Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Album Reviews: T.I., Jennifer, & Jazmine

T.I. Paper Trail
T.I.'s Paper Trail seems more like a rehashing of his last album, T.I. vs T.I.P., than a follow up. However, that's not a bad thing. The last studio effort was a concept album meant to discuss his inner struggle between his mature and practical self and the man that lived in the hood and made bad decisions. I loved the concept, but the album seemed too long and not so cohesive. Paper Trail is different. Following his weapon's charges and facing the possibly of time in jail T.I., born Clifford Harris, serves up a blend of street swagger and human vulnerability that has become his trademark. He breaks down his struggles and claims responsiblilty rather than plays a victim of the system. While other rappers from the streets strive to portray an unrealistic juggernaut image, I am a fan of T.I. because he is layered and complex. Live Your Life is uplifting, Porn Star offers brazen sexuality, and Swing Your Rag gives us hood anthem. T.I. proves why he's one of the greats. 4.5 out of 5 Stars Album in stores 9/30/08

Key Tracks: Whatever You Like; Porn Star; Live Your Life; Swagga Like Us Ft. Kanye, Jay-Z, & Lil Wayne

Jennifer Hudson Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson went from American Idol reject to Academy Award winning actress practically overnight. Her long anticipated album, Jennifer Hudson, is finally here. Jennifer's powerful voice brings memories of Patti, Jennifer Holliday, Aretha Franklin, and other greats. I honestly was wondering what they would do with her for this album. Spotlight was a pleasant surprise. She showed her range without oversinging. This album starts with a bang. Spotlight is followed by the smooth If This Isn't Love and the sassy Fantasia-eque Pocketbook ft. Ludacris. The song that follows, Giving Myself, is one of the most tender and genuine performances I've ever heard from Jennifer. However, after that the album stalls for me. The duet with T-Pain is ill advised. It's just a bad fit. The rest of the tracks are good but not memorable. And the gospel track at the end seems more contrived than inspired. What saves the album is her duet with Fantasia with background vocals by Jazmine Sullivan. It brings back memories of when singers actually sang. That is Jennifer's strength as well as her Achilles heel. Her voice is of another era but she has trouble keeping it fresh and new. Overall, it's a good effort. I just think she's still finding herself. 3.5 out of 5 stars Album in stores 9/30/08

Key Tracks: Giving Myself; Spotlight; I'm His Only Woman; My Heart

Jazmine Sullivan Fearless

Tremolo strings open the album's first track Bust Your Windows, a song with warm French horns and an espionage feel. Think of it as an answer to Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats. That's the overall feel of Jazmine Sullivan's album Fearless. It's polished and cinematic. With husky vocals which echo Phyllis Hyman, Sullivan is a great storyteller. Her voice carries the pain of a woman three times her age blended with joy of a girl ten years her junior. Not since Lauryn Hill have we heard such a delicate blend of soul, swagger, and feminity. I was relatively unaware of Sullivan besides her version of Beyoncé's Resentment, but now she will be a fixture in my library. She makes you feel the music without feeling the need to scream or force feed. Her album's title is quite appropriate. The subject matter ranges from vengeful anthems (Bust Your Windows), domestic violence awareness (Call Me Guilty), infidelity (In Love with Another Man), and candid talk about one night stands (One Night Stand). It's really hard for me to pick a favorite track. I love the playful ice cream shop pop feel of Switch and the vulnerability of Lions, Tigers & Bears. It is In Love with Another Man that leaves the biggest impression. It's honest and one of the most well sung performances I've heard from a female artist. Remember her name. Sullivan is the truth. 4.75 out of 5 stars Album in stores now.

Key Tracks: In Love with Another Man; Switch; Need You Bad; Call Me Guilty

1 comment:

singer/songwriter/fly-guy said...

i think u need to give Jennifer a few more listens before u go making these rash decisions. :)