The Music Corner
two out of four stars
After five hugely successful mixtapes, Washington D.C.’s rapper, Wale, buckles down to produce his first full length commercial release Attention Deficit. However, on this debut, he is a mere shadow of his mixtape-self and fails to channel his mixtape magic into a meaningful first album. The album suffers badly from lack of concept and poor execution, which he tries to cover up with witty lyrics to keep the
The album starts off promising with the track “Triumph” in which he rhymes over a jazzy beat with drums while delivering some of his best punch lines in the album rhyming “Me against you, the movie of the year/ ‘Cause [you're] Slumdog, and I’m the millionaire.” The next six tracks are trash and forgettable, filled with narcissistic lyrics and non sequiturs such as “I’m a hundred miles far/ I’m feeling like Chris Childs/ You’re looking like Kobe Bryant’s jaw.”
The album regains steam with the track “Shades” in which he brilliantly dissects the schism between dark-skinned and light-skinned African-Americans and the plights of being raised by immigrant African parents.
Wale is badly outshined by guest rappers K’naan and J.Cole on different tracks, respectively, but salvages some dignity with the classic track “Diary” in which he gives listeners a glimpse of his poetic genius.
Overall, Attention Deficit is an okay debut with a handful tracks that will leave listeners in awe, but ultimately disappointed.
BEFORE I SELF DESTRUCT
four out of four stars
50 Cent returns to his roots, in a more lyrical and artistic fashion.
Before I Self Destruct is the Jamaica, Queens rapper’s fourth album and follow up to his sub-par 2007 release Curtis. Armed with premiere beats, fresh concepts and newly emerged lyrical aptitude, he reminisces on his childhood, gangster past and insecurities on love in what could be his best album to date, arguably.
Sampling Michael Jackson’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” on the track “Then Days Went By,” 50 recounts painful childhood memories and ends the track with the unapologetic melody “The Lord doesn’t have imperfections, baby/ So I think I’m perfect the way He made me.”
On tracks such as “Invitation,” “Death To My Enemies,” “Crime Wave,” “Gangsta’s Delight” and “Stretch,” 50 Cent celebrates his gangster past over hypnotic beats and pays an ode to his gun in the metaphoric track,”Hold Me Down.”
He delivers a one-two punch to his hip hop rivals in the scathing tracks, “So Disrespectful” and “Strong Enough,” and even battles rapper Eminem on the macabre track “Psycho,” where they surprisingly match verse for verse.
The misogyny is toned down, replaced with astute lyrics and a concept about finding love while famous. In the hit single “Baby By Me” featuring R&B singer, Ne-Yo, 50 seeks to land a companion solely based on his riches with the catchy hook “Have a baby by me, baby/ be a millionaire.”
However, in tracks such as “Do You Think About Me” and “Could’ve Been You”, he opens up about his insecurities about falling in love now that he’s wealthy.
Apart from a couple of flat tracks, this album is truly a magnum opus.
four out of four stars
Battle Studies is another homerun for John Mayer. The theme of this one is lost love with a taste of mystery. These new tracks are a reminder of Continuum, but refreshing.
Titles like “Perfectly Lonely,” “Friends, Lovers, or Nothing” and “All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye,” speak of heartbreak. Instead of channeling melancholy moods, the tunes breathe life into the songs and come across as mellow.
The album is the love child of R&B and soft rock, full of rich, acoustic-dominated melodies. It is full of musical osmosis-his voice is gentle but enticing. Mayer maintains an easy and smooth vibe from beginning to end.
Mayer also tangles the listener in his cryptic lyrics. The words in “Assassin” keep listeners engaged and dissecting: “I was a killer, was the best they’d ever seen. I’d steal your heart before you ever heard a thing. I’m an assassin and I had a job to do. Little did I know that girl was an assassin too.” The lyrics of each song can be applied to any situation and interpreted in their own way.
Despite the dominant tone of love-sickness the album conveys, Mayer delivers another amazing performance. Battle Studies is worth a trip to Target, and definitely worth four stars.