name features. No release date has been declared so far, but Franklin is schedule to review the script sometime next week.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Walter Doos Drugs

    Anyone my age remembers this classic Public Service Announcement...

    Miguel feat. Raekwon and J. Cole
    Attach legendary MC Raekwon to Jive recording artist Miguel’s first single, “All I Want is You” and it instantly becomes worth the double-click. Peep the singers sexy pleading over a languid but cool guitar riff. J. Cole also drops a pristine sixteen. The song is off Miguel’s debut album of the same name due February 2011.

    Miguel-all i want is you (remix) (feat. raekwon) by jahyummy2010

    REVIEW: Bilal's Airtight's Revenge

    So you wanted to know who the Nate Dogg of neo-soul was? The guy who’s done more significant guest work than solo work? Bilal is that dude. The difference: One can sniff out Nate Dogg’s stamp from a mile away, but Bilal’s cameos (Common’s “It’s Your World/Pop’s Reprise”, Erykah Badu’s “Soldier”) are apparitional at best.

    That speaks to Bilal’s voice as an aesthetic. On his third album, Airtight’s Revenge, Bilal’s silky notes float in between guitar riffs and piano arpeggios in a way that makes you want to scream somebody’s been listening to Prince! Yet, it’s an atmosphere that only Bilal can create, and for a sec, we see why artists who want Bilal on the hook, want only Bilal and no one else.

    This effort is the result of an underappreciated singer who is given the opportunity to carry his own project. Bilal’s first album 1st Born Second dipped under the radar after an ephemeral appearance on the Billboard 200, and the bootleggers got to his second album, Love for Sale, before the record shelves did. So, what makes the album's first single “All Matter” doubly refreshing is not just the fervor of Bilal’s voice, but more importantly the singularity of it.

    Bilal comes off strongest on the emotional cuts. Whether it’s words of advice to his seeds (“Little One”) or letters of breakup to past lovers (“Think It Over”), the soul singer’s heart is that invisible instrument that often deserves the most liner note recognition. Bilal even gets wayward on “She’s Flying” when he sings, “How do you that?/ Upside down when you’re smoking crack…somebody get this ho up off the flo’.” Add the residue of an indie label like Plug Research and you get folky electronic soul that palpitates.

    Airtight’s Revenge may very well be the definition of creative control. It’s full of quirks and sounds that would have been deleted by mainstream censors. Quirks and sounds that make the album the truest Bilal release to date.

    Airtight's Revenge available tomorrow
    For exclusive video of Bilal talking "Airtight" track by track, Log on to our sister blog site:

    The Godfather of Go-Go and The Queen of Poetic Soul

    The "Godfather of Go-Go" Chuck Brown and the queen of poetic R&B, Jill Scott, have a dished out quite a jam. The track “Love” is fresh off the 74 year old’s three disc CD, We Got This, which includes the funk legend’s greatest hits as well as new studio cuts and a DVD. The album comes out September 21 on Raw Venture. Check out the classic Go-Go drums on this one.


    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Waiting for Superman

    Education is no joke, people. This upcoming documentary called "Waiting for Superman" follows several families as they enter a charter school lottery. It features that guru of educational policy himself, Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone. Peep the trailer...

    Lauryn Hill and Ron Isley's "Close to You"

    Ron Isley and Lauryn Hill
    If Ron Isley’s voice were a fabric, it of course would be the finest silk. Lauryn Hill would probably be a Persian rug with an urban twist. Now imagine both their voices over a sparing piano. Oh, the texture! The song, a remake of Burt Bacharach's “(They Long to Be) Close to You” is off Isley’s Mr. I album to be released later this month. As for a comeback from Ms. Hill, we’re growing more and more optimistic.

    Close to You - Ron Isley feat. Lauryn Hill

    Chrisette's Michele's "I'm a Star"

    Chrisette Michele is back with new music...and yes she cut her hair (It’s like a neo soul rite of passage). On “I’m a Star,” a new single off her forth coming third album---she sings, “Look in the mirror and I see me/ To me, exactly who I wanna be.” Love the makeover, Chrissy!

    I'm a Star - Chrisette Michele

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Jean Michel Basquiat Trailer

    So this lady Tamra Davis had all this unseen footage of a young Basquiat at the height of his fame. She spinned it all into a glorious documentary of the iconic artist called Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. It screened at the Sundance Film Festival not to long ago. Take a look at the trailer:

    Jamie Foxx to Produce New TV Show
    Jamie Foxx is going back to his comedic roots. The award-winning singer/actor is cooking up a new sketch-comedy series called “The Jamie Foxx Project” which will air on FOX. Much like “In Living Color”—the Keenan Ivory Wayans produced show that helped launch Foxx’s career—the show will feature pop culture spoofs and skits as well as regular appearances from today’s top funny men and women. Comedian Affion Crockett, a cast member of Nick Canon’s “Wild ‘N Out”, has signed on to co-star and co-produce the series. FOX has not yet announced a date for the show’s

    Ryan Leslie and Fabolous's "You Be Killin' Them"

    Say what you will about the brand of music Ryan Leslie makes. The bottom line is that the producer/singer brings it in the studio. In this behind the scenes video, Leslie hooks up with Fabolous to produce and guest star in “You Be Killin’ Them”, the new single from the rapper’s anticipated EP. Check out how Les walks into the lab with his shades on and lets his piano fingers go like they have a mind of their own. He even autotunes a couple of ad libs for a heckling DJ Clue. Much respect for your talents, Ryan.

