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R&B Icon Teena Marie Celebrates Her 30th Career Anniversary With Emotional New Single Can’t Last A Day Featuring Faith Evans

R&B Icon Teena Marie Celebrates Her 30th Career Anniversary With Emotional New Single “Can’t Last A Day” Featuring Faith Evans

“It’s about that mystical, joined-through-God kind of love…I’m talking about people being together until the end of time! I think we’re really missing that level of love today.” – Teena Marie

Listen to “Can’t Last A Day” featuring Faith Evans

Teena Marie
Congo Square – In Stores June 9, 2009
Stax Records


When a lady has thrived at the epicenter of a musical movement that some initially claimed was not her birthright, and that lady has steadfastly held that legacy down strong for 30 phenomenal years, acknowledgment, respect and celebration are in order. Today, that artist is “Lady Tee,” Teena Marie.

2009 marks the 30th (pearl) anniversary of Teena Marie’s recording career with the June release of her thirteenth CD, Congo Square – and there’s a milestone for every decade that has led to it. First is the 16-song CD itself, boasting all of the panoramic musicality a fan could desire. Second is her fresh alignment with Stax Records that –after her storied Motown debut in 1979 – marks the second time Teena has been proudly affiliated with a bedrock black music institution. Finally, there’s a more personal revelation regarding her family lineage that once and for all proves why she has been bursting with indisputable soul all these years. Teena has New Orleans roots!

Congo Square is a passionate, accessible and, as always, autobiographical adventure that cruises smoothly from southern soul and smoky jazz to dance floor funk. Along for the party are special guests Faith Evans (on the first single “Can’t Last a Day”), Howard Hewett (on the steamy duet “Lovers Lane”), MC Lyte (on the sexy opener “The Pressure”), the jazz trio of pianist George Duke (on the title track “Congo Square”), drummer/co-composer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist Brian Bromberg (on the cinematic ballad “The Rose n’ Thorn,” orchestrated by the legendary Paul Riser), and Teena’s daughter Rose LeBeau (on the soul salute “Milk n’ Honey”).

“I’ve been through quite a few trials and tribulations over the last two years,” Teena shares regarding the time between her last acclaimed release, Sapphire, and now. “I spent many of those hours in prayer and felt like God was putting his arms around me. I started thinking about the music I grew up on – how inspired it was. Each song I wrote began to sound like the style of some favorite artist of mine from the past… ‘What U Got 4 Me’ is a combination of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, ‘You Baby’ is inspired by the old Chicago soul of The Emotions (originally Stax artists in the `70s) and the new Chicago vibe of Kanye West… ‘Baby I Love You’ is my cruising down Crenshaw with Ice Cube bumpin’ in the trunk vibe, while ‘The Pressure’ reminds me of the kinds of things I used to do with Rick.” That would be Rick James, the undisputed king of Punk Funk and epic balladry who produced Teena’s debut record, Wild & Peaceful, consummating a relationship that would take many shapes until his passing in 2004.

Recalling that intense, emotional relationship allowed Teena to tap into the deeply personal ballad, “Marry Me,” Congo Square’s centerpiece. With its soulful, straightforward, southern eloquence and emotive strings that the late great Isaac Hayes would have adored, “Marry Me” is also the composition that is most like a classic slice of Stax. “That’s my ode to Aretha,” Teena says, “…all the bluesy stuff she did in her young-young years like ‘Ain’t No Way.’ I have fond memories of ridin’ around Buffalo with Rick listening to all her early music and singing to it on days off from the road. Without being preachy, I’ve observed several couples that have been together for years – with their kids all around them – but they still haven’t walked down the aisle. It’s probably the most bluesy soul song I’ve ever done. I had to have an anointed genius on this music so I flew Paul Riser in from Detroit to arrange and conduct the strings. During the session, I saw grown men and women cry…I’m talking heavyweight philharmonic players who’ve heard everything. The harpist had just done Streisand the night before.”

