Music - New Reviews
5 Discs = Classic | 4.0-4.5 Discs = Impressive |
3.0-3.5 Discs = Noteworthy
4.0 out of 5 discs
is a one-man wrecking crew, breaking down fools that just
don't have a clue. He makes a living out of terrorizing
emcees. and his wordplay makes all the haters get down on
their knees. Wishing for a halt to his verbal assault,
but it's not his fault if they're reduced down to a grain of
salt. Okay, I'll stop now while I'm ahead and leave
the rest to the professionals! Talib Kweli would run
circles around me and most lyricists in the game today.
Don't forget when Jay-Z said "Lyrically, he'd be Talib Kweli."
Even with the acknowledgement, Talib keeps his eyes on the
prize and finally unleashes Ear Drum at a time when
true hip-hop is suffering. The early teaser "Listen"
grabbed everybody's attention, but the climate for rap music
was steadily getting more watered down with garbage on the
radio and in videos. After much delay and
anticipation, Ear Drum delivers with songs like the
hard-hitting anthem "Say Something" featuring Blacksmith
signee Jean Grae, the smoothness of "Country Cousins" with
Raheem Devaughn and UGK, and the radio-friendly "Hot Thing"
with emcee/producer Will.i.am. Die hard fans will
enjoy the old school feel of "Eat To Live," as well as "The
Perfect Beat" with KRS-One. The laid-back groove "In
The Mood" has a decent showing by Kanye West and the superb
musicianship of Roy Ayers. The album closes with three
bonus cuts, with "Go With Us" featuring Strong Arm Steady
being the best of the bunch. The journey throughout
Ear Drum is so captivating, the only disappointment is
when the album reaches the end! Whether it's Common,
Pharoahe Monch, or Talib, real Hip-Hop is finally back and
better than ever. Really, it's up to the Hip-Hop
community, the radio programmers, and the music-buying
public to determine the fate of rap music.
4.0 out of 5 discs
After way too
many years of waiting and anticipating, the dynamic rap duo
of Bun B and Pimp C drop a gem with their certifiable
comeback double album appropriately titled Underground Kingz.
Even the casual fan will enjoy the seemingly endless
collection of new hits that won't leave you wishing you
hadn't wasted two hours of your life listening to it. There
are so many standouts, it's hard to even pick out the cream
of the crop without feeling like you left something out.
Their track with Outkast titled "Int'l Player's Anthem" is
by far the best possible single to lead off with considering
the wide spectrum of rhyming styles on one track. Too Short
collaborating for "Life Is 2009" brings back so many good
memories of early music from Short Dog. The remix of "Like
That" thumps just as much as the original on Pimp C's 2006
solo joint Pimpalation. The feel of the title track borrows
from their earlier work and reflects on their journey to
become Underground Kingz. Slim Thug, Vicious, and
Middlefingaz along with UGK re-evaluate the game on a
thunderous "Take The Hood Back." Pimp C and Bun B lay it
down for all their adversaries on the highly emotional "Quit
Hatin' The South" featuring Charlie Wilson and the Geto
Boys' own Willie D. They borrow a hook from N.W.A. for
"Trill N*ggaz Don't Die," while Scarface resurfaces for the
grimy "Still Ridin Dirty." Talib Kweli partners with the duo
for the ode "Real Women," a song that features R&B crooner
Raheem Devaughn as well as borrows the beat and melody from
Devaughn's sleeper hit "Guess Who Loves You More." One of
the most creative cuts has to be "Candy" where Bun B
describes his ride and the one-of-a-kind paint job it has!
Jazze Pha hooks them up with a pimped-out beat for "Tell Me
How Ya Feel" Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane hold it down
with UGK for the extraordinary "Next Up." There are still
other countless songs that hold their weight on this
project. But with an occasional sub-par track here and there
as well as the pointless bonus tracks, the cd isn't a
certifiable classic. But one things for sure, U.G.K. are in
it for the long haul...and Underground Kingz proves their
worth if nothing else does.
3.5 out of 5 discs
being dropped from Def Jam years back, Keith Murray
resurfaces with Rap-Murr-Phobia, a collection of new joints
that run the gamut from okay to great. Keith has
always had a knack for making his lyrics more animated than
most, giving him an edge that sets him apart from the rest
of the pack. Partnering with the incognito Def Squad
comrade Erick Sermon, Rap-Murr-Phobia proves that Keith
Murray still has the skills to pay the bills. "Weeble
Wobble" is a crazy cut that rocks hard and will most
certainly get your head nodding. The lyrical and
musical throwback of "Do" will instantly make you recall an
easier time when life didn't move so fast. Tyrese
helps out on "Nobody Do It Better," a song that reminds you
of his mega hit "The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World"
with all of its cockiness and braggadocio. Another
song called "Don't F*ck With Em" will put you in the same
space as his first album as well. "Whatmakean***athinkdat"
is just as arrogant with an equally unrelenting beat running
underneath. The Def Squad reunite with Redman, Erick
Sermon, and Keith Murray sharing the mic for the masterful
"U Ain't Nobody." "Never Did Sh*T" is a battle of the
sexes with Murray pleading his case for the fellas while
newcomer Unique sounds off for the ladies. There are a
few low moments, like the substandard showing of Method Man
on "What It Is" as well as the annoying track "We Ridin'"
with L.O.D. and the mind-boggling approach of "Da F*ckery."
