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XICripZ
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    • Take Care - Drake / Music Album / 47 Readings / 45 Ratings
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      14.03.2013 11:29
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      Drake's second album

      ==Background==

      If 2010 was the year when Drake's underground grind came to a close, 2011 was the year when he affirmed his status as a Rap superstar. After flooding the game with a bag of featured verses and songs, he brought 2011 to a close with his second album, "Take Care". The Canadian rapper and singer, who's signed to Lil Wayne's Young Money record label, equipped his sophomore offering with just as much star power. Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Andre 3000 and his label boss (plus his label's label boss, Birdman) assist on this all-important record.

      ===Good Points===

      What's so good about "Take Care" is that Drake finds a way to tap into every side to his personality (and varied musical characteristics). From the lead single, "Headlines", right through to the smoother "Crew Love" and the experimental, yet Pop-orientated title track, there's a lot to get into. For those who've seen him through every step of his career, he's just adding to the arsenal of abilities he has under his belt to impress everyone. Some might just find that the party starters like "HYFR", "Under Ground Kings" and "Make Me Proud" are enough to entertain them, but there's so much more to him on offer. As much as he's ridiculed for focusing on them, the stuff he has for the girls ("Practice", "Marvins Room, "The Real Her") is among the best he's done, even if it sounds a little like Craig David could have done a couple of them.

      ===Bad Points===

      The most obvious issue which people often point out on "Take Care" is that he gets overly emotional on some subject matter, but you shouldn't be listening to a Drake album if you're going to complain about that. He expresses himself well and has recorded a very solid release to reflect it. If anything, the only weaknesses are the fact that he's still not the best singer around and that others could take his place on the hooks, but it doesn't restrict the album from hitting all the right spots. Drake knows what he's doing here and only non-fans will have a reason to get bogged-down in the technicalities on why it's not 100% on top form from start to finish.

      ==Overall==

      All in all, you're given another quintessential Drake record. It's a body of work to get excited about and it's packed to the brim with tunes to get fully hyped up about. "Take Care" is a diverse project and as well as filling it with a handful of obligatory things for the core 'urban' crowd, he manages to show his musical vision. From the choices of producers (which ranges from his in-house side man, 40, to T-Minus and even Jamie xx. There's a lot to dig into here and you'll be able to sit on this for months and still find hidden elements to show off the subtleties in his songwriting, so it's just a matter of giving it enough time to do what it's meant to. This seems more like a sequel "So Far Gone" than "Thank Me Later", but it doesn't make it any less effective.

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    • Wild Ones - Flo Rida / Music Album / 40 Readings / 39 Ratings
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      13.03.2013 20:01
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      Flo Rida's fourth album

      ==Background==

      Flo Rida is probably one of the biggest Rap artists in the world, but no one in the Hip Hop community will be prepared to say so. The Carol City representative has been knocking out his singles for years, although it's been restricted to the Pop audience. It's been many years since he's been accepted among the 'urban' crowd, and it's down to the fact that he's opted on an enormo-Pop direction, which alienates everyone but teeny-boppers and Euro-Dance crowds. For this reason, not many people outside that demographic were excited when he announced his fourth album, "Wild Ones".


      ===Good Points===

      He gives you a reason to say that you won't listen to him again. In the past, he's actually managed to give a little something for the 'urban' heads to get excited about and feel as though he's acknowledging them too, but here he's off on a partying mission filled with all of his summery dance tunes. For those who are inclined to that sort of over-the-top Pop music, it might be good, but it doesn't really have anything to offer anyone else. As a result, he gives you enough evidence to say you probably won't like anything else he doesn after this.


      ===Bad Points===

      The main issue which plagues this album is that he stays in one lane, and gives himself absolutely no room for growth. it's just a straight dance album and so it means that his role on the project is absolutely redundant. You really wouldn't notice if he wasn't there, because the people who want to hear albums like this only want to hear the pounding beats anyway. Whatever he's saying means nothing and doesn't have an effect on their liking for it. In knowledge of this, Flo Rida makes absolutely no effort to improve his bars or make it accessible to outside crowds.

      ==Overall==

      This is a very predictable and ridiculously poor album by Flo Rida. Unfortunately, you have no excuse to be disappointed, because he's never been album to put a good body of work together. Every time, he's managed to come with an album which only really panders to a young, naive audience, who won't care that the whole thing consists of just pumping 4x4 beats. To everyone else, it's jarring and doesn't help that he talks about nothing other than mindless partying. There's so little to it, that it's not worth listening to, if you're already aware of the singles. Fair enough, the songs might have done well in the charts, but it doesn't mean that it translates into something that you should go out of your way to listening to.