Teena songs morph in styles from sassy (the flirtatious “Ear Candy 101”) and sexy (the Bourbon Street jazz fantasy “Harlem Blue”) to sublime (“Ms. Coretta,” about the woman who stood by her man, Martin). “I have so much respect for that woman,” Teena says softly. “It’s documented that Martin said he wanted a woman with character, intelligence, personality and beauty – so we went deep on this one. I found a spoken passage of Coretta’s on the Internet from a speech she gave when Martin’s birthday became a national holiday. And the bell you hear is a sample of the Normandy Bell – the French replica of the Liberty Bell.” Congo Square’s first single “Can’t Last a Day” is a modern spin on Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International sound and pairs Teena with the sensational Faith Evans. “If you really listen to the lyrics,” Teena shares, “it transcends a typical love song:

If the sun in the sky disappear from view / And the love in my heart baby wasn’t true / If the rivers and seas all just up and dry / And the moon pass away from the deep blue sky / If I lost all my faith in a higher power / Tell me where would I be in the final hour / I’d be losing my way baby I’d be through / Cuz I can’t last a day honey without you

It’s about that mystical, joined-through-God kind of love…I’m talking about people being together until the end of time! I think we’re really missing that level of love today.” Reflecting on her hook-up with Faith, Teena continues, “It was AFTER I recorded the song that I got the idea to put Faith on. I’ve always loved her vocal style. She reminds me of me. Her correlation with Biggie – having a career with him and without him – reminds me of me and Rick. We know each other through mutual friends. I called her up and she was really excited to do it. When I play the song for younger people especially, they seem really thrilled to hear us together…just the idea of it.”

As a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Teena Marie obliterated the barrier of race when it comes to soul music, opening the door for later superstars from Madonna to Justin Timberlake. That this white woman can purposefully create an album with a title inspired by an historical American locale where Black slaves gathered on Sundays to recharge their spiritual batteries after six days under the lash – and no one would bat an eye – speaks volumes of her singular stature within the black community that has embraced her as its own. There’s a reason for this which she recently learned.

“I have always had a deep affinity for New Orleans,” Teena begins, “the culture, the people…the actual air! From the moment I stepped off the plane, I felt like, ‘I’ve been here before.’ The people embraced me and my music from the very first time I went there in the early `80s. A few months ago, my first cousin was here visiting and I happened to tell her about my deep affinity for New Orleans. She looked at me and said, ‘Well, you know that’s where our people are from, right? Our great, great grandmother Sarah Howell Colin was married in the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about? We’re from Texas.’ She said, ‘Yes, but before Texas our folks were in Louisiana.’ I could have learned this at any time in my life, but for me to find this out as I was finishing Congo Square… Now it all makes sense.”

This revelation informs much of the atmosphere on the more introspective second half of Congo Square, such as the Sarah Vaughan-inspired “The Rose n’ Thorn” and the shout of support to the American men and women serving our country overseas titled “Soldier.” “Milk n’ Honey is the title of the album John Lennon was working on when he was killed,” Teena states. “I was thinking about physical things I could give my daughter – diamonds and pearls – but it was far more important to pass down the stuff that sustains us on this earth like milk and honey – the good spirit a mother gives you. Music is part of that, so I had Rose LeBeau write and sing on the track “Milk n’ Honey”. It’s only the second time we’ve recorded together, my way of passing the torch. She makes me so proud.”

That Teena would be making these artistic statements for a resurrected Stax Records makes the cross-cultural connectedness complete. When Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton laid the foundation for Stax in Memphis during the late `50s, it was as a place where black and white musicians could make incredible music together – evidenced most famously by racially integrated house band Booker T. & The M.G.s.

“Congo Square was the place where slaves were allowed to dance and sing on Sundays,” Ms. Marie concludes. “Can you imagine all the amazing musicians – jazz and otherwise – that have been through since? I thought it would be awesome to consider Congo Square as our address – an inspirational place where artists all live in spirit.”

Biggie Bone Thugs N Harmony Notorious B.I.G. Reviews

Notorious B.I.G. – Top 10 Biggie Verses

It’s hard to believe that its been a decade since we last heard Biggie Smalls and his notorious “Uh uhs” in real life. The memory of when I first heard the news is still vivid. My dad was over to take my sister and me for the weekend and I barely reached the kitchen when he told me that the Notorious B.I.G. was dead. To say the moment felt surreal would be understatement.

