Seeing his Tiny Desk Concert after the madness of the Verzuz concert we witnessed earlier that week, some would say current R&B is dead but others can’t deny Usher’s still got IT. So let’s talk influence and catalog so we can see where Usher’s legacy fits alongside R&B greats.
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Panama Jackson [00:00:06] What’s going on, everybody? Welcome back to Dear Culture, the podcast for, by, and about Black culture. And today we’re back with another conversation nobody asked for. That we’re going to give you anyway. And I’m joined again by the homie Matthew Allen, as always. I always believe that I’m right. Matthew disagrees with me. What’s going on, brother? How are you doing today?
Matthew Allen [00:00:24] I’m doing great, Panama. Thanks for having me on again. I’m really excited to be back.
Panama Jackson [00:00:28] The reason I wanted to bring you back is because, you know, in our Grio universe and our family here, I view you as one of the music haters, like one of the people whose musical knowledge, like I genuinely respect. I get it. Like I see you, you see with it, you see where it’s going before we even get there. And I decided that if I’m going to have this conversation that we’re going to have today, which is about whether or not Usher is an R&B legend, then I figured I should ask you, somebody who I know will have an opinion about this, who will have facts and figures to join in on this conversation. You ready to get into it?
Matthew Allen [00:01:00] Yeah. Let’s do it, man. Let’s do it.
Panama Jackson [00:01:01] You know, I want to first start off with why we’re even having this conversation so we can set the set the table a little bit on this.
Matthew Allen [00:01:07] Yeah.
Panama Jackson [00:01:08] Recently, back in June, NPR’s Tiny Desk dropped a concert with Usher. It’s filmed while he was in Washington, D.C., which is where NPR is located. He was one of the headliners for the Something in the Water Festival. So before or after one of the rehearsals, he shot on over to NPR, recorded a six song set that basically, in my estimation, reminded everybody that Usher is a legend at this R&B thing. Right. He didn’t do a song that was more recent than 2004 from his Confessions album, but everything still felt brand new. He sounded crisp. He looks as young as he ever did. And this came on the heels of what to me is one of the most famous Verzuz of all time. But, you know, what I’m talking about, right? We’re talking Omarion and Mario.
Matthew Allen [00:01:57] It was a meme generator. Crazy meme generator.
Panama Jackson [00:02:00] And then here comes Usher a week later and sounds as crisp and as good as ever. And it got me to thinking about is Usher an actual R&B legend? And what does that even mean, do you think Usher Usher’s an R&B legend?
Matthew Allen [00:02:17] Yeah. Not only do I think that Usher is an R&B legend, but at this point, shouldn’t we start considering him to be a pop music legend, too? I mean, yes, it makes R&B music. Absolutely. But let’s just look at the facts. I mean, the man has sold 22 million records over a period of having eight solo records. He’s the last R&B artist to go Diamond with Confessions. He’s got 25 top ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts. He’s got 15 top ten hits on the hot 100 chart. So that’s pop music. That’s everything. Right. He’s got nine number ones on the pop charts. He’s got 13 number ones on the R&B charts. Yeah, Burn and Confessions on the top ten. At the same week.
Panama Jackson [00:03:00] The boy got hits.
Matthew Allen [00:03:01] The boy got hits. Not only is he the R&B legend, but he should be considered a pop music legend, too.
Panama Jackson [00:03:06] But here’s the question What actually makes somebody a musical legend? For me, it comes down to your impact, your influence, your sales, your relevance, your stickiness, so to speak. This NPR Tiny Desk comes out. Usher still commands like a huge audience. 20 plus years after his biggest charting success ever. What makes somebody a legend to you?
Matthew Allen [00:03:27] To me, what makes somebody a legend is their longevity, their ability to adjust and reinvent themselves, how they influence future generations with their music. I mean, you can be a legend without having, quote unquote, hit records. I mean, Jimi Hendrix is considered a legend, but he has only one top 20 billboard hit in America. So, you know, that’s true. But it also speaks to his you know, his longevity in terms of the influence of Jimi on other artists. Going back to Usher. Think of every R&B artists, male R&B artist that’s come after him. You know, they all, you know, benefit from his success, you know, just like he benefited from Michael Jackson’s success and benefited from James Brown success and so on and so forth. So you have to give it up to, you know, the people that opened the door just a little bit wider. And Usher has done that for so many hitmaking R&B cats today. He’s got to be considered a legend. His music is still relatively timeless.
