The Electric Lady
The abundantly-talented Janelle Monáe burst onto the scene in 2010 with her full-length debut The ArchAndroid, an ambitious sci-fi neo-soul opera that was my favorite album of that year. For those unfamiliar with Monáe, the Kansas-born R&B star in some ways is sort of an ultra-talented female Bruno Mars: what Mars does in doo-wop and soul revue channeling Jackie Wilson and Frankie Valli, Monáe does in a similar fashion but channels Stevie Wonder, Judy Garland, Prince, Lauryn Hill, Outkast, Michael Jackson, James Brown, and even George Lucas. Monáe not only has an insane rock ‘n’ roll vocabulary, but she flips from sounding like Jimi Hendrix to James Brown to Judy Garland as effortlessly as an Olympic gymnast. On her second full-length album and third chapter of her sci-fi adventure, The Electric Lady (which shares a name with Hendrix’s famous New York studio), Monáe recruits R&B’s finest for an album that shows more of her versatility but also more of her heart and attitude.
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In general, I’m not much for easy listening music. I believe it should stay in elevators, dentist’s office, and in your worst enemy’s dreams, but occasionally someone does this deservedly slighted genre right. Thus is the case with Rhye, a collaboration project from two well-respected producers in Canada’s Mike Milosh and Europe’s Canada aka Denmark’s Robin Hannibal. Both are known for a smooth, lovemaking brand of electronic music, so this project actually makes perfect sense. With Woman, the two producers form an intoxicatingly irresistible mix of easy listening R&B that keeps you engaged start to finish and will guide you when you turn the lights down low.
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We have had a wealth of album and shows to cover this past month and a half, and unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of things, we weren’t able to review Channel Orange, the debut album from new R&B sensation Frank Ocean. Suffice it to say, I am in love with the album and Frank Ocean himself who comes off as a wonderfully mix of Stevie Wonder, Prince, and which is interesting since I was only luke-warm on his debut mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA and I really don’t care for Odd Future, the young, brash Los Angeles hip hop collaborative he is from. I think Odd Future are mostly novelty for their shock and awe antics and are more media sensation than lasting talent (even if there is no doubt some there). But Frank Ocean has more honesty and soul than the rest of Odd Future combined, free from the showy behavior and disturbing lyrics. So here are five Frank Ocean tracks to highlight this young promising talent.
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Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
I think most people would agree that while Pink Friday was a supreme disappointment, bordering on unmitigated disaster. Featuring a wide array of terrible samples and unnecessary guest spots, Nicki’s debut was bland by her frenetic standards. Not only was Pink Friday bland, it also revealed her greatest flaw as an artist: self-awareness. I believe this flaw is why Nicki has shined more on tracks with other established artists than on tracks where she is the focal point (Kanye’s “Monster”, Lil’ Wayne’s “What’s Wrong With Them”, Young Money’s “F*** da Bullsh**”). And in fact the one track from Pink Friday that spoke to her potential was “Roman’s Revenge”, which had the creative imprint of Eminem all over it.
Continue reading “Nicki Minaj Review: Unique Doesn’t Always Mean Good”