March 25, 2000 |
In title and content, Yearwood's seventh album (due in stores Tuesday) draws a line in the sand that separates her from the purveyors of romantic fantasy who tend to dominate the country airwaves nowadays. It means the album probably won't rack up one-10th the sales of Shania Twain's latest--nothing sells like pretty illusion--but such is her commitment to songs that seek out the realities of love lost and found that it's hard to believe Yearwood cares about that.
January 23, 2000 |
When Guy broke up in the early '90s, a lot of the R&B trio's fans were taken by surprise. Musically, this was a group that was in the forefront of all that was sexy, hip and urban back in the late '80s, thanks to such hits as "Teddy's Jam" and "Groove Me." Now the group is back together after all these years, and this reunion album bears the imprint of several producers--so many, in fact, that the result isn't very Guy-like at all.
January 9, 2000 |
Boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter may have handled his unjust murder conviction and incarceration with grace, but not Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy. Their 1975 song "Hurricane" today still resonates as a great piece of protest art, not just because of the rage with which Dylan spat out the sizzling epic narrative, but also because it was about something specific. That sharp, clear focus overshadows the vaguer new songs written for or "inspired by" the current bio-film.
August 15, 1999 |
Except for the gritty "Sincerity," which features guest appearances from rappers DMX and Nas, the music on Blige's fourth studio album evokes a more soul-stirring, straightforward R&B attitude than the hip-hop/R&B hybrid of her earlier collections. The New York singer-songwriter still emphasizes relationship issues, but the emotion oozing from her vocals makes you empathize more than ever with her setbacks during the various stages of her quest for Mr. Right.
August 8, 1999 |
After establishing a loyal following with years of underground dues-paying and relentless touring with the Roots, Rahzel emerges with a superb solo showcase. In addition to being a top-tier beatboxer, Rahzel takes the human-orchestra craft several steps further by creating and incorporating a masterful melange of sound effects into his music.
June 26, 1999 |
Known as the most vivid storyteller in the Wu-Tang Clan, the GZA/Genius provides another strong, narrative-driven collection with his third album, which is due in stores Tuesday. The New Yorker's lyrical prowess shines brightest on "Victim," an account of a life in which the streets are safer than the schools. Rather than go for shock value with a profanity-laced tirade, the GZA paints his dreary picture with detailed descriptions that transport you into his character's painful existence.
March 31, 1999 |
With all the interest in the pop-gospel fusions of Kirk Franklin these days, the timing couldn't be better for a series of gospel retrospectives from the MCA Records library, which draws on the releases of such labels as Duke Peacock, Decca, Chess and Nashboro. Unfortunately, the liner notes on the albums, which are released in association with the Gospo Centric label, are so skimpy that you don't get much, if any, sense of the artist's history or even when many of the recordings were made.