Imagine if the music industry played out like the NBA draft lottery â€“ proverbial powerhouse record labels vying for the next great music artist. If we were only so lucky. Still, if you think about it, having the former â€œpresidentâ€ (weâ€™re still trying to figure out exactly what the Brooklyn emceeâ€™s job duties were, any takers?) of Def Jam â€“ Jay-Z â€“ in attendance representing his squad, the New Jersey Nets, is probably as close as weâ€™ll ever get.
The water cooler has made for some interesting debates over the last week on who would be our No. 1 pick, and, after hours of competitive banter (yes, we keep score), the STD crew finally came to a decision. Heâ€™s our Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love rolled into one â€“ rapper Jay Electronica (Blu, was a close second). Dude is about to dominate the game and his cross-genre appeal doesnâ€™t hurt either. Either way, weâ€™ll be attending the real NBA draft on June 26 at Madison Square Garden. The boos in section 8 will be coming from us. Word to Big Bird.
Bun B’s II Trill reminds me of a skit from Katt Williams’ the Pimp Chronicles where he talks about having a homie who’s too gangster; like the homie who wakes up eating Cheerios with a mug on. From top to bottom, you’re inundated with gangster bravado – odd given how articulate Bun Beater is and also how in regular convo he has so much more to speak on. II Trill has poignant social commentary (“Get Cha Issue”), a stirring tribute to Pimp C (“Angel In the Sky”) but it’s kinda difficult to take Bun serious as an insightful rapper with make-it-rain, booty-shaking and uber thug anthems juxtaposed next to the aforementioned tracks. If you’re said guy who wakes up gangster then II Trill will be that demo for you. But for the rest of population, it may be just what the title claims.
– John Burnett
Frank: Deluxe Edition
What happens when an increasingly controversial artist is too busy frequenting pipes and pubs to record a follow-up to their award-winning album? Their record label tries to repackage something we heard nearly five years ago under the assumption that weâ€™re just as high as their artist is. Although the repackaged version of Amy Winoâ€™s debut, Frank, does offer some pretty cool extraâ€™s (unheard tracks, demos, live tracks), one has to wonder if people are really willing to shell out more money for something so old this soon. Besides, with this release, are fans supporting Amyâ€™s music or her habit?
– Michael Arceneaux
The truth is no matter how good or bad this Cherish album is, you probably donâ€™t care. These days R&B girl groups are about as welcome as your mother at the club. Unfortunately for Cherish, their record label isnâ€™t doing much to help matters. Despite scoring a hit single and a gold-selling debut, the label this foursome signed its life to tossed their sophomore effort into the market with no real promotional push — treating them with the same level of care as Britney Spears does with her children. Hopefully they havenâ€™t spent all their money on hair.
– Michael Arceneaux
Death Cab For Cutie
The album cut of Death Cab’s new single, “I Will Possess Your Heart,” is eight-and-a-half minutes long and eight-and-a-half minutes boring. It’s always nice to root for songster Benjamin Gibbard because he just seems like a cool dude in a nerdy sort of way, and he writes sentimental soft rock songs for people who hate easy listening with every fiber of their beings. But the band’s new album, Narrow Stairs, is less Transatlanticism and more Plans, which is horribly disappointing. Sort of makes you want to stop rooting for him. We’ll always have “The New Year,” Ben.
– Kevin Doran
Why would Tom Petty revisit the band he was in 30-plus years ago, before he started Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? My guess is that it had something to do with the atrocity that was his Super Bowl halftime performance earlier this year. It works out well for Petty’s band mates, who get to share the spotlight for once. The lineup only has two dudes who aren’t in the Heartbreakers, but it sounds like a different band, one that has a bit more country and folk influence. Mostly, it sounds like some dudes who are tired of playing “American Girl” every night.
– Kevin Doran
Kidz in the Hall
The In Crowd
Remember how in high school the lunchroom tables were separated by groups: the jocks, the nerds, the popular girls, the slackers, etc.? Well … that’s the sound Naledge and Double-O went for with their latest album, The In Crowd, as each track represents a different table in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, they forgot that when making an album there has to be this thing called cohesiveness. The fairly stellar production and respectable lyricsâ€”with an impressive guest list to boot (Bun-B, Pusha T, Camp Lo, Sean Price and Buckshot)â€”don’t quite make up for the unfocused feel of the album. With hit or miss tracks throughout, their lunchroom experiment turns out to be more of a food fight. The Kidz In The Hall deserve detention for this one.
– A. Hugh Leonard