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Thursday, 31 March 2011

REVIEW: SNOOP DOGG: DOGGUMENTARY


4/5

More seriously, smooth, soulful, Snoopadelic styles from the Doggfather of rhythmic hip-hop.

Snoop Dogg has either struck a deal with the devil or is simply the hardest-working, most diversely-talented, longest-running relevant act in the A-list of Hollywood, Hip-Hop stars. From his ground-breaking, hip-hop legacy, classic debut 'Doggystyle', to his legendary groups Tha Dogg Pound (with Kurupt and Daz Dillinger) and 213 (with legends Warren G and Nate Dogg (R.I.P.)) Snoop has made classic after classic. From the hardcore, to G-Funk, to 'Rhythm & Gangster,' Snoop has evolved musically all whilst staying true to himself. Whether in the form of being arguably the best guest rapper of all-time (next to Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and Lil' Wayne) or his legacy with Dr. Dre, Master P and Pharrell. Snoop's popularity and character has earned him more work in movies and the GPS of peoples cars.

As Uncle Snoop has got older he's become even more relevant, resembling Quincy Jones in more then just looks. With more classics then you remember or know, Snoop has released timeless, hip-hop scriptures from 'What's My Name' to 'Drop It Like It's Hot'. In the early 2000's Snoop made 'Beautiful' collaborations with Pharrell, giving his career the rhythmic, feel-good, second-wind that has spawned great CD's like 'From The Chuuch To The Palace', 'Tha Blue Carpet Treatment' and the inventive, his-way, Frank classic journey of 'Ego Trippin''. Now fresh off the perfect balance of his gangster and rhythmic ways on the album 'Malice N Wonderland', (and it's ravishing reissue 'More Malice') the hardest-working, multi-talented, West-Coast legend is back to show he's still as hot as the Californian sun with his 'Doggumentary' music.

The Hollywood star, walk the walk of fame with this 21 track epic, where all tracks deserve their own recognition. Even fresh off pulling a Kanye and Timbaland by releasing music for free every week (as part of his 'Puff, Puff, Pass Tuesday') Snoop has more maliciously magnificent tracks from his vault as his disposal which you'll be willing to part dollars and sense for. Led by the sweat inducing single 'Wet', the Dogg's gangster funk soaks through the speakers, drenching the mainstream like downtown Los Angeles heat. 'Toyz N Da Hood' (featuring Bootsy Collins), serves as the perfect album intro with it's fantastic, funkadelic sound. While producing partner Battlecat brings a brilliantly bold beat for 'The Way Life Used To Be', a great reminiscent story song that even bests Snoop's most recent laments of 'Think About It', 'Up's & Down's and 'Neva Have 2 Worry'.

Snoop gets even deeper to start the album off with the Mr. Porter assisted 'My Own Way'. The D12 member croons, "they say I'm a fool/because I like to do things my own way", over some signature Snoop lines as the producer furthers his own legend of delivering quality backdrops for the front-runners in the game. Following the funky 'Wonder What I Do', is the seriously hard 'My Fucn House' featuring Young Jeezy and E-40 and some awesome aggression for an aggravated assault of the airwaves.

Following the 'Peer Pressure' and classic sampler of Traci Nelson's guest-spot Snoop delivers the albums best with 'I Don't Need No Bitch'. A track that may not exactly be poetic, but is still Snoop at his serious nicest. Snoop then goes for the multiple figures with R. Kelly on the plaque plated 'Platinum'. After that explosive heater S. D. brings more 'Boom' with T-Pain as the hook master brings a different type of chorus style for a signature hit. Then Snoop champions his city and home like he was the Lakers on the back-to-back, 'We Rest In Cali' and 'El Lay', two of the album's brightest tracks illuminating the West-Coast like early July fireworks in downtown.

Doggy Dogg has made his own sound a billboard success, but that hasn't stopped him from taking it back to the raw, rugged street sound of his early career and that is tracked on songs like 'Gangbang Rookie' and 'Something Like This Night' featuring the ground-breaking Gorillaz. Just like on his last album Snoop balances his early and most recent styles for a different, but potent mix. From the 'Aint No Fun' esque 'Take You Home' (where his homies get some) to the heart monitor, classic beats of 'Raised In The Hood'. Even on the albums, numerous guest-spots, Snoop takes charge as he rolls papers with protegee, and latest thing Wiz Khalifia on the smoking blazer 'The Weed Is Mine'.

The real-highlight is where Snoop explores his country side once again with the cowboy collaboration with iconic American legend Willie Nelson. Following the pairs ego trip on 'My Medicine' they link up perfectly still on 'Superman', with heroic risks they pull off another partnership for he envelope-pushing ages. Then Kanye brings one of his 'Dark Fantasy's' for the amazing and awakening 'Eyez Closed' with John Legend in tow. If that wasn't enough Snoop goes into 20 territory finishing strong with the winning 'It's D Only Thang', which is perfect for this March Madness and 'Cold Game', one of the hottest heaters on the entire disc. Snoop brings frequent collaborator Latoyia Williams back for the perfect closer, showing that even by the outro Snoop has more ready to go.

