Alicia Keys announces tour with Robin Thicke and Melanie Fiona

Alicia Keys
Twelve-time Grammy Award winning superstar Alicia Keys will be joined by fellow Grammy Award winner, Robin Thicke, and newcomer Melanie Fiona on “The Freedom Tour” which kicks off March 3rd at Chicago’s Allstate Arena and continues with stops in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. New dates have been announced as indicated below.

Prior to her 21-city jaunt, Alicia and Beyonce will head to Brazil to shoot the video for their infectious duet “Put It In A Love Song” from Alicia’s critically-acclaimed new album The Element of Freedom. The video will be directed by Melina Matsoukas.

On February 14, Keys will head to the Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX to headline the 2010 NBA All-Star Game Halftime Show with a performance of her hits “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart,” “Empire State of Mind (Broken Down Part II),” and “No One.” The NBA All-Star Game will air live at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

The Element Of Freedom, released December 15th, 2009 on J Records/MBK Entertainment, was the #1 new release on the Billboard Top 200 chart the week of its debut, #1 in Japan and Switzerland, and this week lands at #1 on the UK album chart marking Keys’ first ever #1 album in the UK. In only 8 weeks, the album has sold over 1.8 million copies worldwide.

Alicia Keys’ “The Freedom Tour” U.S. dates are as follows:

March 03, 2010 Chicago, IL Allstate Arena
March 05, 2010 Detroit, MI Fox Theater*
March 06, 2010 Detroit, MI Fox Theater*
March 11, 2010 Syracuse, NY Turning Stone
March 13, 2010 Mashantucket, CT Foxwoods Casino*
March 14, 2010 Mashantucket, CT Foxwoods Casino*
March 17, 2010 New York, NY Madison Square Garden
March 19, 2010 Newark, NJ Prudential Centre
March 20, 2010 Atlantic City, NJ Mark Estess Arena*
March 22, 2010 Boston, MA Agganis Arena
March 24, 2010 Baltimore, MD 1st Mariner Arena
March 25, 2010 Washington, D.C. Verizon Center
March 27, 2010 Miami, FL American Airlines Arena
March 28, 2010 Tampa, FL St. Pete Times-Forum
March 30, 2010 Atlanta, GA Phillips Arena
April 02, 2010 Dallas, TX Nokia Theater (Grand Prairie)*
April 03, 2010 Houston, TX Toyota Centre
April 06, 2010 Los Angeles, CA Staples Centre
April 07, 2010 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl*
April 09, 2010 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay
April, 10, 2010 Oakland, CA Oracle Coliseum

*denotes dates without Robin Thicke
Bold denotes newly added date

Robin Thicke biography

Robin Thicke
Robin Thicke
When you go to see a therapist, the first thing you might do is check his credentials. And Robin Thicke has got a whole wall’s worth of accolades to recommend him. He has won three Grammys. He’s written and produced for Michael Jackson, Lil’ Wayne, Mary J. Blige, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Hudson, and has ultimately contributed to over 40 gold and platinum records by other artists. His breakthrough single, “Lost Without You,” and album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, both joined the platinum club themselves. He’s toured with Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Maxwell. And, in maybe the ultimate sign of pop-culture validation, he’s been a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show three times. Is that board-certified enough for you?

If so, it may be time to submit to Sex Therapy: The Session. Not to sound too forward about it: We’re talking about the fourth album by Thicke, which takes a substantially different tack than any of his previous records, both musically and thematically. For the first time, Thicke is leavening his classic soul sound with more contemporary R&B, Rock, Electronic and hip-hop influences and collaborators—seen in the presence of guest artists like Jay-Z, Nikki Minaj, Kid Cudi, Estelle, Snoop Dogg, and Game. It’s also the first time he’s devoted an album’s narrative throughline quite so pointedly to the art and practice of… sexual healing.

“I was thinking of artists like R. Kelly, Jodeci, Mary J Blige, Prince, Biggie Smalls, and Marvin Gaye. I wanted to recreate a combination of the raw sensuality of R. Kelly’s 12 Play and the confidence and champagne celebration that the music of Uptown and Bad Boy Records created.”

