Wednesday, December 31, 2014

J.Cole- 2014 Forest Hills Dr. (2014)

Why did I review the album?  He’s my favorite artist (of the newer ones)
Did I like it? Still not sure (but I think so)
Will I listen again? Yes, for multiple reasons. I still don’t know exactly how I feel about this album.
I feel like Cole was going to have a hard time pleasing me with this album regardless of what he put out. Cole’s got a formula that he’s used to gain popularity in his mixtapes and his first two albums. So if he made the same type of music for this album, I’d have been a bit bored (not that the songs would be bad) because he’s made five collections of music using that formula. At some point, I’d want him to step out of his original niche and experiment a little bit. However, the other end of the spectrum is that he’d try something so foreign that there wouldn’t be a hint of the old J. Cole that made me love him as an artist. In this album he tried a mix of both, but leaned a little heavier on the experimental side. The problem is, I don’t like a majority of the experimental things he tried with this album.
I really want to give this album three spins, but considering that I gave Birdy and Sam Smith three spins, I can’t give this three stars with a good conscience. However I am very glad I got this album and would do it again in a heartbeat.  
My Favs
3. No Role Modelz
2.  January 28th
1. 03’ Adolescence
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Spins 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Young Jeezy- Seen It All:The Autobiography (Deluxe Edition) (2014)

Why did I review the album?  I liked his last album
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? Yes
I got this album a few months ago and stopped listening after the first three sings I heard. Even now, I still find them subpar to Jeezy’s normal standard, but I’ve learned to find value in them regardless. After the rough start, it manages to find its way rather well.
Compared to the last effort, I find this one more impressive. This may be my prejudice coming to light, but I find this one much more personal. As a man that listens to rap for the stories it tells, I appreciates the rawness and real life experience spread throughout the album.He calls it an autobiography and while I wouldn’t go that far, it’s by far his most personal work.
As you will see in the longer version of this review, I fell in love with the beats too. I mainly focus on content and usually am indifferent to beats, but it seemed like every time I heard a track I was praising the beat.
Another thing to note is that Jeezy travels the same roads as previous albums (drug heavy content) , but finds a way to make it fresh. He describes his experience with drugs so vividly that I can imagine being there with him. That vividness allows you to be entrapped in the story he’s telling and separates him from all other drug rappers.  My favorite drug related album is still Pusha T’s My Name is My Name, but this is a valiant effort that serves a worthy runner up.  
My Favs
3. How I Did It (Perfection)
2.  Holy Ghost
1.  Seen it All
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Spins  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shy Girls: "Under Attack" AUDIO

My sister introduced me to this artist and I must admit, I’m a fan.  I love his voice and his approach to R&B.
The thing that intrigues me the most is the sound and production. It’s definitely R&B based but throws in touches of Jazz (with an amazing solo), some electronic influences, and one-time-only sound effects that are perfectly placed. If most song had tried this, I’d normally say that it’s trying too much and should strip some parts/instruments to make it more cohesive, but in this case I wouldn’t dare suggest it.
As beautiful as his voice is, the cleverly crafted production really made this song stand out 5/5

What is he doing now?
He released an EP Timeshare in October of last year and is performing at various venues. To find out more about Shy Girls follow him on Twitter, Soundcloud, or on Youtube through Hit City U.S.A. I know that I only review albums, but i may make an exception for this artist.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Birdy- Fire Within (2014)

Why did I review the album? Not About Angels and her cover album convinced me to give her original content a chance
Did I like it? Eventually
Will I listen again? To some tracks
The majority of the problems I have with this album are my own and in no way Birdy’s fault. For some reason I was expecting an R&B type album. I didn’t get that, but looking back I shouldn’t have expected it. I believe that’s the issue though. I had preconceived notions that were misguided. Her first album was one based largely off covers of other artists, so I didn’t know what she specialized in.
I’ve found that most albums have a purpose, but I couldn’t find out what Fire Within’s purpose is. So, I felt like I was taking a journey with no end. I was listening to a random collection of songs that did not have a main theme to tie them together.
Despite all that, I still enjoyed the album. Birdy has amazing talent and listening to her sing is a pleasure every time. Add the fact that her songs are not over produced and I’m bound to be pleased. That’s the part I like best concerning this album. Many times when artists are signed to labels they run from the basics and instead opt for over produced beats that interfere with the quality that originally made the artist successful. Birdy doesn’t fall into that trap and the album is better because of that fact. I’d gladly listen to her next album. 
Is it what I envisioned? Not quite. Does that make it bad? Of course not.
If you like great singers and are willing to try something that’s not R&B I’d definitely give Fire Within a listen.
My Favs
3. All About You
2.  No  Angel
1. Strange Birds
Overall Rating: 3/5 Spins

