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My Favorite Albums of 2013

2013 is coming to a close and it has been full of such great music. I think 2013 has been the year of such amazing releases; the best since the 90's. In no particular order, below are the albums that I have been playing non-stop since their releases.

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
Justin Timberlake returned to music with a bang! An insane promotional campaign and music to match led him to have immense success with the first installation of The 20/20 Experience. Unfortunately, the second installment wasn't as lucky nevertheless, 2013 proved to be a successful year for Mr. Timberlake.
[Favorite Songs: Pusher Love Girl, Mirrors, Suit & Tie, Spaceship Coupe]

Miley Cyrus - Bangerz
People give Miley Cyrus a hard time because of the antics but, the truth is her album is flawlessly epic. Her versatility is incomparable but, her strong country roots remain apparent in every song. Her voice shows up and shows out in every way possible. Miley wanted to show us that she can be "that" girl and still sing her tail off. 
[Favorite Songs: Wrecking Ball, 4X4, Drive, FU, Maybe You're Right, Somebody Else, We Can't Stop, Adore You, Love Money Part, #GetItRight, Do My Thang]

Fantasia - Side Effects of You
Without a doubt one of my favorite albums of the year! Fantasia effortlessly meshes the sounds of traditional r&b, funk & gospel into one cohesively emotional album. After some hard moments both professionally and personally, Fantasia played no games when she decided to return to the music scene.
[Favorite Songs: Side Effects of You, Lose to Win, Without Me]  

Ariana Grande - Yours Truly
Ariana's debut album is one of the most played in my itunes since its release. Her music is young and fresh but, not immature. The vocals and production on this album is reminiscent of early Mariah Carey even down to the ratchet rap collaborations. 
[Favorite Songs: Baby I, Tattooed Heart, Honeymoon Avenue, Right There, Lovin' It]

Tamar Braxton - Love and War
My Tay Tay has been waiting for this moment her entire life! Her sophomore album, which I'm sure feels like her debut has been a long time coming. I can honestly say this album is completely and utterly perfect. The vocals are superb and the writing is amazing. It's everything I could've imagined and more.  Tamar showcases her elaborate vocal range while exposing her emotion with such intensity. 
[Favorite Songs: Love and War, All the Way Home, Pieces, Sound of Love, Hot Sugar, Where It Hurts]

Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady
Janelle is one of my favorite artists. Her ability to be different while not appearing desperate to be different is an art in and of itself. Admittedly, I wasn't a fan of Janelle's debut album. As a fan of her work long before her album, I was used to a certain type of music from Janelle. This album was EXACTLY what I would have hoped for. Janelle is a vision and a visionary. Who else could get Prince, Erykah Badu & Solange featured on one album? That's an accomplishment on its own. 
[Favorite Songs: Electric Lady, Q.U.E.E.N., PrimeTime, Dance Apocalyptic]

Celine Dion - Loved Me Back to Life
Celine Dion the vocal beast came back to show us what we have been missing. For years Celine has been showing us what it is to be a vocal powerhouse. Not to be corny but, she loved me back to life with this album. 
[Favorite Songs: Loved Me Back to Life, Breakaway, Water and a Flame, Save Your Soul, Didn't Know Love]

Katy Perry - Prism
We were introduced to Katy Perry's 'Prism' by way of her gargantuan single 'Roar.' Katy is good for giving us sweet pop candy goodness. She never disappoints. Although her songs are pop there is some substance to them. 
[Favorite Songs: Roar, Walking on Air, Unconditionally]

Ciara - Ciara
Although, Ciara's album was disappointment to many and it wasn't promoted well at all, I must say that I enjoy it. It's not exactly what I would've expected from her but, it doesn't change the quality of her work. Ciara gave us songs to dance to, songs to seduce our lovers to & some heart felt ballads for us to sing along to. What more could you ask for really? 
[Favorite Songs: Body Party, Keep on Lookin', Read My Lips, DUI, I'm Out]

Cher - Closer to the Truth
The diva of all divas has come out of retirement to allow us the pleasure of hearing her voice and seeing her performances yet again. Cher has one of the most interesting voices of all time and I really think she's under-appreciated in general but, especially by our generation. The dance songs are a fun listen but, my favorite songs on the album are the ballads. Her voice really shines. 
['Favorite Songs: Lie to Me, I Hope You Find It, I Don't Have to Sleep to Dream]

