I think it's safe to say that I've never written this blog while listening to any album by the Black Eyed Peas, let alone the brand new one!
And I've never been so excited in my life!
It strikes me now that my usual writing habits--listening to obscure jazz and classical music that is generally lyricless to allow the words to flow--often lend my prose a detached and at times emotionless style! And that's no good!
So after a great vacation, hitting the stores during the post-Black Friday weekend and actually seeing the guy behind me purchasing a new album--the new Kanye West, if it matters--I decided it might be a good idea to get caught up in the music I was purporting to review for once!
And coincidentally...it's the same week the new album by Soulja Boy has arrived!
The Black Eyed Peas: The Beginning (Interscope) One can't deny that listening to a new album by the Black Eyed Peas may rank up there with the most important life-changing events there are, and The Beginning ranks among one of the band's best albums of the year! The casual manner in which the band mixes crazy rhythms, scathing pop-cultural references such as "Leggo my Eggo" and an actual kitchen sink--it's a big, bulky package--makes each new listening an event to be treasured! Between them all--will.i.am, Fergie, apl.de.ap, Taboo, Tony The Tiger, Space Ranger, Lauren Bacall and President Rutherford B. Hayes--the Peas lay down so many complex, life-affirming songs of love and harmony I can't figure out which song I like best! But just like the Peas, I like to go out every night! I'm a sexy freak! To the beat! Get up off my genitals! Don't stop the party! Hey, now I remember why I don't like to listen to this stuff when I write! Unexpectedly, the "deluxe" version of this album features more tracks than the regular one! It's the best album ever!
Glee: The Music, Volume 4 (Columbia) I simply can't say enough about best-selling albums that feature wannabe amateur singers singing songs that most normal people are already sick of! For starters, I've been waiting for someone to record the definitive version of "Empire State Of Mind," and leave it to the cast of Glee to do exactly that! Between that and the one-of-a-kind versions of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "River Deep, Mountain High"--both of which surpass the flawed originals by smoothing out all those bothersome rough spots--Volume 4 represents the pinnacle of all things Glee, and, in many ways, life in the early 21st Century! Additionally, I've been thinking of having a t-shirt made of this album's lovely cover design! Not sure if this is available on vinyl, but if so, the sleeve might also make a dandy hat! What a show!
El DeBarge: Second Chance (Geffen) You know, it's not very easy to construct an actual sentence while the Black Eyed Peas are chanting "THIS IS THE BEST ONE YET" over and over--but why not let their lyrics guide my actual review? The first album by El DeBarge in 16 years--he's apparently spent several years getting counseling because his parents had a "thing" about definite vs. indefinite articles--is not bad at all, and features guest appearances by Faith Evans, 50 Cent, and Fabolous, all of whom probably grew up listening to El's music when they were running around the neighborhood eating popsicles! Oops, that Black Eyed Peas album just ended with some clown reciting: "This is wisdom: A wise man once said, tomorrow does not equal yesterday." Guess he must mean poor El's album doesn't stand a chance! Heck, aren't they on the same label or something? Weird!
Soulja Boy: The DeAndre Way (Interscope) At last! The latest album by my favorite rapper ever! Soulja Boy's new album is, like his earlier efforts, a surrealistic masterpiece best enjoyed by a non-English speaking audience who can simply detach themselves from the lyrics and enjoy them for the wash of rhythmic sound they provide! From opening track "First Day Of School" to the deeply compelling "Hey Cutie"--in which he offers a cute female the opportunity to "rub" his "six-pack"--The DeAndre Way is pioneering, daring, and in many ways suggestive of a teenager walking around wearing a space helmet containing a microphone picking up his every thought and utterance with total disregard of the outside environment! As a writer, I can relate to that! I am convinced that these albums will be studied, phrase by phrase, in college classes of the next century! Absolute genius!
Miguel: All I Want Is You (Jive) An artist who considers himself "a mashup of Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Pharell Williams"--but significantly is normal-sized--Miguel Jontel Pimentel is young, loaded with hip credentials, and seeing significant success with the title track of this new album as well as its follow-up single, "Sure Thing." As such he could become one of the year's biggest new stars...or simply a flash in the pan few people will remember in the years to come! It's kind of dramatic! I'm rooting for him because he's got good taste in music! Here's hoping he eventually makes a record with Joe!
Ronald Isley: Mr. I (Def Jam) A classy album that incredibly is the very first solo album to be released by this most respected Isley Brother, Mr. I sounds very much in the Isley Brothers mode--elegantly played and sung material, boosted by guest appearances by T.I. and Aretha Franklin, the latter appropriately on a cover of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend." Easily one of the year's best R&B albums. Really!
Jazmine Sullivan: Love Me Back (J Records) An excellent singer back for another go-round after a heap of acclaim--including seven Grammy nominations--for her debut set, Ms. Sullivan returns with a fine set featuring production from Ne-Yo and Missy Elliott, among others, and acquits herself superbly, without any gimmicks or doo-dads or the benefit of a defense attorney, figuratively speaking! She's great!
Chrisette Michele: Let Freedom Reign (Def Jam) Speaking of singers and Grammys, Chrisette Michele, who's actually won one, is back with her third album, which follows a previous set that entered the charts at No. 1! Sadly, though, that accomplishment was tainted by headlines blaring "Chrisette Michele 'Epiphany' Lowest No. 1 Debuting Album In SoundScan History"! Hopefully it had little effect on her self-esteem--but the last track here is called "I Know Nothing," so you never know! Nice eyelashes!
Dinah Washington: The Fabulous Miss D! The Keynote, Decca and Mercury Singles 1943-1953 (Hip-O Select) A bountiful collection of the early works of highly acclaimed singer Washington, whose career careened somewhere between jazz, blues and R&B, this deluxe 4-CD set is loaded with great material, some of it fairly eye-opening. Check out "Blow-Top Blues": "Last night I was five feet tall, today I'm eight feet ten / And every time I fall down stairs I float right up again / When someone turned the lights on me, it like to drove me blind / I woke up in Bellevue, but I left my mind behind/ I'm a gal who blew a fuse / I've got those blow top blues." Yikes!
Beyoncé: I Am...World Tour (Deluxe Edition) [DVD/CD] (Columbia) Apparently drawing more inspiration from Dinah Washington than many imagined, fabulous singer Beyoncé has not only renounced her existence as a human but now is proclaiming herself an abstract object! Hey, babe, you're not a tour--you're a thinking, feeling human being! Like most of us!