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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Album Reviews: Rihanna, Shakira, Jay Sean and more...

Rihanna - Rated R (J-Graded D+)
If the last album was a "good girl gone bad" then this album is "bad girl gone even worse." Now musically, this album is decent, full of top-notch production and even has a pretty consistent theme as far as sound goes... and there's my problem. The theme is dark. The lyrics are dark (and profanity-laced). The imagery is dark. Not that this album doesn't have its moments of beautiful honesty ("Stupid In Love" and "Fire Bomb" for example).
I'm just missing the light of the sun-kissed island girl we met with "Pon De Replay" or even the slightly edgier fun of "Umbrella". But this Rihanna... this chick is just acting out.

Shakira - She Wolf (J-Graded B-)
Shakira takes a bold step out of the latin-pop world into urban-pop market. Collaborations with Lil Wayne and Timbaland make it apparent that Shakira's inner la loba likes modern hip-hop/R&B. While it might seem like she's pandering to black folks, it's not that way at all. Shaki's witty lyrical content is still on full display, especially on songs like the titular track and "Men In This Town". This is well-crafted pop album that attempts to bring Shakira up to speed with what the other pop/R&B divas are doing, while not losing what makes her unique, and she succeeds.

Jay Sean - All Or Nothing (J-Graded D)
British-Indian R&B star Jay Sean has already conquered the music charts in various countries throughout Europe and Asia, and now he's set his sights on the U.S. market. Through a partnership with Cash Money Records (of all labels), he releases his Stateside debut All or Nothing. It's obvious from the material (and his image) that he's competing with the Usher's and Ne-Yo's of the world. Does he succeed? Not entirely. Yes, he has a smooth voice and cool moves, but the shallow and redundant lyrical content send this ride into Dullsville quickly. If it's all or nothing, Jay, I may have to opt for nothing... well, can I just download "Down"?

Boyz II Men - Love (J-Graded - B-)
Boyz II Men are the kings of harmony. Even minus their resident bass singer Michael McCrary, the other three members can sing the mess out of most any song. While the well-chosen range of songs spans genres and eras, the tendency to over-sing (Wanya, I'm talking to you) and unnecessarily rearrange takes the soul out of what could have been some nice moments. Overall, it's still a solid, romantic listen and worth picking up.

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster (GUEST REVIEWED BY TWYLA M.)

Who hasn’t raised their eyebrow a few times at the antics of Lady Gaga? Sometimes she can make you very uncomfortable, very intrigued, and even a little scared, well a lot scared! But, outside of the blood packets and the super strange outfits is some real music. The 8 new songs that turned The Fame into The Fame Monster are worth a listen! The enchantment of having a Bad Romance with Alejandro is pretty sweet. From the sound of Dance in the Dark this may just be her next “radio joint” but her cannibalistic/ dominatrix tendencies come out a little in Teeth, be careful with this one around the kiddies. All in all an album for any road trip, sleeping is something you won’t do.

Twyla top picks: "Bad Romance", "Alejandro", "Telephone"

Twyla rated : B+


Anonymous said...

I love the Rihanna album, I've had it along with Gaga and 9randomly) Santi Gold on repeat for several days! Rarely do black female artists get an opporutnity to act out the "ugly" side of their feelings (at least not mainstream pop black female artists). We've seen the "Ride or Die Chick" over again from Aretha to Mary to Keyshia, Rihanna is the "Ride or He dies chick" and I dig it!

Anonymous said...

Ugghhh, excuse the typos, geez :-)!

J. Pure said...

That's true. She's getting those ugly feelings out. I'm anxious to see what comes next tho. Thanks for the comment!