November 30, 2022

Cry of Love - Brother (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: CK 53404
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1993 Columbia Records
Cry of Love's debut was a near-perfect fusion of classic British hard-rock influences (read Free) and Southern rock sensibility, bringing a refreshing honesty to the dreary radio landscape of the early '90s. Vocalist Kelly Holland's gritty delivery (at times reminiscent of Billy Squier) is a perfect foil for the Hendrix flourishes of guitarist Audley Freed, resulting in stellar moments like "Highway Jones," "Pretty as You Please," and the grinding "Hand Me Down." Vying for the crown as the band's best song are the two radio staples: "Bad Thing" with its thumping bassline and effusive hand claps, and "Peace Pipe," a genuine counter-culture anthem for the '90s.

tags: cry of love, brother, 1993, flac,

Cry of Love - Diamonds & Debris (1997)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: CK 66881

© 1997 Columbia Records
This follow-up to Cry of Love's successful debut Brother is powered primarily by guitarist Audley Freed's awesome blues-rock touch. A little too musical for their own good, these Southern rockers fail to place their own personal stamp on Diamonds & Debris' many mid-tempo walk-throughs and forgettable ballads. Freed almost makes up for his nondescript songwriting with deft guitar flurries reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan ("Revelation [Rattlesnakes & Queens]"), Joe Walsh ("Sweet Mary's Gone"), Robin Trower ("Sunday Morning Flood"), and Jimi Hendrix ("Hung Out Redux"). Adding to the lofty musicianship, groove-rockers like the Bad Company-flavored "Empty Castle" and the stark "Diamonds & Debris" feature vocalist Robert Mason's own virtuosity. All this talent, together with the fact that the album's last four most dynamic tracks amount to their best, places producer John Custer's contribution into serious question. With so much good material to choose from, the disc's middle section of unnecessary and bland balladry represents some truly odd track list decision-making for which Custer might be responsible. Then again, those decisions have been known to be made in that most uncreative of environments -- the record label boardroom, or executive office. No matter the culprit, this already marginal recording was messed-up bad when so much filler was not only included, but prominently placed within its confines. Even with chops that eclipse fellow classic rock revivalists Brother Cane and the Black Crowes, Diamonds & Debris would have been greatly aided by the former's memorable songwriting, the latter's reckless and soulful performances, and the control of a talented, engaged producer.

tags: cry of love, diamonds and debris, 1997, flac,

Micranots - Farward: E.P. (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: MMW-013

© 1999 Mental Madness Wreckords
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: micranots, farward ep, 1999, flac,

November 29, 2022

Elbow - Asleep In The Back (2004 Reissue)

*Reissued in 2004 by V2
Contains 12 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Number: 63881-27116-2

© 2001-2004 V2
Elbow fiddles with a battery of widescreen dynamics and slight prog rock tendencies, delivering an epic debut of Manchester miserablism that will likely gain comparisons to fellow Mancunian band Doves (rightfully) and Coldplay (wrongfully). Like Doves, Elbow has enough supple shadings and tasteful textures to hold interest without vocals. However, where you have dance producers at the core of Doves, you have a highly emotional songwriter at the core of Elbow. Despite constantly dipping into an overflowing well of sonic tricks (the non-wank variety), each of Guy Garvey's songs would be able to survive with a lone acoustic providing accompaniment. Judging from Garvey's rough-hewn voice, he could be forgiven for sinking into a misery-addled torpor; thankfully, that's not the case -- given enough instrumental prodding from his cohorts, Garvey's voice can soar and seethe with the best of them. Tally these qualities and you have a record that glides above the host of bands who prattle aimlessly about their pin cushion-frail souls. After all, Asleep in the Back is more about getting through and sustaining than it is flat-out moping or asking for a hug. The tempos might not ever exceed mid-level, and half of the songs might exceed five minutes, but the record is anything but a difficult listen or tough to wade through. When the acoustic strumming, piano twinkles, liquid basslines, and muted horns are this engaging and well arranged, it's difficult to wring yourself from the web. If you can only spare eight minutes to test drive the record, go straight to "Newborn," the sweeping centerpiece with enough catharsis and heavenly Talk Talk-informed organ that you'd swear it came from the second side of Catherine Wheel's Adam and Eve. Stacked against other debuts out of Manchester, theirs is no disgrace.

tags: elbow, asleep in the back, 2001, 2004 reissue, flac,

Elbow - Cast of Thousands (2003)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Number: VVR1021818