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Michael Jackson- Thriller (1983)

Why did I review the album?  Needed something that I knew I would like
Did I like it? Well…Yes
Will I listen again? It’s one of my favorites of all time.
 Thriller is a compact album at nine songs, but it packs as much punch as albums twice its length. Because it’s so short each song carries much more significance. It has something for everyone, There are danceable tracks (Wanna Be Startin Something, P.Y.T.,) creative tracks (Wanna Be Startin Somethin, Thriller) and some really solid pop (Baby Be Mine, P.T.Y.
My Favs
3. The Lady in My Life
2.  Thriller
1. Human Nature
Overall Rating: 5/5 Spins

Monday, September 8, 2014

50 Cent- Animal Ambition (2014)

Why did I review the album? It won the poll for August
Did I like it? No
Will I listen again? No
This album has no energy whatsoever. The end result is that he sounded extremely disinterested in the stories he was trying to tell. And, if he doesn’t care about the story, why should I?

I do like the beats on this album. Most of them are chill and toned down, an interesting choice for someone that is an extravagant lyricist. It’s a shame these beats are wasted on bad lyrics and horrifically bad delivery.
My Favs
3. Winning Circle
2. Hustler
1. Twisted
Overall Rating:  2/5 Spins

Monday, September 1, 2014

Common- Nobody's Smiling (2014)

Why did I review the album? I like Common
Did I like it? Indifferent
Will I listen again? No
This is the first time I’ve disliked an album without taking issue with the headlining artist. I take issue with the features on the album. Simply, they aren’t good rappers. Some needed to work on flow, others used chopped rapping which I am not a fan of. If there were only two or three features on this album, I wouldn’t mind, but there are several.   
Common’s formula hasn’t changed much. It works in fine form here. In my opinion it’s the features that destroy the album.
My Favs
3. Young Hearts Run Free
2.  Real
1. Rewind That
Overall Rating: 2/5 Spins

Thursday, August 28, 2014

R. Kelly- Black Panties (2013)

Why did I review the album?  I told my friend I would do it, and I am fond of R. Kelly’s music
Did I like it? No
Will I listen again? No
I think this experience was doomed to fail from the onset. My expectation of the album and Kelly’s were clearly different. I expected classic 90’s Kelly or adult R&B that he’s favored in the two previous albums. But, maybe that’s the reason he’s wandered in this direction. Kelly’s been “in the game” for 20 years now, so he’s bound to try other things. He transitioned from R&B to a slightly more mainstream sound. Then experimented with a largely gospel sound that transitioned into adult R&B career. This might be the next phase in Kelly’s career. So, I shouldn’t be angry with him, but I wish I knew his intention beforehand.
In my defense, this album delivers sleaze by the bucket load. If this kind of music you like, then you’ll love this one, but if not, it’ll be a struggle to get through this offering from Kelly.
My Favs
3.  I have no idea (that’s not the name of the song, I seriously couldn’t find a third song)
2. Shut Up  
1. All the way
Overall Rating: 1/5 Spins

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- The Heist (2012)

