A Music Review of “Pink Friday” by Nicki Minaj…

Universal Motown Records 2010

I have to admit that Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj has been my most anticipated release  for the year. I first heard Nicki over a year ago on a remix of “Single Ladies” by Beyonce and I was so impressed not only by her style, talent, but also her attitude as a female rapper. I tend to love strong female artists with a voice, and she is definitely that and beyond. Many things about her reminded me of Lil Kim who was one of the first rappers I really got into back in the day. What impressed me the most with Nicki was her quick growth in the industry, before she even had a solo album released.

Nicki Minaj started out as an artist of the group Young Money which was a group of rappers and singers put together by Lil Wayne. The album debuted in 2009 and the success of the single “Bedrock” brought not only Drake but Nicki Minaj great attention. Shortly thereafter, Nicki Was guesting on many big artists songs: Mariah Carey, Ludacris, Usher, Will.i.am, Gucci Mane, Kanye West, and you name it. This was such an incredible task being she hadn’t even released a solo album yet, and she was already a mega star and named the new “Queen” of Hip Hop music.

However all of the praise and positive reactions was receiving put huge pressure on her to not only release her solo album, but also be just as successful at it. Her first single was released in May of 2010 with a hip hop track called “Massive Attack” which featured  Sean Garrett. Though a decent song in its own right, it didnt seem to have the strenth and energy expected from Nicki. Her second single came out in June of the year called “Your Love” which was a sultry pop ballad sampleing one of  Annie Lennox hit songs, and showed us not only Nicki’s rap skills but vocal abilities as well. This song did extrmemly well on the charts, and it was decided that her album needed to be released very soon.

Pink Friday debuted on November 22nd this year and reached huge praise from not only fans but critics as well. Her album is a perfect blend of rap, pop, and female empowerment. Some critics were dissapointed that there wasn’t more of the Nicki strong Hip Hop songs that we all have grown to love, but I myself disagree because Nicki is a great combination of both Hip Hop/R&B and Pop musical styles.

Songs such as “I am the Best”, “Right Thru Me”, “Roman’s Revenge”, and “Last Chance” are great examples of Nicki’s range of abilities in different genres of music. She has some great guest stars on the album such as; Will.I.Am, Rihanna, Eminemn, and Natasha Bedingfield which help her in her musical efforts.

I have to say, and its rare for me to say this but this is DEFINITELY the album of the year for me! I love every single song, and listened to this album non stop for the first two weeks after I got it. While I am a music lover and always have been, its rare for me to like an album this much. Nicki has blown me away and more than exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to see what Nicki brings to us for the future to come, and see her out on tour for this album.

A heads up to all readers, the album is pretty explicit, and definitely not for the kiddies. However, a clean version is also availble as well. I highly recommend the Deluxe version of the album which includes four bonus tracks, more than worth the extra couple of bucks!  

I give Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj FIVE out of FIVE STARS!!! A first for an EfTRoU Review!!!

-Warren

A Music Review of “LOUD” by Rihanna….

2010 Def Jam Records

Rihanna has got to be without a doubt one of the hardest woman working in the R&B and Pop genre of music. Within five years she has had five albums out and has gone from a new artist to a definite superstar in R&B and Pop music. She has returned just one year after her last release “Rated R” with a brand new album entitled LOUD.

With her last release “Rated R” she brought to us a darker and more personal side, which some people liked and others did not. A lot of the lyrics and writing represented things she was going through in her life at the time. I for one respected the album for the fact that it showed us not only a different side of her, but also her growth as an artist. Musicians in the R&B/Pop field  especially, tend to be not given too much room for growth, so I respect artists who push the boundaries for growth and try to go beyond the standard expectations put on them.

LOUD  brings back the dance music that Rihanna’s fans have grown to love from her. She does really well with this genre of music, and her multi platnium effort “Good Girl Gone Bad” was living proof of this. With her first single off the album “Only Girl” she not only started to receive huge praise not only from her fans, but the dance clubs as well. Her second single “What’s My Name” Featuring Drake also did well and continues to do so on the charts. Songs like “S&M,” “Cheers”, and “Love the Way You Lie Part II” Featuring Eminemn show us that Rihanna is not only back to her normal self as an artist, but also here to stay.

