Well….like the title says – this is going to be a big one. Let’s get to it.
Nas – Untitled
Where do I go with this? I’ve looked at a lot of the reviews for this album, and as par for the course – people are all over the place. The LA Times basically trashed it…..some other reviewers loved it. My take is this: Where was this album about 4 years ago with he put out Street’s Disciple. The beats still aren’t Jay-Z quality in selection….but I can live with what made the album. I mean on ‘Make the World Go Round’ even Chris Brown sounds good on the album – not that he is a bad singer…but a Nas album? It’s actually a decent look for the one of the two “commercial” singles a major label release like this would have. The ‘Hero’ beat brings Nas back into what I’m used to….a BIG beat…a good female chorus….hard drumline – Polow tha Don did Nas a solid on this beat – very good single. Are either of these song political? Hell no….but if it helps to push pop shit over to get this into people’s homes – there are worse ways to do it. The real talk is basically every other song on the album, starting with ‘Queens Get the Money’ and on to the Busta Rhymes assist on ‘Fried Chicken’….to his Obama backing ‘Black President.’
I won’t go thru all of the highlights. One thing I will say – he has a great theme/message for the album….and believe or not, he actually sounds even doper and more mature than he used to. The lyrics are crazy nice up and down the album. He has a nice mix of regular ‘I’m ballin’ talk and the sociopolitical talk (lots of this.) One of the top 3 albums he’s made…and easily the best of 2008. I’m not going to say Nas is nicer that Mr. Carter…Jay is a natural superstar and master lyricist. Nas isn’t a superstar in the “Glastonbury’ sense, but in terms of using the medium of rap music, in its original state – as an INFO-tainment tool – he is the best we have, maybe even ever (at least commercially.)
4.75 out of 5 – Essential selection of the week…month….year….thus far. (If when you pick up a copy…see if it has the bonus track “Like Me” on it…..if not, then find it – it’s worth your time)
Beck – Modern Guilt
Dope. I know some are lukewarm on it. But man…..I’m feeling this. I love the Dangermouse production. The lyrics are a little dark….he seems a bit, I don’t know, deceived….or tired…whatever it is – it comes across nice on the songs. It’s not his very best, but it’s still doper than most. Beck has attained that top-notch status. I mean….has he made a bad album?
4.25 out of 5
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Another dope album by the Brooklyn based – Minnesota raised band. Very Springsteen – very honest, but not too heavy to bring you down. I have a feeling that they are GREAT live for some reason.
4.25 out of 5.
Slept-on picks of the Week:
London Elektricity – Power Ballads
Originally came out in 2005. OFFICIAL drum and bass – how I missed this? I don’t know. Usually I don’t want or need vocals on my d’n’b….but this album shows me that you CAN make it work, if done correctly and with a talented singer like Liane Carroll. Heavy instrumentation…..not just a laptop and Ableton Live 6. Real drums and a bass. BBC’s Radio 1 Xtra named them best live drum and bass act in 2007. Only thing about that – they hadn’t actually played a live show in two years. “Out of This World” is the standout. DOPE.
5 out of 5 – great drum and bass, very soulful….good for DnB beginners
Primal Scream – XTRMNTR
Ill. Deathly ill. I can see how I made it past this album – it was 2000…..I was still finding my ear at that time…and I really didn’t get it yet (not that I have it all down now…I’m still learning.) Eight years later – I know what the fuss is about. Great album….very fuzzy electronic punk rock – heavy political (anarchy) themes all over.
4.5 out of 5 – glad I bumped into this album
Throwback(s) of the week: Talking Heads (1979 to 1983 – the Brian Eno era, except for Speaking in Tongues)
The Fear of Music
For some reason I felt like some Talking Heads…but they are incredibly hard to explain. This one is kind of in a post-punk mold. “Life during Wartime” is the star here……a must listen
Remain in Light
My favorite Talking Heads album, and probably one of the favorite albums ever. It’s just a dominator. Every song is money…..with the Fela Kuti-inspired Afrobeat polyrhythms. This album is so dope…even VIBE magazine listed it as one of the most important albums ever. Not just Rolling Stone or NME or Spin………..VIBE. ‘Once in a Lifetime’ is the dimepiece here…..the bassline kills it.
Speaking in Tongues
Another flamer thrower. This one is more straight forward…..well, at least as straight forward as the Heads can be. Some nice R&B inflections in each song.
If you have any official….official……..official albums I need to check out or review…..hit me up on the comments.