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        13.10.2012 15:54
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        Gorilla Zoe's third album

        **Background**

        Gorilla Zoe is known for his time as part of Boyz N Da Hood, before he decided to take his Southern strain of Gangsta Rap solo. By himself, he continued to come with full-throttle Trap Music far before it was the sound of Hip Hop in 2010 and beyond. However, in 2011 Zoe changed his mind on what he was focused on. The Atlanta rapper might have been known for living up to his name and being a beast on the microphone, but it all changed when he put out his third solo album, which he decided to call "King Kong".

        *Good Points*

        The title track is about all there is to get excited about here. On "King Kong" (the song) he shows that he's firmly set on reminding people of his grind over the years. It's mighty, does as is intended and you can expect it to be pounding out of a car sound system. However, the same can't be said of the rest of the album, where he spends his time learning how to sing through auto-tuning technology and attempts to find his footing over 4x4 production. Considering that there's a good 14 songs here, it's a bit of a shock to discover so little worth getting hyped up about. Just listen to "Main Thing" after hearing his old stuff and you'll understand.

        *Bad Points*

        Gorilla Zoe gets completely side-tracked on an album that very people were even aware of, even aware of the fact that he's making such a transition in his sound. Going from a rough street sound to a club-driven direction which is soaked in cheesiness, he's lost his footing. Listening to "Your Bitch", he's in a completely different world to what was found on "Back Up N My Chevy" and his other solo releases. True, it's intended that there's a lot more to him than the old Trap stuff, but he hardly makes a very good impression here. Another prime example of where he's completely lost what he used to be about is "Twisted", a House-fused Crunk tune, which doesn't really fit any setting.

        **Overall**

        For those who've sat through Gorilla Zoe's career, since he replaced Young Jeezy in Boyz N Da Hood, you're likely to be incredibly disappointed by what he has on offer here. Zoe's really gone off track with this album and it seems as though he's completely disregarding what he's done beforehand. Although Future would go on to do an album which was stylistically similar in 2011, what Gorilla Zoe does here is enough to deter people from ever giving him a second chance. It's as if he's trying to get his Kanye West "808s & Heartbreak" on, but it turns into a slushy mess that few are going to bother listening to more than once. It sounds more Black Eyed Peas than Rick Ross.

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        09.10.2012 20:23
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        Frisco's fifth mixtape

        **Background**

        Frisco forms part of the much-loved North London Grime crew, Boy Better Know. However, with such an array of stars in the squad (with the likes of Skepta, JME and Jammer also in the team) he often finds himself in the background at times. To counteract it, he's managed to maintain a consistent stream of mixtapes in his own name, to show that he's got something to call his own and doesn't doesn't to be treated as if he's some sort of sideman. "Back to da Lab (Vol. 4)" came out in 2012, as the latest in the series, to whet the appetite of his fans, ahead of his upcoming second album release.


        *Good Points*

        What's good with Frisco is that, unlike a lot of MCs, he truly has the flexibility to adapt to a lot of different styles. He decides that on this album, it's his aim to show off his masterful use of lively flows. Whether it's on a traditional Grime track or one which is a bit more on the Hip Hop side, it doesn't really matter. "Stuck in My Vibe" sits in the mixtape as the best representation of what you should expect of it, and how he's moved on his his "Fully Grown" album.Tracks such as "Like We" show that although his lyrical matter his quite serious, he's not afraid to come out of his shell to make more danceable tunes too. It means that it's a very enjoyable, varied project from him.

        *Bad Points*

        It's quite evident that this project doesn't encounter some of the problems which his other recent music has. For example, "Fully Grown" was tainted by a few attempts at Pop tunes. Instead, the only attempts to cater to a broader audience can still be accessed by his core fans. Instead, the only real problem is that he's stuck in the same sort of box that he always has been: he's a great musician and is very good at stringing together multi-syllabic flows, but he rarely spits a bar that gets you thinking. Taking a step back and analysing his fans too, it's nothing that they're going to criticise him for, but it means that tunes like "Grime Lord" aren't quite as effective, because you know it's got a glass ceiling to it.

