Passion, Pain, & Pleasure

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I actually wrote this review for the Grammy University Network back when Passion, Pain & Pleasure dropped- about a month ago. But my recent adventures with my right hand woman, Sydni, have made me anticipate seeing Trey Songz at Usher’s OMG tour with her. Not to be mistaken, we are far from Trey Songz fanatics (one of our past times is to impersonate him, although no one can beat this guy ), but I understand his appeal and I can rock with some of his songs. Nevertheless, my album review is below. Enjoy!

Passion, Pain & Pleasure opens with an instrumental introduction, “Here We Go Again.” This album, like many others that released this year, is mixed so that it literally flows together – there are no pauses between songs, making it even easier to play the album all the way through.  Songz wastes no time and jumps headfirst into the “babymaker” songs that he has become infamous for. “Love Faces,” “Massage,” and “Alone” (the instrumental of which sounds eerily like  “Every Girl” by Young Money) all revolve around one particular topic, and with lyrics such as “Lose the panties and the bra, I’ma start with a massage,” Songz does not leave much to the imagination.

Halfway through the album, and Passion, Pain & Pleasure seems more like a second of edition of Ready, particularly “Bottoms Up,” the lead single from the album which is seemigly modeled after Songz’s Top 10 hit, “Say Ahh.” While catchy and very fitting for the club atmosphere, “Bottoms Up” is essentially yet another song about drinking (with yet another obnoxious verse from Nicki Minaj, when will it ever end?).

After the “Pain” interlude, however, Passion, Pain & Pleasure takes a turn for the better. The album’s second single, “Can’t Be Friends” is just what audiences would expect of a Johnta Austin production, a catchy slow jam that kicks off what I have deemed Songz’s “begging portion” of the album. After “Can’t Be Friends” comes “Please Return My Call,” which is pleading at his best. Songz clearly wants this woman to return his phone calls more than Anthony Hamilton wanted “Charlene” back and makes John Legend’s pleas for “Maxine” look elementary. Jokes aside, “Made to Be Together” is by far the best track on this album, a danceable slow song, Songz puts his typically dramatic vocals on the back burner and provides audiences with a clear-cut, honest performance. While I kid about the “begging portion,” the “Pain” portion of the album displays a mature side to Songz’s music, proving that he is able and willing to sing about something other than the physical aspect of romantic relationships.

Things begin to pick up during the “Pleasure” segment of the album. Songz begins this part of the album by stating “They say all I sing about it sex right?” and then begins the sexually driven song, “Red Lipstick.” Here, Songz clearly embodies the principle of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “Unusual” features Songz’s partner-in-crime, Drake, and provides an upbeat alternative to the “Passion” section of the album. Songz ends the album with “Blind” and “You Just Need Me,” two songs that venture into the “electro” hip-hop and R&B genre that has experienced increasing popularity within urban music throughout the past few years.

The concept of Passion, Pain & Pleasure is brilliant, fans can play an entire section of the album dependant on their mood, instead of having to single out a particular song. This album is exactly what audiences expected of Songz (although one or two more club bangers could not have hurt, as Songz may have alienated some of his male fans with all of the slow love songs), and while such an album is nowhere near disappointing, I hope that Songz will exceed our expectations on his next LP.

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Not just smoke and mirrors

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Last night (or technically two nights ago, as I am typing this well after midnight), I had the luxury of attending the Smoker’s Club Tour stop in Champaign, Ill.  The tour features up and coming rappers, Smoke DZA, Big K.R.I.T. and Curren$y.  I’m sure my excitement concerning this show worked the very last nerve of my close friends and family, as it was all I talked about (besides the LSAT, something I’d rather forget) for the weeks leading up to the concert.

To demonstrate our loyalty, my best friend Sydni and I purchased the VIP tickets for $30 each, which is no piece of chump change to two undergraduate students- apparently VIP tickets to see some of our favorite rappers are more valuable than groceries. The VIP tickets were supposed to grant us access to the VIP booths in the back of the club, as well as a meet and greet with the artists after the show. Being the concert enthusiasts that we are, we knew that as “cool” and “posh” the VIP section sounds, the real action happens in the front, so we made ourselves extremely visible directly in front of the stage. The extra attention we received being two women in the front wound up being a gift and a curse: it was wonderful for the MCs to see how much we enjoyed their music, but nearly every time a performer uttered a line about women or sex, they looked directly at us (at certain points in time the eye contact was too much to bear).