Panama Jackson [00:04:36] Before we get specifically into Usher, I do want to ask you open the door here for the question that I think is important when we’re establishing legendary status is. Who else is in this legendary status tier like who’s there? You mentioned Jimi Hendrix. You mentioned Michael Jackson, obviously. I mean, these are like one name artists, right? You know, was Jimi, it’s Mike, James. You know, you know, Aretha, people like Aretha Franklin are in this in the space, just like legends. But who else to you, Stevie, are in? And I’m taking all the choices, by the way. So who else is in this this legendary category for you?
Matthew Allen [00:05:10] Oh, yeah. I mean, you mentioned them all. I mean, there’s Michael Jackson, therre’s Prince, there’s Aretha. There’s Stevie Wonder. There’s, you know, people like Chaka Khan deserve to be in that category.
Panama Jackson [00:05:21] Chaka. One name status too Chaka abosutely.
Matthew Allen [00:05:24] Exactly. Even someone like a Quincy Jones was a producer, but also an artist in and of itself. And there’s so many of those types out today, like a Pharrell or Kanye or Timbaland who are producers first and sort of artist secondarily, but are considered to be artists because of their front facing personas. So I would put him in there, too.
Panama Jackson [00:05:46] We didn’t mention Marvin Gaye, by the way. No, Marvin Gaye, by the way. Neither one of us said Marvin Gaye.
Matthew Allen [00:05:49] Marlon’s in that tier.
Panama Jackson [00:05:50] That would be the… Right.. That would be the one thing. I didn’t mean to cut you off, but I realize nobody said Marvin Gaye, and that would be the kind of thing that how you are going to say all these names. But nobody says Marvin Gaye.
Matthew Allen [00:06:01] You know, Usher comes from that school. Most definitely. I’m not sure if I’m ready to put him quite in the category of a Michael Jackson or a Jackie Wilson. But I would definitely put him above people like a Bobby Brown or a Chris Brown. He’s definitely above people like Trey Songz, people like Ne-Yo.
Panama Jackson [00:06:17] Messing with me with Bobby Brown, bro. This begs the question..
Matthew Allen [00:06:20] I love Bobby. Bobby Brown.
Panama Jackson [00:06:27] Bobby Brown is like my guy. .
Matthew Allen [00:06:29] Met too. But I mean, he just doesn’t have the catalog to stand off with Usher.
Panama Jackson [00:06:32] Are their contemporaries for Usher that also fit into the spaces? Like, is it just Beyonce and like Mariah Carey? Is that like it?
Matthew Allen [00:06:39] You know what? That’s a good point. Usher is probably one of the last, if not the last R&B male singer who has an equal male and female fan base. Most R&B male singers, most of their fans are female, whether it’s Maxwell or Eric Bennett or D’Angelo, because Usher is a singer and a dancer and, you know, he’s a performer type.
Panama Jackson [00:07:04] And he’s the whole package.
Matthew Allen [00:07:06] You know what I’m saying? You know, it’s hard to to mention him with other male singers during that time.
Panama Jackson [00:07:11] We’re going to take a quick break here. And when we come back, we’re going to talk specifically about Usher, Usher’s legacy and how that puts him in a legendary status. And I also want to get your idea about who belongs on R&B’s Mount Rushmore. So we’re going to take a quick break right here. And Dear Culture. Stay tuned.
Panama Jackson [00:07:30] All right. We’re back here on Dear Culture, where I’m here with Matthew Allen talking about whether or not Usher is a musical legend.
Panama Jackson [00:07:40] I think we both can agree on his legendary status. But if we want to find the ways where maybe the status is questionable, we could. But I want to start on the positive side of this. Influentially, who do you think has taken the most from Usher’s blueprint and run with it? I think Chris Brown is probably the easiest answer there because, I’ve seen in Justin Timberlake as far as I’m concerned, that might be a little controversial, but who do you think?
