Miles Marshall Lewis

  • Alicia Keys, 'Girl on Fire' (RCA)

    With Girl on Fire, her fifth studio album since 2001, Alicia Keys officially joins the postmodern-R&B old school. Eleven years is a long time. With multiple Grammys, a James Bond theme song, and a Bob Dylan shout-out behind her, the newly married 31-year-old young mom might be excused for losing her hyper-ambitious eye of the tiger.

  • R. Kelly, 'Write Me Back' (RCA)

    Even without his recent, more literal throwback moves, R. Kelly had already become retro. Once famously known as the Pied Piper of R&B, Robert Sylvester Kelly hasn't been leading the genre anywhere since it largely started marching to hyperkinetic Euro-dance beats in past decade. Instead, he dipped into his hot tub time machine to produce 2010’s Love Letter, a winning homage to classic soul from the 1950s and '60s sans his signature freakaliciousness. Now, Write Me Back takes things ahead another decade, with '70s musical cues recalling the Philly International sound, the Love Unlimited Orchestra, and the Isleys. If Kelly’s gonna go retro, he's going all the way. As usual. The pretense isn't new, of course. Amy Winehouse made an entire career updating the Ronettes with post-hip-hop bon mots like "What kind of fuckery is this?

  • 110602-gil-scott-heron.png

    Gil Scott-Heron: A Tribute to Greatness

    My beloved hiphop generation came of age at that meta-moment in history when it seemed that the artists among us could only aspire to remixing what came before. Writers wanted to become the James Baldwins and Zora Neale Hurstons of our time. The neo-soul movement was chockful of wannabe Marvin Gayes. And everyone in the so-called spoken-word game -- from MCs to poets -- poured out libations for the Last Poets and, perhaps most of all, the late, great Gil Scott-Heron. "Gil was our unfiltered blues, a black-magic, truth-telling poet," says jessica Care moore, author of poetry tomes like The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth and frontwoman for her own soulful rock band, Detroit Read. "It is not easy to find models for what we do: poets that make rock'n'roll or tell our stories with flutes or loud guitars, wrapped around melodies and love," moore says. "Gil was our witness, our foundation.

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