The Beatles of rap, Run-DMC once referred to Snoop as the Bob Dylan of hip-hop and with his constant output of vast, diverse but high-quality material their right. Snoop came off 'Death Row' and has showed over the years that there is no limit to his style, success and longevity. As the Dogg pounds more musical sustenance he delivers one of his best packs yet. Originally this album was meant to be a sequel to 'Doggstyle' but instead it's the perfect feature presentation for the second-wind of Snoop's career. If you want to know the secret to this mans success then check out this documentary, which reveals every side of this 'pup that knows all the tricks. As Snoop takes us to school, it's time were the ones that learned. This Dogg is a rare breed still putting down killer tracks into his forties, yet he's not getting old. Chuuuch! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK-ALICIA KEYS: AS I AM


From 'Songs in A Minor' to 'Element Of Freedom' and other diary entries Miss Keys really has had the talents to help her become one of the best singer/songwriters of current and all time. Still 'As I Am' was the album that the R&B star was at her most seriously, sincere soulful self. The hot, lead single 'No One' was a sublime, classy chart smash, and you could tell from the black and white, personal portrait on the front cover that 'As I Am' was going to be an in-depth classic. Marvin would be proud from the powerful, heart-breakingly appreciative reflection points of 'Like You'll Never See Me Again' (which had a terrific second take on a Ludacris remix) to John Mayer's simply awesome, 'It's Alright' vocals on 'Lessons Learned' along with the heroic, female rally-cry of 'Superwoman' and it's world-wide inspiration to the love lament of 'Where Do We Go From Here'. Every track on this album was perfect from the upbeat drumbeat of 'I Need You' to the angelic, 'Saviour' off the albums 'Super Deluxe Edition'. This record is timeless like Smokey and Stevie vinyl's. All in all this take of Alicia as she is was more then just the real thing, it was the truth. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE


The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.

SIDE A:

JAY-Z & KANYE WEST-H.A.M.: We still don't know when exactly these pair of legendary, greatest-right-now rappers will 'Watch The Throne', but we hope it's soon as this meaty track shows the kings going hard on guard.

KANYE WEST-DARK FANTASY: Kanye West again? Can he get much higher? Well listen to this album titled opener and there's your answer. Get some Yeezy in your ride.

BISHOP LAMONT-HOME: How this underrated, one of the best around rappers hasn't had an album released yet is beyond any sense of common. With more incredible, free to boot 'street' albums then most rappers have studio ones. This guy really has been something for more years then you'd care to think. Plus this uplifting classic track shows just how versatile this West-Coast rhyme-slinger really is.

THE GAME-ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN: Speaking of Cali', Dre bred rappers, Chuck Taylor's tribute to the one of the best in the game, Nate Dogg is poignant, powerful and perfect. A week, a month, years later we'll never forget all that Nate said. Rest peacefully Dogg.

R.E.M.-THAT SOMEONE IS YOU: Every now and then one of the worlds best, most legendary bands will return with an album full of gems and always that one special love song, which is devoted dedication but still real rock. That band is R.E.M. Aint they something.

SIDE B:

J DILLA Feat BLU & JONTEL-SUN IN MY FACE: The late, legendary producer gives it up to the incredible nation of Japan on his uplifting 'Jay Love Japan', with rapper Blu providing the adrenaline with lines like 'Japan stand up'. This song and album for Japan was made years back but is of real, relevant inspiration right now. We are all with you in spirit.

BILLY 'BLUE' BAND-AINT NO LOVE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY: The hot new Matthew McConnaughey film begins with this classic setting the scene. This timeless, soulful, rocking jam also served as 'The Blueprint' for one of Jay-Z and Kanye West best produced tracks, 'Heart Of The City (Aint No Love)'.

MARLENE SHAW-CALIFORNIA SOUL: This incredible soul, California sun setting classic ends the previously mentioned film as perfectly and effectively as Billy Blue begins it. The iconic Marvin Gaye and many others have tried their hand, but there's just something so epic about Marlene's version. Truly illuminating and spiritual.

THE STROKES-IS THIS IT: The New York, throwback, leather clad hair-band are back this week with the heaven sent, 'Angels', but this classic not only kicked started their career, it also started a homage, rock and roll revolution.

PHAROAHE MONCH-SIMON SAYS: Simon says you better pick up Monch's New 'W.A.R.' report. Simon says this rapper is still one of the most underrated. Simon says he's more then just this classic smash, but 'Simon Says' is still an incredible song, as is the guest-heavy remix. So get the @#$& up. DUN, DUN, DUN, DUN! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

REVIEW: PHAROAHE MONCH: W.A.R (WE ARE RENEGADES)


3/5

Going to W.A.R., Monch shows he's the most high.