Why did I review the album? My sister asked me about a song named “Same Love” and I loved it so I listened to the whole album
Did I like it? It’s either my favorite or second favorite album since 2012
Will I listen again? I will listen to this one forever
The two sides of Macklemore the funny guy and serious Mack. Both are on display in this album.
The crowning achievement of this album is Macklemore’s ability to step in the shoes of the person in that situation. He does it multiple times in songs like Same Love, Neon Cathedrals and Wing$. The reason I love JoJo is her ability to accomplish this. It’s also the reason I was somewhat critical of Love Marriage and Divorce, the lyrics were there, but I didn’t feel the emotion that I felt necessary. This is the first time I’ve noticed a rapper achieving the same feat. It makes the music stronger because the audience notices how deeply the artist feels about the issue, so every lyric carries more weight and significance.
I constantly complain that “fun” music tends to force me to “turn my brain off” in order to enjoy it. This isn’t the case with Macklemore. Like Gaga he manages to have fun, but maintain a level of seriousness. Considering the pulverizing nature of some of his other work, it’s interesting that he can pull off “fun” so well. It proves that he is truthfully versatile and can handle both radio worthy tracks and thought provoking material.   
My only complaint is that the track listing could have been organized a bit better. Towards the end, there were about five fun songs in a row without a thought provoking song to balance out the silliness and I found my patience waning. It’s a small complaint and something that would only hurt the album when comparing it to my favorites.
There’s something here for everyone. There’s more than enough “fun” for people to enjoy, but also has some material that might make you think about the stances you hold concerning certain topics. It’s an album that touches on many different topics and shares it’s opinion without apologizing. It’s a versatile album from a strong artist that can hold its own against many of my favorite albums and is one of my favorite albums in recent memory.
My Favs
3.  Thrift Shop
b. Badaboom
2.  Same Love
1. Neon Cathedral
Overall Rating: 5/5 Spins 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sam Smith- In the Lonely Hour (2014)

Why did I review the album?  Was looking for a new artist
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? Yes
Do I recommend? Yes  
This album started a bit wobbly for me, but by the end I was very happy I decided to take a chance on Sam Smith. My favorite thing about him is his ability to transition from the higher octaves to lower ones seamlessly without the song feeling disjointed.
For me, a first album is supposed to show the person’s skill and leave the audience believing there is room for growth in future work. This album did that for me. The writing for some of the songs (especially in the beginning) need more work, but his voice is definitely a solid one that I want to see evolve as his career progresses. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on his career.
My Favs
3. I’m Not the Only One
2.  I’ve Told You Now
1. Lay Me Down
Overall Rating:  3 out of 5 Spins  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Major Renovation Planned

 I am renovating the site to make it better for you guys. There will be a lot of new features and an overall better experience while on the site. The renovations should be finished tomorrow night, but in the meantime please excuse any inconsistencies with the site.

Rhythm&Reviews Team

Robin Thicke- Paula (2014)

 Why did I review the album? I like Robin Thicke
Did I like it? Unfortunately not
Will I listen again? No
My Favs
3. You’re My Fantasy
2.  Forever Love
1. Get Her Back
This album suffers from a lack of focus. In the past I’ve said that albums should have a level of variety and I believe that, but when a silly song like Tippy Toes that sounds like a sing along for Tele tubbies is in a professional album, we have a problem.
I can see what each song was trying to achieve, but almost all fail for various reasons.
I will commend him for using a myriad of sounds and trying to merge them into a cohesive album, but using sounds from different genres and eras added to the lack of focus. It was a good idea that was poorly executed.
Overall Rating: 30 with a Not For Me recommendation

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars I Birdy -- Not About Angels I Official Video

I haven’t watched the movie or read the book, but I’m considering it after hearing this track. At the beginning it follows the simple formula that I like; an instrument and a voice. That way the audience can enjoy both aspects equally.
This song reminds me of JoJo’s Note to God in that every verse is delivered more urgently. In the last verse both the music and voice reach the same urgency after minutes of buildup. It’s a formula I really like because it allows the producer and singer to show off his talents without either taking away from the other. In fact it’s the combination of both that makes the climax of these songs so special.
I love the way the piano and violin work off of each other in this song. The violin comes in about half way through, and fades in and out of the song. But, it chooses its spots well. Sometimes it softens the song, adding a tinge of beauty, but at other points it adds suspense. 5/5

What is she doing now?

