audio review : Revival ( album ) … Eminem

audio review : Revival ( album ) ... Eminem

Framed, a song about murdering females, which the idiots of PC America apparently consider more morally acceptable than “raping” them; that word is edited out; sounds like an outtake from Relapse. That’s a good thing. Eminem continues to subtly bash that album; here he pokes fun at the accents he used; but it’s one of his best. It may have even become my favorite. I’d have to go back and compare it to The Slim Shady LP to decide. The Marshall Mathers LP is good too. Its sequel is one of his worst. Recovery, which was presumably released to counter the relatively mild commercial success of Relapse, is too. This new Revival, the title of which seems to mark the end of a trilogy; unless you count Infinite, which I don’t, Eminem doesn’t really have any stand-alone solo albums; is three. That means his worst albums are his newest albums.

One reason for that is the lack of beats by Dre. Many of the producers Eminem recruits these days are star-shaped cookie cutters. Another reason is Eminem’s reliance on bland hooks by Autotuned pop singers who, before 2010, would’ve sounded laughably out of place on an Eminem album. This one begins with Beyoncé crooning a tuneless chorus composed by Skylar Grey, who, as far as her Eminem contributions are concerned, is a talentless bore. The biggest problem with Revival though is that it seems Em no longer has what it takes to make a good album. He can barely write a good verse anymore. There are clever bars, but the rapper is a far cry from the concise wordsmith he introduced himself to the world as. He’s now a verbose, albeit complex, rhymer with a passion for mushy sentiments and corny punchlines.

He makes it clear from the beginning that he’s aware of the criticism he gets from fans like myself and he seems to take it to heart, but we’re all saying different things. A lot of people don’t like Relapse, think it’s cool to jump on the hate Trump bandwagon because their favorite celebrities do it and cry racism whenever the victim of police corruption, which is a serious problem in America, happens to be a black boy. So he makes the legacy-tarnishing mistake of trying to please the mixed masses. That makes for an album with no clear conceptual or musical cohesion. The start and end, the latter of which reinforces the trilogy theory by time-traveling to just before it began, make sense, but the middle may as well be a random selection of new Eminem songs. Or mostly Eminem songs. Need Me is literally a Pink song featuring Eminem.

“I’m better than I ever was,” the self-proclaimed Rap God declares, but that’s just ego. I wouldn’t be surprised if even he thinks the title of this album; arguably the worst of his worst, which still isn’t bad; is a joke. A real Revival would’ve been the aesthetic equivalent of Relapse 2. The Framed song gets it right. Despite the fact that the hook makes an awkward attempt to rhyme “entertain” with “me”, it’s a zany delight. The beat reminds me of Pigs from Cypress Hill. The Offended beat has no hard snares to speak of, but winks to Eminem for interpolating an obscure Worm Eaters reference. Is it my ears or are the vocals mixed a bit too low on some of these songs? Castle and Arose go well together though. Would it be better for his legacy if he’d died when he almost did? Probably. Should he retire like he said he would after Encore? Probably.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Friday On Elm Street ( album ) … Fabolous + Jadakiss

audio review : Friday On Elm Street ( album ) ... Fabolous + Jadakiss

The Freddy/Jason horror concept is silly and cliché. Jadakiss already played Damien from The Omen on the last Lox album. This set doesn’t need such gimmicks. A duet set from two thoroughly decent rappers is alluring enough. What these songs make clear is that Fabolous is better. Not by much. Kiss holds his own. The beats hold theirs too. The hooks though; Future’s Stand Up anthem being a stimulating exception; are kill-knife dull.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Walk On Water ( song ) … Eminem ( featuring Beyoncé )

audio review : Walk On Water ( song ) ... Eminem ( featuring Beyoncé )

Eminem is only human, so he makes mistakes. A big one was putting Beyoncé on this song. Put aside her humdrum melodies. A top celebrity crooner with no real connection to Eminem representing him on a song about his own waning popularity makes little sense conceptually. Bring back the humdrum singing; the chorus sounds mawkish and out of place; and the combination makes for a record that’s ironically unimpressive.

The Stan rapper, still my favorite after all these years, reveals introspective worries about letting his fans down. “I’m doing my best to not ruin your expectations,” he writes with a pencil and paper like it’s 1999. Somebody buy this guy a MacBook. But it’s not his verses that disappoint this time around. It’s the corny guest-reliant platform he’s presenting them on. The old (young) Eminem would’ve drowned Beyoncé in that water.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Heartbreak On A Full Moon ( album ) … Chris Brown

audio review : Heartbreak On A Full Moon ( album ) ... Chris Brown

Juicy Booty girls love Chris Brown. I’m thinking that probably has more to do with his physical allure than his music. The Auto-Tuned singing voice is good enough, but he lacks talent when it comes to composing melodies for it. Bonus tracks included, there are 45 songs here; more than his last three albums combined; but you’ll have a hard time finding a single catchy chorus among them.

