By Joe Walker
Day By Day
Yolanda Adams is the most poplar name and face in gospel music, like Mihalia Jackson and Shirley Ceaser were before her. A unanimous choice by fans of all ages, Adams capitalizes on her fame by continuing to deliver great albums. On this, her latest release, Adams enlists writing and production geniuses Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (The Time, Boyz II Men, Sounds Of Blackness, Usher, Gwen Stefani, Janet Jackson). She shines on “Alwaysness” and “Be Blessed” with powerful messages and vocal ranges. Though Adams stills yells a little too much on some songs, she learns to boom in moderation.
Kanye West openly talks of his musical influences as a hip-hop artist and producer. His performance on “Late Registration”, his highly anticipated sophomore album, should make Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def and Dr. Dre proud of him.
Kanye, still weak lyrically at times, easily out-rhymes such current stars as Mike Jones and label mate Young Jeezy. Songs such as “Heard’em All” featuring Adam Levine and “Roses” find Kanye executing excellent delivery. His presence and confidence on the microphone makes up for shortcomings. His simplest lines are quotable. Then he blasts you out of nowhere with precision penmanship on “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” featuring Jay-Z and “Addiction.”
His beats are sample heavy like on “College Dropout,” but this round is far more intricate. More sounds are incorporated to create fluent break beats that don’t lose its snap.
Thoughts of A Predicate Felon
Since CNN’s and MTV’s broadcasts of G-Unit member Tony Yayo being released from prison two years ago, demand for his album has been steadily building like sand dunes. It is well worth the wait. The grittiest member of 50 Cent’s camp explodes on this, his first solo effort with hard hitting stories, rhymes and lessons.
“Drama Setter” teams Yayo with Eminem to trade verses about handling negative attention. “It Is What It Is,” “Homicide,” and “Live By The Gun” are the type of dark, yet intelligently written bright verses hip-hop fans are hungry for. The production is solid throughout the album. G-Unit and non G-Unit should get lots of play here.
Music of the Sun
“Pon De Replay” has been burning up the radio airwaves and singles charts for months now. The mix of Dancehall, R&B and Hip-hop in this one song creates a buzz for more Rihanna as hot as bon fires. The singer has energy on her debut album, with more reasons to wind your hips. “Here I Go Again” and “That La, La, La” are fun numbers. Rihanna cools off on weak offerings like “There’s A Thug In My Life,” but she makes up for with booty-shaking provocation.