CD Reviews

good kid, m.A.A.d city, R.E.D., Dreams & Nightmares

West Coast Rap

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city (Interscope)

Kendrick Lamar’s major-label debut album is simply brilliant. The 25-year-old wraps a Pulp Fiction-esque narrative about his life growing up in Compton, Calif., around a bed of outstanding production. His unique voice and mind-boggling cadence unravels this tale of a follower turning into a leader through each of the 12 songs. Whether he’s describing the pitfalls of alcoholism (“Swimming Pools”), near life-altering experiences (“The Art of Peer Pressure”) or the endless cycle of violence (“Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”), Lamar does so with an insight like no other. Although time usually dictates what is a classic, good kid, m.A.A.d city has already outperformed many (if not all) of his peers. ★★★★☆

What We’re Buying

1. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
2. Aerosmith, Music From Another Dimension!
3. E-40 & Too Short, History: Function Music
4. E-40 & Too Short, History: Mob Music
5. All That Remains, A War You Cannot Win
6. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill
7. Meek Mill, Dreams and Nightmares
8. Mumford & Sons, Babel
9. Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu
10. Black Country Communion, Afterglow

According to sales at Zia Record Exchange on 4503 W. Sahara Ave., Nov. 5-11.

Gentleman’s Soul Music

Ne-Yo, R.E.D. (Motown)

Ne-Yo has been the go-to guy in R&B for a while now. But his mojo wavers on his fifth studio album, R.E.D. Yes, he’s still an excellent songwriter, but he needed a big comeback album after the lukewarm Libra Scale. He succeeds on several levels by going back to his roots on the self-effacing “Cracks In Mr. Perfect” as well as the sexy vibes of “Lazy Love” and “Stress Reliever.” However, he overreaches with the Tim McGraw-assisted “She Is” and the burnt-out EDM offering “Shut Me Down.” Those missteps aside, R.E.D. brings Ne-Yo back to the forefront and extends his shelf-life. ★★★☆☆

Street Rap

Meek Mill, Dreams & Nightmares (Maybach Music Group)

Philly’s Meek Mill lends a certain authenticity to his rhymes. His high-pitched wail scurries frantically all over his debut album with a sense of urgency. Best accentuated by the album’s intro, Mill wavers between decent wordsmith and street hustler fawning over his previous transgressions. It’s a switch that he flips with ease as heard on the Drake-assisted ode to sex and money, “Amen,” and the chilling hunt for his father’s murderer, “Traumatized.” New ground isn’t broken here and everything is rather formulaic, but Meek Mill does his best to ensure his street tales are enjoyable. ★★★☆☆

Disc Scan

Upcoming albums on Andreas’ radar …

DEC. 4: After letting his die-hard fans down with Rolling Papers, Wiz Khalifa will try to appease them and his growing mainstream base with O.N.I.F.C. DEC. 11: It may only be half of Outkast, but it’s better than no Outkast. Big Boi will drop Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, and we will immediately wonder what each of those songs would sound like with Andre 3000 by his side. DEC. 18: Clifford Harris, the family man with a reality show, will become T.I., the rapper, when he drops Trouble Man. It’s kind of hard to picture him being a “trouble man” when he’s a pretty good father on television.

Suggested Next Read

The Dirty Hooks


The Dirty Hooks

By Deanna Rilling

If you’re a regular Vegas Seven reader, you may have noticed us raving about this local trio. But even as we named their debut CD, Electric Grit, the Best Local Album this year, we still hadn’t seen them live. So we caught the Dirty Hooks at their fourth gig ever as they opened for Mike Watt + the Missingmen. And it seemed like a fair chunk of the sparse crowd was there to support our local musicians.