Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mel 100% Supports: Reign On Me [Purple Reign]

Those of you who read the blog regularly already know this, but I tend to get infatuated quite quickly with new music. Sometimes the love affair flames out, but occasionally, it lingers, building and building until it's an all and out obsession. In this case, the artist name and links finds itself firmly lodged in the column to the right under 'Mel 100% Supports'. Obviously, if I listed every single obsession, I would have a list a mile long, so it takes a special kind of artist that deserves that shout-out to be listed over yonder. With that said, I'm proud to introduce you to my latest addition to the list.

Last year, we began hearing about a groundswell of r&B-based girl groups that were being developed by popular staple urban/pop producers. T-Pain had Sophia Fresh, Rich Harrison had RichGirl, and The Dream/Tricky Stewart had Electrik Red. The jury is still out for most of these ladies. While all three of these groups have their high points and some killer jams to their names, a (brand spakin'!) new producer-led group has caught my ear, and they have officially blown all others out of the water. Their name is Purple Reign (yes, like the Prince classic...kind of, but not to be confused with the apparent Prince cover band of the same name), and it should come as little surprise to you that they come to us via a little up and comer called Rodney Jerkins, better known as Darkchild.

Darkchild's responsible for the vast majority of Brandy's catalog, as well as hits by Destiny's Child, Monica, Janet Jackson, Keyshia Cole, Mary J Blige, and Toni Braxton. Darkchild doesn't play games -- he knows a hit when he hears it -- and his production discography reads like a who's who in my personal music collection. Of course your girl would get excited over this.

Ya'll know that I grew up on r&B girl group music. I may have been the only 2.5 foot tall white girl with crazy curly hair from upstate New York that knew every word to every SWV, XScape  and En Vogue song, but darn it -- that was the kind of music I lived for. Strong, empowering women -- all of which was capable of singing well enough on their own -- harmonizing together in such a way that it truly gave you goosebumps. It's the type of girl group that we just don't see much of anymore -- a group more focused on its harmony over its image. Today, music is too focused on the visual aspect, so much so that we are willing to forgive artists for an obscene use of AutoTune and forgive their lipsynching during live events. I dream of a day when things will return to the way they were in the early 90's, and I'm confident to say that Purple Reign  (along with my girls in Jada) might be a group that will help make that become a reality if they play their cards the right way.

I was introduced to Purple Reign about a month ago through a friend on Twitter, and after one quick mention of them in curiosity, I was suddenly barraged with how incredible they were. They are still quite young in the production process, but as far as I've heard, their album is wrapped (finished in a month). You can snag select cuts from their mixtape for free at Darkchild's website (including my favorite so far thanks to its inclusion of their acapella intro -- their rehashed cover of Timbaland/Drake's "Say Something", arguably one of the very best off Timbo's most recent release). The majority of their promo are covers (both re-worked and straight), so we have little original material to judge them on. We can however judge based on vocals alone, which are often showcased with glee in full sonic three-part harmony, sans accompaniment, in their multitude of YouTube videos.

Comparisons to Destiny's Child will surely abound, as Purple Reign is a group that prides itself on its acapellas (or rather, purpapellas) and comes to us thanks to a man who gave us such DC staples as "Say My Name" and "Lose My Breath". I've got my fingers crossed their debut record will continue to embrace the real class of the girl groups of yore, rather aesthetics like some of the other producer-driven girl groups. Perhaps the DC comparison's really aren't too much of an oversight, as they could do much worse than the image Destiny's Child brought -- a focus on their mentality and their vocals, rather than a decided sex appeal. Granted, 2010 is a different world in comparison to 2000, and especially 1990, but I'd much rather celebrate a group of real women who have true talent, rather than a group of women who are mediocre at best and leave me cold as an impressionable young woman. With that said, they certainly have their club appeal, but their continual showcasing of their voices on their YouTube makes me really hopeful for what they can offer as a true vocal act in the days to come.

Aside from their clear vocals, which of course I respect foremost, I'm most sucked in by these girls obvious chemistry with each other. These girls are real. Their humility and relatableness is what attracted me to them most. Of course, everything I say is just words on a page. Real talent speaks for itself. Check out the below -- Purple Reign sangin' Destiny's Child's Darkchild-produced hit "Say My Name".

Like the group themselves, the fandom is a work in process. Keep an eye out for more Purple Reign to come. :)


Anonymous said...

Both Sophia Fresh and Richgirl have amazing vocal abilities. Don't let the use of Autotune fool you. For some artists its a crutch but for others, like T-Pain/ Sophia Fresh, it is used to produce a different sound, like a new instrument. You should look up Sophia Fresh's a capella on youtube. You will see they are more than a cute girl group that is abusing autotune. You can also look up Righgirls a capella on youtube as well.

Myfizzypop said...

ooo i'm all for a lovely funky new r'n'b girl group. now if they come out with something as brillo as En Vogue's My Lovin' I'll be very pleased indeed.

Mel said...

Anon - Def not trying to throw shade at Sophia Fresh, Richgirl or Electrik Red -- I have songs from all three of them. I'm just really excited about Purple Reign! If you like Sophia Fresh, I think you look into PR. You might really like them as well.

Paul - My thoughts exactly! :) :)

Me said...

I've been really looking forward to hearing their material, but so far have been quite disappointed. 'Cheater' is not a good first track.

Najla salaam said...

This is Najla CEO of Kelley Brothers Ent LLC....

I am Soooooo proud of you:)

Linus said...

Wow, this sounds very promising! I will definitely check them out.

Yuяi said...

Hey Mel! I really like Purple Reign! Thanks for spotlighting them. These girls have great voices, and you can tell they are friends. Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Well, I really like Purple Reign. But RichGirl is way better.

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