audio review : Book Of Ryan ( album ) … Royce Da 5-9

audio review : Book Of Ryan ( album ) ... Royce Da 5-9

While an early Eminem feature stands as a major highlight; Royce can never seem to outshine his Bad Meets Evil partner; the album’s magnum opus is a Christmas narrative entitled Power and Royce seems to know it. It’s the only song allowed to go long as the rapper sings the title bit like a career crooner.

The rest of the Book follows the same theme; Royce reminiscing à la Masta Ace on his last two albums; but he’s best when free to rap without conceptual restrictions. He’s worst when he’s just talking, as on the Skits, because his bravado gets annoying when it isn’t encased in clever rhyme schemes.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : The Sex Tape ( album ) … Too Short

audio review : The Sex Tape ( album ) ... Too Short

Sex tapes, the secret video type, are an effective defense against women who engage in consentual sex acts with rich men only to allege rape months, sometimes years, later. Too Short recently found himself in the news on said charges and who better to target than a pimp who’s made a decades-long career on misogynist raps? But the drama isn’t addressed here. This, album number twenty, is business as usual, except it’s one of his best.

Short Dog sounds stylistically rejuvenated as he spits his signature pimp/player shit over an impressive array of hood bumpers. Feelin Somethin and Pull Yo Trophies Out, while no slouches in terms of quality, should’ve been swapped for different songs because they have little to do with Sex, and what sounds like a beat tag just nine seconds into the album is somewhat disconcerting, but the set is surprisingly satisfying on the whole.

my rating = 4 of 5

2018

audio review : Dirty Computer ( album ) … Janelle Monáe

audio review : Dirty Computer ( album ) ... Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe refers to sex a lot. It seems to take precedence over romance. She is bisexual, after all, as I suspect most women are. The difference is that she embraces it to the point of celebration. So Take A Byte is a double entendre and Pynk is about vaginas. Why that “y”? Why not? Why not put one of The Beach Boys on the album while you’re at it?

The intro sounds better than most of the actual songs, but Dirty Computer is better than The Electric Lady… if only by a pussy hair. Make Me Feel and Classic Life channel peak Prince; he reportedly contributed to the demo sessions of this album; while Django Jane establishes Janelle Monáe as a force to be reckoned with in the rap world.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Throne Of Game ( album ) … Spice 1

audio review : Throne Of Game ( album ) ... Spice 1

The title is a play on Game Of Thrones, but the cover photo brings to mind E-40’s Hall Of Game; an album released the year 2Pac died that feautures both him and Spice 1. That’s a relevant mention because Spice 1 makes several references to his dead homie here. There’s also a 2017 version of Welcome To The Ghetto and lyrical interpolations of other old Spice 1 songs. Perhaps the rapper; who, with exception of a few verses that have him spitting like the “BG” rappers of today, hasn’t changed much after all these years; is sort of stuck in the past.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for longtime fans. The nostalgia is as thick as the weed smoke. And most of these beats do bang. When the hooks are left to singers with actual talent in that department; the crown goes to D Perry, though the track he’s on sounds more like what should’ve been the outro than an actual song; the album sounds surprisingly good. With that, aside from a more careful mastering job, Throne Of Game would be better if it were edited down to, say, the best twelve cuts. The “Fuckboy” Flex diss, for example, is mixtape filler.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

audio review : Joyride ( album ) … Tinashe

audio review : Joyride ( album ) ... Tinashe

There’s some confusion as to whether Tinashe’s previous release, entitled Nightride, is supposed to be an official album or some sort of mixtape-like side project. As fifty minutes of mostly full-length songs with original beats, it sounds like the former; that’s certainly what I’d classify it as; but is widely publicized as the latter. There’s no such distinction with this follow-up Joyride. Everything suggests it’s the new Tinashe album. The problem is that Nightride is bigger and better in almost every way.

That’s “almost” because Faded Love, a drunken sexcapade featuring rapper Future, would be my jam on either set. The other thirty minutes or so offer “little” in the way of Joy. No Drama is a banger for sure; several tracks stay true to the album’s overall theme with highkey and lowkey vehicle references; but Tinashe’s vocals are generally less melodic and more annoying this go around. That means Joyride; while fun, even thoroughly enjoyable at times; is a comparative disappointment.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Nightride ( album ) ... Tinashe

audio review : Electric Café ( album ) … En Vogue

audio review : Electric Café ( album ) ... En Vogue

Though the title song has them sounding more like The B-52s, En Vogue are back. Member changes, getting older and what looks like some cosmetic surgery make them virtually unrecognizable, but they’re still Funky Divas who were Born To Sing.

They do so quite Good here. Yeah, the old hits are better than most of what’s playing in this Electric Café; their trademark harmonization seems to be lacking; but it works as decent-enough background music to energize yourself with a cup of java to.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Connected And Respected ( album ) … E-40 + B-Legit

audio review : Connected And Respected ( album ) ... E-40 + B-Legit

Fans have been waiting for a new Click album for several years. I guess this, the first set from its two best rappers, will have to do. E-40 and B-Legit have long gone together like peanut butter and jelly. While the former is the obvious star, the latter is no slouch on the mic. He says he’s “mad underrated”. Replace “mad” with “a tad” and I’d agree. He never alters his monotone style, but it works for him.

