The long awaited album of American Idol Alumnae, Oscar totting, Jennifer Hudson was released on September 30th, (hopefully this album can make up for B.E.T's Best New Music Artist award that she racked up before the album came out, last year) the 13 track set makes excellent use of Jennifer's usually heavy, soulfully robust voice that is undoubtedly a refresher from the crap guised as R&B as of late. Jennifer is an phenomenal recording artist - she makes excellent use of the studio by displaying maximum talent, revealing it on a minimal level, giving her the cross over appeal that could easily crown her the next Aretha Franklin. Although I was expecting a little more R&B, a little more soul - what I got was a perfectly sprinkled Clive Davis record very remnant of Whitney Houston's debut album. I could have done without the experimentation, but somehow it works and balances out what we would have expected. Vocally the album gave me everything I needed and more. Superb debut from an entertainer with limitless potential. B
Standout Tracks: Spotlight, My Heart, Pocketbook, Giving Myself, Invisible
P.S. I love the fact that Jennifer and Fantasia did a song...but I could have done without the sewer litter subject matter.
I've been a fan of Robin Thicke since he entered on the scene under the string of Pharell Williams and Andre Harrell, riding through New York City on a Bicycle with long hair resembling a washed out transplant hippy from San Fransisco light yeared to present day. I think what I love the most about Robin Thicke he is himself...and the original Justin Timberlake, if that makes sense, if you get what I am saying has been consistent in making great music from the start and that's what he does. He is very accurate in his experience being white singing soul (black) music (ask Teena Marie how she feels)and I love that he voices that, however, he's popular because he's white. Many BLACK artists who have been clearly been influenced by Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder have not seen the minimal success that Mr. Thicke has...so I think he should continue doing him and enjoy his privileges while he can...because Maxwell is on the horizon, but that doesn't mean he didn't make a phenomenal CD. Put on your headphones or what ever listening device you have and the output will instantaneous remind you of the orchestrations of Barry White. The vintage soul sound of the 70's will creep through with enough dash of acoustic guitar to remind you of a salsa dancing scene...or a a feel to watch Saturday Night Fever. I think Robins use of instruments is brilliant. He infuses strings and horns better than I've heard anyone do in a while - and the fact that he uses instruments that you can distinctively identify makes him more universal, which makes him a real musician. Overall the cd is a great feel good CD that is for clear relaxation purposes...I think Terrance Howard was trying to achieve what Robin did with his new cd...take notes. B
Standout Tracks: Magic, Loverman, The Sweetest Love, Something Else, Cry No More, Sidestep
Joe is one of my favorite male singers. Johnny Gill, Brian McKnight, Rahsaan Patterson are the others. What I like best about Joe is that he always seems to some how craft the perfect R&B CD each and every time, this time is no different, except he didn't write any of the tracks, which is far left from what the 7 Grammy Award nominated, 16 year industry vet usually does. When an artist goes off and does something different a few things could happen; but what does usually happen is that "magic" that makes them there isn't as strong as it usually is. Joe defied the odds and put together a stellar R&B that Usher should be jealous of. While Joe's material isn't bad, it' isn't the the material that I'm use to hearing him sing. He usually gives us ballads and more raw singing. The signing and the ballads, yes - but there was a lot more fast tempo songs than I expected. Vocally, Joe will always be on point - he can sing anything and make it feel like hot chocolate on a winter day. I appreciated the fact that he included snippets from his next cd. What I don't appreciate is how underrated Joe is as a singer and writer. But everyone will get there due.
Standout Tracks: Why Just Be Friends, By Any Means, Chameleon, Sorry, Hurt Behind My Eyes. A-
Ne-Yo has an innate ability to write songs out of this world - he also has that creative spark to entertain you during a live performance. So it should be no surprise that the modern day Babyface came with an R&B/POP infused CD that is going to only solidify his place in music. The only two things I didn't like about his CD were his constant sipping of Jesus Juice that allowed him to channel his inner Michael Jackson more than once. I could almost see Ne-Yo doing the "Smooth Criminal" in the booth and grabbing his Sidekick exposed dick in honor of his idol. The other thing I could have done without was the all of the cross over writing he was doing on this album, but this only validates my theory that he's done with performing and he only wants to focus on writing - the thing that not a one industry vampire can suck him of. And it doesn't hurt that he has a backbone and isn't afraid to call you out, I appreciate him 100% more for that. Another great CD, but I don't think we'll be getting anymore...and I think we're all okay with that, but if there is another one it will be in a while and we'll either won't care or appreciate it better than we did the others.
Standout Tracks: Nobody, Single, Miss Independent, Fade Into The Background B-
P.S. Why hasn't he done something with Guy, New Edition or Babyface first? New Kids on the Block could have waited.