I went into Jason Derulo’s newest album expecting a full album of R&B and I ended up getting a lot more. There are a plethora of different sounds to be found. What we have with Everything Is 4, Derulo’s fourth studio offering, is a gigantic buffet of different sounds and styles of music, and somehow he manages to ease into each track with relative ease and finesse.
Talk Dirty, Derulo’s previous album, did not do a whole lot for me. It sounded like the singer was trying to break down the barrier that was blocking him from becoming a major pop star. What this produced was a bunch of methodical and boring pop songs that managed to have no effect on me. He had some hits, including the titular track, but it was not my favorite offering from the R&B star. Although his heavily-modified voice returns once again, he manages to find his groove with the new album.
The first course of Derulo’s album is a plate of funk, straight out of something you would have heard from the eighties. “Cheyenne,” a tale of a broken and failed relationship has a nice swing to it, which makes the somewhat sad song bright and cheery. We then get a heavy dose of hip-hop with “Get Ugly” and “Pull Up.” “Get Ugly” is in a similar vein as Derulo’s “Talk Dirty,” which makes sense since it is another collaboration with producer Wallpaper., who was behind Derulo’s previous hit from last summer.
We then get a little somber and slow with his collaboration with K. Michelle, “Love Like That.” K. Michelle really delivers with this one with a great voice that radiates alongside Derulo’s. It’s a nice little break in between beats, with “Painkiller,” Derulo’s fun and up-beat duet with Meghan Trainor that comes next on the track list.
One of the most unique songs from Everything Is 4 comes from the unlikely project involving Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban. Jason Derulo, Stevie Wonder, and Keith Urban…it’s a pairing of names that definitely raises a couple of eyebrows. What we get from the three artists is “Broke,” a mix and match of R&B and country that really breaks through as the strongest track on the album. Both Keith Urban and Stevie Wonder, on the guitar and harmonica respectively, both lend their musical talents and voices to a great track that manages to run with a flow that will get you off your butt and on to any dancefloor. It’s obviously similar to Derulo’s other remix with Florida Georgia Line. It’s these kinds of songs that demonstrate the ability of Derulo to take any genre of music and really weld it into his own style.
Not every track in Derulo’s full course of dance pop and R&B contributes to the meal’s deliciousness. Arguably the most popular song from the album so far has been “Want to Want Me,” which peaked at number eight on the US charts. For me, it ended up being another tried and true pop song that just seems made for radio. It doesn’t have any bang to it and largely falls flat when going up against most of the other tracks on the album. In similar suit, the last four songs, excluding “Trade Hearts” featuring Julia Michaels, did not leave an impression.
It’s impressive what Jason Derulo has done with his dynamic Everything Is 4. It manages to provide a wide variety of different sounds that manage to work in their own respective ways. What’s even more impressive is Derulo’s ability to go into each one without missing a beat, as if he is a pro in each genre that he explores. It’s hard to place a finger on which type of sound suits Derulo the best, but no matter what, Derulo will get you moving once again.
When it comes to the classic west coast sound, arguably no one does it better than Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams. The news that Snoop’s Bush would be entirely produced by Pharrell was good news, because Pharrell is one hot producer right now. Bush is the rapper’s thirteenth studio album and it gets some things right, but largely did not stand out in the grand scope of the west coast rapper’s discography.
Snoop brings the funk 110% with a mix of hip-hop and R&B. Any fan of Pharrell’s previous work will feel right at home, with a lot of real familiar sound that stays in touch with the producer’s past work. It is a rather short offering, with a track list of ten songs all about getting high, among other things. What else would you expect from Snoop? He manages to provide a nice flow on the tracks, giving us a different sounding Snoop when compared to some of his previous work.
The beats are nice, with Pharrell providing a nice does of funky flavor along with some poppy instrumentals. Its party music, and it will most definitely want to make you get off your feet. Songs like “Peaches N Cream,” “So Many Pros,” and “This City” will make it hard for you to stand still. They were some of the strongest tracks from the album.
Perhaps one of my favorite tracks comes with Snoop’s collaboration with rappers Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar. The two are probably some of the hottest in the game right now, and they live up to the hype by providing the heat on “I’m Ya Dogg.” As always, Kendrick Lamar continues to showcase his trademark flow over his power punch of a verse and Rick Ross just continues to be a boss.
