Neo Soul Today

Neo Soul Today is an authoritative source for informed and intelligent opinion, reviews, news, and other content about neo soul music, its artists, culture, and industry.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Neo Soul Today Music @

By Sean
Editor-in-Chief, Neo Soul Today

Earlier this month, I discovered a new, free, web-based music service called was formerly known as Audioscrobbler amongst hard core music enthusiasts and deep within the blogosphere. So what is it exactly? I'm getting an idea of what it is, however, here's their definition of what they are:

" is the flagship product from the team that designed the Audioscrobbler system, a music engine based on a massive collection of Music Profiles. Each music profile belongs to one person, and describes their taste in music. uses these music profiles to make personalized recommendations, match you up with people who like similar music, and generate custom radio stations for each person"

"After picking a username and
signing up, you would typically install an Audioscrobbler Plugin for your media player (iTunes, Winamp etc..) which sends the name of every song you play on your computer to Over time, this list of songs grows larger and larger - you can see your personal listening charts on your userpage. automatically finds people with a similar taste, and generates music recommendations for you."
It's quite a creative concept. You see what neo soul music I'm listening to right now. I essentially let iTunes play a portion of my neo soul collection. It is an excellent way of getting a real-time idea of what we're up to from a music perspective. Most of all, if you trust our taste in music here at Neo Soul Today, then you can consider this as a new source for discovering new neo soul music and artists. It lists the tracks I've just listened to, all of the total tracks I've listened to, as well as the artists. also has the capability of streaming a Neo Soul Today radio station consisting of these neo soul songs. However, I haven't found this to work reliably because most of the music I listen likely too underground. When the radio feature becomes more reliable, you'll be the first to know. Truth be told, I'm still kicking the tires on's capabilities. However, it seems that I'm onto something here.

Please visit the Neo Soul Today User Page @ regularly to remain up-to-date.

Please feel free to comment on what you see and hear. We hope you discover something and/or someone new.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Neo Soul Lexicon: The Artist Sound/Visibility Rating

By Sean
Editor-in-Chief, Neo Soul Today

This fifth installment of the Neo Soul Lexicon Series is devoted to establishing a quick and easy-to-understand rating system for neo soul listeners to use when searching for and learning about neo soul artists. This rating system is called the Artist Sound/Visibility Rating.

For neo soul listeners, the Artist Sound/Visibility Rating is intended to:
1. Enable us to quickly identify neo soul artists whose primary sound matches our individual tastes
2. Enable us to quickly get a sense of how accessible a neo soul artist is through mainstream online and brick-and-mortar record stores, television, newspapers, periodicals, websites, and other channels
3. Assist us with making informed purchasing decisions
4. Give us the highest likelihood of
attending live performances that we will enjoy

For neo soul artists, (based on listener consensus) the Artist/Sound Visibility Rating is intended to:
1. Give you an impression of how your overall sound is perceived by neo soul listeners
2. Give you an impression of how accessible you are through mainstream online and brick-and-mortar record stores, television, newspapers, periodicals, websites, and other channels

For recording industry entities, the Artist/Sound Visibility Rating is intended to:
1. Give you an impression of how your neo soul artists' overall sounds are perceived by neo soul listeners
2. Give you an impression of how accessible your neo soul artists are through mainstream online and brick-and-mortar record stores, television, newspapers, periodicals, websites, and other channels
3. Allow you to streamline your neo soul artists' offerings to the appropriate market segments

Vocabulary Prerequisites
Before describing the Artist Sound/Visibility Rating and to prevent any confusion or misinterpretation, it is worthwhile for you to know what we mean by the following terms: neo soul, neo soul artist, contributing artist, sound, and visibility. When using the term “artist” in this installment, we are referring to neo soul artists as opposed to contributing artists.

The Problem: Discovering New Neo Soul Artists is Time-Consuming
Although audio tools such as niche Internet radio stations, track-sampling on the web, and in-store CD listening have taken some of the guesswork out of the discovery process, it can still be quite frustrating when you can't find anything. Another popular route to discover potential artist matches for your taste includes reading articles, reviews, and interviews at authoritative sources on the web such as Neo Soul Today. However, the truth is that it is frustrating to read review upon review and interview upon interview just to discover that a particular neo soul artist's sound and style does not agree with your taste. Then you have to start the process all over again.

The Solution: The Artist Sound/Visibility Rating
In terms of reading content on the Internet, there must be a quicker and easier way to get an idea of whether you'll like an artist you discover before investing the time in reading reviews, interviews, or artist profiles. The solution is the Artist Sound/Visibility Rating.

The Artist Sound/Visibility Rating (or the Artist S/V Rating) is a tool created here at Neo Soul Today -- for use by all -- for quickly and easily getting a sense of a neo soul artist's sound and visibility characteristics. Sound and visibility are the two key attributes that capture the basic essence of a neo soul artist.

Sound is the essential attribute that describes the auditory characteristics of neo soul songs, artists, and the artform itself. In this context, we're interested in a neo soul artist's primary sound. The 8 sound categories of neo soul in order of increasing eccentricity are hip hop, R&B, jazz, house, alternative rock, electronic, British, and world. This attribute is useful for evaluating whether an artist's primary sound is one that you even like.

Visibility is the essential attribute that describes how accessible a neo soul artist is to listeners, the media, and the general public. The three artist visibility levels in order of decreasing visibility are mainstream, midstream, and underground. This attribute is useful for evaluating not only how easy it is to find an artist's music, but also to get a sense of the type of audience an artist is reaching at a given point in time.