She released her second album this year named Fire Within. I listened and was very happy with it. If you like this track, I suggest giving her album a try. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ed Sheeran- X Deluxe Edition (2014)

Why did I review the album?  My sister sent me the song “I See Fire” about a month ago and I loved it so much I listened to both + and X
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? I already have
Everyone keeps classifying this album as a pop album, and sure some of the lyrics are “poppy”, but it’s a mistake to consider this a pop album. The only reason I would consider this a pop album is due to his rise in popularity. That is a different type of pop than the way he is categorized.
There is a definite urban influence that infects this album, which may hint at his musical direction in subsequent works.
 There are SO MANY different sounds on this album. He features typical Ed Sheeran sounds (One), then displays his vocal range on tracks “I See Fire & “Thinking Out Loud” and adds a urban kick to “Runaway” and “The Man” and raps for the entirety of “Take it Back”.  
The only thing that gave me pause is his interest in rapping on several tracks. I like artist that choose to experiment, but he doesn’t have nice flow and his rap isn’t (for me) enjoyable to listen to. The first time I listened to the album it drove me insane. With subsequent listens, I have to admit that most of his raps do provide a lot of content which makes it bearable. If you can handle his rapping, the album is definitely worth a buy.
This album displays further variety that Sheeran has to offer as well as his willingness to experiment with his own sound.  
I don’t think Ed Sheeran has reached his full potential, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

My Favs
3. I See Fire
2.  Thinking Out Loud
1. Even My Dad Does Sometimes
Overall Rating: 80 with a recommendation to Listen then Decide

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ledisi- The Truth (2014)

Why did I review the album?  Trying something new
Did I like it? Not Really
Will I listen again?  Nope
I listened to this because Ledisi has done work with artists that I like and I always appreciated her contribution to the songs. So I thought I’d listen to her solo work.  
Her vocal range is questionable. Whenever she hits the higher notes her voice suffers noticeably
Of all the songs on the album only one has content.
The album doesn’t perform any aspect poorly, but it doesn’t try anything noteworthy either. It’s a perfectly average album.
If you are looking for new artist to listen to, then maybe you should give this one a listen, but if you skipped this album I don’t think you’re missing anything.
My Favs
3. 88 Boxes
2.  Lose Control
1. Can’t Help Who You Love
Overall Rating: 57 with a recommendation to Neutral

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mariah Carey- Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse (2014)

Why did I review the album?  It was on my list of top five albums I want to hear in 2014
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? Absolutely
I’ve listened this album seven times, and each time I listen I uncover more hidden gems.
This album reminded me of BeyoncĂ©, but each track isn’t nearly as solid.
There is something on this album for everyone. There are 90’s influenced tracks (Cry), some lighthearted and upbeat tracks (Meteorite, Money  & You Don’t Know What to Do), Gospel (Heavenly).
The most impressive part is that she managed to integrate a myriad of sounds and covered many bases with her music choice, but still managed to create an incredibly personal album.
My Favs
3. Meteorite
2. Dedicated
1. One More Try
Overall Rating: 79 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Michael Jackson- Xscape (2014)

Why did I review the album?  MJ is my favorite artist
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? Yes, I’ll replay this one for years
This album is the most intriguing one I’ve listened to in a while. The regular version has 8 tracks produced mainly by Timberland (there are others, but he is the headlining producer). The deluxe version features the original version of the song plus an additional version of Love Never Felt So Good featuring Justin Timberlake.
 The reason that I like this album has nothing to do with music. Forgive the example, but it bears relevance. I once read a book by Brandon Sanderson. He released the book for free on his website, Along with the final edition of the book he also allowed readers to download several drafts that led to the final edition.  Through releasing several copies of the book in its various stages of drafting, the reader gets a process of writing a book. Although not completely the same (because Timberland is not MJ) we are offered the same opportunity with this album. I see the first tracks as covers of the originals (technically they are reworked) performed by MJ. We are given a chance to see how different artist would attack the same content which is fun. Additionally we are exposed to the idea that the sound of music changes over time. The MJ songs were recorded anywhere from 89-03 while the standard edition ranges from 13-14. How much of the changes were based off Timberlands own feel with music and how much did the time of recording affect the overall product? I don’t think we’ll ever find out exactly, but it was fun to ponder these ideas while listening.
For me, classic albums need to have at least two tracks that transcend time, or speak to issues of the time period. This album doesn’t quite have that. It’s missing the Thriller, Man in the Mirror, You are Not Alone, and songs of that ilk. If I were generous, I could say that Do You Know Where Your Children Are and Slave to the Rhythm fit the requirements, but I think I’d be giving the songs a BIT too much credit. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the album and recommend it 
My Favs
3. Loving You
2.  A Place With No Name
1. Xscape
Overall Rating: 87 with a recommendation to Buy

