Saturday, 11 February 2012

#FindOutFriday Valentine's Special Part 1 - Battle Of The Sexes!

...Teams X vs. Y

I had quite the inner turmoil back in December whilst deciding the feature roster for the first two months of the #FindOutFriday segment. Deciding who I wanted my first 'holiday' special to feature around was no walk in the park; I mean there are so many different avenues a Valentine's post could take...all of the norm, which I'm not ashamed to admit I considered. The 'Hearts and Flowers'  approach, was always going to be a safe bet, right?

So off I trotted to put the 'run of the mill' into motion. Intent on targeting girlies circa 13-24 years with 'vocal love' offerings from male pop hunkage - preferably in triplicate - an idea struck me...why not give you the most popular gift around this time of the year; only without the inevitable bump to Weight Watchers' subscriptions (no pun intended, I swear...)?

And for that added (personal) entertainment boost, why not pit the Girls against the Guys, and make the two battle it out to prove who really does this L-O-V-E thing better? And so the first ever #FindOutFriday Battle of the Sexes Special was born! I'll be your Judge and Jury for this contest of Titans, where I asked 10 representatives from different avenues of the Music Industry, the same question...

What goes into making the Perfect Valentine's Mixtape?

From Making the songs to Breaking them to an unsuspecting public; who does it better? Whether drawing from their own works or calling for 'Big Gun' backup, fighting dirty is encouraged! So without further ado: Let the Battle commence...

Sherii ven Dyer vs. Lekhem

Starting for Team X, Sherii ven Dyer is a part-Indian, part-Jamaican, part-Cuban Singer-Songwriter that you may recognise. Most well-known for her days as lead singer for girlband Made In London amongst many other accomplishments (like backing Gwen McRae on her 'Girlfriend's Boyfriend' anthem); Sherii is now building quite the solo name on the live music circuit. With her wealth of experience, you can bet she has a recipe for how to make perfect love music...
"The best mixtape would definitely need a touch of the old school, like the Bee Gees 'How Deep is Your Love'. Most definitely add some Robin Thicke 'Lost Without You' and then I'd have to add my own love tune to the mix, 'Heart Skip A Beat'!"

Your favourite 'Jamerican', Lekhem is first up to bat for Team Y. Not only do we get the viewpoint of a Rapper and Producer in our very own BakaBoi; but the added Writer's perspective from ESP's self-proclaimed 'Alien Resident' makes him a delectable 3-Course Meal...

"As a songwriter, I believe that the best thing you can do for your music is be honest within it. Having the ability to tap into emotions and then to express them through music is a very honest process within itself. Once that mentality is used in the creation, the music will always be reflective of life stories, as they are real and soulful. With a Valentines mixtape or project, making music that speaks to the Soul and the libido are what’s in order.

Using experiences with fantasy is often a great way to express this. Think of those times when you're snowed in with that 'Special Someone'; or it's a rainy day and you just spend the whole time enjoying each other’s company...When you’re upset with each other - once that anger has gone, the mad fury of lovemaking that would follow...Or when you randomly miss that person, even if they've only just left your presence...

Valentine's Day is seen as a time for Love. Make the music that best portrays that and you will never go wrong."


I don't know about anyone else but the flavours of this Caribbean Takeover left me hungry! It was a tough one, with Legends and an RnB Romeo in the mix, but...


So the musical love notes have been penned, it's time to involve a Mic, right? It's Picasso versus Plachy for this one, as I call on two Singers who literally sing colour...

Alex Mills vs. Mike Hough

Alex Mills may hail from Northern UK's greenbelt; but it's that black belt in Vocal Mastery that has her sharing stages and (musical) bars with the likes of Tinchy Stryder and Wretch 32, before her own first album's release. I caught up with her backstage after this week's MASSIVE Musicalize performance...

With his own legion of 'Houghlians', it's a safe bet that Mike Hough knows a thing or two about how to command boudoir attention...
"For me its about delivery...Sex music and slow RnB are key to a sexy mixtape for Valentine's day, so I would focus on lyrical content and style. I think it's about the way you deliver as an artist. You wanna set a scene,  make that lady feel sexy and passionate when she hears the way that you're 'singing' to her,  so you gotta put your heart and soul into that.