(Visibility is an interesting attribute. In order to keep this topic focused, I expound on why in a comment if you'd like to read more.)

The figure below graphically illustrates examples of the Sound/Visibility Ratings for some neo soul artists. These are only examples and do not represent all neo soul artists as there are obviously many more.

Click to view larger image

Other Examples of Artist Sound/Visibility Ratings
India.Aire (R&B/Mainstream)
Goapele (R&B/Underground)
Antoinique (Jazz/Underground)
Maysa (Jazz/Midstream)
Gaelle (Electronic/Underground)

At Neo Soul Today, you will see Artist Sound/Visibility Ratings used frequently; especially in artist profiles, opinion pieces, album reviews, and interviews.

As always, we welcome your comments. What do you believe the S/V Rating is for other neo soul artists not mentioned here?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Neo Soul Today Album Review: Antoinique's "Introducing Antoinique"

By Sean
Editor-in-Chief, Neo Soul Today

Artist S/V Rating: Jazz/Underground
(What is this?)

Discovering incredible neo soul artists and music is by no means a science. It is more of an art. Granted, over time, one can become quite savvy at neo soul discovery and we hope that Neo Soul Today can be one of the tools in your toolbox for finding great artists and music. However, there is a high degree of luck involved as well. It was by pure luck that I came across Antoinique and her debut album, "Introducing Antoinique" (2003, X Records).

See, I was killing time at the mall in the For Your Entertainment (FYE) store while my wife was looking for some maternity clothes. My first observation was that -- in this particular store -- they categorized R&B, Pop, and Rock under one category on the shelves. Being a discriminating neo soul collector with particular taste, this was a bad sign. Still, I proceeded. It's difficult when you're in a commercial outlet with broad categories and you're not looking for anything in particular. Thus, I just walked to the back and randomly stopped at the "M's." Flipping through the names, I surprisingly came across Ladybug Mecca (who I'll be featuring in an upcoming review). I decided to buy it. Next, I walked back to the "D's" and, again, was surprised to see they had Raheem DeVaughn's "The Love Experience." That I decided to buy as well. Being satisfied with two neo soul CDs, I headed toward the check-out counter.

And Then I Found a Diamond in the Rough
On my way to the check-out counter, I happened to glance down to my right and saw a tab with the name "Antoinique" on it. I knew Antoinique [Parker] was a neo soul artist, but couldn't recall any of her work. I picked up her CD case -- which has a beautifully low-budget cover -- and scanned its barcode for a listen. The rest was history. Simply put, I was blown away by the work of the former background singer for Monifah. "Introducing Antoinique" is an impressive portfolio of classy, modern, mature, jazzy, and smooth neo soul tracks.

"Introducing Antoinique" has 14 tracks in total. For my favorite track, there's a tie between Blackwater (Track 2) and Krazy (Track 5). The CD gets off to a sharp start with, Blackwater, the first full-length track on the CD. Krazy is a song I remember being played on XM Satellite Radio Channel 61, The Flow, in late 2003-early 2004. Listed below are all of my favorite tracks on the CD.

My 13 Favorite Tracks (I will link these to audio samples when some become available):
1. Intro

2. Blackwater
3. Phenomenon

4. Fell In Love
5. Krazy
6. Antoinique
7. Someday
8. Blue
9. Good Love
10. Sweeter
11. The Sweetest
12. Hearsay
13. Firstname

In other words, I like 93% of the album. This is unprecendented; essentially flawless. While acknowledging that most of us listeners have differing tastes, with a success ratio of 93%, it is highly unlikely that you'll dislike this album. I absolutely love it.

Why Now If It Was Released in 2003?
According to the neo soul underground word-of-mouth circuit, although "Introducing Antoinique" was released on December 16, 2003, the album did not enjoy a formal release nor was it appropriately marketed. Although I cannot confirm the authenticity of this information, an anonymous comment posted this on November 30, 2004 at in response to an October 27, 2004, 4.5 star review (out of 5) of the album. The tone of the comment makes it appear to have been posted by someone close to the situation. The person consistently used the phrase "the people to whom [Antoinique] is signed" rather than the name of her original label. The comment says, "['Introducing Antoinique'] has performed better overseas than in the states mainly due to the underground circuits of people who love and know what real music is all about, and made it's way to internet radio stations around the world." The comment goes on to say, "She has MUCH more material ready to go, even hotter than the debut album, but she must first resolve contractual and financial issues with the people to whom she is signed."

While conducting my research after purchasing her debut, finding two distinct websites for Antoinique ( and had me confused. Given this, the comment gained some credibility when it said "Keep your eyes on for all of the info" and that " is owned by those to whom she is currently signed, and not really to be used for anything officially related to Antoinique." At different online music outlets, you'll see different release dates (2003 and 2004) and label names (X Records, X Records/Malaco, X.O. Records) for "Introducing Antoinique." X Records appears to be the independent label affiliated with Antoinique as opposed to the one she is allegedly having contractual issues with. We hope that these issues do not withhold her from releasing more wonderful music.

Neo Soul Today Album Rating
5 out of 5 stars

For more information on Antoinique, visit:
Introducing Antoinique - The official Antoinique web site The (allegedly) former official Antoinique web site

We welcome your thoughts.