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No Diggity by Blackstreet

Today, October 8th, is Teddy Riley’s birthday. So what better time to talk about this party classic?

According to sources, this was the song to knock the “Macarena” off its 14-week run at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1996. Rolling Stone & MTV said it was one of the 100 Greatest Pop Songs; VH1 calls it one of the 100 Greatest Songs of the ‘90s. In the year it was released, it sold 1.6 million copies and went on to win a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

The platinum record was produced by Teddy Riley himself. The track is a relentless groove created by looping a tempo-adjusted, pitch-shifted sample of “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers. Just about 5 seconds of strumming & humming at the beginning of a song that follows Withers more famous “Ain’t No Sunshine” on his album Just As I Am. One can only imagine how the process of making this song actually started… 

I was so fascinated by the creativity of the video for “No Diggity" that as a child, I failed to acknowledge the importance of Dr. Dre’s cameo even though I had repeated the song a million times to mimic both him & Queen Pen. (And I would dare say that it was actually my formal introduction to Dr. Dre) Truth is, I can’t imagine the song without those two crucial verses. But the inclusion of marionettes of Teddy & Chauncey, playing and singing, was well infused with the other imagery by director Hype Williams, who would prove to be another visionary in the music industry. In fact, the video got nominated for Best R&B Video and Best Rap Video in the 1997 MTV VMAs.

In honor of Teddy’s birthday, I’m gonna go ahead and revisit Blackstreet's Another Level album… Go on, have a happy Blackstreet day! ^_^

Written by Kay.DS

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Candles in the Sun by Miguel

Musicians use their work to entertain the masses, but not everything you hear or see is a façade. Sometimes our art is truthfully reflective of societal struggles. Miguel closes Kaleidoscope Dream with a sort of philosophical examination of life for these past few years. He guides the listener with a set of rhetorical questions for contemplation, and even declares:

“Look at all these people
Searching for a reason,
Searching for a peace of mind (hey)
Say we’re all created equal
That’s what they teach us
But that ain’t how we treat each other,
S**t the truth is that we need each other…


Business and governments just watch as the innocent fade
Mindless bureaucracy, feds hindering government aid
Aren’t you appalled?
What are we doing? Where are we going?

… Will it be too late when we find out we’re all that we’ve got?
… Just take a look around now”

This song speaks to what we are currently experiencing, the images in the video are real. From time to time, musicians poignantly remind us of how connected we are. We cannot ignore that the progress of the human race depends on our collective compassion for one another.

Amidst the US government shutdown fiasco, we have to wonder about the human condition. So many lives have been affected by the decisions of the appointed few. This is just another example of a musician advocating for those of us who can sometimes feel like we have no voice in the grand scheme of things. Imagine how different things could be if everyone respected each other as world citizens…

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Written & Transcribed by Kay.DS