Monthly Report: May Albums

1. IamSu! - Sincerely Yours
I didn't know what to expect from this album since I was never really especially impressed by IamSu!'s verses on any of the handful of big hits he's been featured on the last few years, I was just kinda checking this out since there's been a lot of good west coast rap coming out this year. This really grew on me quickly, though, has a surprisingly warm, low key sound than most current Bay rap, and Su's personality comes across better than it did on those features as a likeable, down-to-earth guy. And the whole thing is just gorgeously produced, all those lush, melodic tracks and good vibes, gonna be a great summer album. Here's the Spotify playlist of all the 2014 albums I've listened to, btw.

2. Jay Wyse - Choose Wysely EP
Jay Wyse made one of my favorite Baltimore rap projects of last year, and he's already back with another one, one of those EPs that really feels like an album. Really happy to see one of these young guys in the city coming into his own with a real personal, emotional perspective. Check out the record on Audiomack.

3. JuegoTheNinety - Sonny September CD
Another young Baltimore rapper, but one who's on some really really different shit, real animated delivery and dark subject matter and crazy production. There are parts that annoy me a little but I feel like that's kinda what he's going for, and there are more parts that are just straight up entertaining. Check it out on Soundcloud.

4. Mariah Carey - Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse
Working on my playlist of Mariah's deep cuts gave me a real appreciation for her as an albums artist, and this may not be one of her very best, but it's definitely in the upper half of her catalog. And that's kind of a relief given the long, troubled singles campaign for the album and the goofy title it ended up with. The first three new tracks running into "#Beautiful" sound really great and that song doesn't even feel out of place like year-old singles often do on albums. From there the quality of the songs goes up and down for the rest of the album, but there's a really lush, luxurious vibe to the whole thing that only gets interrupted a couple times by straining attempts to sound current.

5. 2 Chainz - FreeBase EP
It seems a little odd to me for 2 Chainz to throw an EP out to the mixtape circuit just 8 months after his underperforming second album, although I loved that album and this is nearly up to the same bar of quality, so I appreciate it. Even when he opens the first song with the kind of triplet flow that's been getting played out lately, he redeems it with the offhand shoutout of "this flow come from Drizzy, he got it from Migos, they got it from Three 6." Love the Boosie verse on "Wuda Cuda Shuda" too.

6. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
It's weird but at this point I find myself actually rooting for Coldplay since Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, they've really got a good amount of music I enjoy the hell out of now. And I was primed to really fuck with this one heavy since I love "Magic" and consider it to be more moving than I thought a song about Gwyneth Paltrow could be. But that song still kinda towers over the rest of Ghost Stories for me, only maybe "Always In My Head" and "True Love" have production alluring enough to overcome the lack of hooks. Still a really pleasant, moody album to listen to, but Coldplay's career has always basically been like Sting's solo career, and this is like one of those later albums where he kinda gave up on making undeniable pop jams.

7. Trans Am - Volume X
I'm glad Trans Am are still going and I feel like, in some ways, certain aspects of their sound and their persona, their sense of humor, are better understood by listeners now than they might've been back in the early days. This is probably the hardest rocking record they've made in a good while, although it hasn't really hooked me as much as the last couple, Sex Change and Thing, did. So far my favorite track is "Failure," which is only 2 minutes long, and I wish it was longer.

8. The Roots - ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
It seems like ever since they signed with Def Jam and, later, got the Jimmy Fallon gig, The Roots have been kind of freed up to just make whatever records they want to make and not even bother with the slightest effort in ever having another hit single. In a way I admire that, that they're just going for it, but as much as I loved Game Theory, I've enjoyed every album since then less and less (not counting Wise Up Ghost with Elvis Costello, which was awesome). This one just feels like they're pulling back further and further to see how little they can concede to the listener -- they still do choruses on a lot of songs but they're often so annoying and unpleasant (especially "Never)" that I wish they wouldn't bother. And that Greg Porn guy has gotten a bigger and bigger cut of the last few albums and I'm just sick of dude, don't know why he's here. It actually feels like this huge relief when someone as unremarkable and competent as Raheem DeVaughn shows up to sing on the last two tracks.

9. Cher Lloyd - Sorry I'm Late
Cher Lloyd's first album was released in the US almost a year after it originally came out in the UK, which is a pretty typical thing that happens with British artists. Now, very unusually, the opposite has happened with her second album, which came out in American (and several other countries) in May and isn't due to come out in the UK until July at the soonest. The singles haven't been hits in either country, but for some reason they actually put the album out here anyway. And there's nothing that feels like it deserves to be as big as "I Want U Back" (although "Killin' It" feels like a hit to me), but it's a really solid pop record, a shame that she seems to be suffering such a big commercial slump. For some reason I just think Cher pulls off the obnoxious-white-girl-who-likes-rap pop star thing better than Miley or Ke$ha.

10. Boots - WinterSpringSummerFall
I've probably listened to Beyonce more than any other album in the last 6 months, and I give Boots a lot of credit for the sound of the record even if B really brings it all to life. So it was with mild trepidation that I ventured into his solo mixtape, and over the course of an hour there's a lot of great stuff and some pretty terrible stuff too. He has what I would call a Ryan Leslie skill set: great producer, decent singer, and appalling rapper who does way more of the latter than anyone could possibly want.

Worst Album of the Month: Wiz Khalifa - 28 Grams
I actually really liked O.N.I.F.C., the album that came close to killing Wiz Khalifa's career, because the production was just amazing. And I have zero affection for his moronic comeback hit "We Dem Boyz" (or, as I like to call it, "Weed And Boyz"), and never had a whole lot of time for Wiz in general, so obviously I'm not really the audience for this. Still, I remain kind of fascinated by what a blank slate this dude is -- you really have to have absolutely no ideas or personality to be defined by something the majority rappers do like smoking weed. The closest he ever gets to humor or wit is, like, "I'm in her mouth like I'm a dentist." Even with the promising production lineup, this just gets samey and boring real quick. At one point he raps over Missy's "The Rain" and it's appalling. And the faux raggamuffin flow on "Pure" is just painful. At least the Juicy J-produced track is good.
« Home | Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »

Post a Comment