Cornered! A Weekly CD Review.
By Tara Townsend
Usually, when a young rapper bursts onto the scene to massive success, he’s got a ‘posse,’ a ‘unit,’ or ‘inc.’ waiting in the wings. This posse waits patiently to take advantage of the fame and success of the first rapper. First the posse releases an album as the famous guy’s posse, before following with individual solo records for each posse member.
Ah! Young Buck, member of 50 Cent’s famous ‘G-Unit’ posse, is a prime example. Now, I’m not saying that this means Young Buck’s album is necessarily bad. In fact, it is quite good. If I had to pick a rap album to listen to, his would be right up there with 50 Cent’s and Lloyd Banks. Then again, his album is basically a sequel to complete this trilogy. All these albums are variations of the same beats, the same lyrics and the same overall content.
And let’s harp on Young Bucks un-originality for a second. His album has a picture of him with a huge ‘iced-out’ necklace standing in front of a shed that says ‘The Hood’ and is titled ‘Straight Outta Ca$hville.’ So cheesy it hurts, but it somehow works for Buck, who’s album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts and is still currently in the top 10.
But let’s steer away from G-Unit and focus on the album itself. As a new addition, Young Buck has definitely crafted G-Unit’s best album since 50’s debut. ‘Straight Outta Ca$hville’ is crime rap in all of it’s glory. Grim and grimy lyrics are spit-shined by soulful beats and samples. Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang,’ from the ‘Kill Bill’ soundtrack, is reborn with a gangsta twist. Many tracks feature breathy ballads as the chorus on many tracks due to production by Lil’ Jon and Ludacris.
The album’s first single ‘Let Me In’ is damn catchy, a head-bobber in the tradition of Lloyd Banks’ ‘On Fire.’ Produced by Needlz, the song is a definite representation of G-Unit-ness: a hard beat with popping handclaps and the occasional classical instrument such as a violin in the background. Overall, I would recommend the CD to the rap enthusiast. And in case you forget whose possie Young Buck belongs to, 50 Cent is featured on more than one track, is the executive producer of the album. and you can even here a sample of his debut song ‘In Da Club’.
By Taraneh Arhamsadr
Haunting. Mellow. Fresh without making you forget what came before.
R.E.M.’s highly-anticipated Oct. 5 release, ‘Around the Sun’ is all of these things. This album has a soft-rock feel backed with occasional and surprising twangs of electronica.
After two years of hard work, R.E.M. has released its first album since 2001. The effort put into ensuring a focused, high-quality product is evident in the creativity and variety of sounds in the album.
For example, the album’s second track ‘Electron Blue’ starts with an almost grating buzz that continues throughout the track and keeps the listener alert, with a heightened awareness of the almost new-age sound of the work.
Another ambitious idea was Q-Tip’s hip-hop interlude in the third track, ‘The Outsiders.’ It could have been an attempt to be profound, but that’s a stretch in this case. Unfortunately, Q-Tip’s contribution comes off as cheesy. Oh, to imagine how close to flawless the album would be without him.
In any case, slower tracks like ‘I Wanted to Be Wrong’ and ‘Boy in the Well,’ with their weighted, melodic verses make up for the slip-up with their thought-provoking quality.
An aspect of this album that I particularly enjoy is the hopeless romantic thread that runs through many of the tracks. Heartfelt lyrics characteristic of young, intense love combined with the wisdom of this mature group gives a genuine air to lyrics like:
‘When I look into your eyes, your drop-like-an-anchor eyes, I scudded and clipped the sky, just shy of making it.’
The album’s title track is slightly disappointing, only because it is not as original as I know it can be, especially after hearing this innovative album in its entirety.
In general, this album is recommended to those who are looking for something both unique and classic. It has what old fans of R.E.M. are seeking while embracing new ideas that would entice a new generation of listeners.
Either way, ‘Around the Sun’ will surely please all audiences.
R.E.M’s ‘Around the Sun’ can currently be found in stores everywhere.