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February 28, 2018:
Daddy B. Nice Announces THE WINNERS of the 2017 (11th Annual) SOUTHERN SOUL MUSIC AWARDS.
Best CollaborationTop Contenders
“Need A Mr. Do Right” ----- Sharnette Hyter & Big Cynthia
“Shake Something (Remix)” ----- J. Red, Columbus Toy & Ms. Lady Blues
“Do You Want Somebody?” ----- Alonzo Reid & LaKeisha Burks
“I Can’t Be Faithful” ----Big Pokey Bear & Bishop Bullwinkle
“Old Man’s Sweetheart” ----- Coco & Big Yayo
"In The Mood" ----- Pokey Bear & Cupid
“You’re The One, Baby” ----- O.B. Buchana & Lomax
“If You Need Some” ----- J. Red & Ms. Mini
“Lit” ---- Big Pokey Bear & Cupid
“Going Down Slow” ------ Sir Charles Jones & Wendell B.
“Hold On” ------ Sharnette Hyter & Joe Tex II
“Turn It Out” ----- J. Red & Sir Charles Jones
“Super Woman” ---- David J. & Geno Wesley
“Put It On Paper” ---- Sharnette Hyter & Patrick Henry
“Bedroom Rodeo (Remix)” ----- Big Yayo, Gentry Jones, Omar Cunningham
“Pretty Girl” ----- J-Wonn & Tucka
“Go On And Get It” ----- Ra’Shad The Blues Kid (w/ L.J. Echols)
“Watch My Boots Pt. 2” ----- Deacon Dukes, Jeter Jones, Big Lee, Pokey Bear
“All I Want Is You” ----- Pokey Bear & Crystal Thomas
"Call My Name" ----- Sharnette Hyter & J. Red
Best Collaboration: Big Yayo, Gentry Jones & Omar Cunningham for "Bedroom Rodeo"Listen to Big Yayo, Gentry Jones & Omar Cunningham singing "Bedroom Rodeo" on YouTube.
See Big Yayo's other nominations in Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2017.
March 14, 2016:
BIG YAYO: Southern Classic (Saviour) Four Stars **** Distinguished debut by a new southern soul artist. Chris Mabry (aka Big Yayo) made his name as a southern soul producer in Jackson, Mississippi with a series of records that helped define the careers of some of the genre's most talented young performers. The run began in 2008 with Stevie J.'s "Because Of Me." At heart a pop song with a beautiful refrain-—lyrically, a vivid portrayal of an uninterested, uncommitted lover--"Because Of Me" became Stevie J's most acclaimed song, the tune that catapulteded him from a respected guitarist into a bonafide southern soul star.
Then, in 2009 and 2010, came LaMorris Williams’ stately “Impala,” originally called “We Can Do It,” an even more sophisticated pop anthem positively dripping in soul. It became a spectacular debut for the uber-talented, onetime gospel singer (The Williams Brothers).
“Here’s a story a lot of y’all gonna find hard to believe,” LaMorris voice-overs. “Me and my buddy Big Yayo was riding back from a show I did up in the Delta....”
It was the first time Yayo had been mentioned in a major southern soul song, and (as it turned out) it signified a powerful contribution.
And musically, who can forget the opening bars to "Impala"? The glacial tempo, the bare-naked bass, then--at the end of the opening chords--the distinctive twinkling of some (what?) keyboard exotica, the musical equivalent of TinkerBelle spreading fairy dust in the air. And from that bare-boned beginning a musical extravaganza sprang to life, culminating in: "You can make me holla / In the back of my Impala."
The basic musical structure was Big Yayo's. We know that now because his new album, SOUTHERN CLASSIC, gives us the blueprint for LaMorris's hit in what is almost certainly the tune's (roughly speaking) first incarnation, called somewhat cryptically "The Remix". (The contrasts between LaMorris' and Big Yayo's versions of "Impala," by the way, are fascinating, and a testament to the artistry of each.)
Then, in 2012, came Dave Mack's "Booty Talking," featuring a vocally-enhanced Big Yayo on a funky techno jam with a driving, bass-propelled beat. As a melody it was nowhere in the same park as "Because Of Me" or "Impala," but its rough-and-tumble, macho sound, powerfully aided by Dave Mack's gunny-sack tenor, forged a powerful dance-floor groove. Never released on an album, "Booty Talking" is also featured intact on SOUTHERN CLASSIC.
Yayo added to and even exceeded his rapidly-growing legacy when, in 2013, his young protégé, J’Wonn, put out a career-making tune, “I Got This Record,” that conveyed a youthfulness and sensitivity that southern soul had never heard before. It was a song that could hold its own with the best of any genre, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of record that helped bring a generation of Deep South millennials into the "grown folks"/southern soul scene.
