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This post was written by Ivan Guzman, a 17-year-old from the Bronx. Read more about Ivan here, and see his archives here.
What's up folks? It's been a while, such a while that I am now 17 years old. It's been such a while that the last time I wrote not only was I 16, but Lindsay Lohan was a free woman and the Gulf Coast wasn't a wasteland of oil and lost money. Speaking of the oil spill, I'm not going to write about that, it's been written about to death and I don't think you need my opinion. If you know me or have read my previous posts then you can guess what I think about it. Also, I've developed writer's block when it comes to writing about politics. That's why in this post I'm writing all about music.
Recently, three hip-hop albums were released that caught my attention. One of those were due to hype, another because of how good it was, and the last because it was surprisingly good. The three albums are Thank Me Later by Drake, Recovery by Eminem, and Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty by Big Boi (one-half of OutKast).
Thank Me Later
Thank Me Later was possibly the most anticipated hip-hop album of the year (a distinction that now arguably belongs to Kanye West's upcoming album, which is a different post for a different time). Honestly, I could write an entire post on this album, but I'll keep it as brief as I can because I have two more albums to write about. Let's start with the positives, Drake is a good rapper. Is he the best? No. However, he's very witty and has a knack for making even the simplest things sound very catchy ("hey, hey, hey"...how can you not sing along to that?). Also, his producers went to work on this album. Most of the beats on this album will have you either nodding your head, or will at least grab your attention. Drake also doesn't get overshadowed by anyone on his album, which I thought was going to happen for certain. If anyone stole the show here, it was his producers and whomever made the beats for most of the songs on the album.
Now for the negatives, and this is the biggest problem I have with Drake as a rapper overall: he is incredibly shallow. Almost every verse on Thank Me Later somehow ends up back at the same topics that most rappers talk about: money, women, and how great they are. Even a song like The Resistance--with a potentially very interesting theme of how fame has caused Drake to have little time left for his friends--just deviates back to the regular old rap topics.
Now, Drake's buzz guaranteed that he was going to sell a respectable amount, just because people wanted to see what the guy was about, but Drake needed his own Lollipop (the Lil Wayne hit that propelled him to sell 1 million in his first week). Wayne's buzz combined with a mega-hit made his sales blow up. But Drake's hit single, Over, didn't have the same effect. Over wasn't a bad song or anything, it just didn't catch on with everyone like Lollipop did. Over simply wasn't the song that the teenage girls were going to listen to, although the pure hip-hop fans enjoyed it. On the other hand, Find Your Love was a song that girls did squeal at, while the pure hip-hop fans just shook their heads and walked away. In the end, Drake just didn't have that one song that brought everyone together like Lollipop did.
Also, I think all truly great albums have a great ending. Thank Me Later left a bad taste in my mouth with the song Thank Me Now. For all the positives and negatives, the album went platinum. The best song is Show Me A Good Time, the worst is Shut It Down.
When I listened to Eminem's previous album, Relapse, I found only one song that had true replay value to me, Beautiful. I figured Eminem's best days were behind him and he was just going to be an angry, cursing, recovering drug addict who would make pop culture references because he could. That's why my expectations were considerably low for Recovery. However, just listen to the opening song Cold Wind Blows and you'll see that Eminem is not only back, he may be better than ever. On just about every song you can find at least three punch-lines that will make you laugh out loud. Lyrically, it's the best album I've heard all year.
Recovery is almost the opposite of Thank Me Later in that Eminem's topics on the album are deep and personal. From his drug use to the death of his best friend, Eminem spills his guts on just about every song in the album. Also, when the tracklist for the album was first released I nearly did a double take when I saw that Pink and Rihanna were going to be on the album and I wondered who Kobe was. After listening to all three on the album they all do great jobs (all on hook-singing duty). Rihanna steals the show in Love The Way You Lie, while Kobe and Pink do their jobs very well (Talkin 2 Myself and Won't Back Down, respectively). Eminem's producers also did a wonderful job on the album (Won't Back Down has a "volume down" gimmick that is genius).
As for negatives, there aren't many. Lil Wayne provides the best guest appearance on the album in No Love. It's so good that he basically makes Eminem's verse forgettable, he steals the show completely. It's almost like payback since Eminem did the same thing on Lil Wayne's song, Drop The World. Also, a bonus track named Session One (featuring 3/4ths of Slaughterhouse) left me wondering why it wasn't on the actual album. He should've put Session One in place of W.T.P. which seemed like a song he only put on the album as comic relief, which wasn't at all necessary on this album.
Other than that, I couldn't think of any other negatives on the album. So far, it's my favorite album of 2010. The best song is Going Through Changes, the worst is (you guessed it) W.T.P.
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dust
When I think of Outkast,I think of the coolness that is Andre 3000, and the gangsta that is Big Boi (A.K.A. Sir Lucious Left Foot, Daddy Fat Sax, and a few other aliases he has, I've lost track). On this album, I expected to hear a lot of the usual hip-hop talk (the same I mentioned earlier with Drake), and that's what I got.
However, I have never had such a good time listening to all of the usual hip-hop talk. The beats on Sir Lucious Left Foot are electric. When you put the album on from the first minute it's head-nodding time. The songs just make you want to dance. They instantly make you cooler. The hooks give me goosebumps. It's like you're instantly injected with adrenaline when you play a song like Shutterbug or Shine Blockas.
However, the album's biggest positive might also be its biggest negative. Throughout the entire album, I didn't really care about what Big Boi had to say. He doesn't say much, his topics range from how great he is to how we all counted him out while he was gone (BTW, I didn't count him out, I just didn't know he was gone and frankly didn't really care).
Big Boi gets overshadowed by every guest but Gucci Mane (which is like saying a Major League Pitcher threw a fastball faster than Jamie Moyer, it ain't much). Vonnegutt provides an electric hook on Follow Us, Janelle Monae does the same on Be Still, and B.o.B. follows suit on Night Night. Yelawolf (who I didn't know before this album) provides a show-stealing guest verse on You Ain't No DJ. It's the same with all the guests, they all steal the show from Big Boi. Not only do the beats and guests steal the show from Big Boi, but the skits in between songs do as well. Basically, every song I liked on the album I didn't like because of Big Boi. Unless this is a compilation album of different artists (a la We Are Young Money), that's a major problem. I was going to say this album needed Andre 3000, but that would've just made the biggest problem worse.
It's a great album to me, just not because of Big Boi. The best song is Shutterbug, the worst is Hustle Blood.
That's enough of me. I hope you enjoyed this little change of pace, I certainly had a lot of fun doing this. See you on the next one.