K. Michelle - Rebellious Soul
K. Michelle is one of those artists that is raw and open in her music. That can either make you a fan of her or make you dislike her. It's no secret that I've been back and forth about my feelings on K. Michelle but, always one to give credit where it's due, her album was full of honest writing and amazing vocals. I found myself laughing at K. Michelle's humor and relating to her feelings of not feeling good enough and wanting love. That's what music is all about; relating. 
[Favorite Songs: V.S.O.P., Can't Raise a Man, I Don't Like Me]

Kasseem Dean, Jr. (Son of Swizz Beats & Mashonda Tifrere) Launches 'Kasseem''

Kasseem's Dream is the brainchild of Kasseem Dean, Jr., son of Mashonda Tifrere and Swizz Beats. He wanted to create a place online where children could go to be inspired by the arts and positivity in a way that they can relate to.

With two amazingly talented parents, it was only a matter of time before Kasseem found his niche and a way to make his dreams a reality. Raised to appreciate, love, and create in various art forms; Kasseem thinks every child should have the opportunity to nurture their creative gifts.

The site itself displays Kasseem's art, has articles for parents , fashion and style tips, as well as photos of Kasseem enjoying life with his family and friends and soon Kasseem's Dream will be launching their own store.

Go to and be inspired!

New: Rihanna's Moving 'What Now' Video

'What Now' is my absolute favorite song on Rihanna's most recent Unapologetic album and probably one of my favorite Rihanna songs of all time. This video adds stunning visuals to a stunning vocal performance by one of the world's biggest super stars.

Rihanna is one of those artists that does her own thing and doesn't care but, comes back every now and then to show you that she is in fact a force to be reckoned with in every way imaginable. The Rihanna vocal cynics should all have their mouths closed as she belts her way through this emotional ballad.

In true Rihanna form she manages to look effortlessly flawless. I am super proud of the way this video came out. The 'Pour It Up' video wasn't quite my speed and I was desperate for some new Rihanna.

I'm surprised we don't have a brand new single from her already because she usually has an album prepared for the holidays. Maybe she is finally going to take a break for the first time in eight years? I hope she doesn't take too long!

New Music: Britney Spears (@britneyspears) 'Perfume'

As a Britney Spears fan I can say that this is such an amazing moment for me. For years I have been wondering if I would ever hear the sound of Britney Spears' natural singing voice and that day has finally arrived and she sounds so damn beautiful. Thank God for this moment

'Perfume' was posted via Britney's official Facebook page.

Track-By-Track: Steff Reed's 'The Intervention' (@whoissteffreed)

Our friend Steff Reed has released his EP The Intervention. Steff is one of our favorite indie artists because his artistry is a reflection of his life experience and his soul. There aren't many male artists that are this vulnerable in their art for sake of being judged however, Steff effortlessly pulls it off.

Join me on the track by track journey through The Intervention

1) Sadistic - Steff croons about a sadistic woman that he is involved with. The moment feels wrong but, it's not right. With racy lyrics such as "as she moans, I want to feed her appetite, her legs wrapped around me tight," Steff thrusts you into the song with a visual that can only be compared to a movie.

2) Out on the Ledge - The first single from the EP, and the song that made me fall in love with Steff's artistry, is as an honest account of depression and frustration about life's circumstances. "Got nothing to lose, cus I'm already gone. Got nothing to lose, I feel so alone..." is something that I can certainly say I have experienced as have many others that I know. It speaks to the life of an artist/creative.

3) Trials of Job - For those that don't get the biblical reference to Job, Job was a man in the bible that suffered and lost everything. Steff takes the time to sing about his trials that have tested his faith in this song. This song is where you will find my favorite background vocals and harmonies on the EP.

4) Funeral - Steff sings about putting part of himself in the past and having a funeral to solidify the death of these qualities. 'Funeral' is in my opinion, the most creative song on the album. Another song that creates such a vivid visual.

5) The Intervention - Cocoa Sarai steps to microphone to speak about her life experience. I didn't expect this moment but, it was poignant and is right in line with the feel of this project.

