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How you view Take Care, the sophomore album by Toronto superstar Aubrey "Drake" Graham, is dependent on how you view Drake the artist. This album is unlikely to alter the opinion of the two conflicting responses to Drakes minimalist, at times self indulgent, experimentation with raps base elements. There are those that love Drake citing his strong breakthrough mixtape so far gone as the high point of what Drake can do. There are others who find his self obsessed lyrics and distinctive voice and style annoying and are put off by his legions of teenage girl fans that recite every lyric to pop hits like "fancy" and "best you've ever had" from his disappointing thank me later debut album.
This album is a vast improvement upon thank me laters blueprint, dropping the majority of the weak radio single style songs and adding a harder more embittered edge to Drake's persona after two years of huge fame. Modesty is not Drakes strong point, which often grates on those not partial to the canadian, with brag lines like "i'm the greatest I said that before I knew I was" (Underground kings) and unbelievable claims "make someone around me catch a body like that" (headlines) cheapen verses that would otherwise be incredibly honest. Such honesty sets him apart from other rappers with the song "look what you've done" becoming one of the highlights of the album paying tribute to his grandmother and uncle who got him to the position he is in now. Some of the concerns about thank me later still remain however. The worst verses on the album are provided by members of Drakes young money crew with little wayne, birdman and nikki minaj ("I'm a star... sherriffs badge", really?) embarrassing themselves proving that Drake is in with the wrong crowd. Rick Ross and andre 3000 provide the two stellar guest verses on the project, with rihanna and the weeknd being the singing guests. On the whole Drake is more than capable of holding up both the singing and the rapping parts of each song dimingishing the need for the numerous guest appearences common on big budget projects from major labels in recent years.
Overall Take Care is a good effort from an artist with the potential to make a classic when he is older and more mature. It won't win over any of his so called "haters" but this caters well to his established fan base, and that is the best Drake can do at this early stage of his career.
Jay-z is a phenomenon. Growing up as a deprived child in a poor part of Brooklyn, New York, Shawn Carter has taken over the hip hop world to become a multi millionaire entrepreneur of world renown. He has launched the careers of legendary artists such a producer Just Blaze (credited with the beat for public service announcement included here) and rapper/producer Kanye West (Izzo (H.O.V.A.)) and holds claim to several classic albums. This is his first greatest hits album and contains his most commercially successful l songs from his first eight solo albums. The glaring flaw in this is that there will never be enough space on one disc to satisfy all of his fans as Jay has dozens of classic songs both in the mainstream and the underground.
The aforementioned public service announcement is a great place to start such a collection. A firm fan favourite it was part of The Black album, one of Jays best, and, like the majority of the songs included on the cd, is an excellent piece of music. There is not a weak song included but as expected numerous classics have been left off in favour of more mainstream songs. For example the true brilliance of Jay lies in a song like dear summer as opposed to the chart smashing run this town.
This is a nice collection and is a good introduction for those not into hip hop, but for a casual Jay fan I would suggest buying the black album or the blueprint instead of the hits as they are a better testament to his qualityy as opposed to radio hits.
Kanye west is a douchebag. His words not mine (runaway), but if he wasn't modern music may be a much different and far more boring place. For every moment of madness under the spotlight, see his outburst at Taylor Swift during the VMAs, there is a moment of musical genius only a mad man could produce. This album is no exception and ranks among his, and hip hop as a wholes, best.
The first thing to mention is the production on this album. Kanye overseas a mass of talented musicians and producers to mould some truly fantastic soundscapes. The Smoky Robinson sampling "devil in a new dress" is one of the best examples as kanye flips Robinson's romantic crooning so that it becomes something completely different. The album sounds like a mixture of Kanyes previous styles and stages of creative growth as his trademark soul samples, used on the college dropout predominantly, mix with the live orchestration of late registration and the electronic elements of Graduation. The emotional tones and some of the autotune remain from 2009's experimental 808s and heartbreaks and are added to kanyes hip hop. A style distinctive from any other hip hop artist to have ever picked up the mic.