When most of your songs on the album sound the same, it’s hard to keep the party fresh. A lot of songs off the album fell into a pool of mediocrity and just sound like top 40 wannabe’s. That is the kind of vibe that I got from the album. It seems like Snoop and Pharrell were trying to make an entire album that sounds like the kinds of songs that you would currently find on the top 40 airwaves. Although this works for some of the tracks, like the ones I mentioned previously, the idea does not work as well as they would expect.
I probably struggled the hardest with what to say about the album. I did not hate it, but I did not find it overly enjoyable either. There really is not too many words to describe Bush. The album has a cool California sound to it, but most of the songs did not manage to keep my attention for long. This is not Snoop’s best piece of work, but there is some things that you can find to like about it.
This week was pretty slow when it came to new songs. We got some new stuff from DeJ Loaf and Tech N9ne, with his explosive rap collaboration with Eminem and Krizz Kaliko. There was not too many mixtapes that managed to impress either. Here’s what I was listening to…
“Me U & Hennessy”
DeJ Loaf (feat. Lil Wayne)
The video for DeJ Loaf’s sensual and steamy “Me U & Hennessy” released last week, but this week gives us the remix, which has Lil Wayne on the other end of the track. The song is an explicit and overtly sexual run through of a night of drinks and love making. DeJ Loaf gets raunchy, but Lil Wayne out does her in classic Weezy fashion. The song has a smooth sound, perfect for any lover’s night. If you are looking for some baby making music for your next occasion, DeJ Loaf and Lil Wayne can hook you up.
“Speedom (WWC 2)”
Tech N9ne (feat. Eminem & Krizz Kaliko)
If you are looking to get your heart racing, Tech N9ne may have the song for you. With his next album Special Effects on the way, N9ne dropped his newest single “Speedom,” which was the sequel to “World Wide Choppers.” The song features N9ne, Eminem, and Krizz Kaliko going 0-60 in trailblazing time on their respective verses. Eminem’s verse is quite the handful, taking shots at people like Ellen Degeneres, Drake, and Kanye West. Eminem and Tech N9ne have collaborated before, and their newest team-up efforts do not disappoint. Be sure to catch the track if you can.
Glasses Malone (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Up till this point, we haven not heard too much about Glasses Malone’s upcoming project Glasshouse 2. In a leak on Monday, we got to hear the rapper’s first song from the album, entitled “Thuggin’.” The song, produced by Sega, is a song about the thug life over a sample of Bone Thugs n Harmony’s “For the Love of Money.” It starts off with a snippet from an 1994 interview of 2Pac outside of a courthouse and then leads to Glasses Malone giving us a clinic on what it means to be a thug. The rap powerhouse Kendrick Lamar also provides some lyrical help with a one-two punch of a verse. As most songs of this nature like to do, it took aim at some of the current issues that stand today. It is a promising preview of Malone’s future music he has in store.
Trips to Trinidad EP
It’s been a while since we have heard any music from Trinidad James. His new EP, Trips to Trinidad gives fans something to devour in the meantime however. The small collection of songs has “Island Music” written all over it. The first two songs, “Trini Wolve$” and “$.T.I.Y. (Save the Island Youth),” are one part reggae and one part rap. The last two tracks give us a freestyle, and some wisdom to go with it. “TTT Free$tyle” is a pretty average freestyle that has a different sound from the previous two tracks, and it probably could have been excluded from the project as a whole. “Po$$ible No Guarantee” has Trinidad speaking about relationships at the start, only to move on to his outlook on life as a whole. It might have felt scattered at times, but it was an interesting piece to end with. The project, largely produced by Dark Conceptz, is nothing special, but it still manages to please.
I have been following Jae Millz ever since “Green Goblin,” his collaboration with Chris Brown. His style of music could almost be classified as dark and menacing, with some heavy beats to back it up. No Chill, the newest of his many mixtapes, continues in that style of music, but did not impress in it’s execution. There were some songs from the project that caught my attention, like “Shining” and “Yeah I Know,” but most were nothing to write home about. Most of the songs on the tape ranged from average to below average, which does not make it worth going out of your way to listen to it. Jae Millz has done better.
Life of a Soulja II
Lil Soulja Slim
If you have not heard of Lil Soulja Slim, that is okay. He has not hit it big yet. He is the son of Soulja Slim, the rapper who died at the hands of an unknown shooter. Soulja Slim’s son continues on, furthering his father’s legacy. He has not put out that much music yet, which is why his second mixtape in the Life of a Soulja series was intriguing to me. I wanted to see what his rapping abilities looked like. It is fair to say that he sounds a lot like his father, but some of his lyrics do not fly too well. He needs some work, as demonstrated by the quality of the mixtape. The release has some good production from producers like Playboy Pat and Crack Tracks, but his lyrical abilities were not all there. The last song on the mixtape “Listen,” which happened to be a bonus track featuring Juvenile, Young Juve, and Danny Heartless, was probably my favorite out of all of them. His newest offering can probably be passed over, but I will be interested to see if he gets better over time, and if he gets any traction and recognition in the future.
