Rest In Peace, Don Blackman


Soul great Don Blackman has passed. In addition to releasing his self-titled solo album, the Queens born jazz-funk pianist, singer/songwriter, and producer played with Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Roy Ayers.

He also had a hand in the works of many influential pop icons of our age, including Janet Jackson, Sting, 2Pac, and Jay-Z.

Exclusive Interview: Ester Rada Opens Up Before Her US Debut


Next week on March 11, we will be introducing folks in NYC to a major new talent from Israel named Ester Rada. In the meantime, we got some interesting bits on the unique artist in the interview below. Read up!

Giant Step: Your heritage is that of a very unique Ethiopian-Jewish people. How does this background and being raised in an Orthodox tradition affect who you are today?

Ester Rada: I was born in Israel, and my family raised me in a religious house and tradition, as this was what they were used to from Ethiopia. When my parents moved to Israel they were “put” in Kiryat Arba, a very religious city. We moved from there when I was 10 years old, due to the security issues there.

GS: Coming up in one of the rougher neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, what it was like growing up?

ER: I was actually growing up near Tel Aviv, in Netanya, and it was a big change for me. Coming from a more religious village, you can call it the country side, to a bigger city, was a big move for me. I also became secular and not as religious as we used to be. But this change was blessing, and I started to know what freedom is like. In the neighborhood I had good friends.

GS: Your sound evokes qualities similar to Erykah, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae. Are these intentional influences? Who would you say are your influences?

ER: I am influenced by a lot of artists. Of course the ones you named, and also religious Jewish music from my early days, as well as Ethiopian and Amharic music such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulat Astatke, Muluken Melesse, Israeli music, jazz and soul legends such as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, and contemporary music such as Corrine Bailey Rae, Nneka, Keziah Jones, India Arie and more.

Read the rest of the interview & get show details after the jump

Video: Rare 2Pac Playlist on VEVO


VEVO has released a playlist of eight 2Pac videos, including some that are very rare or have never been seen. In honor of what would have been his 40th year, 2Pac’s first three albums are also available digitally for the first time ever. Salute to one of the most influential hip-hop figures of our time.

VEVO Video Playlist
• 2Pac – “I Get Around”
• 2Pac – “Dear Mama”
• 2Pac – “Brenda’s Got A Baby”
• 2Pac – “Holler If You Hear Me”
• 2Pac & The Outlawz – “Baby Don’t Cry” (Keep Your Head Up II)
• 2Pac F/ Nas & J. Phoenix – “Thugz Mansion”
• 2Pac – “If My Homie Calls”
• 2Pac – “Letter To My Unborn Child”

Purchase 2Pac albums on iTunes

Official Site