The first four bars of Future’s rap verse, looped with some dainty singing in the background, could’ve made High End a better song, but the bragfest is a modest highlight nonetheless. Most of the album, which covers a wider theme range than its restrictive title suggests, leaves nothing more than romantic vibes and contemporary soul beats to keep the aesthetic ship in orbit.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : 4 No Reason ( EP ) … The Lox

audio review : 4 No Reason ( EP ) ... The Lox

This is a set of 4 new Lox songs, each including a verse from all three members, released for no apparent reason. The title is stylized as a grammatically incorrect social media hashtag. There doesn’t seem to be a (sensible) reason for that neither.

The music is what you’ve come to expect from the boys, which, after their disappointing comeback album released late last year, isn’t a good thing. The one exception is Gangsta Party, featuring Derez Deshon, the one song with a decent chorus.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Make America Crip Again ( EP ) … Snoop Dogg

audio review : Make America Crip Again ( EP ) ... Snoop Dogg

The MACA theme is an obvious reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan, but the word “Crip”, which can be read as an adjective or a verb, offers nothing in the way of clever puns or wordplay. It’s a title that doesn’t make much sense. America as a whole never gangbanged. OG Snoop apparently never stopped, at least on record. This EP makes a point of that. Why it ends with a lovey-dovey serenade to a girl beats me.

The best part of the set comes at the end of Three’s Company, a westside party starter featuring OT Genasis and Chris Brown, when the vocals finally make way for the music to bump. And what a funky beat it is. Bassy beats are actually the best thing Snoop’s Crip Again EP has to offer. The rest may as well be reject tracks from his last two albums. Stealing the hook from Slick Rick’s Hey Young World for the opening title cut is especially lame.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : All The Light Above It Too ( album ) … Jack Johnson

audio review : All The Light Above It Too ( album ) ... Jack Johnson

“Summer don’t turn to fall.” Not when you’re Jack Johnson. Warm beach music is what he does and this album is no exception. His talents are nowhere near, say, Brian Wilson at his peak, but there are some notable songs here.

Subplots, from which the Light Above It title is lifted, serves as a fitting preface of sorts. It’s also the album’s main delight as far as vocal melodies go. Love Song Number 16, a demolike serenade to his wife, is also nice.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Nightride ( album ) … Tinashe

audio review : Nightride ( album ) ... Tinashe

The title suggests a female-on-top sex position and I’m all for that. Tinashe is not only a sexy girl but one of the hottest, most physically attractive, to ever come out of the world of popular music. Her face, her body; she’s my perfect type and talented too, which is where her voice comes into play. Every beat is a banger; the album never strays from soulful seduction; but it’s her dreamy vocal melodies that manage to keep things interesting beyond the initial allure.

These songs remind me of Janet Jackson showing her ass with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but what Janet’s newest album (Unbreakable) lacks is sensual pleasures like C’est La Vie. You can’t understand what Tinashe’s saying on the chorus, but so what. It sounds good, dammit. The Interludes are the album’s one major flaw; it should be restricted to twelve songs in a slightly different order; but, the way she’s gyrating her hips, this just might be the Ride Of Your Life.

my rating = 4 of 5

2016

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audio review : Native Invader ( album ) … Tori Amos

audio review : Native Invader ( album ) ... Tori Amos

It sounds like this set starts with a ballad about Yoo-hoo, but that would be quirky fun and Tori Amos isn’t about having fun. Her music is sober and somber, so when she stretches “you” out to two syllables, as she does with Reindeer King, she’s just unaware of how silly she sounds.

Native Invader doesn’t get much better from there; this is the land of the dull and the dreary; though there is an exception at the end of Bang when Amos, over spacey electric guitars, starts listing chemical elements from the periodic table. That whole section is rather dazzling.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Smile ( song ) … Jay-Z

Smile, the one notable song from Jay-Z’s 4:44 album, is a feel-good retrospection. The rapper shines; these bars stand among his all-time best; but the overall aesthetics must be credited to No ID and Stevie Wonder as the former samples a soulful ballad from the latter to create quite a delightful groove.

“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian,” Jay-Z says, though I’d argue that probably means she’s a bisexual, “Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian.” She also recites a poem, though the song would be better without that final bit, which abandons the unique rearrangement of the Stevie Wonder sample.

my rating = 4 of 5

2017

audio review : 4:44 ( album ) … Jay-Z

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audio review : Human ( song ) … Stereo MCs

My only problem with this song, one of the group’s best, is the shortened title. It should be Human Behavior as MC Nick Hallam says at the end of the chorus. Aside from that relatively minor flaw, it’s quite awesome; a zany and exhilarating production that sounds like it was made to party hard to. The best bits come at the aforementioned chorus section; a fun and catchy sing-along; though the beat, mixed with happy horns and zany synths, is no slouch.

my rating = 5 of 5

2008

audio review : Double Bubble ( album ) ... Stereo MCs

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audio review : Double Bubble ( album ) … Stereo MCs

audio review : Double Bubble ( album ) ... Stereo MCs

The Human song, which should be fully entitled Human Behavior, is zany and exhilarating. The rest of the album pales in comparison. The energy level is consistently high; this is music to dance to; but, as cool as Nick Hallam’s voice may sound over wild party drums and flashy liquid synths, it never really has anything interesting to offer in the way of vocals. It’s mostly rhythmic filler. Perhaps this would have been better as an actual Double album split between regular vocal songs and their instrumental counterparts.

my rating = 3 of 5

2008

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