Top 10 Biggie VersesI just bought the recent issue of The Source the night before with Biggie on the cover and a great feature article where he talked about how he was coming back for his number one spot. My last thought before going to sleep was, he was coming back and no rapper could come close to stopping him. Everything about him seemed larger than life, the rhymes, the flow, the suits, the way he took care everyone, how personable he was on camera and then suddenly it all stopped.

“The Greatest Rapper of All Time died on March 9th”
-Canibus “Second Round Knockout”

People will debate who the greatest rapper of all time is until they are blue in the face, but everyone will agree that Biggie Smalls was the illest. It was an arduous task but I made a list of the ten best Biggie verses of all time. Some people’s favorites were left out, and I apologize. Biggie probably deserves three or four top ten lists. The hardest omissions were “Mo Money Mo Problems”, the storytelling verses like “I Got a Story to Tell” and “Niggas Bleed”, the sentimental “Sky’s The Limit”, the underrated “Everyday Struggle”, the cult classic “Last Days”, guest appearances like “Get Money” and “Benjamins”, and my favorite line ever from the track “Ready to Die” where Big rapped “I got techniques dripping out my butt cheeks / Sleep on my stomach so I don’t fuck up my sheets”.

10. “Flava In Ya Ear (remix)”

Memorable Lines
Niggaz is mad I get more butts than ashtrays

I see the gimmicks, the wack lyrics / That shit is depressing, pathetic, please forget it / Mad cause my style you admiring / Don’t be mad UPS is hiring

Whoever thought it was a good idea to start this posse cut mad a big mistake. Biggie stole the show and made the other rappers look average including the extra animated Busta Rhymes (and you know how I feel about the Dungeon Dragon and Posse Cuts). Craig Mack and Big put Bad Boy on the map and it was only fitting that they remixed (considering they invented the remix) one of their earliest hits.

9. 1st Verse “Long Kiss Goodnight”

Memorable Lines
I make your mouth piece obese like Della Reese

You know the rules / Went from BK to New Jeruze / Look at the planes we flew / Bitches we ran through / Now the year’s new / I want my spot back, take two

After his car accident, Biggie was hospitalized for a few weeks and watched a lot of movies. One of his favorites was “Long Kiss Goodnight” with Geena Davis and Samuel Jackson. He was often accompanied by his then girlfriend who was looking to become a rapper. Big suggested that she take the name of Geena Davis’ character in the movie, Charlie Baltimore. I did not include the verse because of the story but instead because of the hunger Biggie rapped with on the first verse. He was telling all other rappers that they were playing for second place.

8. 1st Verse “Dead Wrong”

Memorable Lines
Relax and take notes, while I take tokes of the marijuana smoke / Throw you in a choke gun smoke, gun smoke

I guess I was a combination of House of Pain and Bobby Brown / I was “Humpin Around” and “Jump in Around” / Jacked her then I asked her who’s the man; she said, “B I G” / Then I bust in her E Y E

Everything about this verse is aggressive including the way he delivered his lines. Biggie had pretty graphic and excessively violent lyrics but this could top them all. Some people may have problems with the content of his lyrics but those same people probably loved the Oscar winner for best picture, Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed”. He was not Mos Def or Chuck D but he was great at what he did.

7. 1st Verse “Kick In The Door”

Memorable Lines
Your reign on the top was short like Leprechauns / As I crush so called willies, thugs, and rapper dons

You should know my steelo / Went from 10 g’s for blow / To thirty g’s a show / To orgies with hoes I’ve never seen before

This was the only Biggie verse to earn The Source’s monthly Hip Hop Quotable. He was mad that Nas and Prodigy had gotten it three times each even though Biggie won Lyricist of the Year at The Source Awards. Although they were a little late, The Source finally rewarded him. At the time Nas was coming hard for the crown, and many (including Nas) believe that the song was a subliminal dis toward Nas, specifically the lines “MCs used to be on some buddy shit / Now they on some money shit / Successful out the blue”. It could also be directed at De La Soul and Trugoy who seemingly took a shot at him on “Stakes Is High”. Either way Big flexed his muscle over a signature Premier beat.

