STD Issue 50

My, how the game has changed in the two years since Format’s inception. Rappers’ threatening to retire has become an industry norm. R&B and Foxy Brown are still trying to find their way. Rock is dead and John McCain is still alive. George Bush is closer to being out of the White House (What up Barack!). And yet, Format is here—50 issues deep, 50 issues strong. The STD crew salutes you.

So, to celebrate this achievement, we decided to do something special: “The 8 Worst Albums of the Format Era (2006-Now).” The list has everything, from a rap legend and a rock god to two R&B divas and a questionable hipster alt-rock band. We even threw in Colby O’Donis for shits and giggles (you’ll get the joke later). What more could you ask for? Haters, this one’s on us.

T.I.
T.I. vs. T.I.P.

RATING:

2007 wasn’t a good year at all for T.I. Not only did he drop this dud, but he also got caught with enough guns to give George W. Bush a hard-on. Seriously, dude’s closet looked like the prop room for Saving Private Ryan. What the hell is he going to do with hand grenades in Atlanta? I digress. Apparently being diagnosed with schizophrenia wasn’t good for his rap career either as T.I. & Co. piled up enough garbage on this disc to make a bum grab a fork. Not sure which T.I. is going to be serving his jail time next year but hopefully it’s the one responsible for this monstrosity.

– A. Hugh Leonard

Jay-Z
American Gangster

RATING:

Remember Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite? He was an old washed up loser who used to be a football star and had to reflect on his past greatness to make himself feel better. If Uncle Rico doesn’t ring a bell how about the guys who graduated from your high school 4 years ago but they always came back to hang around, thinking it was a cool thing to do? In case you’re not following, rapping about drugs is Jay-Z’s high school and American Gangster is where he comes back to visit, expecting all of his peers to be in awe of his return…not so much. American Gangster is far from a terrible album but the idea of a 45-year old man rapping about cooking and selling drugs is absurd. Until Al Pacino starts filming Scarface II, Jay-Z should ‘JUST SAY NO’.

– A. Hugh Leonard

Ozzy Ozbourne
Black Rain

RATING:

This is not the Ozzy Ozzbourne you know. Rock legends set standards and blaze trails. Yet, the former architect of revolver rock sounds like a cheap, old imitation on this go-around. Grandpa-esque even. Where’s the defiance? The inspiring immorality? The rebel we fell in lust with at Ozzfest? Black Rain is like a bad, bad birthday party—complete with the drunk uncle, unruly friends and outdated tunes compliments of the whack DJ. Somebody find Ozzy his wheelchair and oxygen tank, stat.

– Ahmad Smith

Janet Jackson
Discipline

RATING:

They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if you’ve noticed a pattern, isn’t that incentive to try something new? Apparently not to Janet, who will not be denied the right to dish on her desires on KDiscipline. To her credit, she did embrace change to some degree by seeking new producers. Too bad they’re limited to the touch me, tease me, damn near beat me subject matter Janet’s been stuck on for over a decade. No greater proof than how tired this shtick has become than the title track—an ode to masochism and S&M in which she asks “Daddy” to make her cry. That line, like much of the rest of the album, sounds more like a cry for help than an appealing come on. While Jackson may have succeeded in again pushing the sexual envelope, on Discipline she doesn’t make a dent in the creative one.

– Michael Arceneaux

Mariah Carey
E=MC2

RATING:

Though the album’s title suggests it’s a superior sequel to The Emancipation of Mimi, E=MC2 is anything but. With her now whispering about calling up Shawntae and Mae-Mae to sip Pinot Grigio (possibly the Boone’s Farm brand, since Mimi is hood now) at the club with T-Pain and complaining about a man with baby mama drama (six fold), Mariah Carey continues to regress both lyrically and vocally. When she’s not following the bird’s guide to singing R&B, she’s recreating “We Belong Together” several times—reminding listeners that she often writes about love from the perspective of a junior high school girl. Still, Mariah’s merely doing what she’s always done: Create music for the time. And if mediocre hip hop influenced radio-friendly songs is the current standard, that’s what Mimi’s going to release.

– Michael Arceneaux

Evanescence
The Open Door

RATING:

Here’s a hint: When your founder/ lead songwriter leaves the band, stop while you’re ahead. Despite the commercial feats reached by the album’s success—five singles, two world tours, certified platinum in the United States just a month after its release, and, to date, selling more than four million copies worldwide—it’s content and direction was lacking. The Open Door was more like a closed door. Don’t believe me? We haven’t heard from the group since this 2006 massacre. The success of the album only proves one thing: Substandard music is contagious. What up Soulja Boy!

– Jay Wonder

The Bravery
The Sun and the Moon

RATING:

The Bravery ain’t so brave. The Sun and the Moon ,the follow-up to their self-titled debut smash, is far from anything implied by their bold moniker. At least I knew going in that this wouldn’t be a classic album. And one would think when working with production wizard Brendan O’Brien—whose resume includes Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Velvet Revolver—the album’s sound would break sonic barriers. But, after all, there are three things guaranteed in this lifetime: death, taxes and the sophomore slump. Will the real Monkees-esque, New York hipster band please stand up?!

– Jay Wonder

Colby O’Donis
Colby O

RATING:

It’s all Akon’s fault. We have the pop crooner to thank for introducing us to T-Pain—the half man, half court jester who stole our hearts with his smile and his voice modulator. Now we can thank Akon for introducing us to Colby O’Donis—the newest New York R&B heartthrob. Diddy and Day 26 better watch out. I mean, when you have Lil Romeo and Paul Wall on your debut album how could it not be a hit? Is the sarcasm obvious? Akon, stick to what you do best: Physically throwing your fans off stage at concerts. Aww, the wonders of YouTube.

– Jason Parham

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