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Big K.R.I.T. - The Vent

I’ve known about Big K.R.I.T. for a while because he’s featured on tracks for artist that I like, but this is the first time I’ve listened to an exclusively K.R.I.T. track.
I’m glad I chose this song to listen to because it was worth every second of my time. Part of the reason I hadn’t looked into his music before is that I thought he was a stereotypical rapper (he may still be, but I’ll hold off judgment until I listen to more of his work). The important thing is that he isn’t during this track.
The beat is a perfect fit for this track because it’s simple, but still manages to add to the atmosphere his lyrics create. Its simple beat also forced me to listen to the lyrics which is good because that is the selling point of this song.
I love this song because it lets go of the pretense that many rappers use in song and displays a thoughtful K.R.I.T. That works to the songs advantage because it humanizes K.R.I.T. and makes you believe that he is truthfully pondering the situations he discusses in the song. So whether he is angry, sad, or lost in the song, the audience empathizes with him
Normally a song this deep earns a 5 star rating, but this one doesn’t. A few of the lines felt a bit forced as though he was trying to make the lyrics deep (i.e.  I’ve never seen a star in a red rug, if I want to see a star I just look above). There is one other instance of this in the song. So, I couldn’t give it a 5, but I HIGHLY recommend it. 4.5/5

What is he doing now?

He is working on his second studio album Cadillactica that will be released sometime in 2014. He has released the first single for the album which is called Mt. Olympus. Production for the album will include Jim Jonsin, Rico Love, and DJ Toomp.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Top 5 Albums I Can’t Wait to Hear in 2014

5. Kanye West– The title hasn’t been announced yet. Although I do not always like his music, I can honestly say that he never sells out. He makes whatever he feels like making and doesn’t apologize for it. Of all the artist I’ve listened to, he’s the one that experiments the most, and at the very least makes his music intriguing.
Album Title: Unknown
Release Date: He wanted to release it this summer, but since there isn’t a single out yet I doubt it’ll happen.

4. Mariah Carey- A moment of full disclosure: I have not listened to a Mariah Carey album since the Emancipation of Mimi. That said, Emancipation of Mimi is one of my favorite albums. The feature list is impressive as well. Supposedly, Wale, Nas, Fabulous and Miguel will make an appearance on the album. Add a naturally beautiful voice, and it’s obvious why this album is on the list  
Album Title: Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse
Release Date: May 23, 2014

3. Adele-  I am fascinated by Adele. Her voice has an old school quality, is very distinct, but doesn’t quite fit into a single genre. She takes years between albums, but the payoff is always worth it.
Album Title: 25? (She sent a tweet that alludes this might be the title, but it’s not confirmed yet)
Release Date: Late this year, but an exact date is unknown

2. Wale- Wale is one of my favorite rappers because he has the best flow of any rapper I’ve heard in the last ten years. The only other rapper that comes close is Kendrick Lamar. Wale has kept details about the album close to the vest. I do know that J. Cole is going to make an appearance (the only “new” rapper I like more than Wale). Wale said he made The Gifted to appease himself, however, he has stated that The Album About Nothing is an album for the fans. What does that mean? I have no idea, but I’m excited to hear it.
Album Title: The Album About Nothing
Release Date: Fall 2014

1. JoJo- You all probably saw this coming. I’m in LOVE with this woman. It’s been eight years since her last LP (for label reasons). She’s been released from her old label and aggressively creating content for her new album. She plans to have the first single released this summer. JoJo’s worked with Pharrell Williams and B.oB so far. In an interview JoJo talked about her vision for the album. “This album is going to be raw… powerful, honest, impolite, incorrect. It has to be a combination of the last few years. Iwant it to speak to a wide range of people, but make it feel like I’m speaking to them personally. I want it to be an experience… I want it to be the soundtrack to their life.”  
She has lofty goals for the album, but that only makes the anticipation worse.
Album Title: Unknown
Release Date: Late 2014