Matthew Allen [00:08:04] Yeah, those two specifically, I would definitely say yes. Even Ne-Yo to a smaller degree, but only to a small degree because of the fact that he came up from the songwriting lane. Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake benefited from Usher being out there in front. Being a dancer, being a singer, putting out these records and really just, you know, carrying the mantle of a Michael Jackson and a Bobby Brown, who, Usher cites as a very heavy influence. Of course, Justin had the benefit of riding the wave of the N-Sync fanbase, but. Right. But I definitely think as a solo artist, just him being a dancer, you know, the grittiness that Usher had coming from his My Way record and videos for My Way, videos for Nice and Slow, even Drake! You know, the video for Hold On We’re Coming Home is a blatant knock off of Nice and Slow video. All the way to the female hostage being scantily clad in lingerie when she’s being rescued like it’s almost down to the tee.
Panama Jackson [00:09:12] Because like you said, Usher is a pop star, right? As a pop star. You’re talking performance. You’re talking about largesse. You’re talking about somebody who who literally impacts
Panama Jackson [00:09:23] So all of these artists who are huge and larger than life, from the Destiny’s Child to the Beyonce’s to the to the Drake’s, all these folks are probably pulling from the folks that they can they can relate to who are able to do the things on a similar stage, who have those legendary performances. Usher did this Tiny Desk concert, and I’m watching this like the fact that these songs came out almost 20 years ago and sound as good today as they did back then. Like, I feel like you could release this album today. It still would sound really good. It still would hit the market. It would. It would detonate. That really stood out to me because I’m like, you know, that means that Usher genuinely was making timeless music. Like, you know, there are some. The the only song I can think of on Confessions that somewhat has perhaps like a dated ness to it is Yeah because it was that very you know like Lil Jon era.
Matthew Allen [00:10:18] The crunk era yeah.
Panama Jackson [00:10:19] Yeah. The Crunk n B, but it still sounds good. You can still play that in a club and people are still going to move to it. Right? Like it still has that feel.
Matthew Allen [00:10:26] Because it’s a singular, it’s a singular record. Even though it’s very much time stamped and watermark to the era it was, came in. I think because of the energy that Usher and Ludacris brought to that song really made it stand out from songs like, you know, Get Low and Salt Shaker and all the stuff that Lil Jon. Freak A Leak, which was originally for Usher.
Panama Jackson [00:10:52] Which was originally the beat.
Matthew Allen [00:10:53] Yes. Cause Freak A Leak. And Yeah, they switched, they flip flopped. But if you think about all the people that he worked with, I mean, from Jermaine Dupri, Jam and Louis, Sean Garrett, Brian Michael Cox, Just Blaze, even Robin Thicke. They just you know, those are songs that just will never stop sounding fresh. And I think that’s what makes a lot of those songs, particularly the run of My Way, 8701 and Confessions sound timeless because they were made to live forever. You Make Me Wanna is this is a story that people go through all the time. Let It Burn is a story that people go through all the time. You Got It Bad is something that people go through all the time. And he was able to convey those so convincingly. You know, of course, those songs can can live. But, you know, after 2004. Yeah, yeah. I can’t really say that much about about his catalog.
Panama Jackson [00:11:53] We’re going to get to that because I think we’re going we’re definitely going to get to his post Confessions career. That’s going to be on the other side of this convo. But if we if he doesn’t release Confessions, are we even having this conversation? Does Confessions place him into that rare air that all of a sudden you have to talk about him in a different way? We talk.. When Confessions is dropped, we started talking about that as our era’s Thriller, right? It was an album that was huge. It was an album that was everywhere it went Diamond. Which, you know, like albums weren’t doing 30 or 40 million the same way that, you know, the Bads in those albums were doing, the Rhythm Nations were doing at that point. But if it’s not for that, are we even having Usher is a legendary artist conversations?
Matthew Allen [00:12:36] No, I don’t think so. Like I said, going from the self-titled album with had.. Which wasn’t a huge hit, but it had, it was a nice song. You know, Chucky Thompson, Al B. Sure, Puffy and songs like Think of You. And then you go up a tier with My Way, which is a great tight nine song album. Go to 8701, where he, you know, it was going on a peak. If he doesn’t do Confessions and he sort of goes down, then we don’t talk about Usher as a as a legend.
Matthew Allen [00:13:13] It’s not even just. Yeah, and Burn and Confessions I and II. Caught Up. You know, My Boo. You know, you have songs like Simple Things and Superstar and Bad Girl. Take My Hand, Follow Me. Throwback, which I saw dudes with throwback jerseys and du-rags and fitted caps singing that at Madison Square Garden like, it was just the greatest thing they ever heard in their life. It was just so crazy.
