Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kid Cudi's Man On The Moon

The Cleveland rapper/singer said the disc was going to have a dream concept throughout, that’s “really trippy.” What I did was I tried to make a story that you could follow along to,” he explained. “So the track listing is somewhat of a table of contents like something you would see in the beginning of a script. It’s broken down into five acts, there’s three scenes on average per act. Each scene is a song. Each act has a title and it tells you what part of the dream is happening because the whole album is a dream. And there’s nightmares so each song that’s a nightmare will have the title nightmare next to it so you’ll be in that state of mind when you listen to it.”

While Kid Cudi’s debut is definitely impressive, it hits a number of snags. One big thing is Common’s completely unnecessary narration, which appears at random. It’s as though Mescudi feared that the unity among the tracks as far as the production and lyrics were concerned wasn’t enough to make the album feel conceptual, so lines for a narrator were tacked on between certain songs. It doesn’t flow, and doesn’t feel genuine; it only serves to disrupt Man on the Moon’s momentum. Speaking of flow, another issue is that Kid Cudi barely has one. This isn’t exactly crippling, as the vocal patterns are very well constructed, but his voice is caught awkwardly betwixt singing, rapping, and talking voices, not really registering as any of these. Lyrically, while Mescudi certainly can’t be accused of being empty or bereft of feeling, as there’s a lot of that here, more often than not he sacrifices any sense of poetry for directness to the point of coming across as self pitying.

Man on the Moon fumbles a bit at the end with the generic slow jam sound of Hyyerr as well as Common popping up once more to conclude his narration, but the album doesn’t quite end on a sour note. Kid Cudi is able to largely live up to the hype that has surrounded him for the past year, and his interesting perspectives on the genre will no doubt yield even better works in the future.

The End Of Day, Make Her Say

After gaining acclaim with his first single following the success of his mix tape, Kid Cudi worked with Kanye West on his 2008 album, 808s & Heartbreak.

West returns the favor on follow up single “Make Her Say”, originally titled “I Poke Her Face”. Fusing samples from Lady Gaga's “Poker Face” and featuring performances by Common and West, it may be the equivalent of locker room banter poured on vinyl, but shows creativity and a spark (however dim) of brightness on an overall dark record.

Ratatat-produced third single "Pursuit Of Happiness", featuring vocals by MGMT and, though not the first two collaborators one would think of to work with an emerging rap artist, together they provide a solid performance and another album savior.

Stepping out of his comfort zone on this track, Cudi faces his unnamed demons and asks profound questions while a space-age soundscape swallows the track before MGMT burst in on the chorus. Pure genius.

Read more at Suite101: Kid Cudi Man On The Moon: The End Of Day: Review of CD from Kanye West Protégé with Day ' Nite & Make Her Say

Sheryl Crow - 100 Miles From Memphis

Like such classics as Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis, Sheryl Crow takes her inspiration for this entire album from the incomparably rich legacy of Memphis soul. Sheryl Crow is a very talented singer and musician, and her records have continually been received with glowing acclaim from fans. Although her last album, 2008′s Detours, was the first of her career to fail to reach platinum status upon its release (that said, it’s still sold some 700,000 copies worldwide), she is still regarded one of the premier acts within the realm of her style. That said, both rhythm and blues and soul are genres which hardly grant artists the freedom to simply dabble in, and for better or worse, Sheryl Crow is a pop musician trying to do just that here: dabble.

She ventures into a stripped down Al Green influenced style with Memphis native Justin Timberlake to cover Terence Trent d'Arby's hit "Sign Your Name." The single "Summer Day" finds her in a Stax Records pop-soul mood. The song "Roses and Moonlight" utilizes guitar effects and a funky beat that might have found its way into an Isaac Hayes classic of the late 60s or early 70s. The aura of Memphis soul imparts a cohesiveness to 100 Miles From Memphis that makes the whole project musically satisfying.

The Hammond B-3 organ gets a major workout on 100 Miles. Not surprising, given that the instrument was a hallmark of the Memphis soul that Crow references in the album’s title. “Eye to Eye,” a standout track, matches an Al Green-type sound with a reggae beat. “Stop” is Crow’s most affecting ballad in quite some time, and she scores with big-name collaborators like Citizen Cope (on a cover of his “Sideways”) and Memphis native Justin Timberlake (on the album’s most surprising track – an effective cover of Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Sign Your Name”). As a tip of the cap to one of the people who gave her a start in the music industry, she adds a faithful cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” to the end of the album. It’s casual, and Sheryl sounds like she had fun doing it – an apt way to close a record that’s one of the loosest (and best) of Crow’s career. (A and M Records 2010)

Black Teen Attacks White Man For Listening to Rap

Fourteen-year-old Joshuah Lamb sits in a Juvenile Detention center after beating up a 22-year-old white man for listening to music by rapper Gucci Mane. The attack was triggered because Lamb didn't think white people should listen to rap music. Now the local State Attorney's Office is deciding whether or not to charge Lamb with a hate crime.

The incident started when David McKnight, a white man, was listening to Gucci Mane's hit "Wasted" which features Ft. Myers rapper Plies. McKnight was blaring the song on his boom box while listening to the radio, while Lamb was walking down the sidewalk.

"You shouldn't be listening to rap music because you're white," Lamb said according to a police spokesperson.

McKnight replied that he can listen to whatever music he wants. The argument escalated to a fight. That's when Lamb punched him, and attacked McKnight. About seven other boys eventually joined the fight.

"I couldn't get away fast enough, let's just put it that way. Then one of them spit on me, punched me, knocked me down, got a couple of kicks in from a couple of them," McKnight told news station WFTV. He suffered a broken toe, concussion, swollen eye and strangulation marks.

The song, which includes lyrics like "I don't wear tight jeans like the white boys / But I do get wasted like the white boys" and "I need more cases and Gucci not a racist / All my diamonds Caucasians," was a minor hit on radio and Mane has been championed by critics all across the spectrum. Even indie rock-centric Pitchfork Media gave the album the song appeared on a relatively high 8.0 rating.

It's unclear from the article how seriously the State Attorney's Office is thinking about charging Lamb with a hate crime or if WFTV is just stroking racial flames. When interviewed, McKnight said at first he wasn't sure that Lamb should be charged with a hate crime, but when pushed further by the journalist interviewing him decides that maybe he should be.