© 2003 V2
There doesn't appear to be an Elbow consensus: they are their own band; they are the Coldplay it's OK to like; they are the Talk Talk for people who've never heard Talk Talk (or Catherine Wheel); they are somewhere between Supertramp and Superchunk; they are part of a succession of over-introspective, twaddle-peddling British rock bands. They are most of these things -- the positive things, at least -- at various points. On Cast of Thousands, Elbow's second album, the group does deserve to take its rightful place as one of the most respectable rock bands going. What separates this album from the debut isn't all that apparent on the surface. Downcast songs about relationships remain the stock in trade, but the sound has made natural advancements and the quality control is less prone to malfunctioning. In other words, they have followed through on whatever promise Asleep in the Back held; you could sense this would happen, just as you could sense that, after Lazer Guided MelodiesSpiritualized would make an even better record the next time out. However predictable, the minor differences add up to a lot. More so than ever, Elbow's greatest asset is that the band is capable of making big sounds without being bombastic or flashy. And they've tempered the characteristics that got them tagged as sad sacks, although that fact is mostly apparent in the lyrics ("place" rhymes with "virgin mother what's-her-face"; the payoff line in opener "Ribcage" goes "I wanted to explode, to pull my ribs apart and let the sun inside"). The only setback? Gospel choirs. Hopefully, at some point before they make their next album, they'll realize that their songs don't need background vocals from an entire congregation in order to feel redemptive -- or powerful. [V2 issued the album in the U.S. five months after the original U.K. release.]

tags: elbow, cast of thousands, 2003, flac,

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (2008)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Number: B0011063-02

© 2008 Geffen/Fiction Records
In a world where even the generally mediocre likes of Snow Patrol can have honest to goodness mainstream pop success, it seems peculiar that Elbow have never broken through beyond a devoted cult following. (Admittedly, the fact that their new labels, Polygram's alt rock imprint Fiction Records in the U.K. and Geffen in the U.S., are their fourth and fifth, respectively, after stints on Island, EMI, and V2, may have a lot to do with their lack of mainstream attention.) Exploring the fruitful middle ground between early Radiohead's mopey art rock and Coldplay's radio-friendly dumbing down of the same, Elbow makes records built on a balance of things not often found together anymore: strange musical textures alongside immediately accessible pop song choruses, or unexpected left turns in song structure paired with frontman Guy Garvey's warm, piercing vocals. It's no surprise that Elbow are regularly compared to old-school prog rockers like Pink Floyd and Electric Light Orchestra: they're proof that records can be cool and commercial at the same time, an idea that's not particularly hip in this day and age. Yet a song like "Grounds for Divorce," which puts a sharp, wryly funny Garvey lyric against a clanging, Tom Waits-like arrangement and throws on one of the album's catchiest tunes for good measure, or "Some Riot," which filters a yearning, lovely melody for guitar and piano through so many layers of effects and processing that it can be hard to tell what the original instruments sounded like, isn't afraid to display its accessibility even on its most experimental numbers. At the album's best, including the spacious, atmospheric balladry of the opening "Starlings" (imagine if Sigur Rós could write a pop song as emotionally direct as Keane's "Everybody's Changing") and the potential radio breakthroughs of the soaring, semi-orchestral epic "One Day Like This" (complete with choral climax!) and the wistful "Weather to Fly," The Seldom Seen Kid is Elbow's most self-assured and enjoyable album so far. [The U.K. version added "We're Away" as a bonus track.]

tags: elbow, the seldom seen kid, 2008, flac,

Afrika Bambaataa - Zulu Nation War Chant (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop, Electro
Label Number: CD 157.989

© 1999 Eurotrend
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: afrika bambaataa, zulu nation war chant, 1999, flac,

November 28, 2022

Gene Loves Jezebel - Voodoo Dollies: The Best of Gene Loves Jezebel (1999)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Gothic Rock
Label Number: BBL 2016 CD