Panama Jackson [00:13:42] Speaking of that, you know what a big struggle I have is? The version that plays on streaming services is not the version that’s on the CD. The version of Throwback that you hear now when you listen to it has the Jadakiss verse on it. When I bought the album in March of 2004, it didn’t have, Jadakiss wasn’t on it. And then it also didn’t have My Boo wasn’t on there, like all these songs that weren’t on there, which when I listen to it now, take away from it for me. Like the album is still flawless, looking me wrong. But when I’m listening to it, I get mad cuz I’m like No I want the version that I heard when I bought it. The original version of this playlist, you know what I mean? If you are going to make an argument that maybe Usher isn’t a legendary artist, it’s this: Usher doesn’t genuinely have an album worth speaking about post Confessions. Here I Stand sold. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t on the same level as a Confessions. And maybe it couldn’t be. But in terms of like the the output, it just wasn’t nearly as good. But the fact that we’re still talking… Confessions was so big, it made it, so maybe that’s not as important because you still had great songs like OMG and Climax. The other potential knock and I’m curious what you think about this is. At some point, I feel like Usher stopped creating the trend and started more or less following the trend in pop music and R&B, so to speak. Whereas, you know, I don’t even know if Usher was concerned about setting trends early on. He was just making amazing music, right? But then at some point, it felt a little bit like in order to keep up with the Joneses on the charts and things like that, a lot of his music within that direction. And that’s not a knock because it was still good music. It just didn’t feel like he was at the front of the line so much as he was making music that that continued in what was going on. What do you think about.
Matthew Allen [00:15:23] That’s absolutely correct. Usher, from a lyrical standpoint, hasn’t really matured beyond Confessions. You know, he’s in his early forties and he’s still singing songs that someone in their young twenties and mid-twenties would still be singing. He jumped on the EDM train hard with that versus project after Raymond versus Raymond and with songs like The DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again. And even after he was about to do another album roll out in 2014, he ended up scrapping the album and then he did that, God awful, No Limit song.
Panama Jackson [00:16:07] I actually like that song.
Matthew Allen [00:16:09] How?! It’s soo embarassing.
Panama Jackson [00:16:09] It sounded good.
Matthew Allen [00:16:12] No! Because a guy like Usher. No, that’s not for him, though. He’s too old to be singing something that ridiculously juvenile, lyrically, It’s just, no! Got that Master P, No Limit, baby. Like, come on. That’s so stupid.
Panama Jackson [00:16:29] But it sounded good. I mean, it sounded good to me. I’m just saying.
Matthew Allen [00:16:32] To each their own.
Panama Jackson [00:16:33] Lyrically, I’m with you. Like it. It it does seem like Usher should probably move into a different gear. At this point, Usher perhaps would need to get heavy into his artist bag. Right. Like you just you’re established enough where you can do anything you want to. Those of us who are huge fans are still going to support. We’re we’re always going to listen to your music because you’re still here. He has a Las Vegas residency. I want to go see him. You know, I want to see Usher on roller skates getting it to these songs that I know and love, you know. Like he’s cemented his legacy. So I think at this point he can do whatever he wanted to, and I think we would still listen.
Matthew Allen [00:17:05] Yeah. You’re absolutely right about that. One of the reasons I have a problem with No Limit was because the songs, the singles that were coming out prior to that were signaling to me that, Oh Usher.. Like when I heard Good Kisser, I’m like, Oh, Usher’s back, this is kind of funky. And then She Came To Give It To You, came out and I’m like, Oh, Usher’s back, back! With that hot Neptunes beat that sounded really danceable. Then he did the back of the serial single Clueless. That was like, damn, he is singing and the song’s is really great. It was just it was like it was about to be that mature pop funk record that I knew that he had in him after albums like Looking For Myself and Here I Stand and all these sort of lackluster. But then when he went down to No Limit, I thought he was taking a step downward to try to be with all these younger artists instead of just being artistic. Like he was playing bass on a performance of She Came To Give It To You with Nicki Minaj during an award show. I’ve seen him play congas with The Roots when he was at The Roots picnic in 2016. I’m like, this is where he needs to be. This is the space we need to see him in. And I think that people would would embrace it if he himself didn’t think that he had to chase trends or chase sounds or chase hits to be relevant.