Like it or not, know him or not, Pharoahe Monch is one of the best rappers around today and for the last decade or so. Belonging at the top of a class of underground, conscious M.C's like Talib Kweli, Mos Def and many more, if reality was a just fantasy this rapper would top all the commercials with his classics. Sure you may know his lyricist lounge, 'Oh No' session with Mos Def and Nate Dogg (R.I.P.). Or you may have done as told on his 'Gojira tai Mosura' theme sampling smash 'Simon Says'. Still this rapper is no novelty like the 'Cha, Cha Slide'.

Now you may have slept on the fact that almost a decade after his classic debut ('Internal Affairs') he released another timeless, hip-hop disc full of realism in the form of 'Desire'. You might have been too tired to realise that as well as actively rapping in a political way, this rap prophet can also go deep into the psyche of human nature (see 'So Good' and 'Love' with the late, legendary J Dilla). Still, with Monch's latest album 'W.A.R (We Are Renegades)' he intends to wake up music fans and the world alike with a commentary we need both socially and internationally.

This renegade kicks off this album with a cinematic, dramatic intro narrated by 'The Wire's' Idris Elba (who's also got an impressive set of pipes, check his EP ). Now, talking about 'The Wire' and it's movie-like qualities, Pharoahe brings in the HBO drama's Gbenga Akinnagbe for a ten minute, dramatic film for his first single 'Clap (One Day)'. Sampling some previous lyrics, Eric B. & Rakim classics and story-telling styles from the 'Trilogy' on his last album, Monch shows that he is hip-hop's perfect narrator with a social story sure to stir even the strongest of consciences.

The albums lead track, 'Calculated Amalgamation' is also a mathematical, lyrical masterpiece as Monch again drops science, schooling the lost art of real hip-hop. With calculated lines like, "found myself standing in a room full of mirrors/and even my reflection disrespects you like a freshman during hazing/(what an amazing assessment)" , all this adds up to is a greater correlation in Monch's discography of classics. Then Monch's sound multiplies even more with 'Evolve'. A track that shows no subtraction in the rappers style, yet a sound that won't leave the mainstream and the hard hip-hop heads divided. The same goes for the Styles P, substance full track 'Black Hand Side' also featuring Phonte of Little Brother fame. There's no hand my downs here on the typical, traditional sound of underground, conscious hip-hop soul that Monch has honed over the years. A style that needs to be passed up to some mainstream minds.

The title track of this album and the deep cut 'Let My People Go' are all examples of social commentaries that scar the ills that go on with the world. Unfortunately to these often ignored statements ears need to be lent. Just like on the tracks 'The Hitman' and 'Assassins' (where conscious partners in crime Jean Grae and Royce Da 5'9" commit great, lyrical homicide) are cold, clinical murderous classics. On 'Shine' however, Pharoahe Monch shows how bright he can get with a light but fresh track, tailor made for the top-down convertibles of free but conscious thinkers. Monch also strikes hard on 'Haile Selassie Karate' thanks to some kicks from D-12's Mr. Porter, but raps lyrical friend of Eminem gets real magical with his lines on 'The Grand Illusion (Circa 1973)'. Monch reaches deeper into his bag of tricks with a vintage jam, circa the classic ages of rap.

The album comes to a beautiful, soulful close with the Jill Scott assisted, 'Still Standing' and this classic proves that 38 years, 3 albums and 13 tracks in this rapper is still firmly planting his feet. Socially conscious rap often falls on deaf ears, but these 'def' jam's need to be heard more, so open your minds and listen and after this album finishes you''ll really begin to get the message. On this disc Pharoahe Monch delivers. Time for those in the wrong to do right and return the favour to the sender. This is one messenger who shoots straight.TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: THE STROKES: ANGELS


3/5

Another stroke of genius from New York's finest.

It's been a long five years of waiting since this bands 'Last Impressions Of Earth', but it still only seems like yesterday when this alternative band burst onto the scenes a decade ago, changing the Rock & Roll sound scape and even the throwback fashion along with The Hives and a pair of White Stripes. This is it. 10 years since 'Is This It', can you believe it? Still, now one year into the second decade of a new musical millennium the band helped define, the group are back with their forth album, 'Angels'. Following a self-dubbed hibernation, the band have come out from the darkness into Spring giving us some great sounds for the upcoming seasons.

This signature, 10-track, half hour or so set comes into the light with the lead single 'Under The Cover Of Darkness'. An upbeat number which keeps in time of the bands greatest hits like 'Last Night'. From nice guitar-work to effortless, but easy on the ear singing this was always bound to be a surefire hit before it even broke the billboard. First up on this disc however is 'Machu Picchu', a track that is a throwback testament just like the albums artwork and general theme for this release. It's the sort of record that if dropped in the 80's would be peoples impression of music before it's time, and although this back to the future gem would sound dated if released a few years back, great Scott it sounds so good now.

