Saturday, June 06, 2009

Telling It Like It Is

I know this album isn't new, and I've been sitting on it for a while now, but I still felt the need to post on it 'cause it's just that damn good. I've honestly been spinning it for months now, but for whatever reason (I can come up with a whole list of excuses if you want them), it's taken this long for me to share it with you all. It's the second album from Bronx born Stephanie McKay, but her first album to be released state-side. Originally, Tell It Like It Is was released a few years ago overseas, but it wasn't until March of this year that it was available to us here in the States.

What makes that fact especially hard to believe is that McKay has been slaving away behind the microphone for other groups since the early 90's. Over that period of time, she's worked with artists such as the Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Kelis, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Amp Fiddler, and many others. Finally, in the last few years, she's been able to strike out on her own and record an album with her front and center, instead of as a secondary contributor. I'll be honest with you, her name didn't stand out in my mind before listening to this album, but since I have, I've tracked down her work with many of the musicians listed above.

So anyway, this album does a fine job of presenting Stephanie front and center with all of her vocalistic intensity. It mixes soul, R&B, and hip-hop in a filling recipe that burns right through from beginning to end without a hiccup. I think one of the things that I like most about it is her confident sass, regardless of the material or the style. You can tell she's a girl who isn't afraid to stand up for herself or her friends, hence the title of the album. She's equally confident celebrating the summer in the hip-hopesque Jackson Avenue, a true throw-back jam that gives a shout out to all that summer's about (and which should appear on any summer mix-tape you plan on assembling), as when things slow down with the soulful Where Did Our Love Go?, which also features Anthony Hamilton providing some backing male counterpoint to her sensualness.

The bottom line is that this album grooves deep, and should be on your list of to buy immediately.

a collaboration:

Visit her website, her label Muthas Of Invention, and become her friend on MySpace.

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