By Joe Walker
The Inner Beauty Movement
Lina possesses a jazzy singing style reminiscent of the Harlem Renaissance. Her background production often be-bops, and she glides over rhythms like a slick, hip lounge lady. This, Lina’s latest album, finds her shaking the neo-soul moniker placed on her previous effort and replacing it with more of an alternative sound – that being classic R&B. “Come To Mamma”, a stand out cut on the album, has a glazed hip-hop drum track and lounge-like pianos layered with Lina’s night club harmony. Some of the tracks get a little weird (“Run To Me”) but overall this is a solid album.
B5, the latest find of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, is a new boy group that’s a cross between B2K and the Jackson 5. B5 lacks depth in the vocal department, using lots of digital tricks and mastery to try and cover their weak vocal prowess. Their single, “All I Do”, a remake of the hit “All I Do Is Think of You” by Troop, is a good example of their snap, crackle and pop voices. Songs like “No More Games”, “Teacher’s Pet” and “Back In Your Arms” need more milk.
All or Nothing
Fat Joe has endured all – critical bashing, poor production and weak songwriting, feuds with other popular rappers, accusations of rhyme stealing and the death of a close friend and partner – to reach his current level as a rapper. Joe is putting it all on the line in the name of hip-hop, making “All or Nothing” a fitting title for his 6th album. His lyrical delivery is nearly unmatched, with Joe sounding better than ever on songs like “Rock Ya Body,” “Safe 2 Say,” and “Beat Novacane.” Despite numerous hot verses, the majority of the songs still aren’t very good. This is an album flaw Joe just can’t seem to shake lately.
The debut album from Pretty Ricky is anything but attractive. The quartet sings sexually driven lyrics and tales of female conquest that get old just minutes into the album They sound like a poor imitation of Dru Hill and Twista throughout. While their song arrangement and vocal strength aren’t completely awful, it is their attempts to rap that call for emergency soundproof earmuffs. Immature songs such as “Your Body” and “Juicy” counter their attempts at serious numbers such as “Can’t Live Without You.”