The one song off the album that really blew me away is a song called “Complicated.” This song is a standard mid-tempo ballad, but I think what really blew me away about the song is not only the emotional factor of the song but also the strength Rihanna has with her voice. This song is a perfect example of not only the talented artist she is, but also of the amazing vocal range she has.

Overall LOUD is a fun album, whether you just want to hear something upbeat that puts you in a good mood, or a great album before the club, LOUD is the way to go.

I would have to give it FOUR.FIVE out of FIVE Stars!!!!

Great job Rihanna, and keep up the great work!

-Warren

A Music Review of “Hands All Over” by Maroon 5…

A&M Records 2010

It seems as though Fall of 2010 is bringing a lot of new music to the masses. Many big artists have slated releases for October and November of this year. This makes avid music lovers like myself very happy.

Early November brought the release of Maroon 5’s new album Hands All Over. I have to admit that it took me a while to latch on to this band. I have always been a fan of their music when they were known as Kara’s Flowers back in the late 90’s, but I had a hard time when they changed their name to Maroon 5 and their music style changed. I however eventually realized after giving them a chance, that the majority of their songs are quite good and quite catchy. They blend a great mix of Rock, Pop, with some other styles lingering in there music such as R&B and Blues at times.
Their style change obviously was a good one for the band, as with the release of their debut album “Songs About Jane” the band grew a big fan following and very quickly made a name for themselves.

On Hands All Over the band brings us the same catchy and versatile songs that we know and love from previous efforts, but also ads a new appeal. While I am a fan of their prior two releases as well, because their style is so unique, a lot of their material tends to blend together and almost sound the same at times. On this new release though, they have kept their signature style and sound but have added an energy back into their music that perhaps was missing. Songs such as; “Misery”, “Give a Little More”, and “Stutter” have a great energy to them which almost takes me back to the days of Kara’s Flowers and the fun Power Pop appeal in their music. Whereas tracks like “I Cant Lie”, “Just a Feeling” have a very soothing and mellow vibe to them. These are great songs to turn on when you want to relax and chill out at home. In other words, when you put the entire album together, you really do have something for everybody.

As a whole I think they did a great job with this album. They reflect not only their growth as a band, but as  song writers as well. I would have to suggest the Deluxe Version of the CD which not only has some great bonus tracks, but a great cover of Alicia Keys, “If I Ain’t Got You.” The additional songs are definitely worth the extra couple of bucks.

If you are looking for a great album to turn up and have fun too, or chill out and relax with, Hands All Over by Maroon 5 is highly recommended.

I give it FOUR out of FIVE Stars!!!

-Warren

A Music Review of Flesh Tone by Kelis…

A&M Records

The summer of 2010 has brought us some great new music, and also brought the return of Kelis. Kelis is probably most known for her hit “Milkshake” released in 2003. While Kelis is definitely known in the R&B music genre, she tends to find her strengths in the electronic/dance style. In fact her first two albums tended to be more electronic than R&B, and she did amazingly well on both efforts. Her latest efforts with Flesh Tone proves no different in my mind.

The best way to describe Flesh Tone would be that it is “one-non stop-amazing-club party” from start to finish. At first listen, the album almost comes across as a remix album with how the songs were arranged and put together. I found that the sound created for this album is not only amazing, but also matches the voice of Kelis perfectly. She worked with some great producers on this album: David Guetta, will.i.am, Alle & Benny Benassi, among others… While all of these artists have done some great work in the past, and very talented in their own right; their collaborations with Kelis have proved to be very successful. Songs like “Acapella” and “Home” prove just that with the blend of a great voice, emotional filled melodies, and energetic beats.

While I am a fan of all of Kelis’s work old and new, I have yet to like an album of hers from start to finish. Sure I have loved songs off previous albums, but there have been some songs included, that in my eyes didn’t come across very strong. Flesh Tone is a strong album as a whole, and definitely one of her strongest to date. Every track from the incredible “22nd Century”, “4th of July” to “Home” and “Acapella”, makes the listener crave for more.

I suppose one downfall to the album could be that because of the sound of it, one may feel each song sounds too similar to the previous one; However, I think the production team did a great job blending the songs together, and making them strong enough for the listener to not get bored while listening.

I would have to give Flesh Tone by Kelis 4 out of 5 stars! Its a fun, energetic, feel good album that makes you want to get out and hit the clubs, and dance the night away.

-Warren