Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Legend, John

'Get Lifted'

  1. Prelude
  2. Let's get lifted
  3. Used to love u
  4. Alright
  5. She don't have to know
  6. Number one (featuring K. West)
  7. I can change (featuring Snoop Dogg)
  8. Ordinary People
  9. Stay with you
  10. Let's Get lifted again
  11. So High
  12. Refuge (when It's cold outside)
  13. It don't have to change (featuring the Stephens Family)
  14. Live It up (featuring Miri Ben-Ari)
The Bio:Taken from the John Legend website

"..Whether you call it "fate" or "destiny" or "a calling," the fact is that some people are born to sing and create music. If you ask any of the "legends" in the music business, chances are you'll get a variation on the idea that music is and always has been the artist's most natural expression. The industry's latest "legend" -- John Legend, actually -- reveals that from the age of five or six, he expected to be 'discovered.'

“I used to watch Michael Jackson on television and I figured I could do what he was doing." Music has been the central theme in the life of John Legend (born John Stephens) for as long as he can remember and now, some twenty-odd years later, this multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician, arranger and producer is fulfilling his childhood dreams and ambitions.

With Get Lifted, his major label debut album on Columbia Records, Legend demonstrates a rare ability to fuse the "feel" and vibe of classic old school soul music with the edgy flavor of 21st century hip-hop. While the romantic themes of traditional R&B permeate John's Get Lifted, there's alsoa street-worthy hipness and confidence: the sensuality of Marvin Gaye and the sincerity of Stevie Wonder merging with the directness of Snoop Dogg and the wit of Kanye West. Yet, John Legend is very much his own artist, gifted with singular talents and a unique sensibility.

Take "Ordinary People," one of the last tracks John worked on in the summer of 2004 for the album, which is executive produced by hitmaker Kanye West (who also co-wrote and produced several tracks on the record). Recorded with John's simple and plaintive piano accompaniment, the song is, according to its creator, "real, a composite of experiences. It's about love, not as a fantasy or fairytale, but as it really goes down between two people."

"Used To Love U," the infectious first single--co-written and produced by Kanye West-- has, according to John, "a bangin' hip-hop beat with a little Latin flavor, and a soulful melody and vocal arrangement; it's a cool mix and fusion of different musical influences. We had the Black Eyed Peas horns and guitar player on the track so you get a little of their flavor too."

With production by West, longtime musical associates Dave Tozer and Devo Harris, and Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, Get Lifted runs the gamut from the celebratory "Live It Up"--which John describes as "a personal testimony about how hard work and paying dues really does pay off"--to the thought-provoking "Refuge (When It's Cold Outside)," a spiritually evocative ballad reminiscent of Lauryn Hill.

Among the impressive credits John's amassed in the last few years (which includes session work with Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, Britney Spears, Eve, Common, the Black Eyed Peas and, of course, Kanye West), John is particularly proud of his work on "Everything Is Everything," a key cut on Hill's multi-platinum Grammy-winning The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. "Through a friend of hers," says Legend, "I went to the studio when Lauryn was working on that record and I sang a couple of original songs for her and ended up playing piano on that song. I'm still very proud that that was the first major record I was on.".."

I found out about John Legend inadvertently, I was on one of my prowls for music at Tower Records where I always end up when I just have to hear something..

I don't always start out at Tower. I do occasionally go to those independent low traffic used record stores too because its a great way to collect less commercial jazz recordings at rock bottom prices.

Still I was at Tower late at night on a Sunday and its the best time because you are one of three customers there. Like a pearl its just open for you.

John Legend's album was uniquely showcased in the front line with the best selling albums of the week.

I believe that this album was mentioned to me loosely. It was on sale so I thought I would give it a chance. I do occasionally get a taste for new sounds, though I am often skeptical when the "new sound" is highly backed by corporations. Like you I have found there is a lack of purity in the content.

John Legends - Get Lifted

Puts you in that same open mood that dangles first album 'Brown Sugar' did. I found out later that other's were saying the same thing. What they don't say is that if you had to chose which album to keep D'Angelo would win out.

Yet and still Legend offers similar sensitive lyrics and smooth blues melodies. It is a certain feel good. He talks about love, or what he understands of it.

Some of it was subjective and though I was familiar with the topics he was touching on I was not always "touched".

The most compelling feature of 'Get Lifted' is the collaborations that were involved. Kanye West provides some of his best work on the production of this album, Snoop Dogg provides reminiscent credibility to the track "I can change".

While I cannot say I expect better from this effort in the future as singers go he is good. As piano players go, he's good. Not innovative but good, thoughtful. He's also a good looking man in the conventional sense and therefore creates a kind of attraction. He's easy to look at and listen too even if you aren't inspired you certainly won't be threatened, if you are prone to such instabilities that is. I support the effort even if I admittedly am not stirred as I prefer to be.

I recommend this album to those looking to:

Hear something more personal from Hip Hop,
Are followers of K. West's from a production aspect,
Are tired of waiting for then next D'Angelo album (lets face it, he's incredible),
Want to start listening to Hip Hop but are not ready to jump in head first.
Are looking for a starting point to release your own projects.
Want to analyze men for better emotional understanding;
Want to hear some passionate self revealing mistakes that boys go through in the struggle to become men.

Analytically speaking, the characters in the songs are immature and full of excuses as to why after all their mistakes deserve regard. One of my favorite lines, "..Girl I'm gonna repent from my sinnin' if that's what you want me to do. I'll get right if you want it. Go to church get baptized if you it.." Just a secret tip though, don't try this to get her back, she may just call you on it.

There are some dated references to pop culture icons that are used to characterize man's struggle to ascertain the expectations of women that come close to stupid or condescending. I will go with stupid because its more forgivable. Lets just say it lacks perception and insight.

None of the songs note "J.Legend" as a writer for the songs. So I do not know if the performer is the actual writer or co-writer for any of the tracks. No one is talking about it.

His website is quality, different tracks play as you navigate through the pages to give those interested a "taste" of what the album has to offer.

I had some skipping sounds on both browsers I tried but you may have better luck.



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