        **Overall**

        "Back to da Lab (Vol. 4)" is a great addition to the series and something that his fans will definitely enjoy. He decides to go a bit out of the box with his features, so you can see the typical BBK crew in effect, as well as D Double, J2K, but he also gets people like Donae'o, Blade Down, Naila Boss and Fem Fel involved too. He broadens his reach, without overstretching himself, and has set himself up nicely for whatever he wishes to do on his next album release.

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          19.08.2012 09:12
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          Soulja Boy's third album

          **Background**

          Soulja Boy's climb - other than the viral dance videos - came about thanks to his heavy mixtape grind. It meant that by the time he had got onto his third record, which dropped late in 2010, he no longer had to be prepared to deliver a dance routine to assist his singles (even if they accidently came with them too). By 2010, the Chicago-born, Atlanta-based rapper had an empire and was signing rappers all over the place. While many of these signings turned out to be nothing but premature announcements that he was backing new up-and-coming talent, the acts who he had his eye on had an influence in shaping his new music direction. Most evidently, Lil' B sounded like a direct stylistic factor in the album's lead single, "Pretty Boy Swag", which would kick off the promotional run for "The DeAndre Way.

          *Good Points*

          Soulja Boy's got his fair share of bangers on show. From the aforementioned tune to the club-fitting "Speakers Going Hammer", he shows where he's meant to fit into the Hip Hop landscape and affirms where his position in the game is. Even if he's just having fun with it and is imply assisting some heavy production, it's goes to plan. Even when he gets experimental with it and gets on an industrial style for "30 Thousand 100 Million", he's on form. From that perspective, it's a success. He adds to his arsenal of flows here and his versatility (although not perfected) is exhibited through "Fly" and "Grammy", where he's taken out of his usual comfort zone.

          *Bad Point*

          Soulja Boy has never been the most able rapper, nor has he been mentioned for being especially creative with his rhymes, but his personality carries him a lot of the way. To those who aren't particularly in-tune with his style, however, "The DeAndre Way" will only extenuate the fact that he can be quite one-dimension. To a seasoned fan of his, "First Day of School" is a massive track - it's an anthem for people who want to remain fresh at all time, but his odd flows and basic lyrics could deter newcomers. However, pure weaknesses return when he decides to appeal to the girls. "Hey Cutie", compared to "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" and "Soulja Girl" sounds too forced to be worthy of attention. Similarly, "Blowing Me Kisses Isn't All That".

          **Overall**

          "The DeAndre Way", despite its disappointing sales, actually turns out to be one of Soulja Boy's most successful musical accomplishments. Whereas the albums prior to this didn't really have any appeal beyond an audience who were younger than he was, fans of this strain of Hip Hop have become far more accustomed to this style and he's got the ability to reach a wider crowd. For instance, Gucci Mane's following shouldn't have a problem getting with this one too. That said, the one Gangsta Rap track on the album - which even has 50 Cent on it - is one of the weakest elements to "The DeAndre Way" and is one of the main tunes which needs skipping. It's horribly inconsistent, like his other albums, but you can see more potential than on his others.

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        • No Mercy - T.I. / Music Album / 41 Readings / 40 Ratings
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          01.07.2012 14:15
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          T.I.'s seventh album

          **Background**

          T.I. went through some turbulent times through 2007 to 2011. Soon after dropping his "T.I. vs. T.I.P." album and finally affirming his position in the Rap game (after tussling it out for years and getting his break with "King"), he wound up getting himself caught up in a weapons charge. While he awaited sentencing, he dropped his "Paper Trail" album and it turned out to be one of his weakest offerings. Upon returning from his prison sentence in 2010, however, he began recording another album. Unfortunately for T.I. another incident would mean that he'd have to face another spell behind bars. Before he did his time, he managed to record "No Mercy" (his seventh album overall) to keep the Atlanta rapper in the spotlight.

          *Good Points*

          There's something intriguing about the artist, which makes you want to listen, even if he's not on best form. Considering that this album wasn't as hyped up as it was, you'll actually find some of his rawest tunes. Head over to "I Can't Help it", for those who want him in Trap Muzik mode. Elsewhere, "I Can't Help It" proves that his conversational expression gets the credit it deserves, as he goes back to back with Eminem. As ever, his melodic choruses lace together the poignant verses and he maintains a high ranking position in the game, as someone who's able to speak to the streets, but is still able to push the limits on lyrical themes - such as his time spent apologising for winding up in prison, when he's being viewed as a role model.