So I've given you my list. What albums are you looking forward to? Did any of my entries make your list?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

August Alsina- Testimony (2014)

Why did I review the album? Found out about him during a trip to Atlanta and decided to give him a try
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? To some tracks

He’s credited as a singer, but to be honest, I do not think he can sing. He sounds like Chris Brown at times, but Brown is a far better singer.
So, why do I like this album? The content is very appealing. It’s more personal than I expected. He opens up and truthfully gives us the account of his life. He’s made poor decision, but (for the most part) doesn’t make excuses for it.
Even as he talked about his past with drugs I never felt he was using it to exploit, it feels as though he gives an honest account of his experience.
I’m impressed with Alsina and will listen to his work in the future.
My Favs
3. Make it Home
2. Testimony  
1. Benediction
Overall Rating: 70 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Schoolboy Q- Oxymoron (2014)

Why did I review the album? It was recommended to me
Did I like it? I did enjoy the sound, but overall not really
Will I listen again?  Probably Not
To be fair, I don’t think this album ever had a chance of impressing me. Schoolboy Q’s delivery is too wild for me. I’m not sure why he does it. Perhaps he does it to differentiate himself from the other rappers out west and carve a niche for himself. Whatever the reason, I found it distracting at best and extremely annoying at points.
I will give props to the sound. They were all different, but still managed to keep the chill vibe that I’ve come to expect from west coast music. The sound was the best part of the album. There were some 90's influenced beats as well as conventional modern beats
Maybe I’m missing something, but the professional reviewers were giving this album 8 and 9 stars but I can’t imagine why. It’s not a bad album, but 8 and 9 star albums are reserved for my all time favorites.   Someone that liked the album more than I should explain the magic behind it because it clearly flew over my head.
My Favs
3. Man of the Year
2. Studio
1. Prescription-Oxymoron
Overall Rating: 60 with a neutral recommendation

Justin Timberlake- 20/20 Experience Pt. 2 (2013)

Why did I review the album?  We all know about my JT obsession
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again?  To some tracks
After six years and two albums of Timberland influenced beats, I was hoping for JT to move in another direction. Not that his current style is bad, but he’s proven that he can make great music when collaborating with Timberland. So I wanted him to move to the next chapter in his career. This album is less Timberland influenced than anything he’s done in a while. It’s still there, especially in the beginning, but JT definitely distanced himself from Timberland more than usual. I’m curious how far he drift from Timberland in his next project.
This album is very much a timeline though JT career. There are some flashes of Justified (You Got it On & Pair of Wings) and something that might have found itself on FSLS (Cabaret). But there are hints at some new twists he might try in the future (Take Back the Night & Only When I Walk Away).

My Favs
3. Amnesia
2. Take Back the Night
1. You Got it On
Overall Rating: 75 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gabe Bondoc- You Got It

Have you ever been asked why you are attracted to someone and didn’t know how to explain? Well, Gabe doesn’t have this problem. He’s found a woman that he deems worthy and will gladly tell everyone why he loves this woman…. in detail.
In the chorus he gives the answer that most of us would; which is, I don’t know, but  s/he’s (enter person’s name here). It’s somewhat like the moment that someone asks you what you enjoy? You know exactly what you enjoy, but the question is so vague that we often sputter and reply something unintelligible.
But, after he’s calmed down and thought about the question a bit he can give his real answer. Every line gives a new reason for his infatuation with her.
The reason why I love this song is the sound. He uses a guitar throughout, and it gets its own solo. There is another instrument used that I don’t know the name of. There is also a sound that is used effectively. It’s the sound you’d hear if you were playing a game and waved a magic wand (yes, an odd comparison, but you’ll understand when you listen). Everything is played softly which adds to the ambiance. 5/5

What is he doing now?
This song is from his album Timing that he released a few years ago.