“The album is about tension and release,” Thicke explains. “There’s all of the stress that we feel throughout the day, and you need something to release that tension. You need some good music and some good food, and you need your woman or your partner. The sex part is easy, but the therapy part is about love and about having somebody you can work through the tension with. And I have had somebody most of my life to work through the stress with, who’s my best friend. That’s why I realized as I’ve gotten older, more important than anything in my life—money, fame, celebrity, a nice house—what I really need is to have a great relationship and connection with my woman. And that comes from some sex therapy.”

“It’s tongue-in-cheek therapeutic. It’s not taking itself too seriously. But the album does feature instructions for the men and women on how to treat each other and how to make the night sexier—and especially for the men, how to worship the woman, how to tease her, how to tickle her, and how to kiss her correctly. There’s instructions to the sexiness.” The doctor is in!

“They’re all songs I wrote throughout this last year of my journey, and they were all incredibly honest to what I was feeling at the moment I wrote it,” he says. “I write about what my life is like at that time. And my life over the last year has been a lot of partying, a lot of fun, and a lot of stress and worrying about the future and money and relationships. So my wife and I have been focused on keeping our relationship sexy and hot and fresh, so we don’t lose the fire between each other, because that’s the only thing that makes the end of the day seem better: our connection with each other.”

There’s no denying that Sex Therapy: The Session has plenty of strains of contemporary R&B to accompany its sensual rest-and-relaxation themes. “It’s about the cultural things that connect me to the culture of hip-hop in America and how it influenced artists like myself and Justin and Britney. We’re all results of that influence. And this album is a dedication to all of those great hip-hop and soul artists that have inspired me,” Thicke says.

“Growing up in Los Angeles and going to a very racially mixed high school, I had a lot of different influences. I was listening to Jodeci and Mary J. Blige and NWA, and I was listening to gospel music. So I started a band, and the first song that I sang at my talent show in high school was R. Kelly’s ‘Your Body’s Calling Me.’ So this album reflects that more. After making my attempt at Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with my first album [2003’s A Beautiful World], and then my second album [2006’s The Evolution of Robin Thicke] being a very heartfelt, spiritual expression, then the last album [2008’s Something Else] being an ode to my favorite ‘70s music, this new album is really a testament to the hip-hop and soul music that has shaped myself and my generation.

Guest artists represent every corner of hip-hop and contemporary urban sounds, both musically and geographically: From the west coast, there’s Snoop Dogg and Game; from the Midwest, Kid Cudi; from the South, there’s Lil’ Wayne’s protégé, Nicki Minaj; from the east coast, Jay-Z, of course; and, representing international territories and flavors, England’s Estelle.

Sex Therapy: The Session has a tremendous variation in styles, from the De La Soul-goes-tropical feel of “Meiplé” (the album’s second single, which features Jay-Z) to the completely stripped down balladry of “2 Luv Birds.” But Thicke does mean for the album to hold together to tell a story. “To me, in the era of the DJ and of the playlist, it’s more important than ever the order that you put it in, so I tried to create a connected adventure, from the romance, to the danger, to the reconciliation.”

The album kicks off with “Mrs. Sexy,” where Thicke sings Erik B. & Rakim-style lyrics over an Al Green music bed with a D’Angelo-type vocal—“meshing three generations of music together,” as he puts it. “Sex Therapy,” the title track, combines “that manly edge of Jodeci with a seductive Prince vocal.” In “Meiplé,” “Jay-Z and I take the throwback hip-hop records of the ‘80s, like De La Soul and Slick Rick, and take our ladies on a shopping spree through France, where they will be treated like queens.” Naturally! “It’s in the Mornin,” produced by Riley and featuring Snoop, takes the classic hip-hop phrase “Six in the morning” and switches it to—not surprisingly—“Sex in the morning.”

