If his new album’s title of “The Blueprint 3” isn’t evidence enough, rap superstar Jay-Z knows how to put together blockbuster albums even when multi-million sellers seem like an endangered species in the download era. But more than a name, Jay-Z’s new disc succeeds because he follows a simple philosophy: Make hits.
Spurned by his former patrons, gangsta rapper the Game has carved out a musical niche that isn’t aligned with Dr. Dre’s West Coast or 50 Cent’s East Coast dominions. Unfortunately, this style, as exemplified on his new album, is little more than a star-sponsored imitation celebrating gangsta-rap’s golden age.
Like Common, Mos Def or Talib Kweli, Nas occupies that murky ground between commercial hip-hop and the brainier purveyors of its better nature. On his new album, “Untitled,” the highly acclaimed rapper steers away from settling juvenile street beefs to step up his comments on the hip-hop public’s level of political engagement.
Emerging from a particularly rough period in their two-decade career, the Roots have just released a new disc that shows refocused intensity and renewed energy as the Philadelphia hip-hop crew seeks to finally capture what was once barely out of their grasp.
If you believe rapper 50 Cent’s beef with fellow superstar Kanye West really exists, you deserve to be shot nine times. Their alleged rivalry, inflamed by the fact that both released albums on the same day last week, is pure marketing hype aimed at papering over the fact that 50’s new disc, “Curtis,” is a disappointing retread of his thug-hailing past.
Rapper Common is one of hip-hop’s most contradictory figures and his new album, “Finding Forever,” does little to set the record straight. The disc has him battling himself, dueling with what he knows will sell versus his artist’s instincts.
Ten years after they peaked with the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning “Tha Crossroads,” the members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony hope to regenerate their career with a brand-new disc, “Strength & Loyalty.” To cinch this comeback, the group called in favors from a string of star guests and first-rank producers.
Showcasing plenty of all-star support, the new “solo album” by Timbaland was likely designed to demonstrate the range of pop music’s most-in-demand producer as well as his sway among the industry’s elite. Instead, the disc illuminates his creative weaknesses.
Los Angeles rap collective, Jurassic 5, has released yet another album touting positive messages and the joys of old-school hip-hop. Soundbytes answers the question of whether their sound is getting old or just acts that way.
Tanking album sales, record label splits and a dustup with Jay-Z have left the career of hip-hop duo Mobb Deep in something of a tailspin of late. But by joining forces with 50 Cent’s G-Unit crew on their new comeback record, has the New York pair forsaken what makes them distinct to be just one of the gangstas?