Archive for the ‘ Album Reviews ’ Category

Album Review: “I Missed Us” – SWV

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SWV – I MISSED US

Mass Appeal Entertainment/E1 Music

Release Date: April 17, 2012

One of the few R&B groups that is still together, Grammy-nominated New York natives Sisters With Voices (better known as SWV) are back with their fourth studio album, I Missed Us.  This, their first album since 1997’s gold-certified Release Some Tension, is not only the trio’s first album in 15 years, but also marks 20 years since they debuted in 1992 with their triple-platinum selling album, It’s About Time.  And in true SWV fashion, the group doesn’t sound like they’ve missed a beat in the 15 years since they last recorded together.

Predominantly produced by Lamb (primarily known for his work with Jazmine Sullivan and Monica, as well as Keyshia Cole’s “Let It Go” and Beyoncé’s “Countdown”), I Missed Us showcases Coko, LeLee and Taj in excellent vocal shape.  Lamb managed to craft a set full of songs that accomplishes what would be seemingly difficult: maintain the classic SWV sound, tie in a welcomed ‘90s soul sensibility, all while making the music sound current, not dated.  All three goals were achieved with fantastic results.  The album’s lead single, “Co-Sign,” is an excellent moniker for what can be expected for the entire duration of the album.  Other highlights, like the title track, “Show Off,” “Better Than I,” “Use Me” and “Love Unconditionally,” show that SWV is still just as great as they were when we last heard them.

One of the most stunning moments here is the album’s closing track—a cover of Patti LaBelle’s 1983 #1 R&B classic, “If Only You Knew.”  Lead singer Coko is nothing short of spellbinding and chill-inducing as she takes the forefront on the record, taking listeners on an epic vocal journey that builds steadily over the course of 5 minutes.  A Target exclusive, extended version of the album contains three bonus tracks, including a remix of “Co-Sign” and a cover of “There’ll Never Be”—a 1978 classic originally recorded by Ohio funk band, Switch.  As with the LaBelle cover, the Switch cover is yet another standout.

I Missed Us is an excellent album from start to finish, and in what some have described as an R&B drought, this return by one of the genre’s most beloved groups was overwhelmingly necessary.  So far, it reigns as the year’s best R&B album.  Hopefully, it won’t take another 15 years before we have another album from these talented veterans.

Grade: A

Michael Hamilton

Stalley – Savage Journey To The American Dream (Artwork x Tracklist)

 

The good people over at MMG let loose of the tracklist for his latest project dropping this Friday. Tracklist inside..

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Asaad – Boss Status (Artwork)

Asaad’s words, not mine.

I want to take this opportunity to explain, in my own words, the picture depicting two artists, whom I consider to be legends and arguably the greatest to ever bless the mic, engaging in homosexual activity. We are now in the day and age where this is no longer considered a taboo. But that is not the main reason why I choose this picture. Throughout the inception of the music business, artists have been continuously cheated out of their royalties and bound by erroneous contracts that essentially ‘screw’ artists over. For the record, I did not intend to release this cover to disrespect the memory or the families of Mr. Tupac Shakur and Mr. Christopher Wallace. They have become iconic, speaking for those like myself, giving the ghetto and less privileged a voice as they spoke about so many different things that affect our culture. Shakur & Wallace started out as comrades, then the industry turned them into human guinea pigs. They were embattled in a music war which ultimately led to their untimely death. In no way am I looking for publicity from this cover. My music speaks for itself. People have the option to look, or not to. Journalists and bloggers will have the option to post this on their website if they choose to do so. Again, we don’t ask that you do, but no longer shall the industry control our destiny and turn our people against one another. We have a BIGGER mission in life to speak for those who don’t have a voice and create outlets where we can all be heard.

Album Review: “The MF Life” – Melanie Fiona

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MELANIE FIONA – THE MF LIFE

SRC Records/Universal Republic

Release Date: March 20, 2012

Canadian R&B songstress Melanie Fiona first made major noise at urban radio with 2009’s “It Kills Me” from her debut album, The Bridge; it topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart for nine consecutive weeks and earned her the first Grammy nomination of her career.  Fast forward to 2012, and her sophomore album The MF Life finally arrives after a bevy of delays.  However, despite the setbacks, Melanie never really disappeared from the scene.  Throughout the nearly three years between her first and second albums, she worked with a number of R&B and hip-hop’s biggest heavy hitters and newcomers—including John Legend, Wale, J. Cole, Common, The Roots and Cee-Lo, just to name a few.  She was also a consistent Grammy nominee (four, to be exact) due to her collaborations, winning two just last month for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “Fool for You,” her collaboration with Cee-Lo.