    BEHIND THE SCENES: Ryan Leslie x Fabolous from Centric TV on Vimeo.

    Rihanna's Techno Makeover

    Considering the viability of Europe as a major music market, the latest techno laden R&B craze comes as no surprise. Rihanna’s contribution—and latest single—“Only Girl (In The World)” produced by Stargate, sounds like it could easily have you at a rave bouncing off someone you don’t know.  It possesses the verve that our audiences will instantly devour overseas. The song will be included in her upcoming fifth studio album Loud! (and don’t ask for a release date because they haven’t set one).

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Five Reasons Barack Got out of Iraq

    5) Saddam Houssein is dead.
    The US severed the main source of Iraqi despotism. Threat slightly averted.

    4) We were losing.
    Iraqis don't like democracy and they certainly don't like our oil interests and fake quests to find weapons of mass destruction. So, they did the logical thing. They resisted.

    3) He promised us in 2008.
    He gave us his word that he would withdraw troops within 16 months of taking office. He was three months late, but he didn't come up empty.

    2) He won the Nobel PEACE Prize.
    That would have been awfully hypocritical, wouldn't it? To not only break a promise, but to do so by continuing to wage war.

    1) It takes attention off the other war.
    Oh, you guys in the White House thought we forgot about the Afghans, huh?

    John Legend and The Roots "I Can't Write Left Handed"

    How classic is this? John Legend and The Roots singing live in this studio video of “I Can’t Write Left Handed,”from the their upcoming collaboration CD Wake Up! The song, a redo of a timeless Bill Wither’s tune, mostly features a seductive John Legend on the piano—who makes this song his
    song. (We see you, too, on the electric guitar solo Capt. Kirk!)  The album drops September 21st

    Mary J. Blige on Tour!

    Look out for the queen of  Hip-Hop Soul coming to a city near you. On Tuesday’s episode of 106 & Park, Mary J. Blige announced her fall tour which starts at the BayFest Mobile Music Festival on October 1st and caps off on October 23rd with a stop in Oakland, CA. Jazmine Sullivan and Miguel Jontel are locked in as opening acts and El Debarge may also bless the tour with a set. Here’s a lineup of the tentative dates and cities.

    Mary J. Blige Fall 2010 Tour Schedule (Tentative)
    Oct. 1 – Mobile, AL. – BayFest Mobile Music Festival
    Oct. 2 – Atlanta, GA. – Chastain Park Amphitheatre
    Oct. 3 – Virginia Beach, VA. – Virgina Beach Amphitheatre
    Oct. 5 – Raleigh, N.C.
    Oct. 7 – Bristow, VA - Jiffy Lube Live
    Oct. 8 – Atlantic City, N.J. – Borgata Event Center
    Oct. 10 – Mashantucket, CT. – Fox Theatre at Foxwoods
    Oct. 11 – New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall
    Oct. 12 – New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall
    Oct. 15 – Detroit, MI.
    Oct. 16 – Chicago, IL.
    Oct. 19 – Los Angeles, Calif. – Gibson Amphitheatre
    Oct. 20 – Los Angeles, Calif. – Gibson Amphitheatre
    Oct. 22 – Las Vegas, NV.
    Oct. 23 – Oakland, CA.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    New York City Transit Art

    Ahh, New York City. I pass these posters by from time to time when I'm taking the subway. They're by artist Carlo Stanga.

     And look. He's got a new one coming to a train station near you...

    I used to take it for granted, but I thoroughly enjoy the art that so gracefully decorates the grimy subway.

    Mos Def and Goapele Collaborate With NASA Astronaut

    Mos Def is out of this world—literally. The Renaissance man has teamed up with Bay Area singer Goapele and NASA astronaut Leland Melvin to deliver a holographic presentation at the Science and Culture Festival for the Instituting Science in Schools Project (I.S.I.S.). The free festival which kicks off on September 5 from 11am – 5pm at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland will expose school age children to interactive science and technology based lessons, games, and activities. I’m just here to give the young people some inspiration, some positive encouragement and some good information about science, technology, creativity and discovery and how to use math, science and information to make a positive impact and changes on the world around us,” says the multitalented singer, rapper, and actor. Far out.


    D'angelo's Back to the Studio

    First Lauryn Hill puts out a new single , and now—after ten years—D’angelo is crawling out of the R&B crypt to record his third album. Word has it that the Grammy winning singer has been in the studio working on his album and is teaming up with UK producer Mark Ronson (of Amy Winehouse “Back to Black” fame). The two already got together to record “Glass Mountain Trust” a synthy track for Ronson’s Record Collection album due September 28th.

    R. Kelly's "When A Woman Loves"

    R. Kelly’s “When A Woman Loves” is a bona fide skin tingler. In the video for his newest single from his upcoming LP Love Letter, Kells strips pure talent down to its birthday suit. No auto tune, no backup singers, no flashy dance numbers. Just a man and mic who makes you feel like you’re slow dancing at a Coolie High house party. In this emotional love ballad, Kelly invokes the spirit of Sam Cooke, singing classic R&B that hearkens back to an era where the great sangs in black and white.
    “I’ve had the concept for the video since I wrote and recorded the song,” says R. Kelly.  “I wanted it to have a feeling of being both old and new: old for the people that remember Sam Cooke and Motown and all of those great records from that period; new because it may be new to my fans who aren’t familiar with that style.” Nice touch.

    “When A Woman Loves” is currently 24th on Billboard Charts for Urban Adult Contemporary singles.