I'd think about putting myself in that situation, how I would wanna treat that lady and make her feel good; so I'd sing through the Mic as if I was singing directly to her, and let her feel that. Lyrical content can be taken into a world of imagination, but for me, it would be in a respectful way. No lady wants, nor deserves, to be spoken of like a piece of meat, which some 'RnB' Singers can do whilst making a Valentines Day/lovemaking track. So its about selling the song and music in a way that makes her feel special, simply through a lyric. For me, music is all about being able to personally feel something and connect to it...So I would want to make that."

Another tough one! The girls are going for serious artillery but the Boys...well they do keep coming with that personal element that makes it all the more special don't they...Sorry Alex, I don't think I have a choice here:


But what about that other form of 'flow'? Ladies don't just Love the likes of Cool James for the most enticing nervous tic in the history of...well, Lips...Or the impish smile...or the washboards, or...well you get the gist. There has to be more to the formula; after all, don't Rappers need love too?

Amplify Dot vs. Drassick aka DIGITAL

Dotty is that 'Hood Chick' endorsed by Missy Elliott early on, for her fire flow. I know I've yet to leave one of her shows without gaseous afflictions (I've sought medical attention, A.Dot's 'Short, Back  and Sides' mixtape has been prescribed in regular doses). 'Pretty Hard' by definition; She was also kind (and brave) enough to join Team X's cause ahead of her EPIC set at Musicalize...

"A great Valentines mixtape is all about Slow Jams. As long as you've got those on smash you're good. A bit of H-Town, maybe some Marvin Gaye, Maxwell, D'Angelo, Drake - job done! "

Drassick aka DIGITAL aka Mr Pretty Brown Eyes aka North London's finest, is no stranger to coming up with 'The Goods' that get girls smiling. So what's the 'DreQuation' for sealing the deal?

"Making the perfect Valentine's mixtape is all about the mood. The selection needs to stimulate her mentally, then everything else will follow. The songs need to have vivid expressions of love and affection, with rhythms that kiss the heart. As a Rapper, it gives me the perfect opportunity to say a lot of things that I always want to in general. I say them anyway, but with the Valentine's season I can show my feelings the best way I know how.
I’ve never been an artist who’s afraid to express my emotions towards women. In all honesty, I love writing songs for them! I like to capture the imagination of my listener, and use my story-telling capabilities along with my experiences to create a soundtrack for the bedroom (living room, or kitchen...even the stairs if I'm doing my job right :D). The perfect Valentine's mixtape would be one that you can play from start to finish, over and over again while you're with that special someone.

Late greats, modern classics, take your pick. For me, the era of music a song comes from is completely irrelevant. It’s ALL about the emotion and the honesty that you feel. If an artist can make you feel their love, then that makes the music perfect to me. That's what I aim to do in mine, every time."

Oooooh, Drassick WOULD have taken that one for me, but Miss. A.Dot got a body blow in there - the first to draw for Marvin! Sorry, Dre!


So now the ingredients of your Passion Punch are mixed; but how do you package your perfect blend?

Lady Vengeance vs. Dready

Also known as LV, Team X's Lady Vengeance is more than a force to be reckoned with. Known for managing the Street Team for one of the UK's top female MC's, in addition to her hugely impressive Production credits (be sure to check out her 'early days' edits on this version of the 'Stomp the Yard' soundtrack), this is one contender primed and ready to take out the competition!

"As a female Producer, to create the perfect Valentine's Day mix I'd have to set the mood. For me it's associated with Romance, Love, Desire and Passion; so I'd have to pick the artists and songs that I feel really express all of these things.

You have to have some old school classics in there along with some new tracks. I would start off with a little bit of bounce. You don’t want to go straight in with the real slow jams, you want to build up the feeling:

Marques Houston - Clubbing
Kanye West - Slow Jams
Drake - Would You Love Me
R. Kelly - Bump n Grind
Destiny's Child - Cater 2 U
Usher – U Got It Bad
Az Yet - Hard To Say I'm Sorry
KC and Jojo - All My Life
Frank Ocean - Strawberry Swings
Maverick Sabre - I Need
Tyrese - Nothing on You

The reasons for my choices are that the songs I have chosen have that sexy feel, but also a nice energy to them which everyone can vibe to. I feel that all set the right kind of mood. Even though some are not love songs, they still have that romantic element to them and the vocals also carry you away to a magical place.