          *Bad Point*

          Unlike all of T.I.'s other album, this one really didn't come with an unavoidable single. While "Get Back Up" was a very good song, it was as though the lack of hype surrounding the record was to emphasise that he'll recuperate in the future, and that this is just an obligatory release. Listening through to what it has on offer, it's true. It's as if he's trying a bit too hard to progress from his signature sound and forgets to deliver top class rhymes. "Welcome to the World", for example, is a track which Kanye West sounds like he made for himself and Tip doesn't really have a place in. The sheer number of featured guests needs mentioning too, as it's as if he's handing over the responsibility to his featured acts, as there's so many of them. You might want to hear Scarface, Drake, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera and the rest along him, but it doesn't really seem as though he's done all that he could have here.


          **Overall**

          T.I. reminds that he's a powerhouse of a lyricist, no matter how many knocks he takes. The title track here is perhaps the best example and enables him the chance to share his inner thoughts, through some provocative phrasing. However, it's as though he just doesn't do himself enough justice with the choice of producers here. It comes across as though he's trying to give "No Mercy" a certain dark, moody feeling about it, but he ends up breaking the vibe at various points, until you realise that it's all quite scattered. Despite some strong verses and career landmark features, "No Mercy" turns out to be a bit disappointing.

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        • 4 - Beyonce / Music Album / 41 Readings / 41 Ratings
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          07.06.2012 19:53
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          Beyonce's fourth album

          **Background**

          It felt like an eternity between, Beyonce's 2008-released third album, "I Am... Sasha Fierce", and her fourth one, which dropped midway through 2011. Once the singles stopped coming from the former, however, massive collaborations with Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga were reminders who the top dog of the Pop world was. By 2011, she was ready to return fully and made it clear with "Run the World". A success, the song was a reflection of her new musical direction - to push the boundaries of Pop by intermixing her style with other exotic strands from around the world. "4" would take the former Destiny's Child member to sky high levels of stardom with a standout body of music.

          *Good Points*

          What's the most striking about this album is simply the sheer number of straight-up hits. Beyonce comes in swinging and throws everything at her audience. From "Rather Die Young", through to "1+1", back to "Party" and over to "Love on Top", you're subject to an incredible display form one of the game's most talented artists. She's on top of her game and she's got the songs to make sure that everyone pays attention.

          Limited to just one featured guest (from the elusive Andre 3000) the album is a way to show that Beyonce has gone through a massive journey through her time and is finally able to deliver an album that everyone's happy with. Pop albums aren't often credited for their musical integrity, but with such effortless mixes of styles laced together with her great vocal tone, you have to give her as much credit as possible. She's put together a timeless release which will live on for years as a landmark release for her and the wider music world.

          *Bad Points*

          This is a thoroughly entertaining album which really doesn't have any weaknesses to it. Beyonce and the long list of writers and producers come out with a record which really embodies who she is as an artist and where she's at in her career. The only way you'll have something to complain about here is if you've got something against her, as everything goes to plan on this release. Anything with "Countdown", "End of Time" and "Start Over" on it couldn't possibly be viewed in a negative light.

          **Overall**

          While it felt as though she was halfway there with her other albums, it feels as though "4" is truly a masterpiece in Beyonce's discography. She's done a lot of good individual songs over the years, but her albums haven't quite been able to consistently appeal to the same wide audience at every step along the way. However, on this occasion, she's bang on every time. It's a flawless album which manages to pus R&B and Pop just as much as it nods at the legends in it. Every song on "4" is a great one and is a conversation starter, so you can't possibly have any complaints over it.

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            04.06.2012 16:24
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            Labrinth's debut album

            **Background**

            Labrinth hasn't had too much time to adjust to fame. After breaking Tinie Tempah into the industry with "Pass Out", he was quickly swooped up by Simon Cowell and added to the personnel of producers and songwriters who can make pure hits. Producing for the likes of Devlin, Tinchy Stryder and Ms. Dynamite, he score points with tastemakers for his innovations and impressive genre fusions, before he broke out as a solo star in his own right with "Let the Sun Shine". Now in 2012, Labrinth released his debut album, "Electronic Earth" to show what he was about as an artist, as opposed to what his production duties have shown of his so far.