© 1999 Beggars Banquet US
Looked at in the cold light of day and from some years' distance, Gene Loves Jezebel would seem like the last band whose work would stand the test of time. Weird thing, though -- in all their "everything goes" exuberance, from abstract goth wailing to balls-out Sunset Strip rock, the Aston brothers, much like their labelmates in the Cult, made everything work somehow. Not all the time, certainly, but Voodoo Dollies wisely draws on the best and biggest hits of the group, not to mention a couple of rarer items for the hardcore fanbase, to make an enjoyable career overview (certainly better than Some of the Best of Gene Loves Jezebel). Following a straight chronological order and enjoying the usual high quality of Beggars Banquet remastering, the 18-track collection is a fine treat. Besides the obvious numbers like "Desire (Come and Get It)," "The Motion of Love" (appearing here in a single mix), and "Jealous," the less well-known songs help to really flesh out the band's freaked-out, glammed-up appeal. There's the psychotic drama of "Upstairs" and "Always a Flame," the self-descriptive, perfect FM radio cut "Gorgeous," the attractive psych-shimmer of "Kiss of Life," and the underrated single "Josephina," which would have given the band a hit in earlier days, but didn't connect with the 1993 zeitgeist. The most obscure cut is an interesting one -- an alternate version of Promise's "Influenza," the entrancing and moody instrumental here given striking lyrics sung by Michael Aston and a slightly faster tempo. It would have worked excellently on the original album, and is a definite highlight here. Appreciative liner notes and a slew of photographs from throughout the band's career complete this collection, which will satisfy most casual fans' desires to a T.

tags: gene loves jezebel, voodoo dollies, the best of gene loves jezebel, 1999, flac,

Oktober - Projekt: Building (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: FCH027

© 2004 FreshChest
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: oktober, projekt building, 2004, flac,

November 27, 2022

Joydrop - Viberate (2001)

Country: Canada
Language: English
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label Number: TBCD1416

© 2001 Tommy Boy Records
When Joydrop burst onto the scene in 1998 with their release of Metasexual, they were somewhat of a minority in that they made unique music and their frontman wasn't a man at all, but a woman. (Not to mention the fact that all four bandmembers have a first name that starts with "T"). However, while this first effort was well done, it fell into a groove of repetitiveness. After a few songs, everything just kind of blended together. But this has all changed with the release of Viberate, a very dynamic album that is heavy on the band's best asset, the voice of Tara Slone. She has the ability to sound seductive and chilling when singing a ballad and then harsh and mad on the very next track. Even on a few occasions, as is the case with "Sometimes Wanna Die," she can combine both of these emotions into one beautiful song. The album starts off with a bang, hitting the listener hard with the fast-paced anger of "Thick Skin." Next is one song penned by Slone, the more cynical "American Dreamgirl," where she belts, "I won't be silenced by your small-minded validation/your silicone creation rock & roll masturbation." As is evident in these few lines, lyrically the album is superb. Each member of the band takes a shot at composing both the music and the lyrics, and this in itself adds to the variation of sounds in the tracks. After the aforementioned "Sometimes Wanna Die," the record breaks somewhat with a few average songs. Included in this bunch is "Life on the Sun," which fails to measure up because it distorts the voice of Slone, which is kind of a letdown after hearing it so much in the first three tracks. However, what this portion of the album does do is keep the listener interested with wild guitar segments, computer-generated sounds, and overall a unique sound. This is important because the best song on the album is the track right after this down period, the ballad "Embrace." In this song, Slone's vocal talents are showcased more than anywhere else, making the listener extremely happy for sticking out the middle. Overall, Joydrop does an excellent job of creating great sounds that you don't hear in the mainstream. But at the same time, they don't get too creative and just let Slone do her thing.

tags: joydrop, viberate, 2001, flac,

Hall & Oates - Big Bam Boom (1984)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop
Label Number: PCD1-5336

© 1984 RCA Victor
Big Bam Boom is the last of the big Hall & Oates albums, the one that closed their period of greatest commercial success and artistic achievement. Parting from Neil Kernon, their engineer/co-producer for VoicesPrivate Eyes, and H20, the duo hired Bob Clearmountain as a co-producer and engineer, bringing in hip-hop pioneer Arthur Baker for additional mixing and production, and the change behind the boards is evident on the record. As the title none too subtly implies, this is a bigger, noisier record than its predecessors, with its rhythms smacking around in an echo chamber and each track built on layers of synthesizers and studio effects. Hall & Oates' crack touring band are credited in the liner notes as playing on each track, but this is one of the first mainstream records of the '80s records where it sounds as everything was sequenced and run through a computer -- the sound that came to define the latter half of the decade. There's undeniably interesting things going on in the mix on each of the nine tracks -- frankly, there's too much going on, and the production weighs down many of the songs on this sprawling, diffuse album; it also obscures the dark undercurrent to many of the tunes, several of which seem to foreshadow the duo's long hiatus following this record. Some songs cut through on the strength of their craft, and these are usually the singles: the excellent "Out of Touch," which rivals anything on Private Eyes or Voices; the silly yet engaging "Method of Modern Love"; the haunting "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid," easily the best ballad on the record; then, the exception to the rule, the hard-rocking "Bank on Your Love," which is one time the production works in the favor of the song, adding muscle instead of diluting its impact. These songs, matched with the ambition of the rest of the record, makes Big Bam Boom an interesting, worthwhile listen, but coming after a trio of records that had very few flaws, it feels like a disappointment, and it was no great surprise that Hall & Oates took a lengthy break a year or so after its release.

