Wednesday, November 22, 2006
LUDACRIS | Release Therapy | Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam
Pretty much the only reason to sit through Jaime Foxx’s Unpredictable is to hear Ludacris’ eight bars. He’s dropped lots of consistently clever raps over the past six years—and not just on other people’s songs. But now, at 28 and on his fifth LP, it seems Luda actually has something to say. He hasn’t gone Poor Righteous Teachers on us by any means, but he’s stretching himself, moving beyond his comedic persona so a sober, wiser, more intelligent Buddha-Luda can emerge.
Humbling himself on Release Therapy enough to become a mouthpiece for the average black man whose “paychecks are coming up shorter than February” on “Mouths to Feed,” he raises consciousness about child abuse on “Runway Love” and declares, “The justice system’s fucked up” on “Do Your Time,” continuing, “I dreamed that I could tell Martin Luther that we’ve made it/But half of my black brothas is still incarcerated.” And though Therapy could be a tad more original on the production side—with its hackneyed basslines and yet more Biggie Smalls soundbites—the Billy Paul sample in “War With God” is a nice change from all the Lenny Williams of late.
Alas, despite dipping into conscious rap territory, Luda’s freaknik is still in full effect. “Girls Gone Wild” is self-explanatory. “Money Maker,” though, isn’t just your typical strip-joint joint, thanks to its congas and vertiginous James Bond horns with tiny hits of growling cornet. —Makkada B. Selah
GOLDFRAPP | We Are Glitter | Mute U.S.
Enter the nip/tuck world of Alison Goldfrapp, where being blessed with a sound progressing not a day past 1989 isn’t enough. This year’s over-processed, synthed-out, Frappuccino-crowd electropop record Supernature gets a little work done on this remix disc, wherein club-certified DJs help this gothy, blonde English vamp with peacock feathers on her bum become more ‘70s funk.
Save Benny Bennasi’s silicone-slick “Ooh La La” treatment, the disco-fied remixes give more of a lift than the big beat raves. T. Raumschmiere’s Dr. Who–ification of “Lovely 2 C U” and Ewan Pearson’s take on “Ride a White Horse” prove that Alison owes a helluva lot more to Laid Back than T. Rex. “I like daawncing/I like the disco,” she purrs trashily. Let’s forget the Múm stuff ever happened though—their atmospherics make the Kate Bush imitation “You Never Know” sound even more Bush-y. The real blowout here is Alan Braxe & Fred Falke’s oh-so-Chic makeover of “Number 1”—they do that trick of slowing the record from 33 1/3 down to 16, then speeding it back up to approaching 45 over the repeated phrase “I’m like a dawg to get you.” Perfect for such a time-warped doll. —Makkada B. Selah
MY MORNING JACKET | Okonokos | Ato
My Morning Jacket’s lead singer Jim James howls like a dog at the moon. His rich, reverb-heavy voice combined with the band’s Southern rock-infused instrumentation forms songs so seemingly organic, it’s hard to tell where the songs begin and end.
For Okonokos, the group’s latest release, My Morning Jacket recorded live at San Francisco’s Fillmore over two days in November 2005 and the band’s energy translates spectacularly. At the time, MMJ was supporting its second major-label album, Z, which offered more experimentation. My Morning Jacket modernizes classic rock’s all-too-familiar guitar-heavy trademarks with a foray into an electronic, and sometimes ambient, realm (“Wordless Chorus,” “Donate”). It’s an invigorating fusion of Skynyrd and Radiohead resulting in unpredictable, dance-friendly jams such as “Off the Record” and “Run Thru.” With Okonokos, MMJ has expanded its territory from Kentucky into outer space. —Debbie Michaud