            *Good Points*

            The album gives a chance to set the foundations for Labrinth's masterplan to take over the world. As a producer, his ideas are simply genius and few are likely to pull him up for stealing ideas from others, so it leads to some very solid Pop songs and a lot of tolerable Electro. Once you've skimmed over the tracks that you know and have been played a lot on radio, he supports them with more prop-up material, like "Vultures" and "Treatment", which unintentionally boasts his unmatchable skill as a songwriter.

            *Bad Points*

            As there's a lot to praise Labrinth for, many would assume that there wouldn't really be much to say on the negative side, but that's completely wrong. Other than this album coming out a good six months later than it should have (when the ball got rolling with "Let the Sun Shine", when his sound felt completely new) it's an album too caught up on going far into the future. From "Climb On Board" to "Last Time", his experiments with sound feel a bit intrusive and brash, whereas he shined with more subtle elements in the past. As well as this, it's only 10 songs long, so it's obvious when something doesn't work, as the singles take precedence and overpower what the rest of it has on offer.

            **Overall**

            It's a good album if you enjoy pure excess. Whether it's with over-done Pop, over-done Electro, over-done Dubstep or whatever he does that you're into, you'll find something in here to fit in with your tastes, but it doesn't really seem like it's really all his idea - without a push in that direction to see whether he could get away with it. By subtly addressing various different sides to what he can do (like ballads, Funk covers etc.) he avoids being boxed in as a future freak who just wants to go over-the-top with synth and tracks which sounds like they were made from crayola bombs, but this is really all "Electronic Earth" is about. He'll probably better this with the next album, but from what people have heard of him so far, this doesn't quite seem enough.

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            30.05.2012 19:06
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            Trey Songz's fourth album

            **Background**

            After putting out "Ready", Trey Songz was on fire. The R&B singer from Virginia really couldn't stop putting out the massive tunes and collaborating with the biggest rappers in the game. His third album was a success and marked 2009 with a landmark tune, but he had to keep the momentum going. That's exactly what happened when "Passion, Pain & Pleasure" turned up and the artist began his campaign to become the R&B superstar which he always deserved to be. The singles showed that it was about to be another monumental release and he would have to prove it.

            *Good Points*

            As a vocalist, Trey is as much of a showman as he is as on the stage. It's reflected through onto this album, where the musician spends a lot of his time performing vocal gymnastics. He wastes no time in showing what innate talent he has inside himself, as he injects his awe-inspiring voice into a seductive track entitled "Love Faces". For those who want to ensure that her has the credentials to match the hype, he does well to justify it early on. No one's going to complain about "Massage" either. He then continues, showing who he makes that knack for singing for on "Alone" and "Bottoms Up", probably his best club tune to date. From there, the high standards continue on, as he continues to be fed some excellent instrumentals and handles them with ease.

            *Bad Points*

            Any album with tunes like "Unusual", "Can't Be Friends" and "Unfortunate" to brag about really shouldn't be spoken about negatively. Trey really excels himself on this one and the only real criticism that you'll probably be able to come up with is that he still continues to take heavy influence from R. Kelly, but that doesn't affect how strong a body of work this is. It's completely on-point and it blew all competition out of the water.

            **Overall**

            It's easy to exaggerate the strengths of any artist who does what the rest of the musicians in his field aren't (or weren't by the end of 2010) but Trigga really comes up with a masterclass in R&B on this one. As far as the genre - as a whole - goes, this is a modern class and wouldn't be challenged until newcomers like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean followed in his lead the following year. However, as far as this one goes, it has Trey in top form. He's unmatched as an all-round artist and his ability to make such solid music like this just adds to the appeal. He might not do anything revolutionary, but he does what he does well. If you can find a flaw, you need to re-listen to it.

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          • Revolver - T-Pain / Music Album / 60 Readings / 58 Ratings
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            26.05.2012 18:27
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            T-Pain's fourth album

            **Background**

            The industry didn't treat T-Pain too well after his third album. Around the time that he put out "Thr33 Ringz", they had all changed their mind on auto-tuning (which was the core element of his music). With the likes of Kanye West and Lil Wayne championing the sound by this point - subsequently making nearly everyone in the Rap world to follow suit - it got to the point where people decided that they wanted proper singing back. Jay-Z dropping "D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)" was the final nail in the coffin and would prevent the Florida singer/rapper to get his feet off the ground with any new music. A series of failed singles led him into his fourth album (by which time, people had forgot all about the auto-tune epidemic) but he would rebound in a slightly adapted style, when he returned with "5 O'Clock". With a stable leading tune, 2011 saw the release of his fourth album offering, "rEVOLVEr".

