Category Archives: musicology


Click here to stream the highly-anticipated Cee-Lo album entitled The Lady Killer in its entirety before its November 9th street date, courtesy of NPR.



Song of the Day: “Switch” – TLC
Hope your halloween was as hilarious as minez


Miss Jackson and I have always been on the same page…
Here she’s seen at the “For Colored Girls” premiere in my favorite designer, Haider Ackermann‘s latest creation


World Premiere: “Check It Out” – Nicki Minaj & Will.I.Am

While we’re on the topic of superheroes and comic books… peep Minaj and I.Am’s anime’d video for “Check It Out” above.


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Revisiting Zaldy‘s work for Michael Jackson.


It‘s finally here.

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World Premiere: “Gimmie Dat” – Ciara
Find out what Ci’s wearing here.


How Smoke & Mirrors of you, Buggles!


You’ve heard the track.
Now ready yourself for the video…

Ciara‘s ‘FLY’ fannypack
by Chris & Tibor x Walter Van Beirendonck
Buy it here.

The custom-made ‘Stripper-verse’ heels everyone will be talking about.

Basic Instinct drops December 14, 2010.

World Premiere: “Baby, I Like It” – Kevin Cossom
(Feat. Diddy & Fabolous)

Only one year ago, Mr. Cossom was hustling around MySpace for a record deal… now he’s not only scored a deal with Jive, but, has managed to glean Danjahandz as producer of his club-thumping first single and acquire Diddy and Fabolous as guest features. The question remains: who did he fuck?


World Premiere: “Right Thru Me” – Nicki Minaj


FNO was busy, busy, busy on my part. On assignment for
New York Magazine, I got to interview Naomi Campbell,
Mary J. Blige, Grace Coddington, and…wait for it!…Smoke & Mirrors fave,
Read my FNO coverage on’s The Cut here

So many surprises! But perhaps the night’s biggest surprise came as a brief
cameo by super-producer-slash-R&B-cult-star, The-Dream, at Gucci’s
Ffawn foundation event. Accompanying guest, Mary J. Blige, to the
flagship store on 5th avenue Friday evening, Terius “The-Dream”
Nash, whose penned such hits as Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” seemed relaxed as could be sans ex, Christina Milian.
The Atlanta native hinted at why he was in New York: “Been working
with Beyonce for the last, um, forty days. Got a lot going on right
now.” The rest? “I’m starring as Sam Cooke in a movie ‘bout him. I’m
putting my own twist on his life and music. I’m redoing ‘Cupid’ and
all that.” Mary is also on bill for the hitmaker’s time, she
explained, “I’ve been working again with The-Dream. He’s definitely
cooking up somethin’ for my album out later this year.” Can’t wait.

Follow Smoke & Mirrors’ NYFW here

 Naomi at Dolce & Gabbana, Madison Ave.

 Naomi Campbell at Dolce & Gabbana’s “Celebrating Naomi’s 25 Year Career” Event

 Grace at Prada? 

 The real Grace Coddington at Prada’s FNO Event


Here’s to hoping this NYFW is as EPIC as this new Kells is!

World Premiere: “Fireworks” – R.Kelly

The last set of the Smoke & Mirrors’ mixtape series (‘The Blog Made Me Do It, Vol. 2: Set It Off’) broke the first one’s record by over 1,000 downloads! Craziness. Guess it’s time to let off another round, huh?

Welcome to the third installment in the ‘Blog Made Me Do It’ series: Bling Dynasty – a sprawling, 30-track collection of the sharpest in hip-hop and R&B (not yet featured on the blog). Following in the tradition of the last two mixes, there’s plenty to please both hood-ees and hipsters. Including fresh sounds from hip-hop heavyweights: Game, Fabolous, Juicy J (of Three Six Mafia), Busta Rhymes, and Jim Jones, paired with unreleased material from under-the-radar acts: Ricky Blaze, Young AK, Kristmas, Verse Simmonds, Mac Miller, Crishan, Bei Maejor, and Ester Dean – the set is concocted to rattle streets and part seas. Expect air horns and bonafide block beataz! Through and through, third time is a fucking charm. Fall 2010… Bling Dynasty reigns. Remember where you heard it first & njoi. (click the link below to download the .zip file)

Smoke & Mirrors presents…
The Blog Made Me Do It, Vol. 3: Bling Dynasty
An MH Mixtape

View the tracklist after the jump. Continue reading


Bucket list entry #58: go to a summer jam concert – check. Last Sunday, me’n’my boys braved biblical downpours for the ‘Power Live at the Beach on Governor’s Island’ concert. As the perfect end to the summer, Ciara, Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Diddy, Dirty Money, and others (Ricky Blaze, J.Cole, Miguel, and Bobby Valentino) performed into the evening underneath a canopied stage amongst free hair products, port-o-potties, air horns, makeshift bars, soggy nachos, illuminated palm trees (that along with the rain made things seem more Spring Bling than summer jam), and a flabbergasting view of Manhattan. Highlights included Ciara’s back-breaking “Ride” routine, Dirty Money’s epic “Puff Daddy & The Family” medley, seeing Joey Crack perform “Lean Back” alone, and Bobby Valentino’s set of embarassingly good new shit (hear his hilarious new single below). The only thing missing, come to think of it, were the bitches in bikinis; which I suppose I’ll check off my bucket list once I get a chance to remake the “Rumpshaker” video… which ends up being #57.