Matthew Allen [00:18:24] I have a hot take for you about Usher that I’m curious. I want I want your brief thoughts on. Back in 2007, The Dream drops his first album, LoveHate. The Dream coming off these amazing songwriting credits for Rihanna’s Umbrella. And he’s everywhere from Mary J. Blige. The Dream is basically boom! I love that first album, LoveHate, Genuinely love it! It has Shawty is the shh shh shh shh.
Matthew Allen [00:18:46] Shawty you a Ten!
Panama Jackson [00:18:47] Sugar, honey, iced tea right? Yeah. Right. It has all these amazing songs. I wish that The Dream had given that album wholesale to Usher. That literally muted all of his vocals and Usher sing that entire album note for note the way The Dream did it. I think that would have been another classic Usher album. It would have been him setting the tone and setting the trends for the next ten years. Thoughts?
Matthew Allen [00:19:11] I think. I think musically you’re on to something. Lyrically, absolutely not. It will just completely prove my point of what I was saying before. Falsetto. No, listen. Falsetto. I Love Your Girl, Shawty You a Ten. Umm No!
Panama Jackson [00:19:28] Those are amazing records. They would have been perfect.
Matthew Allen [00:19:30] No, no, no, no. Musically, yes. But for Usher, it’s just like I said, it just goes down. That juvenile lyric, lyrically juvenile rabbit hole. Like even the song like Walking On The Moon, which was on the next Dream album. I’m like, Come on, man. Musically, what he does and especially when he and Tricky Stewart get to it. Other. It’s great. But just from a lyrical standpoint, no, would it would have been this… I would have had the same issue.
Panama Jackson [00:19:55] To be fair, at that time, Usher might not even be 30 years old. In 2007, Usher’s like 28, 29 years old. Like he’s still young enough to do that kind of stuff. And because it’s him, it takes it to a different level. He could have done Shawty Is A Ten, he could have done that song and would have been perfectly fine.
Matthew Allen [00:20:12] No, because. Because. Look. No, no. I get what you’re saying, but that’s only. That only would have worked if he didn’t have songs like Can You Help Me? How Do I Say Hello? And all of these songs that sounded way more mature then I Love Your Girl and Falsetto And Walking on the Moon and Shawty You A Ten. Those songs sound more mature lyrically and thematically then those songs. And that’s why if he would have did those songs, it would have been an issue because look at like he does songs like Little Freak and Daddy’s Home and yes, they brought Usher back in terms of his hits, but to me it was a step back. That’s why I can’t stand the Here I Stand album. It’s probably his worst album, in my opinion, and and especially because of the fact that the best song on the album, the title track, that’s the that’s exactly the type of music he should be singing, that traditional R&B soul songs with really strong melodies that show his voice off. And that’s the stuff that he needed to lean into more. The same way that Chris Brown should have leaned more into songs like Fine China when it came out. But he just went back and did trash songs like New Flame, which ironically has Ssher on it. And that’s the issue with it. Like either you’re going to go on a trajectory to go up, you’re going to stay the same, but you don’t go down.
Panama Jackson [00:21:34] I think maybe that’s the problem, right? I think Usher right after Confessions starts trying to get too mature and he’s too young for that. Because Confessions comes out in 2004. I mean, he’s in his mid early twenties. Why are you going out? Why are you going to make songs like Moving Mountains and these Here I Stand songs right after that. When you’re still young enough to be enjoying, like making R&B. And especially because R&B was moving at that point, like the the direction was kind of shifting into more of the club centric type of R&B. Maybe he tried to get too mature too quickly.
Matthew Allen [00:22:05] But no, I don’t I don’t I don’t agree with that at all.
Panama Jackson [00:22:07] We can agree to disagree on that one. I do want to ask you, who was on your Mt. Rushmore of R&B? Does R&B include soul artists? I don’t know. I’m going to let you be the be the decider on who you put on.