Then there’s “Shakin’ it 4 Daddy,” (which features Nicki Minaj) an R. Kelly-meets-Usher party record that is Thicke’s Southern-style hip-hop homage to the strip club and nightclub generation. Not that he’s advocating wanton shakin’, mind you. “You’re only supposed to shake it for one daddy!” he asserts. “If you shake it for a bunch of daddies, that’s nasty. It’s not misogynistic, it’s warm-hearted, and really about my wife shakin’ it for her husband. If my wife comes in the room and she shakes it for daddy, trust me, the night is gonna go very well.”

The album takes a slightly darker turn in its middle act, with “Elevators.” “That’s about the dark side of the clubs and partying, of the drugs and the sexuality, and how you can get caught up and fall victim to it. I’m trying to make sure that I don’t fall down the wrong path, and I need my woman to make sure I don’t lose my way. So Kid Cudi and I fall down the rabbit hole into the dark hallways. And the track is just this wild musical adventure.” Next, “Roller Coaster,” with Estelle, “is really about that slap-me-in-the-face, punch-me-in-the-eye stuff. It’s all about the ups and downs of a relationship that you can’t seem to get away from, no matter how tough it gets. “Million Dollar Baby” completes this trilogy of more troubled songs, using, appropriately enough, the music bed from Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” (played by Robin’s band, not sampled). With Jazmine Sullivan singing background, Thicke sings about needing Lady Luck to get his life back on track.

Sex Therapy: The Session ends with an upswing, starting with “2 Luv Birds,” which is “true to my life story, about the ups and downs of a relationship, not wanting to let go, and finding love for a lifetime.” The finale, “Diamonds,” has Game putting down a rap about his personal life and struggles, though it’s really more an ode to womanhood. “We name off a lot of the black women that are diamonds—like Oprah, Michelle Obama, Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, and my wife, Paula—because the pressure that they went through turned them into diamonds.”

If you only heard the album’s initial singles, the temptation might be to assume that the heightened sexuality means this is a less personal album for Thicke than, say, the more obviously introspective Evolution of Robin Thicke album. But as the new album’s eventual trajectory makes clear, that’s hardly the case.

Thicke’s wife, Paula Patton, is a staple of the movies, of course, and seen most recently in Precious, which many are calling a front-runner for a best picture nomination. Now, after years of begging off acting offers, because he didn’t feel he could handle two careers at once, Thicke has just signed on with Fox for a feature film that is due out in 2011. “Now just seems like a natural time to do it,” he explains. “I’m more comfortable in front of a camera, and a little more over myself, so I’m not so worried about taking myself too seriously. Screw it—why not try it all at once?”

There’s plenty of other extracurricular work, including a featured appearances on Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester’s first single. “Somebody to Love” (and in the video), as well as appearances on Rick Ross’ and R. Kelly’s new albums, and ongoing collaborations with old pal Lil’ Wayne.

But despite all that side work, Thicke is hardly neglecting his own music career right now, as the care and craft put into Sex Therapy: The Session will attest. Promoting it out of the gate is a video for the title song, which the singer describes as “a combination of Eyes Wide Shut and Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love.’ It’s supposed to represent those parties that you wish you could be invited to, that you always hear exist, but we never get invited to.”

As for the album’s blood-red cover motif, Thicke explains, “We started out with this doctor theme, trying to play the sex therapist, and then it just kind of turned into the James Bond version of the therapist.” He laughs. “It was James Bond meets Sigmund Freud.” Looking into his eyes on that cover, fans will get the message: The doctor will see you now.

Robin Thicke “Sex Therapy: The Session” review

Robin Thicke

Artist: Robin Thicke
Title: Sex Therapy
Label: Interscope
Rating: 7/10

Corporate line:
The fourth album from the Grammy Award-winning R&B/Pop singer, songwriter and producer. While he has achieved success with his own solo albums, he has also achieved great success as a songwriter and producer with artists like Usher, Lil Wayne and Jennifer Hudson.

