So there I was, cleaning my lonely Pajama Bar on the shore of southern New Jersey, when suddenly a small entourage appeared centered around one striking figure.  As they ordered their beverages and settled into their framework and my hospitality (re-opening just for them) I learned that if you want to check out a new talented lady who has “soul”, then look no further than the debut self-titled album straight out of the “860”, Connecticut’s own Arika Kane [BSE Recordings TM-9706].

Born into a musical family where her parents jammed genres from Rock and Roll to Broadway show tunes on a regular basis (father playing guitar), Arika is keeping the tradition alive with hopes to be able to give-back to them some “Help” as she said during our interview.

My CD has thirteen songs with eleven originals, two covers and two “bonus tracks” which are remixed versions of the first single, “BCUZ I LUV U”. I dig the House Mix best, and I hope the CD you get has these extra stanzas as well.

Some may describe her essence as cerulean-eyed, but her irises are actually brown, and therefore, in the true Jimi B. Book of WWRL Super Sixteen Surveys from the sixties she is a true nouveau soul sistah through-and-through; it emanates from her voice. She has the vivacity and pneuma to be very successful if she keeps the innate Leo tenacity in and out of the studio when she’s “just chillin!” as she told me about her opposite intensely perfectionist “twin” persona when I asked for her most amusing or quirky vignette relating to the composing of this album.

She changes pace gracefully, track-by-anima-track along the 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:

Me: Your Album is very R&B/Hip Hop-sounding like [it should be on] Hot 97 New York City. Who are you musical influences?

AK: 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 got 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’s play my game of “artist association” ok? I name an artist and you say the first thing that comes to your mind about them:

AK: OK!

Me: Well you already addressed that Mariah Carey is one of your inspirations and I was gonna go there first, so we are on the same page already, so how about Tina Marie?

AK: “Rebellious”.

Me: Hey that’s good because at her height she was definitely that having hooked up with one of the all-time rebels in Rick James! Good one. Ok how about Aalyiah?

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 “4 The Lovers”, how about Tamia?

AK: Oooh, I love Tamia! She is so soulful and definitely an influence of mine!

Me: I thought so! “4 The Lovers” is in the same key as what Tamia sings her songs, 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; playing it in my personal home “A” rotation during most of my waking hours, especially when the singer or group is new to me. It is a fun time having Arika over to my home studio for a while!

In covering Anita Ward’s 1979 TK Records disco classic, “Ring My Bell”, they first add a little taste of Junior Mafia by whispering “Arika Kane, Arika Kane” over the intro notes, and then slow the song down significantly to the point you can finally understand some of the verses spit on the original classic. Next is a classic R&B sound from start to finis on “Here With Me” as AK croons the story of not quite being satisfied with her lover, “Baby I need you here with me/Or else I’d rather be lonely…” she sings, and since I had a summit with my former to express just the same sentiment a year ago, I second that emoticon.

Later comes an excellent female-perspective rendition of Bobby Brown’s “Rock Witcha” which she told me 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 like that playfully shy laugh at the end too. Next, my personal fave on the CD, the strong song ”Tonight I’m UR’s”. A plodding, intensity-mounting tale of attraction and anticipation, this one is my “pick hit” as my mentor, the late Frankie Crocker, would dub it. Play it again and again, and again as you season to taste.

On her upcoming schedule was promoting the album down the Florida coast cities, going to Aruba (take me!) as part of syndie personality Doug Banks’ tour, and traveling to Italy to shoot the video for the song”4 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, with whom I am now reunited due to his marketing magic with Arika.

I am sure that Arika Kane will not collect any dust in my studio for years to come – unless it is star dust!

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