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World Premiere: “Phone #” – Bobby Valentino
(Feat. Plies & Jazze Pha)


World Premiere: “Speechless” – Ciara

You could say I was right in more ways than one when I compared Ciara‘s latest project to those of Miss Jackson‘s former phases, especially when considering Ci-Ci’s third single cover would be just another silhouette without that defined dangling earring. Before her, Janet used a similar key to success to help launch her career as a pop front-runner of the 1980’s when she hung a sole latchkey belonging to her family’s lion cages from a single hoop. Going on to sell millions, the key has become eponymous with Jackson’s aggressive take control style. Will the key work for Ci? ‘Cause this Dream-produced track, which sounds like a mild “Rockin’ That Shit” rehash, is a locked door.

Get your own Janet hoop
by Chris Habana
at OAK nyc


Ciara‘s new album may be delayed a few months (again!), but, her press is still popping off as if it were due out this month! Read about Ci-Ci & Riccardo Tisci‘s relationship in W here or peruse my friend Alex Catarinella’s Q&A with Ms. Harris at Paper here. You ready to dance? Listen to Basic Instinct‘s second single here.

photo (top) courtesy of W magazine & (bottom) yb&


World Premiere: “Window Seat (Remix)/Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)” – Erykah Badu (Feat. Rick Ross)

The saga continues…

The original black cat, Miss Jackson, joins the ranks of legends; Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, Cher, Brigitte Bardot, Pavarotti, Sophia Loren, and Ray Charles, as the new face of the now-iconic Blackglama ad campaign. Watch Janet behind-the-scenes at Milk Studios and peruse ads past below.

photos courtesy of tFs


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World Premiere: “Your Love” – Nicki Minaj

Finally have the visual for a track S&M featured way before it was a single.

photo (top) courtesy of StyleLikeU

the-dream: mess.i.ah

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My girl, Natalie Rodgers, made this dope ass video where she sets Jesus to The-Dream’s “Rockin’ That Shit” music… I’d say it’s the perfect end to S&M‘s Dream Week.


World Premiere: “Gimme That (Bass)” – Ciara

Ci-Ci brings REAL dance music back with one of the hardest-hitting basslines and fastest BPMs ever constructed. The last time dance music sounded this REAL was back when Jock Jams ruled the world.

the-dream: irresistible.dream

Catch my drift?

the-dream: trilogy

by Jackson Moad
World Premiere: “Trilogy (Yamaha, Nikki Pt. 2, Abyss)” –

Dream.. enough with the low-budget supervids –
Call me and lets get this
Broadway musical deal
inked and poppin’.
I’m dead serious.

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playbill mock-up by jackson moad

the-dream: brilliant.stupidity

Great piece on The-Dream‘s LoveKing
by Village Voice‘s Rob Harvilla.
Read it in full here.

photo courtesy of village voice x def jam records

the-dream: the.last.romantic

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DREAM WEEK is in full effect


on Smoke & Mirrors kicks off today…
expect unheard tracks, new videos, album analysis + more.
If you haven’t already – cop LoveKing now!


Rest in Peace The King of Pop

photos courtesy of Henry Leutwyler x Steidlville


World Premiere: “Who Dat” – J.Cole

In J.Cole‘s first official video since his Roc Nation/Sony Music co-sign, he plays something of a messiah; turning the hood into a flame-ridden epoch, led in part by what looks like the lyricist’s graduating class. The clip gives Drake a run for his 463,000 first-week sales, although I doubt Cole will debut to numbers as grand come time for his album release this October – especially since people are likely still wondering who dat? Let us review.

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World Premiere: “Slow Down” – David Banner & 9th Wonder

You know it’s a 9th Wonder joint when it sounds like you’re riding top-down
through the city during summer.