Even with the trouble spots, Rap-Murr-Phobia is good
enough for long-time Keith Murray fans who are looking for
their fix from the effervescent emcee.
4.0 out of 5 discs
The Rise And Fall of
|A lot of
music coming out nowadays comes out of nowhere. For example,
outside of the UK, nobody even knew who Amy Winehouse was.
And even if you had a hot song or an album that was
critically acclaimed, it didn't always translate into
mainstream success or record sales. Newcomer Keite Young has
his work cut out for him considering the amount of 'Rhythm
and Pop' that currently dominates the airwaves. But with an
eclectic album like The Rise and Fall of Keite Young, the
R&B world might be missing out on the next level of soul
music. The debut single "If We Were Alone" with the
equally-talented songstress N'Dambi showcases his seductive
side coupled with her deep soul. "Thinkuboutmi" teeters on
the fence between funk and blues with heavy instrumentation
and Young's strong vocal presence throughout. "Pray" is a
song for anyone looking for inspiration during their time of
need, "E.N.S. (Everybody Needs Somebody)" follows those same
sentiments with a commanding gospel undertone for the song,
"The Wash" is a mild serenade that rides a simple guitar
chord that leads to a full-on guitar riff, and "Time"
infuses a 'juke joint' feel and explains that your
perception of things will change eventually...even if it's a
change for the bad. Other standouts include the mellowness
of "The Way That You Love Me," the rock-infused ballad "Hey
Joy..." (think Lenny Kravitz) and the jammed-out closer
"Pressure." The Rise And Fall of Keite Young is overflowing
with heartfelt ballads, infectious jams, and smooth grooves
that put him a cut above the rest. The edgy and risky rock
elements might discourage some from taking a chance, but
Keite Young is ultimately the kind of artist that a lot of
people in the music industry strive to become.
4.5 out of 5 discs
underground artist has its ups and downs. The downs are more
obvious, with limited record sales, less mainstream
promotion, and little to no radio or video airplay. But then
there are the ups of having a small room full of people that
love and appreciate your work for what it is. There's also
the constant hustle and eagerness to eventually get to the
mountain top. But the single biggest thing that small time
artists realize over time is that the music industry itself
is based on timing and luck. For Ledisi, her time has
arrived after many years of struggling to get her music to
the masses. With the arrival of her new album, there's good
reason why Ledisi was named as one of the' Top 10 Faces To
Watch in 2007' by Billboard Magazine. On her harmonious
Verve Forecast debut Lost and Found, Ledisi guides you on a
musical voyage into her world that you are more than happy
to venture into. Her lead single "Alright" showcases her
wide vocal range alongside the meaningful lyrics she
delivers at the same time. "Joy" explores the idea of
allowing another person into their soul and bringing them
the happiness they deserve to have. "Think Of You" is an
impassioned testimony of love for one's significant other.
Other knockout tracks include the lighthearted song "Get To
Know You," the adoring mind-set of "In The Morning," the
commanding lyrics of "The One," and the feeling of
hopefulness on "Someday." Another notable track has to be
the duet with Rahsaan Patterson for "We Are One," a
seductive interlude that certainly deserves to be a
full-length track. Lost and Found promises to be the crown
jewel in Ledisi's budding singing career.
4.0 out of 5 discs
Pain and Paper
self-proclaimed godmother of Hip-Hop and R&B is back on the
music scene after more than 4 years of being out of
spotlight. The former military brat is now the head
sista in charge with her new album Pain & Paper being
released on her own independent record label HoneyChild
Entertainment. Fans of the four-feet something
songstress will be pleasantly surprised by the high-quality
production and stellar songwriting on the album.
"Heartbeat" uses the sound of a heart monitor for part of
the background arrangement, but the best part is the
underlying message that we should be thankful for all our
blessings and cherish our lives as well as those of our
loved ones. "Broken Heart" is another remarkable cut
where she begs for someone to help fix the emptiness inside.
She finds out that she's been dating a married man and
addresses the need to let him go on the song "Husband."
With a okay flow from Da Brat, Lil' Mo switches up on
the somewhat questionable song "Youngin'" where she talks
about being with a mature 21-year-old. She hints at
her freaky side with "Sexy Pictures" featuring even more
spiciness from the raunchy rapper Trina. Lil' Mo shuts
her doors on a no-good knucklehead on "No Hotel," while she
goes to church for the inspirational "Dotted I (I'm Not
Perfect). "Officially Hollywood" is a carefree song
that features comedian-turned-rapper Katt Williams dropping
a verse that is actually respectable. Jim Jones adds
very little to an otherwise decent cut called "Sometimes I,"
with Part 2 featuring a better flow from Fabolous placed as
the album closer. Even though Lil' Mo has a few songs
that might have been better left alone ("Jus Like That," "I
Need You Now," and "How Can I Tell" are a little less than
flattering), Pain & Paper could very well be Lil'
Mo's best work to date. And with her new independent
status, now is definitely the best time for her to prove her
worth in the music industry.