Review: Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” Album Part 1

by: Taj | December 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments »

It’s time for my full review of the first batch of songs released from Madonna’s new album Rebel Heart.

First let’s discuss the marketing package behind the new endeavor… Just last week the Queen of Pop sprung a major leak and very early versions of some of the new material (as well as a few demos that won’t make the final cut) spread across the Internet like a wild fire! There are always the conspiracy theorists out there that believe Madonna leaked half her album in very low quality/barely produced form (because that would be how I would want to introduce my music for the first time *eye roll*) but I can guarantee you that this was not a planned marketing ploy! The leak and the drama behind the scenes are very real! So in response to her music being put out there in mediocre form for the world to hear, Madonna decided to “pull a Beyonce” so to speak but also one up her! She bundled together 6 songs that were in the can & ready for world-wide exposure (all of which had leaked except one) and released them to the world so that we can hear how she intended for us to hear them! The result so far has been an overwhelmingly positive response in which many online media outlets are hailing the tracks as some of her best in decades… And for the record, I concur! Although M intended to release a single in Feb and the entire album in March, she will now release the album in three parts! We got the first batch of songs, we’ll get the next batch on Feb 9th and then the rest in March! It’s a new age in the way music is released and Madonna has just trailblazed a new trend for others to follow as usual!

Onto the music…

“Living For Love”


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Living For Love” is the lead single from “Rebel Heart” and while I don’t think it’s the strongest choice for a first single, it is definitely a nice introduction to the new three part era! After all, she does have two more opportunities to release a “first single” thanks to the genius multi-release structure. Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE this song!! Especially the finished version that we can compare to the earlier incarnation which was a little on the boring side. “Living for Love” is a lush, uplifting, deep-house meets gospel meets EDM. A lot like all the material on this release, ‘LFL‘ is a throwback with a new-school edge! Vocally and lyrically Madonna is on-point with her inspirational message of pushing through the tough times with love on your side. What a nice way to kick off your new release, right? I give this one 8 1/2 out of 10 stars. (With room to grow of course)

“Unapologetic Bitch”


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I’m reviewing this one next because I think as much as Madonna #hashtagged this title, her fans have been in a frenzy to hear the actual music for such an ambitious, attention catching title! Did it live up to the hype?? I say HELL YES!! This is one of my favorites from the album and would have been my choice for first single. No it’s not the typical gay dance-party type of single that most people would have expected from M, but I think her venture into the Diplo produced reggae/dancehall territory is the unexpected curveball that Madonna has been know to throw at us to keeps us on our toes and keep her on her thrown! I give this one 8 out of 10.

Devil Pray


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I LOVE THIS SONG! Lyrically Madonna delves head-on into the world of drugs, self-reflection and religious guilt! This is another example where we can hear how the leaks were definitely pre-mature version of what Madonna intended for us to hear. While the leaked version was  a pretty straight-forward folk-pop song with the trademark Avicii imprint, the new version (which still retains a little of the folk feel) has been reworked to takes us on more of an electronic house journey. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard an Avicii production mesh these two genres together, but the delivery this time around sounds nothing like some of his more well known folk-dance fusions such as “Wake Me Up” or “Hey Brother“. (Thank God!) This has to be one of the strongest tracks out of this release, so I give it a 10 out of 10.

Ghosttown


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Ghosttown” is the only ‘new’ track in the sense that it’s the only one that didn’t leak ahead of time from this first round of releases. This Ryan Tedder produced mid-tempo ballad is beautiful and really highlights Madonna’s vocals, but I have to admit that I find this track to be a bit on the bland side and is probably my least favorite track from round one. For a filler track, the melody does have some standout moments and it’s still better than a lot of the tracks from M’s previous album MDNA! With that said, I’m gonna give this one a 7 out of 10.

“Illuminate”


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I think most people cringe when they think of Madonna rapping  on a track (“American Life” anyone?!) but a lot of us where pleasently surprised when we heard M spitting rhymes that actually didn’t bother us at all… As a matter of fact, she pulls it off quite nicely on this one! Lyrically “Illuminate” is probably the most interesting track that we’ve heard on the album so far, delivering a clever tongue-in-cheek play on all of the Satan worshiping secret society rumors that have followed the pop icon for years! Lady Gaga will be happy to know that Madonna makes a neutral reference to her in this track that doesn’t involve the world “reductive”. Production-wise, this Kanye West produced track (Yes, Mr. Kardashian produced this one) is a bit more on the dark and edgy side which is a beautiful contrast to all of the upbeat pop numbers! I give this one an 8 1/2 out of 10.

