Much like its lead single, Kaleidoscope Dream is a candent offering of love’s complexity that adorns Miguel‘s charming catalog. Intimate enough to illustrate the musician’s vulnerability, yet distant enough to foster his mystery, ‘Dream’ is as lush as you would imagine. It’s embellished with a fair dose of reality to make it the ideal distraction. Read More
Let’s face it: most of us expected Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE to top end-of-year lists and be hailed as the best album of 2012. Most of us have litte doubt in our mind about the obvious brilliance of the record and how refreshing it is to have an artist like Ocean making his unique brand of R&B. Channel ORANGE did (and continues to do) something few records can do: start a conversation that goes beyond the typical “have you heard the new ______ album? It’s dope.” Perhaps this is due to Ocean revealing his first love was a man, but I think it’s more than just Ocean’s personal life that is being talked about and making the album worth talking about. The album is, at the least, worth a nod for bringing a new sense of brilliance to R&B and pop music.
Why, then, am I not claiming Ocean’s album as the best of 2012? Read More
Though exceptionally cited, Houston-born singer-songwriter Solange Knowles seemingly finds solace as “the elephant in the room” among today’s music contemporaries; a lucid truth that unashamedly parries the best of pop, while delivering well-crafted projects with tidbits of its formula. In an honest and vulnerable fashion, the indie-welcomed chanteuse delivers a bubbly, R&B-nourished seven-piece set, appropriately titled True–backed by her latest distribution collaboration with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and his label, Terrible Records.
Lately recognized mononymously by her first name, the multifaceted rebel with good intentions wove a fresh take on 80s-pop and R&B fusion with British producer, Dev Hynes. Read More
Since her debut, Keyshia Cole’s shtick has been relating to scorned women. The expressive singer was solidified as the second coming of Mary J. Blige (whether Mary approved or not), courtesy of the four singles released from The Way It Is. R&B banger “Let It Go” led Keyshia’s most cohesive album to date, Just Like You, and contributed to the Mary comparisons due to its Bad Boy flavor. Three additional infectious singles followed, making Keyshia eight for eight.
Prior to the release of Keyshia’s third album, A Different Me, a hurricane by the name of Beyoncé resurfaced and dominated her urban contemporaries. In retrospect, this unnatural disaster may have benefited Keyshia. It made it easier for listeners to forget she re-released a deceased rapper’s song as the lead single and was upstaged on the album’s best song.
In-between her third and fourth albums, Keyshia had started a family with NBA baller Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. Fans, particularly scorned women that related with “old Keyshia,” felt disconnected because they were still miserable and perhaps dealing with the same dude Keyshia sang about in ’05. Somehow, they were convinced Calling All Hearts saw KC treading in happier waters, when in fact it boasts a fair share of moody records. If anything, A Different Me is her “happy album.” Unsupportive fans practically demanded for Keyshia to go “back to the basics,” and she indulged them with Woman To Woman. Read More
Seven years ago, no one suspected the Bajan teenager singing “come Mr. DJ song pon de replay” would blossom into a global superstar that has broken records set by Mariah Carey and be likened to Madonna. Seven albums and several hairstyles later, Rihanna has surpassed any initial expectations Def Jam set for her.
Though seemingly manufactured, the 24-year-old is the archetype of a Pop icon. Listing her career accomplishments and detailing her indisputable impact to fashion, music and society would not only take hours, but it would require weekly revisions. In her own words: “that Rihanna reign just won’t let up.”
This week alone, Unapologetic, her seventh album in seven years, marks a few more career milestones. The LP is set to enter Billboard 200 chart at number one, a feat that has eluded the singles queen’s previous releases. Additionally, it will earn the “We Found Love” singer her highest sales week to date. Meanwhile, “Diamonds,” Unapologetic’s lead single, has topped the Hot 100 chart, making it her 12th number one.
So, what has Rihanna done differently to set Unapologetic off to a better start than her previous efforts? Absolutely nothing. Yet again, the self-perpetuated “good girl gone bad” has bundled a random assortment of Pop songs with loud instrumentals, R-rated lyrics and infectious melodies for your consumption. These songs exist well individually, but when compiled and heard sequentially, the listen is as belligerent and incompetent as Chris Brown during a Twitter dispute. Read More
Brandy has returned to the music scene with a new record deal, a more confident demeanor and most importantly, new music. After a few critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums, she was convinced she needed to redefine herself musically. She sought a fresher sound, which yielded Two Eleven’s lead single, “Put It Down.”
Though fun, catchy and commercial, elements of “Put It Down” were too elementary for an artist of Brandy’s caliber. Those elements include Sean Garrett’s undeveloped (but highly lucrative) writing style, Bangladesh’s repetitive production and Chris Brown’s unnecessary appearance. Read More
Teen stars often get lost in limbo when transitioning from their teenybopper roots to the more mature side of the industry. Most of this is due to the unwavering public, who refuses to view them as adults with mature minds. Admired actress and preening singer, Keke Palmer, is currently undergoing that awkward transition, and it’s going badly.
Keke stopped by BET’s 106 & Park to promote her eponymous mixtape. Not only was her performance of “Dance Alone” uncomfortable to watch, the newly-blond 19-year-old seemed rather uncomfortable in a shirt tied like Mrs. Parker’s from Friday, exposing her midriff and accentuating her cleavage. It was too much to take in, especially for someone who can recite quotes from Akeelah and the Bee. Read More
Yesterday evening, after a few false starts, Lil’ Wayne gifted his fans with Dedication 4. Like most mixtapes, ‘D4’ boasts 14 enthusiastically senseless freestyles (used loosely) over familiar instrumentals. Winded raps, poor audio mastering and peculiar one-liners like: “her clit look like a jellybean” plague the tape, making it entirely intolerable.
Without further adieu, check out my (lengthy) track-by-track review of Lil’ Wayne’s Dedication 4 mixtape. Read More