            *Good Points*

            Starting from the singles and the tunes which were announced before the album dropped, you couldn't fault the artist. As a singer, rapper and producer, he's very difficult to beat. He proves that as he improves on "5 O'Clock" (with Lil Allen and Wiz Khalifa) with infectious tunes like "Bang Bang Pow Pow" (which features Lil Wayne) and "Best Love Song" (with Chris Brown giving a little help on it). For that reason long-term fans of his will be satisfied. He continues in pretty decent form with more tunes like "Bottlez" and "Mix'd Girl", both of which keep the clubs happy. On the other hand, the slower tunes continue to improve, as seen on "Rock Bottom". In spite of this, it still feels as though he's not in his best form.

            *Bad Points*

            With quite a lot going to plan, it's unfortunate that it doesn't reach into every crevice of the album. Songs like "It's Not You" show that he feels threatened by his immediate competition to do Euro-House too. However, it came at completely the wrong time. Unless it was used as a single, he has no business wasting time on the album with collabs with Pitbull and Chuckie. Linked to this, he tries to mature a little too early into the more traditional ballad style on "Drowning Again", but the auto-tuning spoils his plans at impressing the audience. When much of the album just feel 'okay' at best, it doesn't do much to help his chances of regaining his once-reigning status over club R&B.

            **Overall**

            To summarise, while T-Pain does a good job to show that he's advanced and is able to work quite well in a number of other styles (other than the main strains which he's known for) he doesn't do it all that well here. Admittedly, a lot of his progression came through on the "Thr33 Ringz" album, but it just didn't receive the same levels of attention for people to take notice. Even saying that, "rEVOLVEr" is almost as if he's playing catch-up to an industry which he was actually ahead of not too long ago. It's a shame, as there is some promise on the album, but it doesn't nearly compare to any of his past ones. No matter how many times you listen back, this is nothing but a mediocre T-Pain record.

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          • Famous? - JME / Music Album / 46 Readings / 44 Ratings
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            21.05.2012 20:53
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            JME's debut album

            **Background**

            To Grime fans, there's never been a time when JME's been a 'newcomer'. He's literally always been milling about the game. As an artist who was always appearing on the street DVDs and kept his name out there by doing both production and MCing, there was no escaping him. However, he left it until 2008 to finally put out his first official album out. As a step up from his mixtape series, it was a chance to see whether he could really make his quirky style work over a proper body of work. Following in the steps of other big names in the game (from Dizzee Rascal to Wiley to his brother, Skepta) it was another opportunity to see whether Grime actually works in the traditional album format.

            *Good Points*

            JME puts out an album which makes all the necessary advancements from his earlier work, without finding the need to water down his sound. It's got lots of bubbling 140bpm production from some of the scene's best producers (from Maniac, through to Mr. V, through to Grime Reaper), he proves that he's got relatable storytelling skills ("Power") and it's got his career highlights all included on it too ("Serious", "Shh Hut Yuh Muhh"). As far as your more light-hearted Grime fan is concern, it really completes all of its objectives. It's nothing too hard to digest, it'll get you through the day and it's a true reflection of the time when it came out. His humour keeps it entertaining from start to end.

            *Bad Points*

            Unfortunately, for those who might have listened to this after his second album ("Blam!") came out, they'll notice that this isn't nearly as solid a project. For example, "Boogiedown Bass", is simply a waste of space. JME might be in his best form, as far as his bars go, but he does end up making the odd questionable decision. Fortunately, this is often saved by the way he'll choose to jump on a killer beat (like "Go On My Own") or show off his word play skills. What's likely to put most people off (to those who would typically listen to Grime anyway) is that he's a bit out-there, so might do the odd thing which you're unlikely to take to. In his case, it's unlikely to grow on you either, so take it or leave it.

