I think it's clear we owe the rap world an apology!
All this time, "haters," as they're called, have pointed accusatory fingers at the genre as a whole, proclaiming its most famous celebrants as merely being in it for the money--bragging about their wealth, about having so much money they can't fold it, about simply being inherently superior to poor suckers such as ourselves who simply don't have it together as conspicuously as they do!
And yet here it is, short weeks before Christmas, and sure enough, like clockwork, with days to spare, they've all managed to complete their ambitious projects--after months of working hard to produced polished jewels to meet their personal deadlines!
I mean, it's not as if they were all in the studio looking at their spectacular wristwatches and saying, "Dang, we better finish this mess by the end of Q4 to maximize our personal profits! Gimme that mic and let's get outta here!"
Nope! Likely as not, they were in a hurry to shop for Christmas presents for the elderly and the poverty-stricken in time to get to church!
Incidentally, these packages will make perfect holiday gifts!
Chris Brown: Graffiti (Jive) If there's one poor fellow who's been in the news a bit too much lately, it's young Chris Brown--who's apparently been in a conspicuous scuffle or two of late and garnering heaps of attention! What say we put his past behind him and judge him on grounds that are purely musical? For starters, there are chords on this album! Additionally, such tracks as "I Can Transform Ya" "So Cold" and "Famous Girl" might be taken by some to be autobiographical in nature! But what about "Lucky Me"? Is that autobiographical too? No chance! Like Chris himself, it's all a big mystery! That's why I think the key track here may be "I.Y.A."--in which the daring singer implies "I Yearn for Aphrodite," asks "Is Yahoo! Appropriate?" and, bizarrely, notes his entire album is "Instinctively Yuletide-Aware"! At least that's my initial impression! Buy this just for the heck of it!
Snoop Dogg: Malice N Wonderland (Doggystyle) For many reasons, it's hard to dislike colorful rapper Snoop Dogg, not least because in the past few months someone showed him this album cover and he actually approved it! Good man! With guests up the kazoo--including Lil John, Jazmine Sullivan, Soulja Boy, R. Kelly, Brandy and Pharrell--and contributing producers like The-Dream, Dr. Dre, Pharrell, R. Kelly and Danja, this album sounds like no one else but Snoop! During the period when you can actually hear his voice, that is! Otherwise, it sounds like every frickin' record you're ever going to hear when you've got all these people working together in the studio laying tracks for some rapper to put a vocal on top of! That's why it's so great!
Thirty Seconds To Mars: This Is War (Virgin) Wow! Not to imply that the average music consumer is overly gullible, but here's Thirty Seconds To Mars working with U2's producer cohorts Flood and Steve Lillywhite and releasing an album called This Is War! Guess it scans better than This Is The Joshua Tree! Reaching new levels of fame and creativity, the band is releasing the album with no less than 2,000 different covers, all bearing pictures of fans from around the world! Do the math! Each is likely to buy at least five to distribute to their family and friends! And do you know how many brothers Tony The Tiger has? As always, terrific!
Clipse: Til The Casket Drops (Columbia) Boldly forgoing the apostrophe or additional "L" that would allow this album title to make grammatical sense, Clipse--loved by critics of every persuasion--is back with a cheerful opus guaranteed to make you smile and maybe take in a movie! Featuring all your favorite guests including Kanye West, Cam'ron & Pharrell, and the visually friendly Keri Hilson, this set boasts such life-affirming tracks as "Popular Demand," "I'm Good," and the refreshingly humble "Kinda Like A Big Deal" and is exactly the sort of music the world needs at this very instant! I'm especially drawn to the Keri Hilson track, mainly because of its alluring title: "All Eyes On Me" has now been used by recording artists at least 52 times, which impressively beats out "All Eyez On Me" and its laggardly 39 uses! These guys would go nuts in the back of a seafood store!
Elvis Presley: Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight (RCA/Legacy) Issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley--and coincidentally containing 4 CDs bearing 100 of his songs--this well-crafted box set demonstrates that maybe, just maybe, the guy had some talent! Favoring the rockers that helped cement his status as the so-called King, the collection is well-paced, chronologically extensive, and boosted by excellent liner notes by Billy Altman, a Yahoo contributor of whom we are especially proud! With a legacy like Presley's--and a finite batch of recordings--thematic presentation is everything, and this set gets a big thumbs-up in that department! Like American Idol with better hair!
Timbaland: Timbaland Presents Shock Value 2 (Blackground) One thing's for sure: If you're ever in the mood to hear Justin Timberlake, Daughtry, Miley Cyrus, the Fray, Nickelback, Drake, Katy Perry, Chris Brown, the All American Rejects, T-Pain, Keri Hilson, Gucci Mane, and Brandy all on one album, this is the album for you! On the other hand, you probably wouldn't enjoy An Incredibly Crass, Wholly-Commercial Endeavor Put Together To Simultaneously Exploit A Variety Of Disparate Fan Bases And Maximize Personal Wealth if anyone ever got around to recording it!
Gucci Mane: The State Vs. Radric Davis (Asylum) Speaking of Gucci Mane--and who isn't?--the dude's new album comes just a month after his being sentenced to 12 months in jail for parole violation! That rarely happens! Despite his initial troubles--in 2005, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a nightclub manager, according to a trusted internet source--the man is likely to increase in popularity while in the slammer, thanks to this artful set and such tracks as the thrice-featured "Interlude: Toilet Bowl Shawty (featuring Mike Epps)," each available for individual download as well! Yep, I'm thinking this may be a masterpiece!
Jimmy Buffett: Buffet Hotel (Mailboat) There have been more than a few Jimmy Buffett albums released, and here's another! Those who enjoy the singer-songwriter's warm and humorous approach will find more of it here on such tracks as "We Learned To Be Cool From You" and "Turn Up The Heat And Chill The Rosé"; those who think of him as that weird guy who wears Hawaiian shirts and has fans called "Parrotheads" will likewise find nothing to dissuade them from that preconception! And in Norway, people will continue to ride buses, enjoy seafood, and go about their business!Neil Young: Dreamin' Man Live '92 (Reprise) Part of Neil Young's ongoing "archive" series, this disc is especially interesting: It contains an entire live performance of the songs from Harvest Moon, recorded before that 1992 album--one of his best in years--saw actual release. Featuring "War Of Man," "Harvest Moon" and some of Young's more melodic tunes of that era in an appealing acoustic setting, it's a surprisingly rich, non-redundant experience. Unlike this blog!