She changed pace gracefully, with a track-by-track experience. I even saw photos of her and superstar legends Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson at the BSE Recordings website!
Here is some of my Q& A with Arika:
Jimi Bruce: Your Album is very R&B/Hip Hop-sounding like [it should be] on Hot 97 New York City. Who are your musical influences?
Arika Kane: I love India Arie for her positivity and message; Mariah Carey, because I think she is amazing; Shania Twain because she is really has so much soul even though she sings country music; but I have to say that my number one musical influence is the great one, the great Michael Jackson! His message and creativity really inspired me along with my family.
Me: Let us play a game of artist association, OK? I name an artist and you say the first thing that comes to your mind about them:
Me: Well you already mentioned that Mariah Carey is one of your inspirations and I was going to go there first, so we are on the same page already, so how about Teena Marie?
Me: Hey, that's good because at her height she was definitely hooked up with one of the all-time rebel Rick James! Good one. Ok how about Aaliyah?
AK: "An angel."
Me: For true, girl. Some of your selections evoke her memory.
AK: Ooh, Thanks!
Me: And finally, some one who I hear on ì4's "The Lovers," how about Tamia?
AK: Oooh, I love Tamia! She is so soulful and definitely an influence of mine!
I thought so! ì4 "The Lovers" is in the same key as what Tamia sings her songs in, so it was a no-brainer, Arika. I think Arika has done her share of chillin' with the homies, and those experiences have shaped her body of work thus far.
Whenever I do one of these reviews, I tend to "live" with the album for a couple of weeks; I paly it in my personal home "A" rotation during most of my waking hours, especially when the singer or group is new to Me: It's a fun time to have Arika over to my home studio for a while!
When you covered Anita Ward's 1979 T.K. Records disco classic "Ring My Bell," a little taste of Junior Mafia was added by whispering "Arika Kane, Arika Kane" over the intro notes. Then the song slowed down significantly to the point where you could finally understand some of the verses from on the original classic. Next is a classic R&B sound from start to finish on "Here With Me"as you croon the story of not quite being satisfied with your lover: "Baby, I need you here with me/Or else I'd rather be lonely..." she sings, and since I had a dialogue with my former lover to express exactly the same sentiment a year ago, I second that emotion.
Later comes an excellent female-perspective rendition of Bobby Brown's "Rock Witcha." She told me it came about when she and producer/CEO of BSE Lou Humphrey were listening to the radio one day and the song came on. She instantly vibed with it and Lou said, "we can do it!". They recorded it in a day, she said. I liked that playfully shy laugh at the end too. Next, my personal favorite on the CD, the strong song "Tonight I'm Us." It's an intense, mounting tale of attraction and anticipation, and is my "pick hit" as my mentor, the late Frankie Crocker, would dub it. Play this again and again as you season it to taste.
Arika promoted the album throughout the Florida coast, going to Aruba (take me!) as part of indie personality Doug Banks' tour, and then travelled to Italy to shoot the video for the song "The Lovers" later this year. She is also studying piano and guitar. "My father is left-handed and that is why he never taught me because he had to like play upside down and everything," she told me. Arika, like her Mother, is right-handed; I encourage Arika to be ambidextrous whenever possible in her life. She has the innate tools to do so. A personal shout goes out to T.C. Thompkins, my former Epic Records promotion department chief, who I am now reunited with due to his marketing magic with Arika.
The mark of a great album, to me, is whenever I listen to it repeatedly after my critique is submitted to my Editor. Well, I am sure that Arika Kane will not collect any dust in my CD room for years to come - unless it is Four Stars dust.