            **Overall**

            "Famous?" is a great testament to JME's musical know-how. The scene is packed with one-dimensional acts who can only spit bars, but wouldn't know how to translate into an interest product with the game needs to pay attention to. The Boy Better Know frontman does what he knows and slaps listeners with (often self-made) engaging instrumentals and sprays intriguing social commentary all over them. Don't assume that he's going to go down the same route as his brother, as the pair differ massively and JME actually happens to be the more consistent of the pair on su

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              13.05.2012 20:16
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              Big Sean's debut album

              **Background**

              Mixtapes are just a part of the everyday making of a Hip Hop star, these days. You have to grind it out with free releases for the streets, before you hopefully strike a deal and get a leg up to hit hard on the radio and eventually put out an album. Pioneering this new age of mixtape culture were the likes of J. Cole, Wale, The Cool Kids and a Detroit-based MC called Big Sean, who's "Finally Famous" series saw him catch the attention of the mid-west Hip Hop game, before being signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label. After lingering about, getting his foot in the door of stubborn Rap supporters, he finally made his mark with the "Finally Famous" album, which came out in 2011.

              *Good Points*

              Sean's main strength is his ability to jump on a track and (as crude as it may sound) swag it out. He doesn't truly have the lyrical capabilities to out-shine his peers, but his very playful prescene over tracks allows him to bounce over colourful production, to deliver entertaining tracks. With this album, it happens over and over again. "I Do It", "Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay", "My Last" and "A$$" (the singles) are just the starting point. You couldn't possibly knock his affable personality and how he handles the selection of No I.D., Neptunes and Exile beats.

              *Bad Points*

              For those who are more used to Rap with a bit more depth and substance, Big Sean finds himself in a bit of a difficult situation. Really, his brags about the girls he gets to, the clothes he rocks and his loyalty to the G.O.O.D. Music label don't really have much to them. For this reason, when listeners who aren't really in-tune to his style listen to a track like "Wait for Me", you'll certainly be put off. Sean has skills, but it's more down to his ability to ride a beat with such elegancy and knocking it with heavy syncopation, even if it's to the determent of what he says. Luckily, he shares a fan base with those who are big on Wiz Khalifa, who isn't all that blinding with the bars either.

              **Overall**

              "Finally Famous" is what happens when a rapper who was highly influenced by the 'shiny suit era' of rap grows up and has the budget to attempt to recreate it. Big Sean makes an album filled with excess. He goes in over a range of lively, non-threatening beats, to oppose the more trouble end of the Rap world. The rapper does his job well and has tracks like "Get It", to show off his accomplishments, although it means that it doesn't really have all that much appeal to fans of more traditional Hip Hop. Even then, who can resist what he does to the MC Hammer sample on "A$$", where he does things tag team with Nicki Minaj on a very raunchy one? Have fun to this, don't take it too seriously; you'll enjoy it.

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                10.05.2012 10:32
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                Keri Hilson's second album

                **Background**

                After bursting on the scene with the help of a couple of key features (on songs with Xzibit and Timbaland) Keri Hilson broke out to become one of the globe's biggest R&B sensations in 2009, when she put out "In a Perfect World...". The 2009 album featured a range of massive singles, most of which were instrumental in propelling her into different worlds and making her name spread through the industry. Despite it feeling like an eternity, she would follow it up with another body of work at the end of 2010. "No Boys Allowed" is its title and, as any good modern R&B LP should, it features a whole host of megastars to go along with it.

                *Good Points*

                Keri comes through with a mission to support the strength of her breakthrough. It's a good effort too, as one of the most understated R&B songs of recent times ("Pretty Girl Rock") is included and sits nicely in an album containing guest spots from the likes of Chris Brown, J. Cole and Rick Ross. She knows how to satisfy the girls with the relationship-based topics, but is never all that far away from engaging in one night stand-based talking points and getting all raunchy with it. It's your typical R&B album of the day and does everything that's asked of her.

                *Bad Points*

                Compared to what her first album had on offer, it felt as though this one was an unflattering follow-up. Despite having some of the biggest songs of their respective years with the first album, this one is a pretty modest one, so it fails to have many highlights which really stand out. You can argue that it should hold much of a bearing on how good the LP is, but the reason why it hasn't got such glowing spots hidden in it is because it's all on the same sort of level. The ballads (like "All the Boyz") don't really get better than average, the clubbier ends of the record ("Beautiful Mistake") weren't really lighting up any dancefloors, but it's nothing worth complaining about.

                **Overall**

                Keri Hilson is sure to shock us any time now with another massive track and album to follow it up, but looking at her discography so far, you couldn't say that this is really the best representation of her talent. You won't be disappointed by her performances here - as "Toy Solider" is arguably one of the best songs she's ever put out - but it feels as though it reaches a certain level and doesn't really hit any higher than it. When her contemporaries, such as Rihanna and Beyonce, can slap you with proper hits that you can't help but pay attention to, she simply blends in and doesn't reach her full potential.