On 'Two Kinds Of Happiness' the band keep the good times rolling and their hallmark sound traditional but fresh. The old if it's broke don't fix it saying applies here as this rock and roll homage band now bring the sounds of past generations into their era of dominance. On 'Your So Right' the band display a mix of their old style with their new experimental standard for a potent mixture that bubbles out the speakers. Then on the genius 'Taken For A Fool', The Strokes paint us the perfect number for this upcoming brighter weather. This song feels like one of those ones that's about to become the soundtrack for the memories your about to make this Summer.

Then the New Yorkers shift gear and show they can step it up from their cool, laid-back sound with the epic and tone shifting, 'Games'. This is not only one of the best tracks on this long player but also amongst one of the best instrumental songs that have tracked this bands career. The same could be said in return for the great lyrical and poignant track 'Call Me Back'. Over slow, soothing guitar, Julian Casablancas laments "wait time is to blame/ I thought fame was a trip/we all have the time/someone is always feared" with lyrics lapping up the nicest of nostalgic memories.

If that doesn't gratify and satisfy you then the last tracks on the album would. The song 'Gratisfaction' is perfect, from the grammar of the lyrics to the P's and Q's of traditional rock. Now if that doesn't give you your fill, then 'Metabolism' certainly will sustain your appetite. Then this piece comes to a close with the beautiful, 'Life Is Simple in the Moonlight'. A tranquil track that brings this simple, slow, sublime set to a lulling, calm close. The perfect end to an album that is classic Strokes.

Sure 'Angels' may not be the best album from The Strokes but it sure is a spirited return for a band that years ago looked like they where headed for the same fate as the White Stripes. What's black and white and plain to see now is that this band is back and with other great acts calling it a day, it's great to see one return this week after all those years. The applause at the end of this albums last track is genuine. It's good to have these guys back. Now let's hear it for The Strokes. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 18 March 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK-213: THE HARD WAY


It took generations, more then 10 years of patience and who knows what else what, but childhood friends, Nate Dogg, Warren G and Snoop Dogg who impressed Dr. Dre back in the early '93 days as 213 finally got together and released their first group project. The three, G-Funk pioneers, West Coast legends and hip-hop icons didn't disappoint either. This album was underrated and a little undersold but that didn't stop it from being appreciated or herald as classic by those in the know. With Warren's signature drawl, Snoops trademark, laid-back flow and Nate Dogg's hallmark easy listening croons the three combined their unique, incredible talents for 'The Hard Way'. From making the most of a hit Monica beat on 'So Fly' to the cool, cruising rhythms of 'Another Summer', 'Appreciation' and 'Lonely Girl' this album was blazing from start to finish. Every track showed the three thirty-somethings could bring G-Funk to the modern day, making it sound fresh and relevant. Music to some people is like a drug, an this was the chronic. The only bad thing it's just a shame the trio can't smoke together once again for a sophomore hit, but still check their many outside collaborations, it's always been 213. Regulate in peace Nate, your music lives on. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE: NATE DOGG SPECIAL


This week's special pays homage to late singer Nate Dogg. 'Side A' features some songs he guested on, while his own hits make up the 'B Side'. Rest In Peace Nate.

SIDE A

WARREN G Feat NATE DOGG-REGULATE: The ultimate classic from two rap, West Coast, G-Funk and rap pioneers. This lasting legacy is hip-hop foundation.

2PAC Feat NATE DOGG-SKANDALOUZ: "Hey Nate you know you got this vocals on this m***********" says 2Pac as this Daz produced fantastic piece of funk fades in, before these two, late legends get timeless on one of many classics together.

LUDACRIS Feat NATE DOGG-AREA CODES: Only Ludacris could remain charming and hilarious whilst talking about promiscuous women, while only Nate could make the phrase "Hoes in different area codes" sound classy.

DR. DRE Feat SNOOP DOGG, KURUPT & NATE DOGG-THE NEXT EPISODE: Hold up, Nate may only sing a few bars at the end of this classic, but there some of the most memorable moments in this undeniable next decade hip-hop cornerstone.

LYRICIST LOUNGE ALL-STARS Feat NATE DOGG-OH NO: Mos Def and Pharaoh Monch both bring some of their and raps greatest verses, while Nate takes it easy on a trademark, addictive, catchy hook which was his bread and butter. Nothings lazy about the Dogg's incredible hit, hook making talent on this Lyricist Lounge smash however.

SIDE B

NATE DOGG Feat WARREN G-NOBODY DOES IT BETTER: This is the perfect accompaniment to 'Regulate'. One of the most underrated Hip-Hop, G-Funk classics of all time. This was a hit, but should of been a smash.

NATE DOGG Feat WARREN G & D.J QUICK-THERE SHE GOES: Nate teams up with his partner and Quick for a really funky, smooth laid back track perfect for the Summer.

NATE DOGG Feat SNOOP DOGGY DOGG-NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE: The two Dogg's bark loud on the type of hip-hop love song that gets bitten too many times these days.