“Bitch, I’m Madonna”


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When it comes to Madonna, you either love her or you hate her and I think that’s going to be the case with this song as well. Personally, Diplo x’s Madonna = A perfect blend of pop and edginess. Add Madonna’s collaboration bestie Nicki Minaj to the mix and you have the formula for a massive club hit! Although this song doesn’t have anything really important to say other than ‘she’s Madonna bitches,‘ it’s hard to deny the catchy melody and Diplo’s heavy-hitting sythns and beats! I’m going to give this one an 8 out of 10.

Madonna is back! She’s living for love, she’s unapologetic, she’s a rebel and she’s back on top of her game! The Queen is back!! I already can’t wait to review part 2 of the album!!

MADONNA RELEASES 6 NEW TRACKS AND ‘REBEL HEART’ ALBUM PRE-ORDER!!

by: Taj | December 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Christmas just came a little early for me thanks to Madonna, and I ain’t talking about the Virgin Mary! In response to the leaked demos/works in progress that recently hit the web (and as you noticed I didn’t post or write about out of respect to M)… Madonna has just released 6 new FINISHED tracks on iTunes which will be featured on her new album titled Rebel Heart! Most of these tracks (“Unapologetic Bitch,” “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “Devil Pray” “Living For Love” & “Illuminate“” some of us have heard thanks to those leaks but we’ve also been treated to a new, never before heard track titled “Ghosttown” as well!

I can’t give a full review just yet but I will say this… The songs definitely sounds finished and some drastically different from the leaks! From what I hear so far, I sounds like Madonna has an amazing album in store for us… One of her absolute best in years! Bring it on Madge!! More of an extensive review following soon… Oh and I am all about the cover art-work!!

Go pre-order Rebel Heart now to download the 6 new songs!! What are you waiting for?! GO PRE-ORDER HERE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/rebel-heart/id953710965

Remix Treatment: Azealia Banks – Chasing Time (Barry Harris Remix)

by: Taj | December 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

DJ/producer Barry Harris is absolutely dominating the dance remix scene with his signature epic anthem builds meshed with pounding tribal house beats. His latest remix of Azealia Banks’Chasing Time” is the perfect example of the type of floor-fillers that he’s been churning out lately. I must say that this one in particular is definitely one of my favorites that he has put out in recent times. Please keep these bangers  coming Mr. Harris!

Remix Treatment: Selena Gomez – The Heart Wants What It Wants (Cosmic Dawn Remix)

by: Taj | December 6th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

Selena Gomez‘ brooding ode to her tumultuous relationship with Justin Bieber ”The Heart Wants What It Wants” has just been made even more moody thanks to this new Cosmic Dawn remix. A little mellow for the types of productions we have come to expect from CS but it is absolutely perfect and fits the tone of the song impeccably! I must say that this is one of my favorite Cosmic Dawn productions of his career! Check the remix video which was produced by video remixer JNX!

Video Premiere: Gwen Stefani – Spark The Fire

by: Taj | December 1st, 2014 | No Comments »

Gwen Stefani is moving on pretty fast from her first dud of a single “Baby Don’t Lie” and has just released the music video her much more radio friendly follow up, “Spark The Fire“. Fun song, fun video… But will this do the trick?! The Pharrell produced track is definitely taylor made for the clubs so I’m hoping people give it more of a chance than her first  go. Check it out..


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Remix Treatment: Aretha Franklin – Rolling In The Deep (Rosario & Cappo House Remix)

by: Taj | November 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »

Aretha Franklin’s cover of Adele’s diva classic “Rolling in the Deep” has just been given dance remix makeover by Ralphi Rosario and Jay Cappo! The duo have accomplished to tip Aretha’s diva-scale by giving the song even more camp and attitude than the original with their hot production. You heard it here first!!

Aretha Franklin- Rolling In The Deep (Rosario Cappo House Remix):

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Remix Video: J Lo Ft. Iggy Azalea & Pitbull – Booty (DJ Taj Remix)

by: Taj | November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

Hey all… I just completed a fun little remix video for my new remix of Jennifer Lopez‘ latest hit single “Booty“. I took a middle-eastern meets EDM approach on the production which I think turned out to be a pretty interesting take on the song. Check it out…

Jennifer Lopez Ft Iggy Azalea & Pitbull - Booty (Taj's Dam@$$cus Shake Remix) HD from Taj Al-TAji on Vimeo.