6) Alright - This is one of my favorite songs on the EP. As any artist or creative person can attest to, even when the tunnel seems so long we can always see a glimmer of light at the end. 'Alright' is the perfect end to the emotional journey of The Intervention, with a positive message of  knowing that everything will be alright.

The Intervention is a solid body of work. Steff's voice isn't the focus on this EP, his story is. As a listener, and fan, it's apparent that the creation of this EP served as an outlet and therapy for Steff. He references the bible a bit during, which makes it obvious that although he has gone through things in his life, his faith is quite important to his journey and getting through. Well placed harmonies, dope background vocals, and relatable lyrics make this project something that every fan of music should at least give a listen. I can guarantee there is at least one song that will strike your fancy.

Take a listen to the entire EP below.

Sire's Favorites: Gwen Stefani's 'Cool'

Gwen Stefani is one of my favorite artists. She has the ability to cross all genre lines and styles with such ease. She's a style innovator in every sense of the word. 

One of my favorite songs is her song 'Cool' which chronicles two former lovers that have moved on to new relationships and remain very close friends. I love this song for so many reasons. Gwen shows a level of maturity that most women fail

Ariana Grande ft. Big Sean 'Right There' Video

Not only is Ariana Grande such an amazing singer and the only singer as of late that can be classified as the second coming of Mariah, she is also super adorable.

Her latest video 'Right There' featuring Big Sean is set at a masquerade ball. I have a thing for videos that just look like they were fun to shoot and this video surely does.

Check it out below

New Music: KeKe Palmer (@kekepalmer) 'Work Like You Love Me'

KeKe Palmer is one talented young lady. Fresh off of her role in the TLC biopic, Keke is releasing new music. 'Work Like You Love Me' is a sexy and sassy song. I enjoyed listening and the songs certainly hot but, I did miss the killer vocals that I'm used to hearing from KeKe.

Check it out below.

Mary J. Blige Sings National Anthem At World Series

Mary J. Blige sang the National Anthem at the 2013 World Series. Check it out to see how she did.

Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) Gets Sexy in 'Hold Tight'

Child listen! Justin Bieber ain't playing any games! Lord Jesus this song did something to my loins! I am LOVING this new material from the Biebs. I just wish his voice would mature a tiny bit! I am in no way surprised about his R&B direction, he did sign to Usher for a reason.

You can just imagine what 'Hold Tight' is about.

New Music: Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) & R. Kelly 'Do What U Want' Full Song

Lady Gaga is such an amazing artist. She truly loves what she does and puts more thought into what she does than most artists. Her latest song with R. Kelly is no different. On 'Do What U Want' Gaga sings about not giving up control of her voice and her thoughts but, basically she's willing to sacrifice her body. This seems to be a dig to the public that judges her and the industry that sells her.

R. Kelly being on the song didn't do much for me. The way Gaga sang this song was with such a statement, so it would have been better for me if she was alone on it but, I think R. Kelly sounds nice on the song.

Check out 'Do What U Want' below.

New Music: Celine Dion (@celinedion) 'Somebody Loves Somebody'

One of the world's greatest voices is back with her single 'Somebody Loves Somebody' from her upcoming album, Loved Me Back To Life.

Celine is exceptional at mixing her classic music with a new and current sound. She sounds amazing! I am so excited for this new album.

Check out the new hit below.

Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) Performs 'Slow Down' on 'The View'

Selena Gomez is one of those artists that people consistently talk about as not being a good vocalist. I actually like Selena and I think that if they played up the huskiness of her voice that people would see the potential in her voice.

Selena performed her song 'Slow Down' on 'The View' this morning. The show was live and there were several issues with the sound system. Selena still performed and the cast thanked her for her professionalism after.

Check it out below.

New Video: Tamar Braxton (@tamarbraxtonher) 'Hot Sugar'

During tonight's episode of 'Tamar & Vince,' Tamar FINALLY got what she's wanted all season!

The video for her song 'Hot Sugar' is here

Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) & R. Kelly 'Do What You Want' Snippet

Lady Gaga is one of those artists that is extremely unpredictable. That being said her latest snippet release is with R&B legend R. Kelly. Funny thing is when you think about this collaboration it doesn't seem like it would work but, it actually does. I'm not a fan of R. Kelly as a singer but, I really am enjoying what little I've heard on this song.

Check the randomness play out in a Best Buy commercial below.

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