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Omarion, former lead singer of r&b boy band B2K, just released his 4th solo studio album “Sex Playlist” last night Tuesday, December 2nd. Omarion (also known as Maybach O) signed to Rick Ross’ label Maybach Music Group (MMG) back in 2012. MMG has a roster of backpack and street rappers such as Meek Mill, Wale, Gunplay and Stalley, so for Omarion to soften up the bunch and bring a sexy r&b sound to the label, levels out the dynamics of the group pretty well.

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The 1975s single Chocolate is full of allegory and metaphor coupled with a cool, smooth, almost Jazz-like sound that will have you tapping your foot to the melody. It’s because of that song that I wanted to review their debut self-titled studio album. However, I was sadly mistaken. What could have been a great album that evoked all that was good with Chocolate, instead becomes a heavy-handed, pop/rock soundtrack with little to no substance.

 

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Under the production and guidance of Eminem, Skyler Grey, the writer of Love the Way You Lie and singer on I Need a Doctor, released her anticipated second album, Don’t Look Down. While I haven’t heard too many things in preparation for the release of this album, I was aware of it’s existence, even the low price of $6.99 on the Google Play store the day of its release. But I had to check it out. Under production of Eminem, one of my favorite artists of all time, I knew I had to listen to the album. But what starts out strong and solid can’t make up for the shear disappointment I felt as the album kept going.

 

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At this point in Jay-Z’s career, you should know whether what you’re going to get.  His twelfth album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, released early to Samsung Galaxy owners on Thursday, could’ve been called Blueprint 4 and no one would’ve expected any different. The album is good but it isn’t anything that could be considered a classic. It’s far from it but it’s still worth the listen when the album debuts on Tuesday. However, I ask: why the hate? The album has been receiving bad reviews and I don’t understand them.

 

The album opens up with vocals from Justin Timberlake singing his heart out. It’s far from Suit and Tie in tone and lyrics. Like all new Jay Z tracks, the song is about how rich he is and how he has to articulate every single so he doesn’t end up on his ass and broke. He references MC Hammer and Mike Tyson as examples of how becoming rich and famous can turn dark. JT singing back up vocals brings the song a darkness that introduces us to the sort of dark tone for the rest of the album.

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I remember where I was when I heard Work Out.  I was in the car and I nearly crashed by how terrible the song was.  Since then I vowed to never listen to a J. Cole song.  That’s (sadly) a true fact.  However, since then I’ve read about many things that prove that Work Out was just a fluke and the J. Cole is one of the greatest rappers of this generation.  I took that and listened to Born Sinner with great stride.  With a statement so preposterous, my expectations weren’t decreased as I listened to the album.  In fact, I thought the album was one of the best albums I’ve listened to in a while.

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Excuse My French is a terrible album.  There is really no need to go on past that because the album is not good.  French Montana doesn’t really show off his lyrical style throughout the CD and hasn’t the single clue of how to rhyme; Literally.  There are one or two songs that are pretty good but it isn’t enough to warrant a purchase.

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I’ve never listened to a Daft Punk album in its entirety because I always felt that the music was corny.  I’m not a huge fan of techno or electronica but a few Daft Punk songs have made their way onto my iPod for my listening pleasure.  With their latest hit, Get Lucky, I jumped at the chance to review their latest album, Random Access Memories.  I’m glad I did.

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Prior to the digital age we had the age of cassette tapes and compact discs where the record labels reigned supreme. During this time the labels were in a position of power dictating the artist’s career and controlling how music sales were carried out. The only way a person could own a song they heard on the radio was purchase the album.  I was a victim of the “single curse”, the simplest explanation of this curse is spending your hard-earned money to pay for an album because you liked a single but the rest of the album failed to impress you. You can see why the recording industry was making more money during this time.

It use to be that artists and labels worked together to make platinum or diamond status. Instead artists are keeping a closer eye on how each single performs and not how their album is doing. Some methods they use to track this information are: Billboard’s Top 100 Singles, SoundScan and iTunes top 10 singles. We as consumers have evolved a well. We went from paying too much for music, not paying anything at all, to paying less than dollar per song and now we have a choice to subscribe or not subscribe, either we have the ability to listen to an abundance of singles. This change in sales has shifted the balance of power from the music industry to the consumer.

One of the major influences for the shift of power and change of focus from albums to singles is technology and the way people use it. Most of us can be found at a computer or on our smart phone a good part of the day. This attachment to our technology has caused us to want to have our information and media delivered to us right away. Luckily we don’t have to wait technology knows what we want before we want it and has made it not only available but accessible from all sorts of avenues.

Technology and the music industry did not mix for a while. The industry fought hard and said no to the change because they knew it would have an everlasting effect on their revenue streams. Had they found ways to blend themselves into the changes they may not be taking such a hit. Unfortunately they have arrived at that revelation too late and continue to lose money in several aspects of their business.

First, the music industry has seen a huge decline in profits that have to do with recording music. If you have a computer and decent recording software you can record your next single out of your home rather than having a big production at the studio and spending tons of money in the process. Secondly, music has gone primarily digital and single driven which means less money for the labels in terms of distribution. Last but not least the industry has lost control over the way we access our music. Most of us use some sort of streaming music program or buy our music on iTunes and if we are in the mood to watch a music video we visit YouTube.

References:

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/unbundling-the-album-a-business-case-for-releasing-single-so.html

http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2010/05/singles/

http://www.nme.com/news/various-artists/59765

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8422710@N06/2164279407/