213-ANOTHER SUMMER: Latoyia Williams takes care of the hook, but Nate along with group members drops a velvety smooth verse on a cool, laid back, bright track full of positive light.

213-SO FLY: Snoop, Warren and Nate take the beat off Monica's chart-topper and make a hit out of their own, which went from the mixtapes to the albums, to the billboards. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

R.I.P. NATE DOGG (1969-2011)


How long will they mourn him? Because the world of hip-hop and R&B won't be the same without him. Nathaniel Hale (better known as Nate Dogg), died Tuesday, at the young age of 41 due to heart failure. This member of rap royalty deserves more recognition then his royalties paid him due. You see from Warren G's 'Regulate' to Ludacris' 'Area Codes', to Dr. Dre's 'The Next Episode' to 50 Cent's '21 Questions' and many, many more, this star has given rappers more hits then most top producers and radio stations combined do. Like a modern day Barry White-Nate-complete with his signature, unique voice was a hook hit-maker, turning ordinary chart songs to classics with his unmistakable croons. He birthed G-Funk with Warren G, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and put the West Coast on the hip-hop map with these and the late, legendary Tupac Shakur, all whilst making hit after hit, standing and singing proud next to these greats. Even as some of these legends took breaks, Nate worked on his legacy crafting worldwide smashes with Mark Ronson ('Ooh Wee') and Mos Def and Pharaoh Monch ('Oh No').

The go-to-platinum voice also had a great, but underrated solo career with CD's like 'Ghetto Preacher' (part of the 'G-Funk Classics' volumes) and 'Music & Me'. The song 'Nobody Does It Better' with Warren G is an unheralded classic and sequel to the signature hip-hop foundation of 'Regulate'. Along with Warren and the other Dogg they call Snoop, Nate formed the legendary group 213, and a smash single ('So Fly') to go with a top album. 'Three The Hard Way' lived up to the high, hyped anticipation and long, overdue wait. Nate Dogg had a way with words and a naturally, effortless, rhythmic flow. The hits, like the dedications and praise are endless. One of the hardest and most selfless workers in music gave everything to others, so now it's time we give it up to him as he goes down in rap history as an icon of urban soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G and all Nathaniel Hale's, family and friends. May he meet his old friend Tupac Shakur again, rest in peace. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: LUPE FIASCO-FOOD & LIQUOR


There's a firm Fiasco following at the moment after the release of Lupe's latest album 'Lasers'. The number one album was long-awaited but now it's here Lupe is setting up another release this year and a sequel to his first classic album, 'Food & Liqour'. Lupe Fiasco's debut album was a real cool classic and put the Chicago M.C. right near the top of a rap game that was being dominated by fellow Chi-town rappers Kanye West and Common. Executive produced by Jay-Z, 'Food & Liqour' was full of thirst-quenching, original, innovative hip-hop. Following the lead single 'Kick, Push', Lupe skated through classic singles like the sampling, Jill Scott assistted 'Daydreamin' and the fellow Children Of The Corn member Pharrell featuring 'I Gotcha'. Still the singled out numbers didn't stop there as album favourites 'The Cool', 'The Emperor's Soundtrack', 'The Instrumental' and many more helped make this album a hit from the artwork to the strokes of his genius. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE

The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 21: Rapper, writer and director Kanye West attends the 'Runaway' New York premiere at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema on October 21, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

SIDE A

KANYE WEST-POWER: The first single off Kanye's latest classic album is still electric. First it gave power to 'The Social Network' trailer and now it has showed it's cinematic quality yet again by being the perfect soundscape for the trailer of the new Bradley Cooper movie 'Limitless'. Truly powerful.

LUPE FIASCO-THE SHOW GOES ON: Speaking of electric, fellow Chi-town rapper Lupe Fiasco's new album 'Lasers' is exactly that and this lead single is the perfect marching band, rally tune for NCAA Basketball's March Madness.

NELLY Feat KELLY ROWLAND-GONE: This celebrity couple are heating up the video circuit with their second major collaboration and this sexy track should cause them more 'Dilemmas', the good type of ones.

R.E.M.-BLUE: This groups latest album 'Collapse Into Now' is one of their best in years and this concluding track is deep, epic and evoking. From Stipe's poetry to the haunting vocals of Patti Smith. 'Blue' is clearly one of the best groups of all-time's greatest songs.

NICKI MINAJ-RIGHT THROUGH ME: The greatest female M.C. of the moment keeps proving how good she is with her great debut, 'Pink Friday'. Still on this former single we really see clearly how deep her talent gets.

SIDE B

JAY-Z-HEART OF THE CITY (AINT NO LOVE): Speaking of Kanye, he and his mentor Jay-Z will 'Watch The Throne' soon with their collaboration project, but let's take it back to 'The Blueprint' of this legendary performance with this hip-hop classic.

THE FUGEES-READY OR NOT: Speaking of hip-hop classics how about this gem? Now this is one act that need to get back together. Now if Lauryn Hill can return like she has surely they can all settle 'The Score'.

