REVIEW CATCH-UP: Frank Ocean, Nas, Trey Songz, Tamia

First things first: I want to apologize for being so late with some of these reviews. Life for me has been a little crazy the last few months and it’s been hard to find my creative balance at times. But many of you have sent messages to me personally to check on reviews and albums, so I owe you guys these and I thank you for hangin in there. Charge it to my head; I’m getting it back together. So here you go, reviews of Frank Ocean, Trey Songz, Nas, and Tamia’s new releases. Enjoy and share your thoughts…

 

 Artist: Frank Ocean || Album: Channel Orange || Release Date: 7.10.12

Sound-Savvy Rating: 4 out of 5 platinum headphones

On Channel Orange, Frank Ocean has mastered the art of creating surreal worlds with his lyrics and creating an environment of musical bliss that the listener easily gets lost in. From the masterful blend of Sweet Life, to the somber melody of Bad Religion, this album is a treat to behold. I hesitate with comparing this album, but it is as engaging as Andre 3000’s The Love Below and Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation while being as thoroughly enjoyable as Get Lifted. I enjoy that the focus is not about relating to Franks sexual preference (though there are some hints along the way), rather the common thread among all of humanity – love – and the emotions both good and bad that come in tow. On the flipside, though engaging and thoughtful, the album is a lot less personal than I expected. Inasmuch as Nostalgia, Ultra  (click here for info) had an spread of relatable content, with accounts of his own experiences, Channel Orange takes a step back from being so intimate but still creates a solid project to introduce Ocean to the masses. But this album isn’t for the masses. It’s for the thinkers, the lovers and dare I say it, the revolutionists. I won’t say Channel Orange has changed the game, but I believe Frank Ocean will. Stay tuned…

Highlights: Sierra Leone, Sweet Life, Sierra Leone, Bad Religion, Pink Matter

 

Artist: Nas || Album: Life Is Good || Release Date: 7.13.12

Sound-Savvy Rating: 4.5 out of 5 platinum headphones

Life Is Good is the eleventh studio album from living rap legend Nas. Straight to the point, this is the best Nas album I’ve heard in years! To clarify, all Nas’ albums have had their place and more recent projects earned their own merits based on a particular focus or theme. Life Is Good  is an all-around great project. The veteran rapper sounds at ease through much of the project delivering a versatile flow and a sound that’s contemporary, yet classic. Even the opening, which samples Kirk Franklin/Richard Smallwood’s ‘Don’t Cry’ has an air of reverence that sets the tone for the entire project. Addressing his Kelis controversy is the Salaam Remi and 40-produced Bye Baby (which samples Guy’s Goodbye Love), but unlike one might expect, this track actually takes a more classy approach instead of bashing his ex-wife. There’s a lot on this album to appreciate, and I highly recommend it. Oh yeah, go for the deluxe release.

Highlights: Daughters, Accident Murderers (ft. Rick Ross), World’s an Addiction (ft. Anthony Hamilton), Summer on Smash (ft. Swizz Beatz and Miguel), The Don, Cherry Wine (ft. Amy Winehouse) and Bye Baby

 

Artist: Trey Songz || Album: Chapter V || Release Date: 8.25.12

Sound-Savvy Rating: 2.5 out of 5 platinum headphones

I gave this album a few honest listens and I still really just can’t completely like it. Trey Songz has veered so far from where he started as a respectable genuine artist with something to say. With his fifth album now in stores, you’d think he would’ve evolved into a more expressive artist with something more substantial to say in his records but this album is all of what you’d expect from Trey – over sexualized lyrics, excessive raunch, mediocre production, and the voice that gets annoying after a few tracks. With his limited vocal range, it would be in Trey’s best interest to enlist writers that can deliver some moving stories that his listeners can relate to. Trey’s long gone from Gotta Make It, to Gotta Get The Panties, but the routine is getting a bit old and there’s more to sing about. But even the sex music was a lot better on previous projects. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have some good points to it… Heart Attack is actually one of my favorite joints Trey has ever done – all around. Also notable is the album’s third single Simply Amazing, and the throwback-sounding Without A Woman. Keepers are sprinkled throughout this album’s 19 tracks, but the few that are there are solid.

Highlights: Dive In, Heart Attack, Pretty Girls Lie, Simply Amazing, Forever Yours.

 

Artist: Tamia || Album: Beautiful Surprise || Release Date: 8.28.12

Sound-Savvy Rating: 4.5 out of 5 platinum headphones

Everyone knows I’m an R&B fan to the heart and as such, I’ve been a fan of Tamia since her very first project. Over the years, she’s had a way of captivating the listener with her emotional stories, her powerhouse vocals and impeccable control – all of which show up in perfect form on her new album Beautiful Surprise. Tamia delivers some amazing balladry and great melodies on tracks like It’s Not Fair Love I’m Yours, and Give Me You and she dabbles into the country genre with her cover of Wynonna Judd’s Is It Over Yet which in itself is an incredible cover. Even on the more uptempo cuts like Beautiful Surprise, Him and Believe In Love, she sounds amazing. This album has range, it has continuity, and is simply a great listen. Tamia never disappoints; Beautiful Surprise is one of contemporary R&B’s best contributions this year. If you love good music, you must get this album.

Highlights: The entire album. But MOST notable are the tracks listed above.  

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