Gabe Bondock just released his new LP Honestly last month. So if you like this one, you should probably check it out. He’s active on his YouTube and Twitter accounts if you’d like to follow him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Missy & Nicole- Almost is Never Enough (cover)

This a cover of Ariana Grande’s version. I have to be honest, I was a bit skeptical because this song is my favorite track on Yours Truly and it requires vocal range that many singers don’t have.

She inherited a lot of expectations, but did she deliver?

I’m glad to report that she managed to impress me. She showed more range than I believed she had and sounds eerily similar to Grande at points. It’s not a full cover and I found myself wanting more.  I would love a full cover. 
The duo has some raw talent and will only get better with time. These girls are officially on my radar. 4/5     

What are they doing now?

Missy and Nicole are sisters that share a passion for singing. They perform covers on YouTube and are active on Twitter, so follow them if you like this offering.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Justin Timberlake- The 20/20 Experience (2013)

Why did I review the album?  Love JT
Did I like it? Yes…eventually
Will I listen again? Yes
I didn’t like this album at first, in fact, I hated it. But, that’s why I listen to albums at least two times before I start writing reviews. My first impressions of music is usually harsh because I’m exposing myself to the music for the first time, so I do not notice the nuggets of brilliance in songs.
My main problem is the track length. The songs are too long. They did not hold my interest as much as the tracks on FutureSex/LoveSsounds (FSLS). I felt the songs on FSLS were long with a purpose whereas 20/20 Pt.1 relied upon catchy production and charm to elongate the songs. In short there is a bit less substance than I’d like.
For Instance, on FSLS “What Goes Around Comes Around” turns a common phrase into the basis for a song. Also, it’s essentially the meaning of karma. Through the lyrics he is able to weave in a story about betrayal and the results of the betrayal (Karma). Add an interesting beat to tie it together and the song explodes with content and sound.  All of that is explored in 7:30,every bit was needed to fully explore the ideas he examined in the song.  
20/20 matches the production level of its predecessor but severely lacks the lyrical depth found on JT’s previous LP’s. Because of that, I originally found the songs boring and drawn out. 
The album excels at merging and concocting sounds and is carried by the charm and allure of JT
Although I did eventually find endearing qualities in the songs, I still believe it’s his weakest work to date. After a seven year absence I was expecting a bit more
My Favs
3. Spaceship Coupe
2. Strawberry Bubblegum
1. That Girl
Overall Rating: 73 with a recommendation to Listen then decide

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Goapele- Closer to My Dreams

I didn’t know Drake was sampling this in his cover, but I’m happy I discovered this version. What I admire about both versions is the free flowing nature. Drake’s originates from his signature flow, but Goapele’s arrives from matching the atmosphere creates from the beat. For me, the beat has a pretty albeit dragging sound. She delivers in a matching style and creates a soothing song. 4/5

What is she doing now?
She signed with Eric Benet label, Jordan House in 2014 and is making new content.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

John Legend- Love In TheFuture (2013)

Why did I review the album? John Legend is one of my favorite singers (second to JT)
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again?  Yes, to some tracks

Love in the Future offers an artist that is honing his craft instead of branching out.  The albums plays like something from a lounge performer. It has a smooth and intimate feel that I loved. I think it works because each person can bring his experience with relationships and through that have his own experience with this album.
In fairness to John Legend, I do not think he did anything wrong with this album, but I entered this album with expectations concerning the content of the album that did not match his intentions.  After about three to four albums I expected him to start toying with his music a bit more. Change his subject matter (a bit), the sound, or the delivery. Something that would indicate him expanding as an artist. Instead I received 15 songs of John Legend belting out nice soulful tracks, and that’s fine, but I already knew he could do that. Couples that have been together for long enough to endure road bumps in their relationship will adore this album, but I’m curious to hear what everyone else has to say.

