Thursday, September 15, 2005
KANYE WEST | Late Registration |Roc-a-fella
With his name all over one potential best album of the year, it’s already been a good year for Kanye West, but there’s just no resting for hip-hop’s golden boy. As always, West works his connections to the max—Late Registration features much of the same guests found on his first solo outing, and then some. Hollywood types Bernie Mac and Jamie Foxx reprise their roles, while Common gets a solo track to jam on. Most remarkably, Jay-Z and Nas appear back to back!
Musically, Kanye’s beats are as blatantly catchy as ever—and no less obvious. The lead single, “Diamonds of Sierra Leone,” uses the old Bond tune “Diamonds are Forever,” which plays verbatim before being tailored for the verse.
It’s all a familiar formula, to be sure, but Late
Registration goes one step further in solidifying Kanye as a
true MC. From the opening track “Heard ‘Em Say,” West’s
lyrical flow sounds polished and tight. This sophomore effort
conveys a seriousness that shows through his transparent
tongue-in-check joking. A couple skits mock poverty-stricken
black college fraternities, but the joke’s long over by the
time West gets through a trio of dead heavy tracks—the
menacing “Crack Music” to the soulfully sad “Bring Me Down.”
Add to the mix the solid staples of any K. West project—the
native tongue chillness of “Drive Slow” and the sweetly upbeat
“Hey Mama”—and call it a complete triumph. Yet another
successful musical accomplishment for Kanye West, Late
Registration proves that he’s still got the Midas touch.
KASKADE | House of Om | Om Records
With two full length artist albums, and now his third mixed compilation, Ryan Raddon (Kaskade) is one of Om Record’s biggest success stories, rising up from A & R assistant to anonymous DJ demo leaker to Billboard’s top slots. His trademark style is easy enough to pick out—always brisk and buoyant—and ideal for a wistful late summer dance. The mix begins with a perfectly tuned “Here I Am,” and remixed in typical Raddon fashion, it blows in as easily as a cool August breeze. The track is fresh and upbeat, with a light drum track layered over a feathery instrumental program. Likewise, Kaskade’s dance hit “Everything” makes a refreshing splash as the centerpiece of the mix, properly extended.
Overall, Raddon’s personal cuts make for impeccably placed
moments to breathe in, but given his experience on the club
circuit, it’s clear Kaskade can get down to business too. The
initial coolness effectively drops off straight into the heat
of a proper house throb with “Can I Get?” followed by a
pulsating bass on “Don’t Give It Up.” As the party winds down,
the final tracks turn up the tempo further. As one last summer
hurrah, it doesn’t get much better than this. (BS)
VARIOUS ARTISTS | Old Skars and Upstarts 2005 | Disaster Records
One would imagine that the advent of the iPod would have killed these kinds of comps. But this one—lovingly compiled by Duane Peters—is wonderful.
The new-wavey Epoxies cover GG Allin, Turbonegro whines and wheezes through “Suffragette City,” the Briefs lay a subtle one on us and that’s just the beginning. Obscurities like the Lizzies and Ducky Boys—who sound like the Psychedelic Furs and Plimsouls respectively—shine brightly. As does Mr. Peters himself on the brilliant, garage-perfect “He’s the Man.”
Rock and roll, as it were, is really moribund. But these bands simply refuse to let the old ghost go. Anyone with a hat to tip to these survivors must do so now. (JA)