Song reviews:
“Mrs. Sexy” – The solid soul track that Thicke specializes in–falsetto is in full effect.

“Sex Therapy” – Thicke doesn’t wait–he likes to cut to the chase. He’s making music for making love and its apparent he has no patience for beating around the bush.

“Meiple” f/Jay-Z – Climbing and climbing until the final climax during the chorus where Thicke sings, “I know you wanna” only to be answered by a climaxing woman. The song is fun, its just not orgasmic good.

“Make U Love Me” – Not bad.

“It’s In The Mornin'” f/Snoop Dogg – Again, Thicke doesn’t even try to hint about sex. He just throws it out there with the kitchen sink. There is something to be said about hinting, because there is something oddly crude even with a voice soaring at unknown octaves.

“Shakin’ it 4 Daddy” – “She’s shakin’ it for daddy, she’s shakin’ it for me” is just a bit too addictive. It’s the one song that actually makes you sing along.

“Elevatas” f/Kid Cudi – There are highs and lows. The high points are when Thicke gets into full falsetto–the rest is weak by his standards.

“Rollacoasta” f/Estelle – This could have been left behind. It’s too simple and boring.

“Million Dollar Baby” f/Jazmine Sullivan – Thicke gets deep into the ’70s and burns bright through this song.

“2 Luv Birds” – It took this far into the album to get to a ballad. It doesn’t really seem worth the wait.

“Jus Right” – Soft, tender and too weak right in the soul.

“Diamonds” f/Game – This could have settled in just right on the Michael Jackson “Off The Wall” album.

Frankly:
Robin Thicke has his style and you either love or hate him. After a few listens it still takes some time to decide which direction to go. Thicke has skills and his vocals are always on point, however he doesn’t seem to have a lot of personality on “Sex Therapy: The Session.” Everyone wants to compare him to Justin Timberlake, but there is one thing Timberlake doesn’t lack–personality. Thicke might have more soul–but his personality doesn’t always shine on this album like it did on Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds.”

“Sex Therapy” video:

Jennifer Hudson and Robin Thick to co-headlining tour beginning March 31st

Grammy winning, platinum superstar and recording artist Robin Thicke and Grammy and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson are set to embark on a multi-city co-headlining tour beginning March 31st at Albany, NY’s Palace Theater. The Robin Thicke -Jennifer Hudson Tour will bring together two of the most distinctive and enduring voices in the current world of R&B music across major US cities including New York, Atlanta , Chicago, Los Angeles and more. Tickets go on sale today for the Palace Theater date and American Express pre-sales are available in most markets.

Robin Thicke
Robin Thicke

World renown for her astonishing live vocal prowess, this marks the first official tour for Hudson, who recently won a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Album” for her RIAA-certified Gold self-titled debut album. “I am so grateful” stated Hudson. “My first Grammy and my first tour, it doesn’t get any better than this!” Hudson also received three NAACP Image Awards for “Outstanding New Artist,” “Outstanding Album” and “Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration” for “I’m His Only Woman” featuring Fantasia.

Sparked by the success of her hit single “Spotlight,” Jennifer Hudson entered at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart after its September 30th release on Arista Records. With a total of 217,720 units sold, the chart-topping entry was the biggest first week for a debut R&B female since November 2004. Hudson’s current single, the beautiful mid-tempo “If This Isn’t Love,” is steadily climbing the charts while the Diane Martel-directed video recently premiered on AOL.

Robin Thicke, the award-winning multiplatinum superstar, returned to center stage with his 2008 release Something Else, a joyful and modern tribute to the ‘70s soul and pop records that have inspired an extraordinary career. Debuting at #3 on The Billboard 200, Something Else is Thicke’s highest charted album to date.

Thicke’s previous album The Evolution Of Robin Thicke, now on its way to double platinum status, includes the mega hit “Lost Without U” which became the #1 most played song on the Urban Adult Contemporary BDS as well as topping four Billboard charts simultaneously: #1 R&B /Hip Hop album, #1 Hot R&B / Hip Hop song, #1 Hot R&B Hip Hop Airplay, and #1 Hot Adult R&B Airplay.