Hot on the heels of her 2 Grammy wins, she immediately announced (on the day following the Grammys) that her album release date would be bumped up.  And on The MF Life, listeners will find a unique mix of the old school soul that made up the majority of her debut album, but also more modern urban sounds and a number of strong collaborations—both of which were absent from The Bridge.  The album-opener “This Time” featuring rapper J. Cole is a strong start that immediately catches the ear due to its awkwardly rousing production.  Vocally, Melanie never disappoints, as evidenced by the singles “4 AM” and “Gone and Never Coming Back” and she holds her own alongside her male guests throughout the album, who include Nas, B.o.B. and John Legend.  Overall, The MF Life offers a more diverse mix of sounds than The Bridge, while giving listeners a strong feel for Melanie’s artistic identity and outstanding vocal abilities.

Grade: B

Michael Hamilton

Album Review: Wiz Khalifa–Taylor Allderdice

WIZ KHALIFA – TAYLOR ALLDERDICE

Rostrum Records/Taylor Gang

Release Date: March13, 2012

The bounce back from Rolling Papers is here, giving the fans a bit of the original Wiz again. Taylor Allderdice is a must have judging from the downloading problems from sites being flooded from fans wanting the tape…the craze fits all too well. On this tape, the audience gets an inside look to Wiz’ thoughts on various aspects of his career covering topics like, Rolling Papers, criticisms to his longevity in the game, Taylor Gang, etc. On this tape, there is an interview broken into parts after each song. This is where you get an inside scoop to Khalifa life.  A premier work here with features from the likes of Rick Ross, Smoke DZA, Amber Rose, and more.

To focus more on the engineering and production tip, Allderdice is heavily influenced by TGOD’s (Taylor Gang Or Die)  Big Jerm, Cardo, Sledgrin, and a couple others. Wiz always seems to find futuristic and original sound for his production. Whether partying, chilling out at home, a kick-back session at the crib, this project can find a comfortable home in your speakers. In any case, a lot of the beats you will here will make the audience reminisce on the sound captured on production from the critically acclaimed Kush & Orange Juice.

Additionally, there is a showcase of versatility; a common adjective used when it comes to Wiz. As he raps, as well as a synthesized singing voice that is not too excruciating to the audience, even preferred sometimes. But like everything else, the more time one spends on their craft, the more experienced they become…evolution. Wiz’ flows and delivery are different from the works of Flight School & Kush & Oj; more similar to the quick and fast paced rap on Young, Wild, & Free off the soundtrack for the up and coming movie  Mac & Devin Go To High School. With that being said, I’m pleased to announce that we have the highly aniticipated Taylor Allderdice. Download here on the site!!!

“You know…what inspired me back then…is what inspires me now. “ – Wiz Khalifa

Grade: A

– Kyre K. Williams

Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allderdice (Artwork)

You can cop this little beauty March 13, and I hear great things about this one. The taylors should be proud.

Album Review: KiD CuDi x Dot Da Genius— WZRD [Released: February 28, 2012]

The WZRD is here with the first project self-titled. Coming a long way from “Day & Nite”, the duo have finally compiled their first work; the perfect medium of Hip Hop and Rock.  Dot Da Genius has blended Cudi’s subject matter to “mildly-rockish” tunes, placing Cudi in a seemingly more comfortable light. With the Cleveland native’s favorably unique style over the sounds of Alternative Rock, it makes sense that the two knew each other and worked together for a while. Seven months after the two were acquainted, they were roommates for a short time grinding in the studio for better days. Adding the leverage from Cudi’s lucrative career, along with an ever-expanding and diverse fan base, WZRD is sure to make an impact.

Imagine Cudi singing over Linkin Park’s production, moreover, Cudi’s Erase Me, toning down the pop sound. Dot’s production matches the distraught, confused, and sometimes hopeless lyrics applied. The intro, “The Arrival” brings you to the conclusion that the emotional journey that Cudi will submerge the audience into will be intimidating yet, suspenseful. Drifting through the rest of the album, one will understand that the subject matter of this piece is exclusive to Cudi’s persona….that of a loner.

Dot Da Genius’ production on this album placates toward the alternative crowd but scoops through the beats with hip hop influence. The beat builds/drops and heavy bass are signature for production in the rap world; well exemplified in the song “Live & Learn” and “High Off Life” So this sound is versatile in that it is appealing to multiple crowds.

Whether the audience hails from the background of a loaner who resorts to drugs for happiness, or one’s life is full of burden, this album is navigating toward relativity. Expanding your mind a little bit more than you already have with Cudi, and you can appreciate the application of Dot Da Genius’ style. WZRD’s self-titled project IN STORES NOW!!!

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