RIP Critical Minded: 2012-2022

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Strictly Business: The Alchemist

In a 2002 URB interview, the producer talks about the business of making beats, his relationship with Mobb Deep, and the “We Gonna Make It” controversy.

Sisters With Voices: R&B Girl Groups in the 90s

Sisters With Voices. Total. Destiny’s Child. You didn’t need a lyric sheet to understand the legion of R&B girl groups who dominated urban pop music in the 1990s. It was plain to hear, from the coquettishly sexual lyrics to their sassy, irreverent tones and lovely multi-part harmonies. Sadly, music critics often gave them cursory attention…

Spotlight On: 2Pac

(Note: These pieces were originally written in July 2011.) This year, 2Pac would have turned 40 years old if he were alive. But his birthday did not go unnoticed. Members of the Shakur family, event promoters and fans held honorary parties across the country on June 16. Meanwhile, Meek Mill’s “Tupac Back,” the lead single from Ross’ Maybach…

Spotlight On: Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire was the biggest black rock band of the 1970s. But today, it’s among the era’s most misunderstood platinum acts. The group’s discography nearly mirrors black music’s evolution, from the Afrocentric jazz of the Black Panther years to the quiet storm balladry and slick corporate funk that marked the end of that…

British Jazz-Funk

Unlike New Romantic, Goth, and so many other fast fashions that whipped through the UK in the early 80s, British jazz-funk is barely known in the U.S. Inspired by Stateside acts such as Roy Ayers Ubiquity and George Duke, who girded their jazz fusion exercises with disco and boogie soul arrangements, ensembles like Light of…