tags: hail and oates, big bam boom, 1984, flac,

Tam Tam - Do It Tam Tam (1991)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B, Pop
Label Number: 314-510 168-2

© 1991 RJAM/Island Records
From Aerosmith and the Cars to Letters to Cleo and 'Til Tuesday, Boston has been much better known for its rock than its R&B or hip-hop. While Philadelphia is famous for its R&B and rap instead of its rock, Boston has held onto its rep as being primarily a rock & roll town (even if Boston did give us New Edition and Bobby Brown). In 1991, one rapper who had hopes of putting Boston's rap scene on the map was Tam Tam. Do It Tam Tam, however, was too routine and erratic to accomplish that. Though the Queen Latifah-influenced Tam Tam isn't a bad rapper, most of the pop-rap and dance-rap material is routine and forgettable. Do It Tam Tam has a few decent tracks, including the sassy "I Ain't Down With You," the pointed "Juvenile" (which criticizes a drug dealer), and a hip-hop remake of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You." But overall, this CD (which came out on the Island-distributed RJAM Label) is a disappointment.

tags: tam tam, do it tam tam, 1991, flac,

Jet - Get Born (2003)

Country: Australia
Genre: Garage Rock, Pop Rock
Label Number: 62892-2

© 2003 Elektra Records
Jet's Get Born is a seriously rocking album that comes off as a mix between the White Stripes' bluesy insouciance and AC/DC's cockeyed swagger. Toss in some New York Dolls strut, maybe some of Sweet's jailbait philosophizing, definitely some of Oasis' look-at-me attitude, some of the Verve's sense of grandeur, and you've got something to impress your friends as you blast it out of your car speakers on a Friday night. There are a lot of other bands traveling a similar path these days and it is hard to explain why this record works so well when so many others sound weak and studied. Maybe it is because they hail from the no-nonsense Australian rock tradition. Maybe it is the tough but clean production by Dave Sardy. Most likely it is the songs. They are catchy with singalong choruses, with lots of "hey"s and handclaps and glam stomp beats. "Rollover D.J.," "Get What You Need," and "Get Me Outta Here" are tight, raw, and flashy rockers. It is a sure sign that you are dealing with a band that has it all together when the ballads are as good as the rockers. "Look What You've Done" is a piano-based weeper that only needs some swelling strings to launch it into Guns N' Roses territory, "Move On" is an early-'70s Stones country ballad with some fine slide work. The only track that really falters is the silly and mean-spirited "Cold Hard Bitch," which takes an ill-advised trip down Nazareth lane and leaves the listener with a foul taste in their mouth. The placement of Get Born's sweetest ballad ("Come Around Again" right after it is the only thing that saves the album. And it is an album worth saving. Get Born is a very promising debut by a band that steals from all the right places, rocks non-ironically -- even epically at times -- and sounds great blasting out of a car or on headphones.

tags: jet, get born, 2003, flac,

Jet - Shine On (2006)