To round the mix off, I would have Charlie Sloth hosting as the ladies love his voice.

A personal favourite 'Specialist' of the one and only BUSSABUSS, Dready is well-known for giving Goliaths their fight music. With credits in the catalogues of everyone from Wu Tang to Duran Duran; Dready has clocked up more than Air Miles since his days with So Solid...


"Everyone has an opinion on love songs for a valentine's mixtape, but if your mixtape does not consist of Stevie Wonder or Luther Vandross, you are MAJORLY flopping yourself!!! LOL"

Now...I'm not going to lie; Dready delivered some SERIOUS competition here. 1: he brought STEVIE. I mean come ON...That alone is enough to take out most competitors. 2: Do you see the t-shirt? That's near decapitation, right there! BUT. LV came out swingin' with strategic seduction and that, for me, was something of a Bedroom Battle in and of itself...Hmmm, I need a moment here...
Ok. After CAREFUL consideration...


You see the heat from the kitchen already, and that's before the final feast is served! Now, if ever there was a time for a 'Big Finish' ,so to speak (behave yourselves); this has got to be it. I had no choice, but to call in an audio ANNIHILATOR for each team...Who else has that 'Good Food Itis' before dessert?

DJ Nikki Beatnik is a deck-destroying SUPERSTAR on a global scale. One half of 'Beatnik' with fellow awesome Super-Producer (and brother), Statis; uberstylish Nikki is one of Kelis' personal tour DJs, in addition to the newly-solo Nicola Roberts. Her reputation as Time Out Magazine's Best Female DJ was only solidified further when the Urban Music Awards crowned her Victorious over her male contemporaries last October. GAME ON!

"If you are making a Valentines Mixtape for someone you care about, make it from the heart, put your loved one's favourite tunes on there, from Jodeci to Nirvana. Mine would definitely have to include 'Say I'm Your Number 1' by Princess."

Nikki's Top Valentines Mixtape tunes:

Get Along With You - Kelis
Jodeci - Freak You (the remix)
Colonel Abrahams - Trapped
Solid - Ashford & Simpson
Omar - There's Nothing Like This

Bobby Caldwell - What You Wont Do For Love

Case - Touch Me Tease Me
Say I'm Your No1 - Princess
Al Green - Im Glad Your Mine
Sizzla - Be Strong
H Town - Don't Hold Back The Rain

Slaughterous! I could call the whole thing just off of this, but that would not be fair...Team Y what can you possibly come with after that? Ohhhh yeah; I suggest a bib for this one, it's about to get MESSY...

DJ Ace, a Radio 1Xtra resident with his trouble-making partner Vis for over 10 years now, is far more than a National favourite. Also Manager to another of the UK's Top 10 MCs and the talented sounds of an 'about to blow' RnB Angel, the Striker for the Boys shreds sound systems in worldwide venues on a regular basis. It's only fair that Team Y get a Global Fight Star for the final round:

I can't even know what to say to this one...I'm officially speechless! Team know I'm quite obviously partial to you, but Ace involved PROPS - come ON!!!

Alright, I think we all know there can only be ONE Winning Team. If I'm honest, I really thought I knew who had this in the bag when I drew up my teams, but after carefully reviewing each entry, for each round, merit versus merit, I'm ready to rule: 

The WINNERS of the first ever EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. 
Battle of the Sexes - Valentine's Special is.......

(is someone drumrolling?)


I'm sorry Ladies, but I have to concede, this time around, the Boys did it Better! Comiserations to Team X - Glamazons, your Battle was VALIANT! Special mention to the members:


I have to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to EVERYONE who took time out to be involved with this week's feature. It was something of a mammoth undertaking, but despite some technical issues, I got to bring you what was my most enjoyable feature yet!

I hope you enjoyed the Battle as much as I did! Don't agree with the ruling? Let me know why in the comments section!

See you next week! :)