Panama Jackson [00:22:18] The distinction of what R&B is in the seventies and what soul is in the seventies. You know, it kind of gets lost of what’s what and which is which. I say R&B/Soul, just for the sake. I would say Stevie Wonder. I would say Marvin Gaye. I would say Aretha Franklin and I would say James Brown. Yeah. I would say because so much of R&B is comes out of James Brown. Even though James Brown was a soul and a funk artist. Usher lacks, in my opinion, signature moments. Hall of Fame, football and basketball players. They all have those signature moments like. Michael Jordan has the flu. This flu game. The 63 points against Boston. In terms of music. You have people like Michael Jackson. He has Motown 25. He has the Thriller video. He’s got the 88 Grammys. Kendrick Lamar has the 2016 Grammy Awards. Beyoncé has Homecoming and the Super Bowl. Even Chris Brown has the 2010 B.E.T. Awards. Is Chris Brown as good as Michael Jackson is? Has Drake reached Michael Jackson status? And Usher never… Is Beyonce as big as Michael Jackson, or bigger? Usher’s never put in those categories and he needs to be more because Usher’s. Usher’s more successful than Chris Brown. Usher’s sold more records than Beyonce. Yet he continues to not be included. These people have this, quote unquote, signature pop culture moments that sort of transcend their artistry and also defy them as their artists. And these big moments, I think Tiny Desk might be one of Usher’s first big viral, quote unquote, signature moments.
Panama Jackson [00:23:53] I’ve never thought about that. And you might be right. I’m over here racking my brain, trying to think of what would be one of those moments, because I actually put.. The You Don’t Have To Call video to me is like such a landmark video. I kind of think mentally put it there like it had me buying, wanting to buy Heelys so I could like just bust out You Don’t Have To Call video moments in the middle of the street. I never did that because I was bad at the Heely thing.
Matthew Allen [00:24:17] But we did that in the van though. Like when when the song come on in the second verse, remember, he’s in the video and they’re all in the truck and they do like this at the certain times during the beat.
Panama Jackson [00:24:29] I think we can both agree that that Usher is a legend. But you might be right. I do wonder why he doesn’t end up in those conversations as much as he should, but that’s. That’s how I even ended up here. Right? Like, it’s just not a conversation I hear often enough. But, you know, maybe you might be right. Maybe this Tiny Desk is one of those things that start that that kind of gets them where people say, But did you see that Tiny Desk? Do you remember that Tiny Desk? The same when we talk about Coachella. Beychella for Beyonce and stuff like that, or Whitney Houston’s national anthem and those kind of things. So we’re going to take one more break here and we’re going to come back with some of our signature segments here at Dear Culture. We’re going to get some Blackfessions and a Blackamendation. Stay tuned.
Panama Jackson [00:25:10] We’re back here, at Dear Culture, with my favorite segments on this show where we get a chance to prove just how not monolithic Black people are. Now, Matthew, you’ve been here before. You gave us a Blackamendation before excuse me, your Blackfession before. And I’m pretty sure it had to do with a movie. Some. Yes. Something about the Five Heartbeats. Harlem Nights
Matthew Allen [00:25:28] Harlem Nights. I said that there are overrated films. I didn’t say there were bad films. I just think that they’re a little overhyped.
Panama Jackson [00:25:35] You just love being wrong. So let’s see how wrong you could be today. What new Blackfession are you bringing to the table today?
Matthew Allen [00:25:41] All right. This is a personal Blackfession like most of these Blackfessions are. I don’t know if it’s as controversial as the last one, but. I personally, like I said, I just had my 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago.
Panama Jackson [00:25:51] Happy belated.
Matthew Allen [00:25:51] Thank you very much. And I, to this day, have never heard a single, solitary album by one Reggie Noble, a.k.a. The Red Man. I don’t know why. I don’t necessarily have an aversion to him. I just never got around to having any kind of need to look into his catalog. Despite everyone saying how dope he is lyrically. And yes, I mean, he’s a he’s like a great.. To me. He was always like a great hip hop character, you know, coming from somebody that loved hip hop as a kid, took a break from it as a teenager and came back to it as adult. I always enjoyed him as a, “hip hop character” and just his boisterous, big personality. When he worked with Death Squad, with Eric Surman and Keith Murray and like just some of his like scant crossover big hits like Let’s Get Dirty and things like that. But I’ve just never had the need to want to look into his catalog like at all. But yeah, that’s my Blackfession. I’ve never heard any Redman albums ever.