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              • Who You Are - Jessie J / Music Album / 42 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                08.05.2012 22:19
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                Jessie J's debut album

                **Background**

                The end of 2010 flew by for Jessie J. Within a few months, she'd gone from being known in industry circles as a songwriter, to one of the country's biggest stars. After getting her name out there with a few bedroom webcam performances, "Do It Like a Dude" hit the UK and brought about a brand new star. It was then followed up by a handful of other successful singles, all of which suggested she was a breath of fresh air for the industry, to revitalise the industry and bring contemporary Pop music to modern times. The Essex songstress dropped her debut album "Who You Are" at the start of 2011 to follow the hype of her singles, and would only continue to climb into superstar status.

                *Good Points*

                "Who You Are" is laced together with a string of Jessie J at her best. As a vocalist, she's pretty much unmatched in the Pop market. She can throw out those high notes at the click of the finger and keeps it entertaining with brightening vocal acrobatics. It's the reason why she's able to do such a good job with "Nobody's Perfect", why the title track is so entertaining and why she's had relatively little backlash from the oldies. For the young crowd, contributions such as "Price Tag", "Mama Knows Best" and "Do It Like a Dude" show that she's got what the others lack and we'll be a seeing a lot more from her in the future.

                *Bad Points*

                As much as she's got this untestable string of big songs, the fact that she put the album out at a time when she was the 'perfect Popstar', she ended up revealing her flaws. In particular, it's wanting to get songs out as quickly as possible and just having a product to flog. It's why a few of the tunes come out like they should have been unused demos, when compared to the enoro-Pop which was seen in the singles. Even when taking that into account, the good ones certainly outweigh the weaknesses of it.

                **Overall**

                For a body of work which is alleged to have taken a full six years to complete, it sounds awfully rushed and as though she didn't quite have enough time to make the release sound completely cohesive. It's true that she does have a lot of solid tracks on "Who You Are" and she lays the foundations for what is due to be a very prosperous career in the limelight, but there's not really all that much lasting appeal. For those who followed her from her first singles, through to "Nobody's Perfect" (which dropped soon after this came out) it showed that there's a lot to her, but it's not particularl

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                • Toon Time - N-Toon / Music Album / 63 Readings / 60 Ratings
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                  01.04.2012 18:00
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                  N-Toon's debut album

                  **Background**

                  It's a little-known fact, but the singer who goes by the name of Lloyd used to be in a group. When he was a youngster, he made of a quarter of a short-lived Atlanta boyband. N-Toon was their name and seducing girls was their game. Ages 8-13 at the time, they could be viewed as the Jackson 5 of the year 2000 (although without the fame that went along with it). "Toon Time" was their one and only album and with production from heavyweights like Tricky Stewert and Dallas Austin, was intended to do far more than it obviously did.

                  *Good Points*

                  It fits right in with the feel of the Millennium. The album takes on the bouncy production still which dominated R&B for a good three years (from the US to the UK) and a lot of the album continues to gives off such infectious qualities. "Should Been My Girl" stands out for these reasons; it's all R&B in 2000 should have been like and has the ability to go over in clubs, even though it was being performed by a quartet of children. On the more mellow side, they're just as lovable and "Ready" makes it clear when they dip down into ballad territory.

                  *Bad Points*

                  As the music's being performed by actually, proper children, it's not the sort of album which you're likely to listen to more than once, nor are you likely to care about it if you didn't know about the group at the time. It's good for what it was, but amid lots of soppy love songs and a bit of the jiggy dance stuff, it's a pretty average LP for the time and doesn't give anything that you couldn't have got from one of their contemporaries.

                  **Overall**

                  Thinking about any album made by such young singers, you can't expect it to be any more than a novelty record. This is exactly what "Toon Time" is. There's a lot tunes which will take you back to the time (even if you didn't hear of the group at the time) but it does little more than that. N-Toon have got all the talent you'd expect out of a handful of boys who were put together as a group, but it's not the level of talent you should be getting excited about, if you have specific tastes in vocalists.

                  Looking back, you wouldn't really think much of Lloyd, so it's a surprise that Young Goldie turned out to be the sensation that he is today, but "Toon Time" is a pretty average album for the time and merely takes the best of what was going on at the time and makes a quartet of youngster sing about it.

                  Lloyd fans, you'll be entertained. Anyone else, this isn't worth paying attention to.

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