INCUBUS-OIL & WATER: Break-ups are break-ups however, black and white or grey areas pending and this metaphorical gem from this legendary Los Angeles act paints it perfectly.

CARL THOMAS-I WISH: Now 'I Wish' for another album from Mr. Thomas. This R&B legend is another guy that needs to return to the airwaves because this break-up lament was pure, controlled emotion and soul. Mature and diligent.

112-CUPID: Perhaps the arrow of this fellow, former Bad Boy Records act could pinpoint some sort of return too. A slow, sweet number perfect for those mixtapes or special evenings. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 7 March 2011

REVIEW: R.E.M.: COLLAPSE INTO NOW


4/5

The rapid eyes have it in motion.

With their 15th studio album after 31 years in the industry, R.E.M. may look even older, but their sound has remained young, fresh never tired. Every one of this acts albums have been great and there are just too many classic long players to choose from. All the way from their 'New Adventures In Hi-Fi' to L.P.'s that are 'Automatic For The People'. Classic songs including 'Everybody Hurts' and 'Losing My Religion' have defined not only the band but the incredible 90's decade of popular music. This band is so popular and familiar that although it doesn't seem like three years since their last release they are always sorely missed during hiatus and warmly welcomed on their return between fans and industry critics alike. Following 2008's 'Accelerate' and a great tour the band re-unite with the albums producer Jacknife Lee, fast-forwarding their sound even further for old tape-decks and new iPods alike with this weeks release 'Collapse Into Now'.

This alternative act had a lot of choices for this set's inspiration. Recording in Berlin, Germany, Nashville, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana to expand their already wide world sound. This new sound kicks off, live in stereo with the upbeat, uplifting 'Discover', where the band find the help of Patti Smith for some additional vocals. Then the group give more of their effort to the great rock and roll number, 'All The Best'. As he band step into second-gear it's clear their going to stay right on track.

Now how about the singles? The cheekily sweet 'Mine Smell Like Honey' is traditional, 'Monster' era R.E.M. with great lyrics like "I would dare you, but I know I don’t need to/You’re going to do just what you want to/You’re going to take the leavings here at the fairground/You’re going to sing the praises of your fruit". While the great, German inspired third single 'Ɯberlin' is a typical, timeless slow, sublime, beautiful ballad. Still it's the second single co-wrote by Scott McCaughey, 'Oh My Heart' that stands first and foremost amongst the rest. Bursting through with it's trumpet and sousaphone marching band feel with some real March Madness to begin this month.

Then the legendary act further their legacy with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder for the stellar, stunning collaboration 'It Happened Today'. Vedder's haunting vocals make this a shining jam worth it's weight in pearls. It's little wonder the band have made 12 video clips to go with these 12 songs because they are all huge with a cinematic edge to them. The motivating 'Everyday is Yours To Win' could see itself in some movies or writers work playlists for years to come. Truly inspiring.

As the album heads to it's fall, this first quarter release ignites the start of the year even more with the piano fuelled led potency of 'Walk it Back'. This track that harks back to other R.E.M. slow burners steps in the direction of greatness. As Stipe classically croons "something needs to change", one things for certain, he and his band needn't. Then on the alliteration rocker 'Alligator, Aviator, Autopilot, Antimatter' the group show despite age, their amazing, appealing attitude is still apparent after 'Automatic', 'Adventures' all the way to their recent 'Around The Sun' and 'Accelerate'.

On 'That Someone is You' Stipe gets to his point quicker then he did on 'The End of the World' verses but on a precision, point track it all feels fine. Referencing 'Scarface' and Al Pacino the group then get theatrical on 'Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I'. A track enigmatic and interesting like the great actor was. Still, however as Patti Smith rejoins the three-piece for the closer and a 'Discover' reprise, R.E.M. save their best for last with 'Blue'. As classic as the Joni Mitchell album of the same name this deep, dark spoken word number really harks back to the early days of the band when the hair was on Michael Stipe's head, not his chin. Stipe may aswell have his 'Orange Crush' megaphone, as this rally cry refuses to yield with lyrics like, "I don't mark my times with dates, holidays, fate, wisdom, luck" as the group inspire and refuse to be moved or changed all at the same time. This is a notion that has kept this 'best band in the world' so relevant and so alive in the industry for all these decades and albums. As R.E.M. refuse to fall in line they still remain accepted even to this modern-day. 'Collapse Into Now' is a truly great disc to add to an incredible growing discography. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: R.E.M.: UP