Is it what I wanted? Not quite
Is it great considering his intentions? Yes

My Favs
3. Who Do We Think We Are
2. We Loved It
1. All of Me
Overall Rating: 75 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Scavenger Hunt- Dreamers

I know I said I like songs that tell a story, but I also said there’s room for fun if done right. Well this one impressed me. It’s got a lighthearted 80’s feel that naturally disarmed me. Perhaps it’s because of the harsh winter we've had, but this song reminds me of a perfect summer hit. Behind its playfulness it has a message about living free and enjoying life.4.5/5  

What Are They Doing Now?
They have just released a self-titled EP and are signed to Rock Nation. So give it a try if you like this track. If you'd like to learn more about the group follow them on twitter @ScvnrHnt

Rae Morris- Grow

My sister compared her to Lorde, but said that at certain junctures she doesn't sound like her at all. I completely understand the Lorde comparison. But that's the intrigue of artist like these. They have bits and pieces of so many people and genres, but don't quite fit into any of them. I think she sounds most like Lorde in the chorus. The beat for this song matches the lyrics PERFECTLY. It foreboding and suspenseful but in some instances calming at the same time. I experienced many emotions from the beat alone. The lyrics are just as wild. The only thing i can compare it to is Lightning Strike by Snow Patrol.  It seems like the girl is extremely self-aware, but extremely scared and vulnerable at the same time. And because of that she doesn't know what to do and runs away from her problems. 5/5

What is she doing now?
She is signed to Atlantic records and has an EP scheduled for release in May. If you'd like to know more, follow her on Twitter @raemorrismusic

Alex G - Find You (Original Song)

I like when singers use simple beats because it allows the voice and lyrics (if it’s good enough) to take center stage. As much as I like her I think the boy did an equally phenomenal job and he's not even credited. The two of them together sound great together because the sing the same way and at the same octaves. It’s like two sides of the same coin except one is female and the others male. It even has somewhat of a country song to it, but that didn't even bother me and I give her credit for pulling that off. My only doubt with her is that it seems like she only has one range and she doesn't deviate from it, so I wonder what would happen if you asked her to go lower or higher. But, the song itself is flawless 5/5

What is she doing now?
She's in the process of putting together an album, but has performed many covers of famous songs. If you'd like to know more subscribe to her channel on YouTube

New Area in blog- Discover Music

I’ve decided to add this part of my blog because there are certain songs that I hear and think are worth sharing, but since I only do reviews of whole albums, I never get to talk about. This solves that problem.
I’m not sure how I’d like to schedule adding content for this part. So, right now I’ll update it as I see fit until I find a better system.
The music on this part of the blog has no bounds. I can be a new song, but it can also be a song from 1993 that I’ve heard for the first time. It might not even be R&B or Hip-Hop based.
My hope is that it will turn to a place where we can share music we like and help others discover new music. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Drake- Nothing Was The Same (2013)

Why did I review the album? I like Drake
Did I like it?  Yes, but it has a major flaw
Will I listen again?  To some tracks
I was going to review this album a while ago, but I couldn’t sort my feelings. I knew I liked the album, but I also knew there was something wrong. I didn’t like the songs as much as I should. After listening to this album 5 times I finally sorted my thoughts.
In my Yeezus review I complained that Kanye changed too much of his formula at once. And, I said that changing the formula works best when an artist changes one aspect and leaves the rest the same. In this case, Drake changes his delivery and leaves other variables constant.
Now, here’s the problem with that. For me, the delivery is the most important part of a rappers formula.  Delivery can turn stupid lyrics into passable ones, and passible ones into great lyrics. Essentially it can revert attention away from what is said and focuses on how it is said. In this album I found that drake disrupted his flow and delivery in order to make room for content.
So, why do I like this album? The beats are still classic Drake and 40 collabos that I fell in love with long ago. Also, if you strip away the (sometimes) lackluster delivery, there are some gold mines and hints of pre LP Drake that allowed him to explode onto the scene five years ago.
For me, the good outweighs the bad. It goes back to what I said about changing the formula. Experimentation with music works best when the artist changes one thing from his/her repertoire. This formula works because it fosters innovation, but keeps enough features consistent to avoid alienating the audience. Even if the person does not like the element the artist changed, there is still enough of the original artist in the song that the person will still like the song. At worst, the person would notice the attempt to try something new and not like the song, but appreciate the effort.
He did a dangerous thing toying with his delivery, but there are still enough elements of the old Drake for me to appreciate.
My Favs
3. Pound Cake/ Paris Morton Music 2
2.  From Time
1. Tuscan Leather

Overall Rating: 70 with a recommendation to listen then decide