Music Update

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.

9 thoughts on “Music Update

  1. yeh this new nas album is dope! thank god…i’d almost lost faith. he seems a bit more together and even himself on this album.

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  2. Word….dude is on point. I was worried that I wouldn’t want to listen to it after a few days…but it’s still pretty listenable.

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  3. Are you guys listening to the same album I am?…I mean there are some ok songs but there are still alot of wack beats and corny ass choruses, straight up Nas style. The lyrics are good but I cant listen to that shit beacause the beats make my ears cringe

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  4. You know what? We’ll have to agree to disagree. Are the beats dope? Average for the most part. But I almost don’t care. The lyrics are that good. I’ve gotten to a point to where I don’t even hear “beat.” I just rewind to listen to lyrics and his patterning.

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  5. I mean dudes flow is nice. Most of the lyrics are dope but the beats and hooks are garbage. I mean if this is the standard we have lowered ourselves to? The fox joint is hot lyrically but a fucking rock beat? are you serious…the joint about aliens is dope but the fucking hook makes me wanna chuck the cd out the window…If someone would remix it and cut out some of the hooks it would be a great album…Its below average K you know it…

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  6. Dude….okay…..I have to admit – it’s not perfect. And no – this isn’t the standard. I just like the lyrics so much – that’s i’m willing to overlook the shortcomings. People everywhere in the world give Lil Wayne…and you know what, even Jay-Z, passes. (Not me or you…just saying). They have dope beats….but then they aren’t saying anything at all. What has Wayne every said? Now – what did most people rate the album? What…like at least a B+? For basically wasting my time? I love Jay just like everyone else – but the cat has given nothing to intelligent conversation. I don’t care if Nas rhymes over Casio beats – the message and the flow is going to make me like it.

    Are the beats below average – yes, a majority of them are and some do have bad hooks. Is the flow nice? – Yes. Is the message you would find in underground rappers or indie rock bands there? – without a doubt. I’m not going to punish dude’s message and flow because he can’t pick beats for shit – at least not on this album.

    It’s not about standard in this case, at least not to me. If an ass out ugly person has something pertinent to tell people – are you going to not listen to them because they’re ugly? Or will you listen to what he has to say?

    Would I liked for the beats to have been straight up bangers? Of course – the beats are usually what people listen for. But you don’t (attempt) to call an album ‘Nigger” without having some powerful shit to say.

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  7. I see your point totally man. I agree that the lyrics are good. I just wanted the whole package here man thats all. I think Nas is in touch with his niche lyrically on this album and I do agree that people get passes because of their tight beats. I was just hoping for the whole package here because I really like Nas and I always have rooted for that dude but I dont understand why he has such a bad ear for beats. That why I get so dissappointed when I hear him be so prolific but sonically it is shit…I hope you can see my point

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  8. I feel you…..the beats aren’t all great. And yeah – I do wish they were doper overall. But …..I don’t know….who’s going to tell the man his beat selecting skills suck ass?

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