R.E.M. are one of the greatest bands ever, period and now even over 30 years and 15 albums deep their still moving at a fast pace with no sign of being put to sleep. These old timers can still rock with the young ones with timeless, classic rock. In celebration of their new album 'Collapse Into Now' coming out this week (keep it here for the review) lets drop a classic L.P. For our 'Album Select Of The Week', but which one? There's too many ('Automatic For The People', 'Life's Rich Pageant', etc), but were going to go with the criminally underrated 'Up' from the group who have nothing but great material for the record. Sure the band lost their drummer Bill Berry before this record, but they didn't lose a step. Sure this album was haunting and deeply experimental, but it worked and sent shock waves through your stereo. From the energising, kick-off 'Lotus' to the truly sad, man-tear inducing single 'Daysleeper'. It didn't stop there as the proud, inspiring 'Walk Afraid' and the uplifting, higher-powered 'Your In The Air' and 'Falls To Climb' blessed and breathed this out of this world album the second-wind that ensured it didn't meet gravity. Every track, break, interlude and beat fitted together perfectly on a complex but classically concise and crafted courageous conceptual album. After this disc, R.E.M. Where really 'at their most beautiful'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Rapper Drake poses in the press room during The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live! at the Club Nokia on December 2, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.

SIDE A

DRAKE Feat T.I.-FANCY: Drake is still being thanked a year after his debut album dropped and this fashionable cut with T.I. is a real banger, shouting out independent women and late, fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Also with a wardrobe change in flow and pace halfway through, this really is a stylish cut.

T.I. Feat DRAKE-POPPIN' BOTTLES: Drake returns the favour as he guests on host Tip's party track. This celebration is classy and flashy a the two formidable flowers bring their Jay-Z game. There's just something about Drake's boomshackalacka rhyme however that makes everything else not matter.

TIMBALAND Feat LYRICA ANDERSON-MENTALLY: Timbaland continues making Thursdays like Thanksgiving with his free weekly downloads. This cut of a few weeks back tracks Timbaland's incredible potential in urban-pop and discovering new talent.

GINUWINE-FROZEN: Tim's former superfriend Ginuwine remains the same-ol G with this beautiful R&B ballad of his personal new album 'Elgin'. This chilling account of a relationship still in situation critical receives praise for it's shuddering vocals and chilling lyrics. Cool and as ice cold as 3000 Andre's.

TANK-EMERGENCY: Ginuwine's super-group, TGT partner Tank is also on a hot streak with his new album. This super, sublime second-single worthy track shows that the writers solo career is in no state of emergency. Tank has rolled in and made the never now.

SIDE B

R.E.M.-I'VE BEEN HIGH: With the rapid eye movement's releasing a new album (stay posted for the posting) and having the 'Album Select Of The Week' (see below) AMP's & 808's, 'Artist Of The Week' could fill both sides of this feature with their classics. Still this 'Reveal' album and live favourite makes the cut. I once sung it word for word to an old girlfriend at the groups 'Accelerate' tour of 2008. Why? Because just like her it's nothing short of beautiful.

CEE-LO GREEN Feat TIMBALAND-I'LL BE AROUND: before he told the world 'F%$@# You' or before he had crazy success as one half of Gnarles Barkley the Dungeon Family and Goodie Mob played a chart-winning hand and rolled out this classic beat knocker with Timbaland's one of a kind production acting as the ace in the hole.

PETE YORN & SCARLETT JOHANNSON-I AM THE COSMOS: When she's not making movies sell or men swoon the red hot Scarlett is making hit records. Releasing a classic duet L.P. with one of this generations greatest singer/songwriters, Pete Yorn. This cover was the best take on an incredible album. Out of this world and uplifting.

LUPE FIASCO Feat SNOOP DOGG- HI-DEFINITION: Lupe's electric new album 'Lasers' is out this week. Make sure you cop it and while your at it check out Snopp Dogg's 'Puff Puff Pass Tuesday's' for your downloads and mixtape burning. Still on this smoking and lightening track both M.C.s showed they where HD ready before all of this. A real stand-out.

MICHAEL JACKSON-ANOTHER PART OF ME: What can you say about this man that hasn't already been said. Well how about another idea? Just listen instead and as soon as this song starts you'll be dancing like Chris Tucker at the start of 'Rush Hour'. Truly explosive. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

1 IN 10: RIHANNA Featuring EMINEM: LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE (PART II)

('1 IN 10' is a series that looks at the best track of the month, here's March)

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 07: Rihanna performs during the MTV Europe Music Awards 2010 live show at La Caja Magica on November 7, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Rihanna is the Katherine Higel of the music industry, she has a hit out almost every week, she will always be on the radio everyday for that matter. The mainstream queen has taken over Beyonce and is giving Lady Gaga a run for her billion, dollar money as the industries new Madonna. Her new album 'Loud' is screaming with hits from 'Ooh naa, naa's' to ex-rated video's. Still one song that hasn't been releases, needs to be and is are '1 In 10' song of the month for March. Normally part two's or remix's aren't worth their salt and never get released but Rihanna's take on Eminem and her hit 'Love The Way You Lie' is epic. Switching roles with Rhi, Rhi host and Em guest, 'Love The Way You Lie (Part II)' is deeper, darker, sung-better and rapped better then the original. Believe that. From cinematic, hard-hitting production to haunting vocals and sneering lyrics, all goose bumps and arm hairs will stand to attention when Rihanna sings "So maybe I'm a masochist" right before Marshall Mathers devours the track with a signature serious sixteen. If you copped 'Loud' late last year, this song is no new thing or surprise but it's time it got released. It really is better then 'part one' and that was the biggest and best song of last year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

REVIEW: LUPE FIASCO: LASERS


3.5/5

Let's hope this isn't Lupe's end with this lightening release.