This week saw the release of Tyler, the Creator’s album Cherry Bomb along with a mix and match of other singles as well. Trey Songz delivered a surprise mixtape Intermission, and Rihanna released her newest single from her upcoming album, “American Oxygen.” Here is what came out this week…
Technically the song came out on April 5th on the new Tidal Music platform, but I was not really a fan of Tidal, so I decided to wait till it was available everywhere. With that being said, this patriotic and energetic song is actually pretty good. It is pretty significant because Rihanna, the island girl herself, is a black immigrant of the United States. The song, which served as the theme song for March Madness, is about achieving the American Dream. The song also has some obvious influences from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” “American Oxygen” gets me pretty excited for what is to come with Rihanna’s #R8, her highly anticipated next album, but this should do till then.
“Addicted to a Memory”
Zedd (feat. Bahari)
“Addicted to a Memory” is Zedd’s second offering off his new album True Colors which comes out on the 19th of this month. It is a “what could have been” type of song, which has Bahari reflecting on a relationship that probably did not go as planned. It has a deep techno kind of feel with a drop that will shake any dance club. It started to run a little long towards the end, but overall it felt like a Zedd song.
“Darker than Blood”
Steve Aoki (feat. Linkin Park)
The other EDM track to come out this week came from the rage inducer Steve Aoki himself, along with the surprise help of Linkin Park. This is not the first time that we have had rock mixed with electronic music, but it did not feel quite right with “Darker than Blood.” The song, which supposedly has been in production for almost two years, did not quite have the effect that I thought it would have. The song sounds like Steve Aoki, as well as Linkin Park. It just made me realize that the song probably would have sounded better separated. I would have rather had Steve Aoki release the song by himself, with Linkin Park doing the same. Then we could have had a comparison.
“So Many Pros”
Bush is on its way, and Snoop seems to be making a comeback, albeit with a new sound. His second single “So Many Pros” has similarities to his other single “Peaches and Cream,” which makes it apparent that the album is going to have a smooth and more “pop-y” feel to it. “So Many Pros” has production from Pharrell Williams, and some back up vocals from the talented Charlie Wilson. It brought me back to Snoop’s earlier ballad “Sensual Seduction,” but “So Many Pros” failed to do it for me. It just sounded like a tired and lazy pop song with little to no rap at all. If I did not know better, I would not have guessed that it was a Snoop Dogg song.
Yelawolf (feat. Eminem)
I have a strong feeling that Yelawolf has a good album coming our way to add to the collection of great hip hop albums that have come out this year. “Best Friend” is his latest single from the upcoming release, which includes the only feature on the album; and no one better to fill that role than Slim Shady himself. The two sound great together on the track, with Yelawolf getting a little more spiritual while Eminem delivers his trademark aggressive rhymes. There’s a overarching spiritual tone to the song, which makes me excited for the kind of territory that the southern rapper will cover on Love Story.
Trey Songz noted on his Twitter that he feels like he is at his best whenever he releases surprise music for his fans. The mixtape, which could be called an EP, features a small collection of songs from the R&B singer. Some of my favorites from the release are “Don’t Play” and “Talk About It.” They both do the job of being pretty alright R&B songs. The others on the EP are not knock-outs, but they were not bad. Intermission was not Trey Songz at his absolute best, but he gives his fans something to grapple to during their wait for his upcoming project.
Starring: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett
Creators: Lee Daniels, Danny Strong
When I sat down and watched the first episode of Empire I had no clue where it was going to end up. It could have been a surprise hit, or a complete failure; I was not sure. It had a unique spin on the family drama sphere of television, one that chronicled the life of a family in the hip-hop music business. If only I knew the raging wildfire that the show ended up turning into as succeeding weeks went on.
The show, which gives us a glimpse of the glamorous lifestyle of the Lyons family, proved to get bigger and bigger every single week. Every week, they would release the numbers and they just seemed unrealistic. How could a show do this good? How could a show continue to receive more viewers every week, without going down in ratings? The pilot was watched by around 9.8 million viewers and the finale clocked in at about 16.7 million viewers, without ever taking any dips or stumbles. The show, on its quick rise to the top, ended up crushing records, including the record for highest rated season finale by a first year show, which was previously held by the Grey’s Anatomy for its first season in 2005. The show now stands as TV’s highest rated and most popular show out there, and it’s only just begun for the crew at Empire Records.