Panama Jackson [00:26:56] It’s interesting because I’m surprised cause I know you’re hip hop. I know you’re hip hop head like we’ve had these conversations. So I’m surprised by that. But what I will say is that I never go back and listen to Redman albums either. I listen to lots of Redman songs, like he has amazing records that I that I know and love. I still remember the first time I heard Time 4 Sum Aksion.
Panama Jackson [00:27:17] I remember buying the tape. You’re going to have to check out. At least listen to an album at some point. Yeah, the first one is really good. The second one, you know, he got he got heavy in his production bag on later albums. But I agree, he’s an amazing hip hop character. That I’ll Be That video is still one of my favorite videos ever so.
Matthew Allen [00:27:36] Yeah you know, like I keep hearing that Muddy Waters is a classic record. So I’m like, okay.
Panama Jackson [00:27:42] Yeah, let’s go ahead and flip the script and can you give us a Blackammendation for your return to this episode?
Matthew Allen [00:27:47] Yeah, for a Blackamendation, I’d like to recommend an album that came out this year called Zhigeist. It’s an album by Elzhi and Georgia Anne Muldrow. Elzhi of course, a very lyrical Detroit rapper, was a part of this second generation member of Slum Village. He does some really dope dope records. I think he’s super, super lyrical. He did amazing, quote unquote “cover album” of Illmatic called Elmatic, where he had this band replay live, all the beats from Illmatic. And then he did completely new lyrics over it. And I think that was great. That was back in 2011. And this year he did a record with Georgia Anne Muldrow. Georgia Anne Muldrow is this amazing singer rapper, but she’s a record producer first and foremost. It’s just, one of the strongest hip hop records to come out in 2022. And I think that people really should look into it. That’s Zhigeist. Elzhi and Georgia Anne Muldrow and get into Georgia Anne Muldrow’s catalog. You won’t be sorry.
Panama Jackson [00:28:58] All right. So I am surprised. I have to say, your Blackamendation makes me more surprised about never having listened to a Redman album, because Redman is a very lyrical rapper and Elzhi, super lyrical in which you some of my favorite verses on random like one off like albums with like Little Brother and stuff like that are Elzhi verses. But I didn’t know this album existed so I make sure I check that out. So you put me up on game, so I appreciate that.
Matthew Allen [00:29:20] Awesome.
Panama Jackson [00:29:20] Tell the people where they can find your work, where they can listen to the things that you’re doing and know you have a podcast too. So, you know, put people up on up on game.
Matthew Allen [00:29:27] That’s what’s up. So like Panama, I write for theGrio. I’m an entertainment writer that focuses on music and culture. Big shock. You can read my stuff at theGrio. That’s THEGRIO. Oh, you can also listen to my podcast, Get Off the Fence, the premier music debate podcast where I have a guest on and we argue from one album to the next in five categories. You can go to Spotify, you can go to Apple Music, you can go to RSS feeds to look up, Get Off The Fence, to listen to the first eight episodes of season one.
Panama Jackson [00:29:57] And you have to get me on that podcast so I can Get Off The Fence about one of these albums. I don’t know which one, but whenever you get, whenever you get around to your next season. Oh yeah. Pencil on me to be one of the guests.
Matthew Allen [00:30:05] Absolutely.
Panama Jackson [00:30:06] Well, we want to thank you, Matthew, for coming to join us today for another conversation about about music and in this case, about Usher and his legendary status. We both agree that he’s a legend. How and why we get there. You know, it’s listen. I’m glad to have this conversation with you about Usher. So, you know, we’re going to run out of Blackfessions pretty soon because I don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know how many more you have to give, but I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a couple. Oh, yeah. So but thank you, sir, for joining us here at Dear Culture. And thank you for listening to Dear Culture. If you like what you heard, make sure you download theGrio’s app where you can get all of the original content are written content, all the podcast content, video content, everything originally from theGrio is available on the app. You can go ahead, download, download that anywhere you get your apps. So you can check out all the great shows on theGrio Black Podcast Network. If you have any emails, suggestions, scams, money you like to send, whatever you want to send over this way I’ll be happy to take it. Make sure you send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Culture Podcast is an original production of theGrio Black Podcast Network. It is produced by Camille Cruz and edited by Cameron Blackwell. Taji Senior is our logistic associate producer and Regina Griffin is our managing editor of podcasts. Thanks for listening. Make sure you continue to check out Dear Culture episodes. Have a Black one.
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