Country: Australia
Genre: Garage Rock, Pop Rock
Label Number: 83806-2

© 2006 Atlantic Records
The difficult second album has brought many bands back to Earth after a promising debut. With Shine On, Australian hard rockers Jet do their level best to avoid the follow-up doldrums. While nothing here is as immediate and memorable as "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?," the album stacks up well against Get Born. Working again with Dave Sardy, the band maintains its tough and alive sound and delivers the same mix of energetic rockers and introspective ballads as before. They attack the songs with passion, wring plenty of noise from their instruments, and generally sound enthusiastic and creative. The hard rocking songs are what the band is mainly known for and there are some good ones on board, like the pounding "Rip It Up," "Holiday," and the chest-thumping strutter "Come on Come On." Unfortunately, there are also a couple of rockers that fall flat. "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" is a far too obvious attempt to recapture of the feel of "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?," but only ends up sounding desperate. If ever a cowbell felt obligatory, it does here. A few others come up short in the lyrical department; "Stand Up" is a cringe-inducing statement of empowerment and "Holiday" is pretty silly, too. The real strength of the record, and of the band, comes through on the ballads. When they drop the tough pose and get tender, Jet create some nice moments of emotion and melancholy beauty. Sure, the ballads sound as if they were cribbed right from the Oasis playbook, from the sound of the vocals to the structure of the songs, but they don't sound phony or forced. Tunes like "Bring It on Back," "Kings Horses," and "Eleanor" are sophisticated, sensitive, and graceful-sounding, and "Shine On" provides some real emotional weight. Even better than the ballads (which anyone who gave a real listen to the first album knew they could pull off) are the midtempo songs such as "Skin and Bones," the very hooky "Hey Kids" (which overcomes a very clunky Vietnam reference in the lyrics), and "Shiny Magazine," which show a middle ground between flat-out rocking and epic balladry where Jet sounds very comfortable. Shine On is a good album that avoids the sophomore slump, but has enough moments of rote rocking to make the next record a worrisome prospect. If they manage to tip the scales toward their tender and introspective side, Jet may turn out to be a band to reckon with.

tags: jet, shine on, 2006, flac,

November 26, 2022

Hex - Vast Halos (1990) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Dream Pop
Label Number: RCD 10186
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1990 Rykodisc
Another tech-heavy and mostly self-created effort from the duo (though more accurately a trio with the participation of Jim McGrath on "pounding, shaking, and apple eating"), Vast Halos is a more upfront effort in general than the band's debut. The same combination of swoony psychedelia and new wave-tinged compositions, with a dollop of T. Rex-flavored glam here and there, makes for another enjoyable album all around. The Marc Bolan tinge crops up at a number of points in the snaky slink of many melodies -- one can practically hear his trill fitting in perfectly on songs like "Hollywood in Winter" and the fine lead song, "Monarch." Thayer's singing is more direct at many points, sounding fuller in the mix and in her general delivery, while Kilbey's arrangements gain a little more in the way of detail and kicking against the sometimes-sterile rhythms. When he decides to let the epic-rock part of his personality come forth a bit more, as on the extended coda for "Antelope," the extra oomph helps send everything that little bit higher without hijacking the song entirely. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the group takes a more organic approach, as with the Indian-sounding percussion on the really lovely "Centaur," Thayer's singing is some of her most seductive and thrilling and the results are truly special. There are some striking nods to Phil Spector's Wall-of-Sound tearjerkers ("Shelter"), late-night jazz blues smokiness ("Hell"), and string-heavy waltz turns ("Orpheus Circuit," with one of Thayer's best performances), which add variety without seeming dilettantish. Not everything connects all the way, with some material merely being pleasant rather than special, but overall Vast Halos makes for a varied and intriguing effort that overtops its predecessor with skill and style.

tags: hex, vast halos, 1990, flac,

Guster - Keep It Together (2003) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie Pop
Label Number: 48486-2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2003 Palm Pictures/Reprise Records
If there were any justice, Guster's underappreciated masterpiece, Lost and Gone Forever, would have elevated the band to superstar status, and the follow-up, Keep It Together, would have been one of the most hyped releases of 2003. But while the Boston trio has built up one of the most formidable grassroots followings in music through constant touring, powerful live performances, and a level of interaction with its fans that rivals any band in the biz, Keep It Together has the goods to finally make Guster a household name. While their two previous releases flourished through an almost bipolar combination of dark rockers and upbeat pop melodies married to biting lyrics, Keep It Together takes a different path for the most part, focusing on even-keeled love songs. From the album's low-key opener, "Diane," to the sunny shuffle of "Ramona," Guster displays its formerly hidden well-adjusted side. Guest musician Joe Pisapia embellishes the group's already flawless harmonies on the immediately memorable "Careful," and contributes vocals and banjo to the rootsy "Jesus on the Radio," which he also co-wrote. Ben Kweller shows up on the album's official closer, the surprisingly reserved "I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today." Fans of the band's quirkier moments aren't left behind either, with "Red Oyster Cult" featuring prog rock guitar, ELO harmonies, jingle bells, and a whistled solo worthy of the Scorpions. But there's no arguing that the high point of this album is the impossibly catchy "Amsterdam." Breaking all of Guster's self-made rules (as it does throughout the album) by adding bass and a drum kit to the mix, the band combines a radio-ready yet experimental production style with power chords, layers of vocals, and screaming slide guitar for three and a half minutes of the finest pop/rock you're ever likely to hear. Keep It Together may not feature the emotional dynamics or track-by-track genius of Lost and Gone Forever, but it has something that its predecessor didn't: an unabashed pop anthem that dares you to sit still. Whether the members of Guster do in fact become international rock superstars remains to be seen, but so long as they continue to make great albums like this one, their ever-expanding group of fans should be more than happy.