Preview The Roots‘ 9th studio album, How I Got Over,
in its entirety before it drops June 22nd here.
Early favorite: “Hustla”

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Song of the Day: “Straight Outta Compton” – The Roots & Ice Cube

on Jimmy Fallon

Thank Me Later
– Drake

You know hip hop has changed when you listen to Drake. He’s unequivocally ushered in hip hop’s post-Kanye, Twitter landscape; a place where the internet plays as much an influential role as it did the first time you could download Eminem alongside Morissey free of charge via Napster. He’s used the internet as a source of promotion (So Far Gone mixtape is the most downloaded in history and spawned his overnight success), artistic tapestry (see his own blog), and open-source playpen (how else would he have found Francis & The Lights?) unlike those before him. He’s grown up with a post-racial, post-college-radio ear (he’s half-white and Jewish on his mother’s side) that’s as much influenced sonically by Eminem as Morissey, as much hip hop as easy-listening; a desegregated sense of freedom and willingness towards genre eclecticism that came with the advent of digital music piracy. He’s the mixed result of desensitized racial and social boundaries, an affluent suburban upbringing, dorm rooms, and fast fame. He’s an artist that’s broadened hip hop’s tense with unsuspectingly genre-defying, self-pondering narratives that could easily make any emo collegiate jealous.

His first-ever commercial LP, Thank Me Later, is a devoted introspective debut. An album that track-by-track expands to immerse you. From first listen, you can tell it’s important – and not because Pitchfork told you so. The first song, “Fireworks”, plays like a continuation of Alicia Keys and Drake‘s duet, “Unthinkable,” atop echoing drums. How many of our parents’ marriages lasted?, Drake asks in the song’s final verse. It’s a generational question that wouldn’t of sounded so real had it come from the corner. What would have ultimately come across as pussy, is in Drake‘s case real. He can play both Jay and Sade. “Karaoke”, produced in part by Francis & The Lights, is a sublimely delicate listen to which Drake flexes his lightheaded melodramatic croon. Perhaps the most solid track on the album, it isn’t something you’re apt to find on just any hip hop LP (scratch that – 808’s and Heartbreaks tried and failed), moreso a track off of Phil Collin‘s Face Value. It’s here, where Drake finds solace – part-sung, part-rapped, the song is a testament to his talent and versatility. The Aaliyah-sampled “Unforgettable” is another gem, even if Drake is outversed by his feature, Young Jeezy. The Jay-Z-assisted “Light Up” sounds akin to The Roots’ politico raps, but becomes very much Drake’s own when a somber subtly-sung, lo-fi chorus kicks in. The disc’s most ill-fitting tunes come shockingly from the most veteran producers – Swizz Beats and Kanye West. “Fancy” sounds like an outdated Blueprint flashback and “Find Your Love” goes in the wrong direction entirely. The album’s greatest heights are achieved when Drake lays his soul out to dry amongst the most ambient of backgrounds (produced by Boi-1da, Omen, and 40) reminiscent of Boards of Canada and the xx. There are even portions where he sounds partially submerged. Listen to The-Dream‘s triumphant duet, “Shut It Down” (above) or “The Resistance”, to hear what I mean.

He’s managed to clock the highest number of mentions on the blog to date
(yes, he even ousted Miss Jackson)

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Watch The-Dream make the magic that is: LoveKing.
Any doubt of his genius, proceed here.


I know everyone’s downloaded Drake‘s debut now that it’s leaked. (As did I.)
But, I’ll save the commentary for once it’s officially released.

That would be.. June 15th


World Premiere: “Make-Up Bag” – The-Dream (Feat. T.I.)

Louis, Prada, Hermes, Fendi, Valentino – hell, they all make plenty.
If my proposed solution to The-Dream’s latest lady drama didn’t appease, try his new video on for size.

The-Dream‘s supposed final solo album, Love King drops June 29, 2010

S&M fave, Ciara, attended last night’s “The Artist Is Present” Closing Gala at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in none other than Givenchy Couture to accompany friend and designer, Riccardo Tisci. The LVMH/Givenchy-sponsored event honored the visiting performance artist, Marina Abramovic, and gave Ci a platform to begin promoting her latest effort, Basic Instinct, to the masses. My girl is all grown up and looking beyond beautiful.


This was MTV’s homepage last week…Ha.

S&M brought it to you a year ago today.
Have a second look at Curren$y here.


World Premiere: “Nothing’s Better” – Jazmine Sullivan

I mentioned last summer that if there’s one resurged-retro-soul-monger I’m fully behind, it’s Jazmine Sullivan. I was enchanted by her nonchalant-yet-solid debut album which boasted such modern-day opuses as “Bust Your Windows”, “In Love With Another Man,” and “Lions, Tigers, and Bears.” After her ’09 Grammy nod, Glee arrangement, and Cotton ad roll-out, Sullivan returns with a single that’s as sly and streamlined as ever. “Nothing’s Better,” produced by the overtapped Stargate conglomerate (see: Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, …), bares an asphalt-rattling, symphonic backdrop that lets Sullivan’s chops do the shining. Comparing her vocals to other R&B countesses of the day: Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, even Fantasia Barrino; Sullivan’s rigor sounds more Broadway-trained than her fresh-from-the-corner vibrato may suggest, lending her projects the kind of distilled versatility her peers could only wish for. Jazmine Sullivan is just the type of soulstress we need to bring radio-ready R&B back to the critical tier.


