Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday 11/24 Street Date Album Reviews With Rihanna, Blakroc And Bill Cosby

via the Los Angeles Times

Rihanna - Rated R (Island/Def Jam)
Four stars (Out of four)

"Rated R" belongs to that lonely figure, a self-styled X-Girl taken aback by her own vulnerability. After an intro that immediately cops to its maker's agitation -- it's called "Mad House" -- the album unfolds in quick turns, alternating acts of aggression with confessions of sorrow and confusion.

Searching for strength, Rihanna and her collaborators take on musical styles historically prone to machismo: hard rock, which Rihanna dons like a form of couture, and dancehall reggae, which she knows well but uses here in new ways. Images of violence abound: There are guns, grenades, girl gangs, crashing cars and smashed bodies on the football field.

Rihanna puts on her tough voice for these songs, settling into her lower register with a fierce frown. "The only thing I'm missing is a black guitar," she growls in the Dream-and-Stewart produced "Rockstar 101," her heavy modulation making clear that she can definitely get by without that ultimate rock phallic symbol. (Slash's presence, playing one, feels like an afterthought.)

via the Seattle Times

BlakRoc is a bright spot in a dismal year for hip-hop. Which is tough to admit: The eponymous album — a collaboration between Ohio garage-bluesmen the Black Keys and a slew of notable MCs — is gimmicky and NPR-ready but stands as '09's most interesting hip-hop approach.

Let the compliment stand un-backhanded. BlakRoc deepens the louche blues inherent to hip-hop's musicality and lyricism. Keys drummer Patrick Carney has always played with spare, bass-heavy aggression, fundamental to live-band hip-hop. Listen as he goes toe-to-toe with Ludacris and an exhumed ODB on "Coochie" (massive, bombastic) and simmers behind Jay-Z clone Noe on "Hard Times" (dark, haunting). Mos Def works typically soulful verses and backup vocals on a Jim Jones-rapped track; singer Nicole Wray spouts heartcrushing soul wherever she turns up, a vintage update to a stagnating tradition. 'BlakRoc' is due for release Friday.

via ABC news

Bill Cosby is gangster when it comes to helping black people. Meaning he's ruthless, bold, fearless — and will do anything to achieve his objective.

Cosby has already absorbed enormous criticism from African-Americans for his blunt attacks on self-destructive black behavior and hip-hop culture. Now he's taking his crusade into the lion's den with the improbable rap album "State of Emergency."

There's only one problem: the music itself. Asking your average rap fan to listen to this is like asking a kid to give up Twinkies for tofu — so the healthy stuff had better be extra good.

Read each full album review here:
L.A. Times - Album review: Rihanna's 'Rated R'

Seattle Times - CD review | BlakRoc's 'BlakRoc'

ABC News - Music Review: Cosby Rap CD Bold but Lacks Spark

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