New Music: Major Lazer Ft. Ariana Grande – All My Love

by: Taj | November 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Major Lazer and Ariana Grande might sound like an odd coupling for a new track to be featured on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack, but “All My Love” is actually a solid pop-ditty that very well suits Ariana’s pop princess catalog but still brings a bit of unexpected edge that we would want to hear from Major Lazer. Take a listen…


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Listen To David Guetta’s New Album “Listen”…

by: Taj | November 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

If there’s one think David Guetta is good at, it’s producing a hot EDM-pop record!! Take a listen to this sampler of her forthcoming album titled “Listen” and features guest vocals from the likes of Sam Smith, Sia, John Legend, Nico & Vinz, Ryan Tedder as well as many others! I predict a string of major cross-over hits for Mr. Guetta! Take a listen for yourself…

Sam Smith To Remake Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right But It’s OK”

by: Taj | November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins has been churning out mega-hits in the music industry for 20 years now and to celebrate the anniversary, the producer/songwriter is working on a commemorative album which will see current artists covering  some of his most famous work. So far Rodney has revealed that that pop vixens Ariana Grande & Jessie J have teamed up to remake Brandy & Monica’s smash “The Boy Is Mine” and soul singer Sam Smith has reinterpreted Whitney Houston’sIt’s Not Right But It’s OK“. According to Rodney, Sam more than insisted on doing “It’s Not Right…” and confessed that it was “the song that made him want to sing“. You and every other queen at the gay bar Sam!

This isn’t the first time Mr. Smith has covered the late-great Whitney… Earlier this summer, he covered “How Will I Know” and gave it his signature soul-ballad makeover. I am highly anticipating this new Rodney Jerkins project and very curious as to which of his other hit songs end up getting a cover treatment.


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Remix Treatment: Jennifer Lopez/Iggy Azalea/Pitbull – Booty (Taj’s Dam@$$cus Shake Remix)

by: Taj | November 11th, 2014 | No Comments »

I’m very proud to share my latest remix production with you guys today! It’s my take on Jennifer Lopez’ latest single “Booty”. Hands down my favorite track off of her latest album! I took a kind of different approach with this one and gave the song a Middle Eastern meets EDM feel. I hope you enjoy my latest labor of love & please feel free to download and leave comments! 

Video Premiere: Selena Gomez – The Heart Wants What It Wants

by: Taj | November 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

So I’m sure we all know that Selena Gomez is my guilty pleasure by now, right? You know what… I really don’t feel guilty about it at all actually! Love her!! So my girl Selena is gearing up to release a greatest hits album and has just dropped a new song lifted off of the album! “The Heart Wants What It Wants” is a beautiful, moody mid-tempo number that I am obsessed with! If only I could can past the idea that she’s probably referring to douche-bucket Justin Bieber in the song… (sign)


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Jennifer Hudson Takes It To The Club With 2 New Tracks…

by: Taj | November 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

First off, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a few weeks. I’ve been very pre-occupied working on my newest remix production which I will unveil in the next few days! I also took a little vacation to Europe for a few weeks so took a break from the blog! Well, I’m back…

Let’s talk Jennifer Hudson. She has been taking it to the clubs with her latest 2 tracks! Her vocals are spot on for the club setting so I am a huge fan of both productions!

The first one is called “Go All Night” by Gordon City. Her vocals soar and she looks amazing in the just released music video! If you’re a fan of Freemasons, they’ve also remixed the infectious house track and beefed it up for the dance floor!

Original:


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Freemasons Remix:

The second is her own single titled “It’s Your World” and features a cameo from R-Kelly. I’m all about the ordinal beach-house style dance production but I’ve been playing the hell out of the official Country Club Martini Crew!

Original:


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Country Club Martini Crew Remix:

I’m glad this big-vocal diva has finally embraced the dance music genre which is perfectly suited for her! I want to hear her take it to the clubs (where she belongs) with more of her music!!

Video Premiere: Gwen Stefani – Baby Don’t Lie

by: Taj | October 21st, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Gwen Stefani is wasting no time promoting her new single “Baby Don’t Lie“. Check out the just released music video for her solo comeback single…

New Music: The Chemical Brothers Ft. Miguel & Lorde – This Is Not A Game

by: Taj | October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »

The Chemical Brothers have reemerged to deliver the first offering for the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 soundtrack titled “This Is Not a Game“. The new electro-urban cut (is that even a genre or did I just make that up?) features a little help from Miguel & Lorde… Actually what I should say is this: The new electro-urban cut features a lot of help from Miguel & very little from Lorde. I mean, why even list her as a featured artist when she says no more than 3 words in the entire song! If you can get past that part, the song is actually really worth a listen or two! I actually love it! Take a listen and decide for yourself…


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