I'm a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an avid music fan. I've recently begun my first job and I'm excited for the future. If you like music as much as I do, be sure to check out my 'Now Playing' tag.
Lootpack was a hip-hop group consisting of Madlib (rapping, producing), DJ Roman (scratching) and Wildchild (rapping). If you’ve heard Madlib’s beats before, you probably have a basic idea of what to expect: fuzzed out jazzy, hazy boom-bap built on just a few little samples. Like a lot of underground West Coast hip-hop (Dilated Peoples, The Pharcyde, etc.), a lot of these songs are just bragadoccio, or rapping about how good they are at rapping, or that sort of thing, but it suits this style of music just fine. There are a few quotable lines here and there, and the music carries a solid vibe throughout the album. This album doesn’t stand out a whole lot in terms of things you will only hear on THIS album, but if you like Madlib’s beats, or underground hip-hop, you’ll probably like this.
My third Michael Jackson album. This album has several of his well-known songs, including the title track, Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel, and Man In The Mirror. It’s probably closer in composition to Thriller than Off The Wall; it never really feels like disco, but there are lots of synthesizers and the like. Sometimes these old albums remind me a bit of Super Nintendo music; the harpsichord and strings at the beginning of the last track make me think of Final Fantasy VI, for example. Of course it’s not supposed to, but I grew up with video games in lieu of friends, cut me some slack.
Anyway, Quincy Jones’ production aside, Michael Jackson is in top form throughout this album. He has plenty of talent and charisma, and he really sells these songs. There are only a few that I didn’t really like, namely Speed Demon and Dirty Diana, which has some kind of weirdly-worded lyrics. Some of the melodies are pretty catchy, too, especially the inescapable Smooth Criminal, and the can’t-help-but-sing-along chorus of The Way You Make Me Feel. I think of the three Michael Jackson albums I have, I would rank them Bad, Off The Wall, Thriller.
It says ‘medly’ on the artwork, but the file I downloaded from his Soundcloud or one of those web sites says Medley, and ‘medly’ isn’t a word, so I’m going with Medley.
This is a single, not an album. ‘Special Herbs’ refers to the Special Herbs & Spices series of albums. Those albums are compilations of the many, many instrumentals MF Doom has made over the years for his various projects (MF Doom, Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, MF Grimm, Monsta Island Czars, etc. etc. etc.). In other words, this is Jonwayne rapping over something like 20 MF Doom beats.
MF Doom’s beats are characterized by the colorful, cartoonish use of strings, winds, and other such instruments, as well as the inclusion of dialogue from old adventure cartoons (although that stuff isn’t included here). Jonwayne’s love of cultural references does that well, and this track avoids some of Jonwayne’s issues with obtuse references or strange wordplay in favor of straight braggadocio, mostly interrupted for nearly five minutes. There are some great lines in here, like ‘I’m speaking up finally to this culture that’s tryin’ me, I’m givin’ people a little taste like the winery, and when they hear me behind the mic to breathe, it’s like they can’t choose between ‘Jiminy cricket!’ and ‘Criminy!”. That kind of writing is what I like best in Jonwayne’s rapping, so I’m glad that’s what he went with here.
Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings | Give The People What They Want
The final, most recent album by Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings. It’s also the shortest, at just barely over 30 minutes.
The first track on this album, Retreat, is probably one of my favorite songs by this band now. This band is one that is good enough at coming up with new ideas that fit into their established sound that they’ve managed to go five albums without really changing that sound, and I think that’s a good and a bad thing. I think change is inevitable for any band, or they risk staleness, but with this album, there are enough new ideas to stave it off a little longer. Also notable is the slow, intimate last track Slow Down, Love, but those two aside, there weren’t any on here that really stuck out to me. Still, they’re pretty good.
The most recent album by Japanese girl-band Cibo Matto is just about as weird as the first two. Like Viva! La Woman, this album has a theme, and that theme is hotels. It’s kind of a loose theme; sometimes only the track name keeps with the theme, but there’s something tying each song to staying in a hotel, for some reason.
Also like the other two albums, this album bends genres here and there, mostly staying in trip-hop but occasionally venturing into Latin, spoken word, and dance. 10th Floor Ghost Girl almost reminds me of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, with its disco guitars. Cibo Matto’s sound is a bit updated for the modern era; I think what gave that away to me was their drums, which no longer sound like 90s rap drum machines. It turns out Cibo Matto is friends with Sean Lennon; I think he was involved with Stereo * Type A, but I don’t know if he did anything here other than get mentioned in the ‘special thanks’ on the inside of the sleeve. Other than that, the only guest whose name I recognized was Reggie Watts, oddly enough.
This is definitely their shortest album, and it does carry their distinct brand of weird but I hesitate to say that it really advances their sound. I feel like if you’ve heard their first two, you’ve heard this one, even with the updated sound. It’s still good, just… I dunno.