With that, the duo, who also happen to be cousins, have the verses on lock. They’re the best parts of the album. The worst parts have to do with the songs themselves, specifically when it comes to the breaks. Nearly every one of these songs has a dull; or in the case of Tap In, Whooped and Boy, downright annoying; hook. That’s a major aesthetic problem, along with the abundance of vapid hood beats.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Venom ( album ) … U-God

audio review : Venom ( album ) ... U-God

The best beats here are produced by Green Lantern. Epicenter, one of the few songs not bogged down by lame breaks, has the DJ channeling a young Rza. Most of the others are comparatively inept.

It’s called Venom because that’s what U-God thinks he’s spitting. I disagree; his wordplay is unexceptional to me; but, for what it’s worth, he is one of my favortie members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Dangerous ( album ) … Michael Jackson

audio review : Dangerous ( album ) ... Michael Jackson

What’s dangerous, at least to the career of Michael Jackson, was his decision to leave producer Quincy Jones after three hit albums. This one isn’t trimmed as tight as it probably would’ve been if he were still around; it goes for 77 minutes; but the way that time is utilized made it a risk worth taking. The set immerses itself in New Jack Swing; gritty dance grooves produced by Teddy Riley; before dwindling the tempo down for an eclectic assortment of ballads.

Gone Too Soon matches poetic similes with soaring orchestration. It’s a beautiful lament. But before you can shed a tear, the music fades to the thumping pulse of a nightclub. It’s not the place that’s Dangerous. It’s a girl. She’s vindictive, conniving, sexy and divine, all at once. Could it be the return of Dirty Diana? Perhaps. But this album is not only better than Bad, it is arguably the best Michael Jackson album thus far and one of the two best albums I’ve ever heard.

There is Thriller, of course, and that’s where the internal arguments begin. Song for song, with a loaded gun to my head, I’d be inclined to say Thriller is better. It certainly has a more ageless soundscape, which does wonders for the classicity of its songs. Dangerous dates itself with overactive sound effects and unnecessary guest rappers. But the essence of these songs are just as incredible and Michael Jackson’s signature style is even more magnificent.

Unlike most singers, he doesn’t simply sing. He often takes on a riled staccato delivery that almost sounds like melodic rap. He snaps, grunts, hiccups, hees and hoos like no one else. Even when the ad-libs don’t match the words of the song, as during the peak of Will You Be There, you’re too enthralled to care. Can’t Let Her Get Away falters during its second half, but it’s a minor fault. This album is a masterpiece. Michael Jackson doesn’t need Quincy Jones anymore.

my rating = 5 of 5

1991

audio review : Sex And Cigarettes ( album ) … Toni Braxton

audio review : Sex And Cigarettes ( album ) ... Toni Braxton

This album is far from being as edgy as the title and cover photo suggest, but it should be. When Toni Braxton wanders out of her comfort zone, as on a bitter breakup ballad called Fuck Outta Here, her sentiments are engaging.

Most of these songs are “sad love songs” that deal with being cheated on or otherwise done wrong by “you”, but the short 30-minute set, satisfyingly decent during the first half, goes up in a vapid cloud of smoke during the second.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Chloraseptic ( song remix ) … Eminem + Phresher ( featuring 2 Chainz )

Phresher and 2 Chainz reportedly recorded their verses during the original song session. Why those verses weren’t included on the Revival album is a mystery to me. This remix version, even with Phresher’s verse placed in the middle when the hook guy should be first or last, is much better. That’s partly because Eminem scraps his previous raps for a much better one.

It’s also a new one because he uses it as a pre-response to the many negative reviews of Revival, which would be way less if he rapped more like this on it. 2 Chainz nearly matches Em with less effort though, à la style over substance. “Ferris day off,” he says, “F-12 same color as Kate Moss…” Even if he didn’t say “arm”, he should pretend he did because that would be classic.

my rating = 4 of 5

2018

audio review : Chloraseptic ( song ) … Eminem ( featuring Phresher )

audio review : Revival ( album ) … Eminem

audio review : Chloraseptic ( song ) … Eminem ( featuring Phresher )

The title simile isn’t as fresh as Eminem seems to think it is. He’s “at your throat”, in lyrical attack mode, but this Chloraseptic isn’t Maximum Strength. It’s the weak generic version that has him spitting more like Wale than that battle rapper from 8 Mile.

Still the “geyser” part, in which he Relapses into a knife-wielding slut-killer for four bars, is creative. Other quirky tidbits include him giving an off-beat compliment to a girl with the “prettiest thighs” and wooing like Ric Flair after ripping a condom in two.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

audio review : Revival ( album ) … Eminem