Lucious Lyons (Terrence Howard), the owner of Empire Records, is the star of the show. We find out in the first episode that he is diagnosed with the chronic illness that is ALS. The one thing we learn throughout the show is that Lucious is not a man to go down without swinging. He’s a fighter. He wants to take his record company public, but in order to do that, he needs to find someone to take the throne. His three sons, Andre (Trai Byers), Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), and Jamal (Jussie Smollett), have to pretty much earn their dad’s trust and respect in order to get a piece of his empire.
We also have the character of Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henderson. If you have not watched the show, but manage to stay up to date with pop culture discussion, you have probably already heard of Cookie’s character. With hash tags like #ShitCookieSays, it is easy to see why Cookie was one of my favorite characters from the series. She is the ex-husband of Lucious who was put into jail because of her and Lucious’s past in the hood. She was sentenced to seventeen years in jail, all while Lucious built up his Empire, calling it his own. We see in the show however, that this is not so much the case, and that Cookie has had a big part in the label’s success. When she gains freedom from the precinct in the first episode, it is immediately care that she is not going to let Lucious have all the fun with Empire’s success. She wants a part of it too.
The show contains all sorts of themes, including greed, power, and the flashy lifestyle that comes with the hip-hop industry. It is these kinds of things that separate the show from other family dramas. It made the show much more interesting to watch. There were numerous points throughout the season where everybody seems to have their own motives in mind when carrying out their actions. This leads to lots of juicy conflict and literal hair-pulling drama, especially in the last couple of episodes. Cookie and Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey), Lucious’ head of A&R, have a tense relationship and this relationship often provided us some of the best moments from the show.
There are two things that probably contribute to the massive success behind the show, and that is the show’s edgy plotlines, as well as the rich music. The show, on top of the concepts that I mentioned before, travels to some areas where most shows would never think to go. Lucious Lyon demonstrates his homophobic nature whenever his son Jamal comes out. We also see his disdain for white women with Andre’s relationship with his wife Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday). These two plotlines come up frequently throughout the first season and they painted Lucious Lyon in a pretty negative light. I applaud the show for hitting these types of themes though, because the show had a lot to say about them. I think it handled them well. It is these kinds of themes that permeate the hip-hop industry, which is why it would make sense to tackle them in a show like Empire. As Lucious says, “hip-hop is controversy.”
Rapper and producer Timbaland was the guy behind Empire’s amazing soundtrack, which includes genres like hip-hop, rap, r&b, and gospel. If you are making a show about music, you have to make sure that you get the music nailed down right, and Empire gave us a formidable soundtrack, knocking it out of the park. Hakeem, an up-and-coming rapper, and Jamal, the passionate r&b singer, provided some great musical hits, as well as some of the supporting cast. The show even featured some cameo performances from the likes of Jennifer Hudson (who actually played the role of Andre’s musical therapist), Estelle, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Rita Ora, Juicy J, as well as others. The music was so good, that there is talks about producing a concert series featuring the show’s hit music.
As the show went on, the plot twists and deep intertwined drama started to get more and more intense. The last four episodes where edge-of-your-seat enthralling and rattling television. The one gripe I started to have was that some of these riveting twists and turns seemed a little cheap. I don’t want to spoil anything, but things start to suddenly look up for Lucious by the second to last episode, completely out of the blue. They used a convenient plot device to make the show more interesting for its second season. This might be hard to argue with, but I wish they could have handled it with a more realistic solution. There were a ton of other cheap and convenient plot twists that served the purpose of moving things along towards what looks to be an intense season two.
I started to get the sense that Empire realized how big it was getting. The first couple of episodes were interesting and entertaining, but as the ratings started to skyrocket towards the sky, so did the show’s vision and scope. You could almost see the show evolving before your eyes as it drove towards the fantastic finale. It was a show that gripped me from the get-go, and it kept me wrangled towards the very end. As the final credits started to role after its thirteenth and final episode of the season, I just felt myself hungry for more. Season two cannot come sooner enough. Empire is one of the few shows that can be considered “must watch TV.” If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend catching up on the first season, because I can only feel that the show is going to get bigger as season two takes the stage this fall, or next spring…but hopefully next fall.