In one fell swoop, "I Got This Record"'s success doused the commonly-expressed fear at the time that southern soul might be dying along with its aging, baby-boomer audience. Big Yayo told your Daddy B. Nice that he manages J'wonn, and every time we've talked, J'Wonn's been with him. They toured together intensively through the last half of 2015, after Big Yayo released his dance single, "Cowgirl.". More on Big Yayo's history can be found in Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guides to J'Wonn and LaMorris Williams..
The undisputed jewel of Big Yayo's debut CD, SOUTHERN CLASSIC, is the dance jam "Cowgirl," the great duet with J'Wonn (with a little T-Baby), which is still topping some radio charts a year after its release and January 15 #1-charting here.
"Southern soul electronica," your Daddy B. Nice dubbed it. And while its dance and techno edge might have blues purists rolling their eyes, the fact is the song has succeeded where it counts, on the radio and in the clubs.
As a whole, however, SOUTHERN CLASSIC is a little disappointing and anti-climactic after the great contemporary hits cited above. The tracks on this set are more interesting for what they reveal about Yayo's creative sources: early rock and roll and R&B, primarily uptempo, or--if slow--more middle-class-dreamy than lowdown-bluesy.
Thus, we get the doowoppy, Sha-Na-Na-like "Stepping Out," which is fun to listen to, but doesn't really work. Or the slightly different case of "Come And Get It," which has the added attraction of featuring J'Wonn. Heavy on bass, with a propulsive beat like "Booty Talking," you nevertheless can't help thinking that if "Booty Talking" and "Come And Get It" were pears in a produce stand, the "Booty Talking" pear would taste a little better.
Which is to say, yeah, judged harshly SOUTHERN CLASSIC is a collection of out-takes, tracks without much hit potential, or they would have been released by now. SOUTHERN CLASSIC is no BEAT FLIPPA: I GOT THE BLUES, VOL. 1, for example. (There may never be another album like that, even from Beat Flippa.)
And yet, SOUTHERN CLASSIC is generous, eminently-listenable, chock full of fascinating insights into the directions of electronic and dance-oriented southern soul. Charming oddities like "Lay Around" (feat. Dave Mack) and "It's All Right" (first released on J'Wonn's I GOT THIS RECORD LP) (which your DBN dubbed a "horny, rainy-day" kinda song) alternate with the throwback, Gamble/Huff-like "Just Like Heaven" (feat. Napoleon) and the rambunctious, hip-hoppy "Ride" (feat. Coco & Suga Kee).
I like what Big Yayo has to say in "The Remix".
...And back then, we were riding around in that old blue Expedition. It was me, J'Wonn, Dave Mack, T-Baby & Prince Ti. I mean we had drove that thing all over the country. And what we did, or what we were doing, was just looking for good people to have some fun with.
And that he has done. Thank you, Big Yayo.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Big Yayo's SOUTHERN CLASSIC at iTunes.
Sample/Buy Big Yayo’s SOUTHERN CLASSIC CD at Amazon.
To automatically link to the various awards, citations and other references to Big Yayo on the website, go to Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Send CD's to Daddy B. Nice, P. O. Box 19574, Boulder, Colorado, 80308 to be eligible for review on this page.
February 1, 2016: 2015 Southern Soul Music Award Winner
Best Club (Fast/Dance/Jam) Song: "Cowgirl" by Big Yayo, J’Wonn & T-Baby
Listen to Big Yayo singing "Cowgirl" on YouTube.
See Daddy B. Nice’s Best of 2015.
To automatically link to all the citations, awards and other references to Big Yayo on the website, go to "Big Yayo" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Big Yayo
Big Yayo on YouTube:
Listen to Big Yayo and J'Wonn singing "Cowgirl" live onstage in Pickens, Mississippi. (Poor audio, but a fantastic representation of the stage show. J'Wonn's topless in this one, looking like Little Richard.)
Listen to Big Yayo and J'Wonn singing "Cowgirl" live onstage in Dothan, Alabama.
Listen to Big Yayo talking about the progression of southern soul with Dave Mack on YouTube.
Listen to Big Yayo singing "The Remix" on YouTube. (This is Big Yayo's version of LaMorris Williams's "Impala," which Big Yayo also produced.)
Listen to Big Yayo singing "Stepping Out" on YouTube.
Listen to Big Yayo and J'Wonn singing "Come And Get It" on YouTube.
Listen to the official video of Big Yayo and Dave Mack singing "Booty Talking" on YouTube.
Listen to Big Yayo singing "All Right" on YouTube.
Listen to Charles Wilson, Big Yayo & J'Wonn singing "Mississippi Boy Part 2" on YouTube.