tags: guster, keept it together, 2003, flac,

Big Tymers - I Got That Work (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap, Gangsta Rap
Label Number: 012 157 673-2

© 2000 Cash Money/Universal Records
Big Tymers Brian "Baby" Williams and Mannie Fresh step up their game a bit for I Got That Work, improving both as rappers and songwriters and delivering two big hits in the process, "Get Your Roll On" and "#1 Stunna." How You Luv That?, the duo's debut release two years earlier, had set the Big Tymers apart from the other, and considerably younger, Cash Money Records group, the Hot Boys. Unlike like them, the Big Tymers are full-fledged adults; in fact, Williams and Fresh produce the Hot Boys and thus play father-figure roles within the Cash Money family to a certain extent. Yet, for as much game as they can spit, the Big Tymers proved to be so-so rappers on How You Luv That?, often overshadowed by their Hot Boy protégés. However, during the two-year interim leading up to I Got That Work, Williams and Fresh considerably improved as rappers. Here, they're as good as any of the Hot Boys, whether it be Lil WayneB.G.Turk, or Juvenile, and they certainly boast and brag better, whether about money-making ("10 Wayz," "We Hustle"), bling-blinging ("#1 Stunna," "Stuntastic"), women-mastering ("Snake," "Rocky"), or themselves ("Big Tymers," "Hard Life"). Moreover, the Big Tymers deliver a rambunctious club-banger with the album-opening "Get Your Roll On." Following this rowdy beginning, the album moves toward its other highlights -- "Nigga Couldn't Know," "#1 Stunna," and "No, No" -- before descending into guest-laden filler. As usual, Fresh's beats remain potent until the album's end, but the songwriting grows progressively less inventive, often seeming unlabored, as if the Big Tymers are content to ride out the remainder of their 18-track album after delivering the early-album highlights. Regardless of this common grievance, the Big Tymers impressively step up their game for I Got That Work and deliver enough highlights to surely please their fans.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: big tymers, i got that work, 2000, flac,

Big Tymers - Big Money Heavyweight (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap, Gangsta Rap
Label Number: B0000815-02

© 2003 Universal/Cash Money Records
The Big Tymers don't really have anything new to say on Big Money Heavyweight. They're still rapping about the Cash Money lifestyle -- one of luxury characterized by a boisterous gangsta stance and firm ghetto roots, and stacks of greenbacks. This is their stock-in-trade. It always has been, and probably always will be. What is new here, however, is Mannie Fresh's continual development as a producer, and the duo's continual development as songwriters. When they began, back in 1998, they were middling down-South gangsta rappers spitting game about money they probably didn't have. Here, five years later in 2003, they're budding songsmiths with enough industry influence to reign in big-money unit-movers like R. Kelly (who wrote and produced the radio-ready "Gangsta Girl") and Ludacris (who leads off "Down South," a standout shout-out to the South's finest). Then there's the leadoff track, "This Is How We Do," a singsongy upbeat single propelled by an acoustic guitar that aspires to duplicate the cha-ching commercial success of "Still Fly," the very similar singsongy upbeat single from the last Big Tymers album, Hood Rich. Granted, Baby and Mannie don't exactly have a wealth of original ideas, the songwriting grace of R. Kelly, or the lyrical wit of Ludacris, but they do have their finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, and give the people what they want, more or less -- even if that means rewriting their biggest hit to date, having the industry's pied piper write an R&B-crossover single for them, or bringing aboard the South's most popular rapper for a regional anthem. The paper-stacking commercial march of the original Big Money Heavyweights marches on, overall here, with a little more songwriting shine and a little less gutter splatter than last time, even if these Big Tymers don't really have anything new to say, just a smoother way to say it.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: big tymers, big money heavyweights, 2003, flac,