President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": Lyfe Jennings isn't shy about letting us know his background and what he went through before becoming a singer. His first album was his prison number "268-192," and he even sang about being locked up on "26 Years. 17 Days." Now while some artists will rest on that thuggish edge. Lyfe did a 180 and took it in another direction. He used his own experiences in hopes of helping young men and women alike. One of his most memorable songs is having a raw talk with young ladies on "SEX." Why? He says, "Most cats would take advantage of you right now. But I ain't gone do that. I'm a give you the game because I would want somebody to give my little girl the game." And his message to young girls about giving up their virginity is, "think before you let it go." While so many artists encourage women to spread Eagle as fast as possible and wear skanky outfits, Lyfe Jennings threw cold water on them and encouraged them to calm down.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: Lyfe Jennings' voice gave me eargasms the first time I heard him. His voice is sultry, sexy and rough. He really does have some pipes on him, and when I heard him sing live at the Taste of Chicago I was in awe. It wasn't just his songs about love, lust, family, fatherhood and trying to be positive, but I respected his need to tell the whole truth. He let all of Grant Park know he definitely was not a saint and sang "Stick Up Kid" with the same sincerity he sang "Must Be Nice" and "SEX."
I wanted to see him again so I got a ticket to the House of Blues. He was late for his performance, apologized and immediately hit the stage and made up for it. He grabbed his guitar and crooned his heart out. He's one of those artists I'd prefer to hear sing a capella because beats just don't do him any justice, minus the beat for "It's Real." That is my ultimate favorite song from him, especially since I'm so passionate about condom usage and getting tested for HIV/AIDS. Plus how many artists can make a song this catchy, this funky and this true about a sobering topic like STDs? My other favorite songs (in order) are "Stingy," "The Way I Feel About You," "Cops Up," "Wild Wild Wild," "You Think You've Got It Bad," "Must Be Nice" and "Let's Stay Together."
Best believe I am impatiently waiting on his 2010 summer CD "Still Believe" and blasting his new single "Statistics" proudly. Once again, he's giving women advice on how to find the right guy and goes so far as to suggest "Tell him that you're celibate/And if he want some of your goodies/He gone have to work for it" and "Be the person you want to find/Don't be a nickel out here looking for a dime."
Accomplishments from the Artist: In addition to being BET's Rap-It-Up campaign spokesperson, Lyfe Jennings has also done well on the charts. "Must Be Nice" spent 20 weeks on the Billboard charts. "SEX" spent 13 weeks on the Billboard charts, was number 3 on October 2006's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number 16 on 2006's Radio Songs. He also made the Billboard's 200 top albums in 2005 and 2006.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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