Ever since Lupe Fiasco kicked and pushed his way into the music game with his debut 'Food & Liquor' he has provided the industry with refreshing, food for thought rhymes. Giving Chicago rap it's second-wind along with Kanye West, Common and Twista, Chi-town's finest has established his own legend while standing in the shadow of greatness in rap like Scottie Pippen did in basketball. After his classic debut, the geeked out of this world M.C didn't slump with his sensationally versatile, superior sophomore release, 'The Cool' . An album named after one of the best tracks off his first album.

Lupe's first two discs came in rapid succession, but his third and supposed last (which originally was meant to be a three disc set entitled 'Lupe3nd' or 'The Great American Rap album') was stuck on the shelf between label problems and release date push backs. Still the Bruce Willis, die-hard, lobbying fans have been tied over by things like Lupe's supergroup with Kanye and Pharrell (Children Of The Corn) or like-minded, like-talented rappers (Kid Cudi). Now, however the firm fiasco is finally back with a truly great American rap album, 'Lasers'. A stunning effort, aimed to raise the spirit of the down-trodden and so called 'losers'. Losers they are not as Lupe heralds them as 'Lasers' with a strobe striking metaphor.

So after a potential three disc was left on the cutting room floor, there was one and with a concise, 12 song set the Linkin Park of hip-hop starts with The Future produced, 'Letting Go'. With a distorted voice Lupe sounds unrecognisable but unmistakeably great as he brings beautifully talented protegee, Sarah Green along for the ride. After that Fiasco brings aboard, Youtube star and rising talent Skylar Grey for 'Words I Never Said'. The star in the making-who barely has any press photos-but has blessed the massive Diddy Dirty Money single 'Coming Home' and the Dr. Dre and Eminem cut, 'I Need A Doctor' takes it further to the galaxy of stars on this futuristic, introspective hip-hop cut.

Then on the Needlez produced 'Till I Get There', Lupe takes it back to the old-school to a fine point, with a precision perfect, uplifting jam. If you want to talk about uplifting, the inspiring 'The Show Goes On' picks up where 'Superstar' left off almost an unbelievable, half decade back. The hip-hop hero saves the charts life with a super single, making it feel like his star-talent never left the mainstream even though it's been four, long...long years. With every verse Fiasco takes the inspiration higher with lines like "One in the air for the people that ain’t here/Two in the air for the father that’s there/Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto/Four for the kids who don’t wanna be there". No matter how high this song scales the charts, it has unparalleled height in heart.

There is great developing talent, production on this album and guest spots from everyone from British rapper Sway to Mr. 'Steal Your Girl', Trey Songz. Still it's when Fiasco forms with up and coming producer The Future, or ecstasy feel-good artist MDMA where things look their best brightest. Both combine with Lupe on 'Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)' for the perfect hip-hop menage. Still despite the great guest spots in support, it's the superstar that illuminates the track like neon on a Las Vegas night. Lupe then raises his game to an even higher note on 'Coming Up'. Over Dr. Dre esque piano the rapper proves he has more bounce with every ounce of his rhymes. On the cut 'Break The Chain', Fiasco goes to his underground, 'Blackout' flow and beat riding or a stunning track.

The clean, anarchy painted artwork of 'Lasers' is reminiscent of the arty Jay-Z video 'On To The Next One' and with the song 'All Black Everything' Lupe borrows a famous line from the track of his mentor and executive producer of his first album. Over haunting choruses, Lupe raises spirits with his verses, showing he really is on to the next something. John Legend guests up to play us out on 'Lasers' closer 'Never Forget You' as the two artists get warm and nostalgic with a lasting impression that will be remembered for time.

Overall 'Lasers' has two striking soundscapes. One being introspective, Fiasco like deep cuts and the other being chart-worthy songs tailor made for the radio, but in Lupe's signature style. What results is an album that takes Fiasco even further out this world as he remains true to himself, all while appealing more to the mainstreams ear. Sure with this fine-line shooting, there are some misfires and with a clean cut dozen tracks you know you'll be missing out on those trademark stellar Fiasco B-sides for your collection. Still, this is what makes the enigmatic rapper that more sought after and even with all this, 'Lasers' is still a striking, electric album. So futuristic but right now too, with an old-school flavour. The main over-arching theme of this album however is positivity overcoming negativity as Fiasco gets his Bob Marley on and lights up the darkness. As the super talent shoots for the stars, 'Lasers' propels him forward at light speed. Let's just hope his next shot is here a little quicker. Warp speed would be preferred. TIM DAVID HARVEY.