Robin Thicke and Jennifer Hudson have teamed up with I Love All Access to provide a variety of VIP ticket packages for the tour, including premium seats, meet and greets, parties and more. For more information on I Love All Access and up to date tour information, please visit www.robinthicke.com or www.jenniferhudsononline.com.

The Robin Thicke-Jennifer Hudson tour dates are as follows:

March 31
Albany, NY
Palace Theatre

April 2
Newark, NJ
NJ PAC

April 3
Philadelphia, PA
Tower Theater

April 4
Baltimore, MD
Lyric Theatre

April 5
Washington, D.C.
DAR Constitution Hall

April 9
Mashantucket, CT
MGM Grand at Foxwoods

April 10
New York, NY
WAMU Theater at MSG

April 12
Norfolk, VA
Chrysler Hall

April 15
Atlanta, GA
Fox Theatre

April 17
Charlotte, NC
Ovens Auditorium

April 18
Greensboro, NC
Special Events Center

April 19
Richmond, VA
Landmark Theater

April 23
St Louis, MO
Fox Theatre

April 24
Detroit, MI
Opera House

April 25
Chicago, IL
Arie Crown Theater

May 2
Los Angeles, CA
Nokia Theatre L.A. Live

May 3
Oakland, CA
Paramount Theatre

May 7
Dallas, TX
Nokia Theatre

May 8
Houston, TX
Verizon Wireless Theater

Robin Thicke – Something Else – review

Robin Thicke is primed and ready for Something Else. “It was like everyone was saying the same things, worried about the same things and I just felt we needed something different right now. I asked myself do I have a light? What is that light? How can I spread it, share it and turn it into a Puff Daddy white linen Miami Beach party?” After his highly acclaimed 1.5 million selling album “The Evolution of Robin Thicke” garnering the smash hit “Lost Without U”, a tireless schedule of touring and appearances Robin needed to sit back, reflect on the last 2 years and start anew.

Robin Thicke
Artist: Robin Thicke
Title: Something Else
Label: Interscope
Rating: NA

Corporate line: Robin Thicke is primed and ready for Something Else. “It was like everyone was saying the same things, worried about the same things and I just felt we needed something different right now. I asked myself do I have a light? What is that light? How can I spread it, share it and turn it into a Puff Daddy white linen Miami Beach party?” After his highly acclaimed 1.5 million selling album “The Evolution of Robin Thicke” garnering the smash hit “Lost Without U”, a tireless schedule of touring and appearances Robin needed to sit back, reflect on the last 2 years and start anew.

“On the last album I wanted to let people into my walk of life and connect my life to them and this album is more about involving great minds, hearts and spirits around me. When I started writing songs I was already embracing people and now I just wanted to dance and laugh with them”. With that spirit driving the creative process Robin has penned some of the best songs of his career from the retro meets modern groove of the first single “Magic”, the upbeat celebration of “Sidestep” to the picturesque “Dreamworld” he is taking the listener on a musical journey that is truly unique, sexy and invigorating. Something Else is exactly the kind of record that the world needs right now to feel inspired again.

[Write the review for Hip Online! send it to us!]

Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke on tour

robin thicke

When you think of the best that Soul music has to offer this millennium, two artists emerge at the top of the list as the purveyors: the infallible and multi-platinum, multi-Grammy Award winning superstar Mary J. Blige and the award-winning multi-platinum balladeer Robin Thicke. The two stars have joined forces to bring the musical experience of the “Love-Soul Tour” to their fans starting on September 19th in Virginia Beach, VA and ending on October 22nd in Oahu, HI.

Mary epitomizes love and is the essence of soul. Her music transcends boundaries of race, religion and politics. Mary speaks directly to the soul about the pitfalls of life as well as the healing power of love. With her many accolades Mary has earned an extraordinary place in American popular culture. Any one of us can go through each of her records and be empowered by the many emotions of love: good, bad, and indifferent.

