2012.12.31 NEW RELEASES
Label: Warner Music
As record sales continue to wane, one has to wonder the logic behind separately releasing a trilogy of albums over the course of three months. Maybe when you’re a punk band coming off a pair of hugely successful concept albums turned into a Broadway smash, you do things a little differently. Still, it’s an unusual way to release your ninth, 10th and 11th studio albums.
“¡Tre!” the final installment of the trilogy, out this week, is a bit more diverse than the others, with a slightly mellower and more mature sound that embraces a variety of styles. Imagine 1997’s “Nimrod,” but with more songs like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Look no further than the opening and closing tracks to sum it up. There’s the country blues-inspired “Brutal Love” to start, and the piano ballad “The Forgotten” to end.
While a common thread runs through the trilogy, each record is distinctly different. The first, “¡Uno!” returns the band to their pre-“American Idiot” sound with a dozen rocking songs that are melodic and highly energetic. The songs are also more mature, with themes like married men on the brink of infidelity.
Heavy Is The Head”
Label: Warner Music
After a lackluster response to 2010’s “No Mercy,” some questioned whether T.I.’s rap presence was still strong. But the Grammy winner shows he hasn’t lost a step, delivering an assortment of quality songs on his eighth album, “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head.”
The self-proclaimed “King of the South” lives up to his billing with one of his best pieces of work, featuring stellar production from Pharrell, No I.D., T-Minus and DJ Toomp, and guest appearances from Lil Wayne, Pink, Andre 3000 and Cee Lo Green.
The 16-track album, which was inspired by Marvin Gaye’s 1972 album “Trouble Man,” details T.I.’s struggles to overcome his continuous missteps. On three interludes, he re-enacts some of those moments, including his arrest before the 2008 BET Hip-Hop Awards and when his best friend, Philant Johnson, was killed in a 2006 shootout in Cincinnati.
But despite his mishaps, T.I. is unapologetic to his critics. He’s certainly that way on the Jazze Pha-produced “Sorry,” featuring Andre 3000, who blesses the track with his superb rhymes.
Label: Interscope Records
Rapper Chief Keef made major noise with his omnipresent song, “I Don’t Like,” but those three words also describe my thoughts on his major label debut.
Unfortunately, the Chicago native fails to follow up on his great single in so many ways on “Finally Rich.” He has several good guest appearances with Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Young Jeezy and Wiz Khalifa, and the production is solid with Young Chop helming most of the 12-track set. But it’s not enough to save this woeful album.
The 17-year-old rapper’s simple rhymes lack creativity and it’s a struggle to understand his words. The album, with topics including his menacing character and large stash of cash, is borderline unbearable.
“Laughin’ to the Bank” is laughable - and not in a good way. He raps about spending money and using ecstasy on “Ballin’?” and on “3Hunna,” he raps about his gunplay mentality.
Keef shows some promise on “Kay Kay,” but overall, “Finally Rich” is that album I don’t like.