Nu Music Reviews
by Joe Walker
In the wake of Tupac’s passing a huge body of work was left unfinished. Over the ten years since his murder, the blessing of his mother, Executive Producer Afeni Shakur, granted producers of today – underground and mainstream – chance to complete those unfinished works for his legion of fans. This latest collection – touched up by such notable beat makers as Swizz Beats and Sha Money XL – is high on superstar cameo collaborations (Keyshia Cole, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs), current-styled dance club production, and somewhat typical Pac rhymes of thugging, thinking about thugging and wrongly-treated ‘hoods. This is not his most inspired work, so ones who can’t live without Tupac will just be happy to hear his voice. Those who want substance from afterlife’s greatest rhyme spitter should pick up Until The End of Time or Still I Rise.
The Game’s highly publicized dispute with former label mate 50 Cent lead to his exit from Aftermath Entertainment, moving the release of this, his much anticipated sophomore LP, to Geffen Records. Lacking production from his mentor Dr. Dre, or catchy hooks from 50, The Game still made good. He traded the Doc and G-Unit popness for the next best thing, Dre’s entire production team – Mr. Porter, DJ Hi-Tek, Scott Storch, JR Rotem and Jelly Roll. The result is a well-produced sonic force that is every bit as good as, if not better than, Game’s 2005 debut. Lyrically Game stays on point, though not as metaphorical as on he previous. More direct, he uses his public troubles to power his pen engine, writing feelings as deep as the gun wounds that once left him in a coma. On the title track he apologizes to his mentor, confessing how much he respects and loves the man who brought him from selling gang life to achieving platinum records sells – with Busta Rhymes closing the song in his defense. Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas makes "Compton" a staggering, break-beat hip hop opus, while Nas comes out west to help explain "Why You Hate The Game."
Oral Fixation, Vol. 1 & 2
Shakira’s recent, and ultra creative, two-part album can now be enjoyed together in one package. The Pop-savvy singer/songwriter/dancer returned to her Spanish roots on both volumes; one gets complex tunes from her culture and funky and fun commercially accepted simplicity. Hit single "Hips Don’t Lie" featuring Wyclef is also available here – no need to purchase a special edition to get all the gems. This is a highly enjoyable collection of music.
Begin To Hope
Russian-born musician Regina Spektor knows her way around a piano, paper and pen. Writing classy-yet-clever notes and lyrics on this, her latest release, Regina builds a happy bridge between those who like either Vanessa Carlton or Alicia Keys. Yet her delivery and fusion of so many musical styles will have lovers of both, not too mention fans of Sade, Michael Buble, India.Arie and Nora Jones raving, not hoping, for more. "Apres Moi," "20 Years of Snow" and "Lady" are incredible.