On the 18-date “Love-Soul Tour,” Blige and Thicke will pick the best songs in their repertoire that bring out the love and touch the soul of their fans. A sample of what Blige will offer are hit singles such as a revamped version of “No More Drama,” “Love, No Limit” and “Be Without You,” while Robin will perform stellar hits “Stupid Things,” “Complicated,” and “Lost Without You,” which drove his sophomore album to platinum status. The two also collaborated on a special remix of Robin’s single, “Magic,” for the tour.

The set of the “Love-Soul Tour” will evoke a feeling of a time and a place that grabbed you emotionally and will take you through different aspects of your life. To add to the uniqueness of the tour, there will also be a special limited edition coffee table book available for purchase at the venue. The book features exclusive never-seen-before images of Mary J. Blige.

Mary recently wrapped the sold-out historic “Heart of the City,” with Jay-Z. Once again, she reaffirmed her place in musical history as one of the few artists whose star stands the test of time with more than fifteen (15) successful years in the music business. Her eighth (8th) and current studio album Growing Pains, released 12/18 on Matriarch/Geffen reached platinum status in three weeks. Over the span of her career she has amassed over 25 awards including the eight (8) Grammy Awards, three (3) American Music Awards, ten (10) Billboard, a BET Award, a MTV Award, ten (10) Soul Train Awards and much more. Each album released has attained platinum status with many selling multi-platinum; totaling sales of more than 40 million copies worldwide. With each song she has penetrated her fan’s hearts; reaching deeply into the depths of their souls.

The award-winning multi-platinum superstar, Robin Thicke returns to center stage with his new album Something Else on September 30th, a joyful and modern tribute to the ’70s soul and pop records that have inspired an extraordinary career. This double platinum recording artist, is coming out off of his hugely successful Evolution Of Robin Thicke where he garnered VH1 Soul/ Vibe award for “Best Breakthrough Artist,” nominations from BET (“Best Male R&B” and “Viewer’s Choice”), Soul Train (“Best R&B Soul Album, Male”), MTV VMA (“Male Artist of the Year”), MOBO (Best Song, “Lost Without U”), and the American Music Awards (“Favorite Breakthrough Artist”.)

Opening the tour for Blige and Thicke is Dave Young, the soulful debut artist off of Blige’s label, Matriarch Records. Young is already a Grammy Award winning songwriter having penned the Mary J. Blige/Chaka Khan Duet, “Disrespectful” off of Khan’s Funk This. Young is committed to continuing the time-honored tradition of artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Donnie Hathaway with pure Soul music. His soon-to-be released debut album is due early 2009.

“I am so excited about going out with Mary again; she is so amazing! I went out with her on The Breakthrough tour and I learned so much from watching her; how she would sing to her fans, connect with them and include them. She made me realize connecting is what it’s all about. That’s my goal on this tour – to connect,” states Young.

Remember WE ALL GOT SOUL so be sure to check out Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke at a city near you. Dates below:

Friday, September 19 Virginia Beach, VA Virginia Beach Pavilion
Saturday, September 20 Washington, DC DC/Nissan Pavilion
Sunday, September 21 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Music Cable Pavilion Friday, September 26 Philly/Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
Saturday, September 27 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sunday, September 28 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Thursday, October 2 New York City Radio City Music Hall
Friday, October 3 New York City Radio City Music Hall
Wednesday, October 8 Baltimore, MD 1st Mariner Arena
Friday, October 10 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Bank Atlantic Center
Saturday, October 11 Tampa, FL Ford Amphitheater
Sunday, October 12 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Amphitheatre
Tuesday, October 14 Chicago, IL Arie Crown Theater
Wednesday, October 15 Omaha, NE Qwest Convention Center
Friday, October 17 Las Vegas, NV Pearl Theatre
Saturday, October 18 Oakland, CA Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord
Sunday, October 19 Los Angeles, CA Gibson Amphitheatre
Wednesday, October 22 Oahu, HI Blaisdall, Arena