6. 1st Verse “Who Shot Ya”

Memorable Lines
Who shot ya? / Seperate the weak from the ob solete /Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets / It’s on nigga, fuck all that bickering beef / I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek / Your heartbeat sound like Sasquatch feet / Thundering, shaking the concrete

I burn baby burn like Disco Inferno / Burn slow like blunts with ya yo / Peel more skins than Idaho potato / Niggaz know, the lyrical molestin’ is takin’ place / Fuckin’ with B.I.G. it ain’t safe

Tupac dis? Biggie always denied it, but there are plenty of lines to believe otherwise (and Tupac certainly did). Regardless, “the lyrical molestin” was in full effect as the Notorious crushed every other rapper in his path.

5. 3rd Verse “Juicy”

Memorable Lines
Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis / When I was dead broke I couldn’t picture this

Birthdays was the worst days / Now we sip champagne when we thirsty

The 1st verse arguably deserves to make the list as well, but I did not want to include more than one verse from the same song, so it can only earn an honorable mention. The first line is obviously dated but in 1994 if you had both Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis you were on top of the world. Not to mention being able to play Street Fighter II on an 80 inch screen like they do in the “Juicy” video. In the second line Biggie rhymes “days” and “thirsty” to put a cap on the rags to riches story. Who else could rhyme those two words? Just plain sick.

4. 1st Verse “Unbelievable”

Memorable Lines
Live from Bedford Stuyvesant The Livest one / Representing BK to the fullest / Gats I pull it bastards ducking when Big be bucking / Chickenheads be cluckin’ in my bathroom fuckin’

And those that rushes my clutches get put on crutches / Get smoked like Dutches from the master

Premier says that it was actually Biggie’s idea to sample an R. Kelly song to create the beat just like Jay-Z suggested to 9th Wonder when he produced “Threat” for The Black Album. It was also the first song played from The Ready to Die album on NY radio stations. After doing “Party and Bullshit” and plenty of guest appearances Biggie announced his arrival with lyrical prowess and intimidation not heard since Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap.

3. “Notorious Thugs”

Memorable Lines
Armed and dangerous, ain’t too many can bang with us / Straight up weed, no angel dust, label us Notorious / Thug ass niggaz that love to bust, it’s strange to us / Y’all niggaz be scramblin, gamblin / Up in restaurants with mandolins, and violins / We just sittin here tryin to win, tryin not to sin / High off weed and lots of gin / So much smoke need oxygen, steadily countin them Benjamins

When I was asking my friends their favorite verses from Biggie this was always the first or second one mentioned. Usually I have hard time understanding the words in a Bone Thugs and Harmony song but Big completely adapted to their style and delivered, arguably, his most memorable verse. No one could switch their style as effortlessly as the Notorious B.I.G.

2. 1st Verse “Victory”

Memorable Lines
Rhyme a few bars so I can buy a few cars / Then I kick a few flows so I can pimp a few hoes / Excellence is my presence never tense / Never hesitant leave a nigga bent real quick / Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike / Anyone – Tyson, Jordan, Jackson / Action, pack guns, ridiculous / And I am quick to bust if my ends you touch

The Rocky sample probably helps, but the verse has an epic feeling to it like a Jerry Bruckheimer action scene. Not only did Biggie write Puffy’s lyrics for the song, but he also went into the booth and recorded the vocals. All Diddy had to do was repeat what Biggie was saying in the same he was saying. This should have been on Life After Death as a solo song.

1. “Freestyle at MSG” w/ Big Daddy Kane, Scoob, Shyheim, and Tupac

Memorable Lines
I got 7 Mac-11’s / About eight 38s / Nine 9s, 10 Mac Tens / The shit never ends / You can’t touch my riches / Even if you had MC Hammer and them 357 bitches

Oh my God I’m dropping shit like a pigeon / I hope your listening / Smacking babies at their christening

The first few lines showcase Biggie’s one of a kid wit. After using four gun references, he quickly jumps to his “riches” and then brings it all together with “MC Hammer and them 357 bitches”. Hammer was the first rap to really become rich. With all of his money he put on ridiculous stage shows including female dancers called 357. At the same time Biggie was talking about guns again because of the 357 Magnum and “hammer” being another term for a gun. Listen to the crowd after he finishes that line because they go absolutely crazy.

Notorious B.I.G. – Top 10 Biggie Verses