Since this isn’t a concert review, I won’t elaborate on the performances here, but I will say that they all did a great job. Big K.R.I.T. certainly knew how to keep the audience hype, and Curren$y’s “hopscotch-esque” dance moves were enough to make us forget that we had been standing for nearly 3 hours straight.

Throughout the night, Sydni and I had been asking employees of the venue when and where the meet and greet would take place. No one could answer us. But to two strong-willed individuals such as us, we found this answer to be unacceptable. After the show, I managed to catch the attention of Big K.R.I.T., who like those prior, also had no idea what we were talking about. He did, however, provide us with his cell phone number and told us to contact him later.Refusing to give up so easily (I paid $10 extra dollars on VIP tickets that could have easily been spent on two boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, I was GETTING my money’s worth), I flagged down Mousa, Curren$y’s manager, who also informed us that he knew nothing of a meet and greet, but told us that “we could come on back and meet him.”

Pause for a moment. Now I’ve met plenty of celebrities in my day, much of whom are more famous than Curren$y (John Legend, Barack Obama, Queen Latifah, the list goes on), but they have all been in  very structured settings with security everywhere. I’ve been a fan of Curren$y’s since his Young Money days, circa 2006. My hopes of meeting him had been built up, crushed and are now being fortified once again. And now thanks to my inquistive/journalistic nature, the first time I’m seeing him in concert is also the same night I’m meeting him? The only thing I running through my mind was:  Omg. This.is.freaking.awesome.

Me and Mr. "Audio Dope" himself aka Curren$y.

Curren$y was genuinely friendly and incredibly hospitable. He hugged us and gave me a (fairly wet) kiss on the cheek, and stated that he saw us “chillin’ in the crowd,” and also went on to say that it’s rare for them to “have pretty girls in the audience.” Not only is Curren$y a dope MC, but he’s mastered the art of flattery as well.

We then called Big K.R.I.T., who is also quite the southern gentleman (he hails from Mississippi, Curren$y is from New Orleans). Since we are fans and not groupies, we decided against hanging out with him at his hotel, and instead, decided to take him and his hype/wingman, Sant, to a 24-hour diner on campus.

Our time spent with K.R.I.T. and Sant was absolutely priceless. They are just as goofy as we are (K.R.I.T. could not stop making fun of our odd looking chicken tenders, which he continuously referred to as  “fish-stick chicken tenders”), but the silly moments did not impede upon the serious conversations we able to have as well. Although I played it cool, there was no way I could resist the urge to tell K.R.I.T. how much his single, “Children of the World,” changed my (and Sydni’s) perspective on new hip-hop. “Children of the World” is truly a breath of fresh air- in a culture when materialism runs rampant; it is inspiring to hear young MCs like K.R.I.T. speak about real-life issues within society. I believe the inspiration was mutual, as K.R.I.T. listened intently as Sydni and I relayed to him how much we love his music- as well as our well-formed opinions on some of his more questionable lyrics concerning women and sex. Jokes and discussions about the music industry soon came to follow.K.R.I.T. said that he hoped that our meal together made up for the money that we lost in the VIP scam,  and I don’t think he’ll ever understand the half. This man is a significant part of the future of hip-hop, yet he’s still grounded enough to enjoy some incredibly mediocre food with a couple of fans.

Big Krit & I. Doesn't the Pepsi ad in the background look like one fresh out of the movies?

Meeting Curren$y was freaking awesome, meeting and hanging out with Big K.R.I.T and Sant was absolutely in.freaking.sane. Now I ask you: what are some of your craziest concert/celebrity experiences? Did you put in work like Sydni and I, or was it just by chance? Don’t be shy!

Hello world!

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Hello and thank you for visiting my blog! After months of preparation, I promised myself that after I took the LSAT I would begin blogging, so here I am. My name is Lesley, I’m currently a college senior, and my talents including writing, singing, and sarcasm.

I imagine I’ll be blogging about the things that I tend to have the strongest opinions about- which are usually music and issues within the African American community (often times the two go hand in hand). I hope you’ll stick around for the ride 🙂