Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience (RCA)
Curiosity swept the industry when Justin Timberlake announced his return. Could a 32-year-old former boy-bander be innovative and balance the young and old demographics? The answer is a resounding yes as The 20/20 Experience strikes gold. With Timbaland producing, Timberlake delivers sophistication, sexy and soul. The silky “Strawberry Bubblegum” and “Spaceship Coupe” keep it sultry while the up-tempo “Don’t Hold the Wall” and Jay-Z-assisted “Suit & Tie” will groove the dance floor. With most of his songs eclipsing the six-minute mark and changing pace midstream, it was a risk to see if radio would be sold. But the music is so damn good with JT’s falsetto intact that it doesn’t matter. Timberlake wins. ★★★★☆
Demigodz, Killmatic (Dirty Version Records)
This clever collective, helmed by Apathy and Celph Titled, have returned with an aggressive full-length album, Killmatic. Merging Golden-Era beats and wicked subject matter, Killmatic is an exercise in punchlines, metaphors and menacing rhymes. Heavy-handed battle raps punctuate this experience as songs such as “Captain Caveman” and “Raiders Cap” beat you over the head with rock-hard beats and seedy rhymes. Never redundant, always offensive, Killmatic is as unapologetic as it gets. Those who like their hip-hop devoid of emotion and overflowing with bravado will enjoy this project. ★★★☆☆
ANTHM, Handful of Dust (Self Released)
ANTHM’s music is a warm reminder of what hip-hop should be about. His latest project, Handful Of Dust, is produced by Blu and further demonstrates why the Manhattan MC is one to watch. Blu’s production complements ANTHM’s nasally flow. From his ode to his baby sister on “Debbie” to the introspection of “Nina” and “Low Class,” ANTHM is able to connect with everyday people who struggle with life while chasing their dreams. The only complaint is that ANTHM gives us so little and leaves us yearning for more. But it’s much better to be desired than to overstay your welcome. ★★★★☆
Upcoming albums on Andreas’ radar …
APRIL 23: Snoop Dogg is Reincarnated as Snoop Lion, and it will be interesting to see what this new reggae-flavored rapper will sound like.
MAY 7: The-Dream looks to reclaim his place in the R&B hierarchy when he drops Fourplay.
MAY 14: Rapper-turned-actor Eve comes out of hibernation to deliver Lip Lock. Will the self-proclaimed “pit bull in a skirt” ever be the same or will we get a far more tame version of the Philly rapper?