South African singer, songwriter and activist Miriam Makeba would’ve turned 89 years old today, so in honor of this Afropop legend, let’s revisit her signature hit, “Pata Pata.”

Originally recorded in the ’50s — some say as early as 1956 — by the Skylarks (of which Makeba was a member), “Pata Pata” was a club banger in its day. The song, originally written and sung in Xhosa, is basically the soundtrack to a dance craze — think “The Twist” by Chubby Checker or “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” by Dem Frachize Boyz.

In 1967, Miriam Makeba re-recorded “Pata Pata” as a solo act and included spoken verses that are done in English. In the spoken verses, she explains that “Pata Pata” — which translates to “touch touch” — was a dance the young’ns used to do in Johannesburg back in the day. This version of the song would go on to become a transatlantic hit and her biggest in the States, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Long Live Mama Africa!

Today marks exactly 15 years since Canadian singer Daniel Powter debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with his No. 1 single, “Bad Day.” And if that wasn’t enough of a reason to revisit this song, today also happens to be the Daniel Powter’s 50th birthday.

“Bad Day” is the kind of song that gets you singing along almost immediately. Its lyrics are easy to remember, and overall, the song feels familiar. The melody and piano line are reminiscent of an old Lionel Richie ballad, and as a matter of fact, it was one of many soulful-ish rock songs sung by white men in skullies at that time.

Daniel Powter was never able to replicate the success of “Bad Day,” which is a shame because its parent album is full of gems. He was able score a few other hits abroad, but “Bad Day” would be his one and only song to crack the Billboard Hot 100. America didn’t do right by him, but it’s alright.

Happy birthday, Daniel Powter!

Chloe x Halle just dropped a video for title track of their sophomore album, Ungodly Hour, and it is a sexy yet futuristic affair with dashes of haute couture. The video isn’t particularly different from anything we’ve seen from the duo, but the Bailey sisters can do no wrong in my eyes these days, so I approve.

Watch the video below.

This week’s TBT pick is one of my favorite songs of all time and a fine example of music that provides
a message without sacrificing melody.

“Everyday People” was released as the second single from Arrested Development’s debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…. The song narrates an encounter between a young man who has to defend his lady from a group of men who are harassing her. Weaved into this story are themes of black unity and upliftment, a stratification of black people (“African” vs. “nigga”). On its face, it is a simple enough story with an agreeable message, but looking back through 2021 lens, there’s a lot that can be dissected in the song’s lyrics, some of which would definitely be flagged for playing “respectability politics” by the intellegentsia of today.

However, whatever your stance may be on the lyrics, everyone can agree that “People Everyday” is a classic. Based on samples of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” the song is a musical casserole that mixes funk, hip-hop, reggae, and R&B. The album version, which your average fan has probably never heard, has a more prominent reggae sound and a slower tempo. The version released to radio, referred to as the “Methamorphosis version,” is more upbeat and includes a sample of Bob James’ “Tappan Zee.”

“People Everyday” would go on to become one of the group’s signature hit, peaking in the top 10 here and abroad. Check it out below.

February 13, 1996, was a special day for popular music. In addition to the Fugees dropping their iconic second album,  2Pac dropped his equally iconic fourth album, All Eyez on Me.

Before we talk about the music, we must discuss the circumstances under which the album came to us. All Eyez on Me was Pac’s first project under Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, following a three-album deal signed while the rapper was locked up. Pac was too broke to make bail after years of fighting legal cases, so the advance for that contract was the $1.4 million used to get him out of jail. It is fair to say that these are not ideal circumstances to enter into an agreement, but Pac was out of options and perhaps desperate. It is also fair to assume that Pac intended to fulfill his contractual agreements quickly, evidenced by the fact that All Eyez was made a double album, which counts as two albums under the three-album deal.

Originally named Euthanasia, the album was renamed during the recording process due to the increased media attention on 2Pac. At that point in Pac’s career, he had been in multiple hit movies (including one with Janet Jackson), had multiple legal cases (including a sexual assault conviction), and had made a few powerful enemies in the industry (most notably the Notorious B.I.G.). Not to mention, he had also had been in a relationship with Madonna.

Twenty-seven tracks is a lot of opportunity to explore a few themes, and All Eyez does just that. 2Pac raps about street life, women, legal troubles, and of course, his enemies. Production-wise, the album relied heavily on samples, with songs borrowing from Cameo, the O’Jays, Hank Crawford, Bootsy Collins and DeBarge, among others.

All Eyez would go on to sell almost six million copies in the US alone, and because its a double album, has been certified diamond. The album’s only singles, “California Love” (featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman) and “How Do U Want It” (featuring K-Ci & Jojo), topped the Billboard Hot 100 as a double A-side.

Though it was never up for debate, listening to All Eyez in 2021 will surely remind you why 2Pac is one of the greats. Unfortunately, it would be the last album Pac releases before his untimely passing on September 13, 1996.

With a whopping 27 tracks, All Eyez has no glaring duds, but after much thought, my pick for favorite track is “How Do U Want It.” Join me in celebrating this classic album!

This weekend marks 25 years since the Fugees released their sophomore LP, The Score, and if you thought that was the group’s first album, you’re forgiven. It came two years after the group’s debut album, Blunted on Reality, but that album sold a grand total of 12,000. In the grand scheme of popular music — especially in the mid-’90s — that can be rounded down to zero.

The Score improves on the group’s first outing, offering catchier lyrics and stronger melodies. Often times, the melodies are so good because they are familiar; for example, “Fu-Gee-La” samples from Teena Marie’s “Ooo La La La”  while “Ready or Not” samples the Delfonics’ “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)” and Enya’s “Boadicea.” Also, the album includes some of the best covers you will ever hear, with their version of “Killing Me Softly” becoming an instant classic.

The Score is generally not thought of as a “gangsta” album, and that is perhaps because its a melodic project that includes a lot of singing. However, if you pay attention to the lyrics, you’ll quickly realize that there’s a whole lotta gun talk on the album. In between the gun talk, the group also touches on a variety of social issues, including poverty and police brutality.

If you’re anything like me, you probably assumed that this album’s singles were all chart-topping hits in the US, but as a matter of fact, only its first single, “Ready or Not,” made it onto the Billboard Hot 100. The others were popular on the radio, but due to Hot 100 rules at the time — which required a physical single release for chart eligibility — the rest of them never charted. However, all four singles were major hits across the world, with “Killing Me Softly” reaching No. 1 in the UK, France, Sweden, New Zealand and Germany, among others.

The Score would go on to sell over 17 million copies worldwide and win two Grammys in 1997 — for Best Rap Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (for “Killing Me Softly”). Unfortunately, it would also become the group’s final album. According to Wyclef, who was married and having an affair with Lauryn Hill, the group broke up a paternity situation. They tried to reunite years later, but were unsuccessful.

In some ways, the fact that we never got another Fugees album makes The Score that much more special. The absence of a follow-up means you never have to hear about the group “falling off” or “playing it safe.” It leaves you wondering what could have been while being grateful that we got to experience that bit of magic.

Ariana Grande just released a video for the “34+35” remix, where she links up with Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion for a day of bubbly and various girly shenanigans.

The remix video reflects the sexy yet whimsical energy of the song, and if this is an apology for the clip that came with the original track, I accept it. Click play.