In todays market there is so much music to dig through with the Internet being the main distribution tool for media. You can only imagine how difficult my job can get searching the Internet for notable music releases.
Artists are releasing music exclusively through their website or on mixtape sites as well a exclusive releases for stores like Target and iTunes. Then there is all of the independent music releases that fly under the radar. Skimming through all of those avenues and looking for good music can be a fulltime job but in the end it’s worth it.
It was Valentines Day last week and many R&B artists did their best to make it a special week with exclusive Valentines Day releases for the fans to enjoy. I was ranting earlier this year about a lack of R&B last year and hoping that this year would be a big year for R&B. Well we got off to a nice start for this week and it was the first week since I’ve been doing this blog that the R&B releases out numbered the hip-hop.
Here ‘s a quick review of the music that was released between the dates of February 10th through February 14th.
Currency – The Drive in Theater
A free download from Currency was released. The New Orleans native started out his career signed to No-Limit records and was also signed to Cash Money records at one time, but does much better on his own. Jet Life records is his label and that’s fits his music well. His new album is filled with the same consistent chill hip-hop that has made him a star below the radar. A good mixtape and I recommend the listen.
Score – 7.5 of 10
Ne-Yo – 3 Simple rules (EP)
Ne-Yo gives his fans a special free download for Valentines Day. Four new tracks of love songs to hold fans off in-between albums. All of the special Valentine releases have four tracks; I guess four was the magic number. It’s not his best work by far, but it’s good music for the R&B fan looking for a fix.
Score – 6 of 10
OJ Da Juice Man – Alaska in Atlanta
I have no idea what people see in this Atlanta rapper, but he has managed to stick around. His signature ad-libs and simple ABC flow haven’t grown much. He has nothing insightful to say but you already knew that so if you’re a fan, you don’t listen to his music for lyrics or creativity. His production is below average and my head hurts from the chitter chatter that sounds like the soundtrack for the Special Olympics.
Score – 3 of 10
Crosses – Crosses
My outside pick of the week comes from alternative rock band Crosses based out of southern California. I enjoyed every minute of it. They remind me a little of the Deftones at times but with their own dark twist. After two self released EPs, this is their debut album and worth the wait.
Score – 8 of 10
Daley – Days & Nights
Categorized as R&B but he has a soulful alternative sound at times. This was my first listening experience with this artist and I was thoroughly impressed with his range and depth in lyrical content. It’s a creative and eccentric ride filled with a lot of soul. There are points in the album when he has an old school Marvin Gaye like sound. I strongly recommend this album.
Score – 8.5 of 10
JoJo – #LoveJo (EP)
You may remember her as young child with an amazing adult voice in 2004. She still remains the youngest solo artist in history to hold a number 1 spot on the billboard hot 100. If you haven’t been paying close attention you may of missed her. She’s been staying busy flying under the radar self-releasing mixtapes while fighting with her label. If you haven’t heard them I suggest you start downloading, because they were good quality mixtapes. She has recently signed a new record deal still under the Interscope family tree and JoJo is working on her big industry come back all grown up and mature. The Valentines Day EP is just a short teaser but her voice is still that of an elite R&B singer and you can put her in a class with all the great voices.
Score – 7
Eric Bellinger – The Rebirth
You can call this album a double disk with well over thirty songs. This is also my first experience with this artist and I have nothing bad to say about him. I know thirty plus songs sounds like a lot but he never bored me. Its witty, creative present day R&B with a great production job. The album features guest appearances from Usher, Problem, Sage the Gemini, Too Short, TY$, Kid Ink, Joe Budden, Tank and more.
Score – 8 of 10
K. Michelle – Still No F%*ks Given
Also a Valentines Day release for free download but this album is lacking love songs. K. Michelle is needed and has a fan base that is growing rapidly. She fills a void in the industry and always remains herself, which is being loud and “ghetto” (a word she would probably use). Raw R&B that I don’t think was meant for me. I don’t believe I’m in her demographics. However, I have a respect for her honesty and ability to be herself in an industry that normally changes people into robots. She’s up to her same tricks on this one. All of her “neighborhood attitude” shining through on songs like “Baby Mama” and “F*#k you” She mixes some new original songs and mixtape remakes of other popular songs.
Score – 7 of 10
Good Belt Gang – N.O.R.E. Presents: Resource Room
No one has ever mistaken N.O.R.E for a lyrist, but he was present during some legendary hip-hop moments, which is why I thought this album was worth listening to. I was wrong about that. It’s that time in N.O.R.E’s career when he attempts to pass his wisdom down to the next generation of rappers. The problem with that is the rappers involved with the Good Belt Gang are below average rappers and I wonder what N.O.R.E. saw in them. Busta Rhymes, Bun-B, 2 Chains and Action Bronson are featured on this album, but it could not save it from less than mediocrity.
Score – 2 of 10
Willie the Kid & Bronze Nazareth – The Living Daylights
Two underground MCs collaborating on this sample heavy album that features gritty sounds and lyrics. Another album in the lane of the generation that grew up on Wu-Tang. That east coast early 90s hip-hop sound that still lurks in the shadows of the business. The album is serviceable and easy to listen to but with Action Bronson being a tough act to follow you really have to come with some innovative lyrics to stand out in that lane. I’m not impressed with the lyrics enough to give a true vote of confidence. Especially with trying to be the new generation Wu. The album features Young Dirty Bastard, Sean Price and Roc Marciano among others.
Score – 5 of 10
K – Young – Lay You Down (EP)
If you don’t know K-Young then you must not read the credits to music you listen to. This R&B singer is attempting to make a name for himself as an artist. He has already had a successful career behind the scenes as a song writer for artists such as B2K, P. Diddy, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Yolanda Adams and Brandy just to name a few. His EP features 7 new songs just in time for Valentines Day and is bedroom ready to lay that special person in your life down.
Score – 8 of 10
Mya – With Love (EP)
I’m happy see that Mya is still releasing quality music. Another special Valentines Day release and her first release of original music since her 2011 album K.I.S.S. which was released independently. Nothing daring or experimental but a feel good R&B EP. I look forward to her new album hopefully before years end.
Score – 8 of 10
Eric Church – The Outsiders
I had to throw in a country pick because I was very impressed with this album. A lot of experimenting with classic rock and blues and he wasn’t afraid to let it all hang out on this album. The Outsiders was the perfect theme and title for this album and if your mind is open wide enough to fit in a little country then this album should be in your playlist. I debated giving him a perfect score because he went beyond the call of duty.
Score – 9
That about does it for my week in music. It was a good week for R&B and if your looking for some new music to load in the playlist and you haven’t found anything, I’ve giving you a list of new music to add to your Google search. Next week look forward to more new music and I will be here to report my findings.