Ashanti

Ashanti’s always on time…

Pharrell, G I R L

Pharrell tapped friends like Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys and Daft Punk to help him celebrate his appreciation for women. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that not every “girl” in the world is on team Pharrell right now due to his album cover (which sparked frustration from people who felt that the hues of the women featured weren’t diverse enough). But I digress. The actual music makes the album worth the wait, because it’s pure skillfully crafted audio joy. Pharrell taps into his inner Michael Jackson (circa “PYT”), and it works, as he covers a range of sexy, happy emotions from the desire to “make the pu**y just gush” to being lost in love. Pharrell’s lyrics are simple, but the sound is complex, and it’s that type of juxtaposition that makes this project so good.

Available at iTunes.

RELATED: The Magic of Pharrell

Teedra Moses, “All I Ever Wanted”

Teedra Moses’s newest single, “All I Ever Wanted,” is a gritty, dreamy declaration that the love affair is over. The Thaddeus Dixon-produced track samples Camp Lo’s “Luchini,” but Moses’s dreamy voice sets it off as she sings, “All I ever wanted was your love/But you gave me your money when I gave you my heart/Now I’m out here getting this money/So I don't need you no more.” It’s a cautionary tale for the people out there who mistake material possessions for affection. “All I Ever Wanted” will appear on Teedra’s forthcoming Cognac & Conversations EP, due out this spring and executive produced by Raphael Saadiq and her Maybach Music boss, Rick Ross.

Seun Kuti ft. M1, “IMF” (Video)

Seun Kuti, son of Fela, is back with “IMF,” shorthand for “international motherf---er.” Seun, keeping up his father’s tradition of making anti-establishment anthems, condemns the worldwide powers that be for their greed. M1 of dead prez adds a complementary verse calling for the little people to rise up against the machine. The musical backdrop to this audio rebellion is all Afrobeat everything, and despite the heavy subject matter, you can’t help but move. The gritty black and white video features Seun running from his corporate self as a metaphor for the corruption and manipulation he criticizes in the song. Catch this tune on Seun’s new album, A Long Way to the Beginning, out May 24.

The Lox, “New York City”

The Lox sampled Pudgee tha Phat Bastard’s 1995 hit “Think Big” (which features B.I.G. and Lord Tariq) for their own banger, aptly titled “New York City.” Here, we find the trio talking smack about the usual—being the illest, bagging women, striving for the best, and how lame some of these wannabe hard hip-hop cats are. The voice interpolations of “And you say New York City,” and Lord Tariq rapping, “You think big, you get big, champagne and Moët” are not so subtle nods to the Lox’s roots in 90s hip-hop—New York style. This is definitely an East Coast banger.

The LOX are currently on tour promoting their Trinity EP, which will run through various North American cities until May 11.

Ashanti, Braveheart

Ashanti re-enters the music game after a six-year hiatus, with Braveheart. The Long Island native keeps her new music true to what we’re used to hearing from the singer/songwriter—a.k.a., her patented brand of hip-pop soul. Yet in the age of gossip mongering, it’s important to note that a lot of this album may or may not have been inspired by her recent relationship with Nelly. Other than that, if you liked Ashanti’s music before, you’ll like this as well, because her sound hasn’t changed.

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and fitness. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at GangStarrGirl.com.