The finale pretty much presented us with the main skeleton behind season two. When Lucious, after realizing he does not have ALS anymore, gives the throne to Jamal, Andre and Hakeem are not too pleased. They want to do what is considered a “hostile takeover.” They join forced with Cookie and Anika to basically bring down Jamal and Lucious’ empire.
In the final couple of scenes, we see that Lucious’ dark past catches up to him when justice is finally done. He is arrested for his murder of their cousin Bunkie and is sent to jail during his tribute concert. This is bad news for Empire, the newly public company. This only means that season two is going to be a story of revenge for Lucious. He is going to use these recent forthcomings as fuel for his comeback. Season two is going to be one hell of a season if the series’ creators can play the right cards.
Label: RCA, Young Money, Cash Money, Republic, Roc Nation
Chris Brown and Tyga are two artists that really work well together in my opinion. Even though they are different with their musical disciplines, they still share a common narcissistic attitude at times and they tend to complement each other when they are on the same track. Surprisingly, up till this point, they haven’t collaborated together on an album. With that being said, I had a lot of anticipation for what Fan of a Fan: The Album was going to be bringing to the table. Now that the collaboration between the two has been released, I have to say that it was a disappointment.
There’s a plethora of tracks on the release, with some guest verses from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, 50 Cent, Pusha T, Fat Trel, ScHoolboy Q, T.I., and Wale. However, not even outside help could have made the album better. It was just the thematic elements that were featured on the album that truly fell flat, and probably the lack of substance in the first place.
You’ll find your fair share of songs about love, sex, women, and the party life. That’s about it when it comes to substance on the album. After song eight, they all just started to sound the same and it got boring to listen to.
There were two stand-out tracks that stood out the most. “Ayo”, one of the few singles released of the album, had a nice beat and had the sound of a club anthem. It was a good example of the great duo that Chris Brown and Tyga make. The other song was “Better”, a largely reflective song about how the two could have been better in their relationships. The only reason why it stood out to me is because it was a breath of fresh air from the sex-obsessed bangers on the rest of the album.
I also found it hard not to cringe with some of the lyrics on the album. Lines like, “That’s my bae, she cook and clean and got it made / Handcuff like she a slave, touch ya, let ya tongue taste” seem overly distasteful. Perhaps I should not be too surprised however, because both Chris Brown and Tyga are never afraid to hold back on their lyrics, but it just did not seem right.
With some production credits going to DJ Mustard and Nic Nac, I do have to say that some of the songs on the album sound pretty good, despite some of the gripes I have with them. “Bitches N Marijuana” and the last track “Banjo” are two good examples of some great sounds from the album.
There is not too much else I can say about Fan of a Fan: The Album. It had the potential to be a really fun and exciting romp with Chris Brown and Tyga, but it fell flat on a lot of levels. Instead, it will most likely be banished into the fields of mediocrity, and I doubt the album will gain any traction with the fans. It’s ironic that an album titled Fan of a Fan will most likely have a hard time finding any fans.
Jessie J’s music career has always been intriguing to me. It just seems like not that much people are talking about her. She has the ability to make pretty big hits. Her single’s “Domino” and “Price Tag” did very well and she even wrote Miley Cyrus’s hit “Party in the USA.” So like I said, the ability is there, but where is her star power?
With the British singer’s recent release of Sweet Talker, Jessie J’s third studio album, it seems as if her star power will reach a maximum.
The album starts out with a bang (no pun intended) with four of my favorite songs off her release. She starts off with the energetic “Ain’t Been Done” and then moves to the even faster “Burnin’ Up” with 2 Chainz. We then have the title track “Sweet Talker”, in which Jessie J gives a strong performance. Lastly, “Bang Bang” is probably my favorite track off the album. When it was released as a single, it was a bona fide summer hit, featuring the likes of Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. The track also warranted a VMA performance that was truly something else.
However, the rest of the album did not stand out as much as the first four hits. Jessie J started to slow it down with sweet sounding melodies, which started to run together towards the end. There wasn’t too much variety as the album started to come to a close, but Jessie J still managed to make them entertaining to listen to, with her powerful and melodic voice.
She almost reminds me of a hybrid between Beyonce and P!nk. She has a wide vocal range and a booming voice, with some pop, hip-hop, and r&b influences. She doesn’t have the name recognition of those two artists, but she still has a voice that can be singled out of a crowd.
Sweet Talker could be considered A+ material if there was only some variety towards the latter part of the album. However, Sweet Talker is still a strong release from the brit. Her single “Bang Bang” propelled her into the US spotlight, now it’s up to her what she does with it.
Hopefully she provides us with more impressive chart-topping hits.