the roots - rising down
it is most unfortunate that i do not resonate entirely with the roots' sound. i love that they talk about issues and frustrations they have, and i find it (almost) admirable how passionate they are about things like drug laws and corrupt cops. i do resonate with ?uestlove's ridiculous snare abilities as well as their great use of synth and scratching, but Black Thought doesn't necessarily thrill me. Rising Down strikes me as 13 tracks of hate followed up by one track of slight redemption and optimism (track 14, Rising Up). There are some sick beats on this album - Get Busy is a favorite of mine - but not enough to hook me entirely. i will say though, if you dig vintage roots then you're likely to connect with this business as well.
estelle - shine
i don't really understand how artists like estelle come out of nowhere to make ridiculously good albums like this one. somehow she manages to pull kanye west, john legend and wyclef and will.i.am and cee-lo to assist in throwing down this (not surprisingly) great album. riddled with features, estelle really only hits the chorus vocals and a verse or two each track. this makes feel like this album isn't really hers...but that doesn't mean it isn't terrific anyway. the two singles, American Boy and Wait a Minute, are way catchy, albeit at the expense of some slightly inappropriate/borderline uncomfortable lyrics (see: 1:03 in American Boy). Solid beats throughout though, and the verses and background vocals from the multitude of featured artists puts this album in the category of "great".
al green - lay it down
i'm going to slap the next person that scoffs at me for waiting at midnight for this album. probably not, i'm a lover not a fighter - and so is the reverend al green on what is probably his greatest album since 1972 (i act like i was there - i came 14 years later). i don't need to be a savvy soul veteran to know how smooth and sexy this album is. al definitely sounds a bit older than he did 25 years ago (and he is), but in no way does that detract from this album's greatness. from start to finish this album is terrific. it's a different side of ?uestlove on snare - softer and snazzier - but al green is the same happy camper he's always been. smiles around.