KELIS – FLESHTONE
Marketed and distributed by Universal
A few years ago, when asked where music was headed, a certain guy (let’s call him Chris) said without a sense of irony, that R&B and Dance would fuse and push the musical envelope. This album is the perfect example of what he had in mind. Kelis has been around for a while; having her beginnings in straight up-and-down R&B and Hip Hop. Who can forget that 1999 classic, Caught Out There (I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW) and then in 2004 she released Milkshake, which if for no other reason should be remembered for that last scene in Dodgeball where an overweight Ben Stiller plays with his moobs. But I digress.
Her new album Fleshtone is full of surprises. The first is that the song lyrics are included in the CD booklet (when did that stop being the norm?). The second is a picture of her slapped in between said lyrics that depicts her as a Sphinx-esque dog (No! I’m not kidding) and the third is her collaboration with producers such as the new super-duo of Black Eyed Peas will.i.am and David Guetta. In addition to this, the producer credits are shared with Benny Benassi who did that killer remix of Madonna’s Celebration and Jean Baptiste who has worked with the likes of Fergie, Rihanna, Macy Gray and J-Lo. But I digress.
The album only has nine tracks (FAIL!) The first track, INTRO sounds a lot like Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s Dance the Way I Feel and has a very European sound. 22nd Century has that Madonna-inspired Mirwais sound and misses the mark for me a bit. But after that the album just opens up like a fat kid begging for an Oreo McFlurry. The David Guetta-produced Acapella is already doing tremendous business both here and abroad, but the song Home is the one that stands out for me on this album. It has a certain familiarity about it that I can’t place. It’s one of those tracks that when you hear it for the first time you think you’ve heard it before. It will become an instant hit (if you like old school Trance, wrapped up in a driving Tiesto-esque melody, with a David Guetta-style piano banging away in the background). Brave and Song for the Baby sound too much like something Madonna has done before for me to really rate them. And we’re done! (Told you there were only nine tracks.) But for pushing boundaries and proving ex-R&B singers can criss-cross genres quicker than Paris Hilton jetting around, well done!
B.O.B – THE ADVENTURES OF BOBBY RAY
Marketed and distributed by Gallo
Unless you’ve been hibernating under a rock for the past few months, you would’ve been exposed to the instant radio and sing-a-long hit Nothin’ On You with our man of the moment B.o.B and Bruno Mars. This funky, hip-hoppy track is a fab bad-mood-adjuster and sets the tone for this great album. The second single, Airplanes is the song that is currently disturbing my co-workers and friends alike. Featuring the rhymes of a recently re-emerged Eminem and the highly talented haunting vocals of Hayley Williams of Paramore this song is set to be the track of the winter. In the song, Eminem and B.o.B wonder what would happen if they had not pursued musical careers, which would have been a great loss to Hip Hop and music in general – but luckily we don’t have to worry about that having happened. Unlike other Hip Hop artists, B.o.B chops and changes genre while keeping true to his roots. T.I., who co-produced the album, features on the track Bet I, which sounds very Lil Jonny. Although not destined for a number 1 spot, like the first two singles it isn’t half bad. The best tracks are I’ll Be In In The Sky, which sounds a bit like Gwen Stefani and Akon’s song The Sweet Escape, and Magic, which is another very radio-friendly ditty. However, the lyrics, although probably very deep to B.o.B and his production team, lack the depth of Eminem, for example. For a debut, not half-bad.
VARIOUS – SA CHART ATTACK
Marketed and distributed by EMI
Remember a time when local artists didn’t collaborate with international superstars to record a FIFA-inspired tune? Hard to believe it was just over a month ago. But in between the Waka Waka’s, Ke Nako’s and Wavin’ Flags there was indeed a time when local musos recorded songs by themselves. And this collection is probably one of the best local selections of recent time. There’s The Parlotones’ Life Design, Locnville’s mega-anthem, Sun In My Pocket, the fantastically written and produced stomper, All I Need by Prime Circle, the under-appreciated and totally underrated, Beautiful Mornings by The Black Hotels and one of my personal faves, Break My Heart by Cassette and Vusi Mahlasela. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of compilation CDs, this one is a fantastic snapshot of the local music scene at the moment. And judging by this album, things are looking pretty peachy. Loyiso, Flash Republic, Garth Taylor, HHP and Jesse Clegg also feature. So steer any remaining international soccer fans away from anything with a Zakumi pic and slip this one into their carry-on luggage instead. Or just get it for yourself. Proving that even with the world watching, or despite it, we still know how to put out one hellava selection of world-class homebrewed classics!
TONI BRAXTON – PULSE
Marketed and distributed by Gallo
I love Toni Braxton. Breathe Again, Un-Break My Heart, You’re Makin’ Me High are all 90’s classics that cemented this singer in the annals of music history. Through ups and downs, bankruptcy, playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, opening the 2006 FIFA World Cup anthem with Ill Divo and playing a six-night a week gig at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Vegas, she has emerged again with her latest offering, Pulse. The first single, Yesterday, did moderately well overseas but didn’t seem to make much of a ripple here, which is a pity – cause it’s great: “Just standing there, scratching your head, Bloodshot eyes, drunk with regret, Hanging yourself ten feet over the edge. I’m done with this, feeling like an idiot. Loving you, I’m over it. I just don’t love you, don’t love you no more. You, you are so yesterday.” It’s sexy, its sassy, it belongs in an episode of glee and is pure Toni Braxton. Yesterday , as a single, featured Hip Hop newcomer, Trey Songz (who is absent on the album version) and was less piano/80’s heavy, but no matter – it’s the sass that makes this a corker.
Make My Heart is a little Kylie Minoguey which is a bit weird – but let’s be honest, when is Old School not cool? Wardrobe co