Lyrically Kanye struggled a little through his first couple of albums after being shown up by a number of the greatest MCs to ever pick up a mic (Nas, talib kweli etc) but for this album he has significantly upped his game. The only featured artists that can claim to have stood toe to toe lyrically with Kanye are the star turns of Jay-Z's brag rap on so appled and raekwons appearance on the dystopic Gorgeous. Nicki Minaj turns up for one of her few stand out verses on monster creating a career high water mark she is so far unable to match, as she lives with Yeezy and Hov on monster.
The number of features on the album is high with not a single song containing purely Kanye as artists such as Kid CuDi, John legend and Dwele make appearances. Often in modern rap this is counter productive as the features often distort the meaning of the song and distract from the headlining artist, however the true genius of this album lies in getting these musicians to work together to continue Kanyes vision. One of my favourite tracks on this album is a reworking of bon ivers lost in the woods to become Kanyes up tempo lament "lost in the world". This kind of unconventional move carries risks but more of kanyes come off than fail and the album is a monument to what can be achieved when a mainstream musician with Kanyes budget creates something out of the ordinary. A classic no doubt. The album ends in applause and you can't help but clap along. For all his flaws, what would we do without kanye?
It is clear upon receiving a Blackberry curve 8520 that the phone is of a high quality. It feels very sturdy in your hand and is of a good size ensuring it is not easily lost or overly heavy or large. Blackberry as a brand cater well to businessmen and women using and this phone is no exception offering email and blackberry messenger meaning you are never out of touch. This functionality when coupled with the excellent qwerty keyboard (be warned the keys are a little small) make typing a breeze.
However, one of the major drawbacks of this phone is the lack of a touch screen making it incompatible with a number of the best games on the app world such, as fruit ninja, restricting your gaming opportunities to the ever reliable Brickbraker. Be warned if you enjoy your games this blackberry cannot compete with the ever present iphone or the galaxy range from samsung. This is not its main function, nor what it was designed to achieve, but is a setback none the less as an alternative dedicated gaming machine (psp, ds etc) is neccesary if you wish to stay entertained over long periods of time.
The networking possibilities of the phone are brilliant with twitter and facebook easily supported (although facebook can be a little glitchy forcing me to reach for a laptop when receiving an important notification) and a number of useful apps at your fingertips from the app store (google maps, ebay etc). These functions are comparable with any phone I have encountered making the curve excellent value for money if a functional phone for communication is what you need.
One of the major advantages of this phone for me is its durability (I am notoriously clumsy), as it has survived several knocks and scrapes after falling out of pockets or being dropped. The back seems to be slightly delicate as it easily falls off on my phone leaving the battery exposed, but this is only a minor concern.
Overall this is a good, solid phone for those looking for a phone to communicate, whether for business or social purposes. It is everything you would expect from blackberry and has the added advantage of being hardy and long lasting. It may lack the wow factor for some but for the price it's hard to complain.
The career trajectory of J. Cole to this point is a huge part of this album. Entitled cole world: the sideline story a lot of the songs deal with J. Coles desire to make it to the top to where his mentor Jay-Z is (Mr. Nice watch, Gods gift, Rise and shine). Billed as hip hops latest in a line of saviors after two acclaimed mixtapes, 2007's the come up and 2009's the warm up, showing great potential from the young man from North Carolina. His whole life changed when one of his strongest songs "lights please" (included here is an improved remastered version) from the warm up was heard by Jay-Z one of the worlds biggest rappers. He was signed as the flagship artist to Jay's new RocNation label increasing the hype to huge levels. However Cole was soon brought back to reality when he was placed on the back burner by the label whilst less talented artists such as Willow Smith were pushed. This prompted the release of much of his original album as a mixtape entitled Friday Night Lights containing the single in the morning with now superstar Drake (also included here). Finally his album has been released to high expectations from fans and critics alike, with demand for nothing short of a classic. However, the album falls slightly short of this fabled status but should not be judged adversely because of this.
The weaker points of the album seem to be attempts at radio hits forced upon him by his label with songs such as can't get enough (featuring a woeful hook from Trey Songz) a long way off the best of what Cole has to offer as shown by the inclusion of average first single "work out" as a mere bonus track. For his best look no further than the heartfelt and thought provoking "lost ones" concerning the often taboo subject of abortion, The way Cole confronts this from the two points of view within a young couple results in a great conceptual song. This was recorded a few years ago before he was signed making you wonder what this album could have been if Cole was left to his own devices. Other high points include the head nod inducing gods gift and rise and shine as well as the two tracks lifted from his past mixtapes which are without doubt some of his strongest but may frustrate long term fans who have had these songs for a number of years.