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World Premiere: “Shutterbug” – Big Boi

Was always more of a Speakerboxx than Love Below, Outkast-ingly speaking.
That’s the reason I’m so psyched to hear Big Boi’s next chapter.
Peep his funkdafied new clip above and tell me you’re not too.

Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
hits 7.6.10


World Premiere: “Rockstar 101” – Rihanna (Feat. Slash)

Watch & Learn:
Good clothes (um…Francesco Scognamiglio)
can make a bad song into a good video.


photo courtesy of blackbook


World Premiere: “RIDE (Remix)” – Ciara
(Feat. Bei Maejor & Ludacris)

With her latest vid banned, a steamy Vogue Paris Givenchy spread on newsstands (below), and her album on the fringe of release…what else is there for CiCi to do?

Sounds like a remix…


Spotted: Miss Jackson‘s new ‘do
London, May 19, 2010


…I wish this would happen when I go out…


World Premiere: “Lego” – Crishan

I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about this track that reminds me so much of The Rugrats. It could be the cartoon-sounding setting on Crishan’s vocoder, the staccato background in all of its pre-school paced glory, the fact the song’s metaslang-title is derived from a child’s play toy, or the farfetched presumption that Tommy Pickles had matured into a full-fledged (horn-dog) Pied Piper since we saw him last. (At one point, one’s coochie is even compared to Aquafina.) Is this what happened to the Reptar-loving runts post-potty training?


World Premiere: “I Wanna Get Drunk” – DJ Felli Fel
(Feat. Three Six Mafia, Fatman Scoop, & Lil’ Jon)

I’d really like to know – do things get any better than this? Three of the most ridiculous acts to surface in hip-hop (one of which has won an Oscar – guess who) on a track that samples Van Halen’s “Jump”? Correct answer: No. Things don’t get much better. (Unless, of course, David Hasselhoff were to add his lip to this beast of a track. Which wouldn’t be a hard stretch come to think of it. Remix possibility?) So, remember where you heard it first, ’cause it’s about to change your summer plans for good. Hopefully Three 6 will get the message and bury the Tiesto affairs already.


World Premiere: “Hello Good Morning” – Dirty Money
(Feat. Rick Ross & T.I.)

Diddy gets a little help from his friends in support of his heftily delayed summer comeback. See if you can count ’em all. I spy Ricky Ross, Swizzy, a hellish Danja beat, Kaleena & Dawn, T.I., Hype Williams, and of course, fireworks. Good morning. Yawn.



World Premiere: “Not Myself Tonight” – Christina Aguilera

For those of us who assumed Xtina to be the one behind the brilliantly faceless ‘iamwhoiamwhoami’ viral campaign – we obviously had too much faith in the pop vet. I wasn’t impressed much by Ms. Aguilera’s first single choice off Bionic, but, I felt the same way about “Dirrty” before its video debuted… This clip, though; while looking (and sounding) like a “Dirrty Pt. 2” is much less groundbreaking, stylish, and dare I say, tasteful? (Never thought I’d see the day) I could have sworn Xtina was looking to reinvent her brand? Hm. I suppose the vid does certify her a singing hardcore porn star. Was her previous shtick softcore? I presume the PVC does hoist things up a notch. Especially as a new mother and all… but, come on Christina…if you were looking for the new you, surely a video with clones from your past isn’t it. Not tonight. Sorry.


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World Premiere: “Shake” – Game

Producers Cool & Dre and Clueless‘ Stacey Dash reemerge from the depths of hip-hop ephemera for the big band-inflected first video off Game’s eagerly-anticipated fourth album. Love that Game‘s yacht closet looks like a Foot Locker and is easily triple the square footage of my East Village apartment. The R.E.D. Album drops June 29th.

As I mentioned before, I saw The-Dream live last week (April 22) at the Highline Ballroom. He performed a slew of signatures aside from debuting new material (“Love Queen” and “Sex Intelligent” off the upcoming Love King) to an overflowing crowd. The rarely live Mr. Nash outdid himself when he brought Fabolous onstage for a “Throw It In The Bag (Remix)”/“Gangsta Luv” medley. Highlights: Jumpsuited backup dancers, Ne-Yo in the crowd, pink-wigged (Nicki Minaj-lookalike) DJ, and Gyptian’s purr.