In conclusion, this album is a mixed bag containing some of the best (lost ones, dollar and a dream III) and worst (can't get enough, work out) of Cole. It provides a great introduction to new comers to the young fayetville man which may encourage them to delve into his superior mixtape offerings. When viewed subjectively however it is a very strong album and among the best mainstream hip hop offerings of this past year,.
As Kanye rightly pointed out, Nas is today considered to be one of the greatest living rap artists and his debut album, universally considered to be a classic, is what cemented him as such. This album, along with the wu tang clans 36 chambers, saved east coast hip hop after the rise of the dr dre and snoop dogg led west coast.
The album begins with the eerie, grimy, NY state of mind which does indeed sound "straight from the dungeons of rap" perfectly encapsulating the feel of early to mid 90's new york and setting the tone for a slightly short (the album comes in at roughly 40 minutes long) but none the less satisfying exercise in lyrical ability over a boom bap soundscape created by legends such as DJ Premier and Large professor. Refreshingly, when compared to modern days rap scene, the album contains just one feature. This is offered by AZ and is very much the verse of his two decade, prolific career, going toe to toe with nas over the down beat classic "lifes a b*****". Other than this the young Nasir (only 20 at the time of the albums release) carries the album on his own displaying his star quality and lyrical prowess.
This is considered to be Nas' best album within a strong discography and is a high point during the golden era of hip hop. A must have for all hip hop fans and even just fans of good music in general.
The online multiplayer is, as usual, very good and among the best on the console. However, the campaign mode is lacking with the usual problem involving scripted AI's and ease. The new special ops mode is a great addition but does not make up for the lack of zombies, which is only available in black ops. In my opinion this game is the poorest of the MW (modern warfare) series with poor multi player maps and the usual problems involving campers and insanely good kids giving you abuse. The most fun I had playing this game was playing special ops with friends however this does not quite carry the same no holds barred fun as zombies. As a result, I would recommend keeping black ops or saving for black ops 2 (which looks amazing) as opposed to buying this title, unless having the latest COD (call of duty) for online play is important to you.
SSX is a fitting tribute to the older, now classic, games in the SSX series. It is a very fun game if a little hard to master. The first thing to mention to those who have previous experience of the games is the huge change in the controls. I would recommend downloading the free demo first in order to ensure the game is compatible with your style of gaming. It can be highly frustrated with the new addition of instant failure for falling with several courses being difficult to complete and causing a number of controllers to fly across my living room due to wipe outs at the bottom of runs. The online modes are good if a little repetitive due to the lack of head to head play and things to spend your earnings on (I have 60 million and nothing to spend it on). As such once the campaign has been completed there is little to do. Still a recommended game though.
As a regular purchaser of the fifa series I have seen the franchise come on leaps and bounds from the days when pro evo dominated. As with previous years it is a straight contest between the two titles for supremacy and fifa easily wins. The graphics and gameplay have not improved in any noticeable way whilst the new defending system is at first annoying before becoming only a minor hindrance (it is possible to change to the, in my opinion, better legacy defending but not during online play). It is in the online game modes and extensive career mode where fifa 12 truly excels becoming the greatest sports game I have ever encountered. Prepare to become addicted. It is not only brilliant to play on your own but fantastic when playing with friends both locally and online with high tension involved in these matches as pride is at stake.
If you are a fan of football you will love the extensive licensed teams and players, another edge over the pro evo franchise. This makes the 15 year career mode very rewarding and it is a joy to take a lowly ranked team (like my beloved Torquay United) to the summit of European club football. This adds huge longevity to the game and is always a topic of conversation among friends as the players grow depending on how much you play them and have distinctive strengths and weaknesses.
Multiplayer is always a fifa highlight and is no exception here as 2 on 2 matches locally (on one console) are hugely tense.
Download the demo and try it today. A must have for any ps3 owner.