J. Cole, Born Sinner (Roc Nation)
Despite a lukewarm reception to his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, expectations for Jermaine Lamarr Cole have been high since he signed to Jay-Z?s Roc Nation imprint. Cole shows significant improvement with Born Sinner. Once considered boring, Cole captivates with this effort. Whether on the Kendrick Lamar-assisted ?Forbidden Fruit? or when discussing his relationship struggles on ?Runaway,? Cole proves to be the star Jay-Z envisioned. If you weren?t convinced before, his tale about his depression after Nas shunned him on ?Let Nas Down? proves that Cole is a unique talent who will be around for a while. ?????
New Black Soul
Wale, The Gifted (Maybach Music Group)
Those who were fans of Wale before the Maybach Music Group affiliation will be pleased to know that his third studio album, The Gifted, finds the DMV rapper returning to his mixtape roots. Wale packs substance (the spiritual ?Golden Salvation?), style (the sports and sneaker culture-influenced ?88?) and a strip-club anthem (?Clappers? featuring Nicki Minaj and Juicy J) into his latest effort while maintaining his mantra of delivering ?New Black Soul? to the masses. Although flaws such as the ?Bad? remix with Rihanna weigh down the album, fans should be happy with the effort. ?????
Kanye West, Yeezus (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam)
Kanye West always pushes progressive music, but his latest effort is a mess of an album. He gets in over his head by featuring songs such as ?I Am a God? and by opting for distorted bass and electronic blips instead of soulful backdrops. Flashes of brilliance still surface via the remarkable ?Black Skinhead? and the minimalist ?Bound 2,? but Yeezus has found Kanye without much left to say. The jarring production coupled with crude lyricism of ?On Sight? and the awkward vibe of ?Hold My Liquor? represent an experiment gone wrong. ?????
Upcoming albums on Andreas? radar ?
AUGUST 6: Rick Ross and his MMG collective return to prove that they are the industry?s strongest label with Self Made Vol. 3. AUGUST 20: With the success of A$AP Rocky, the A$AP Mob looks to continue the momentum with A$AP Ferg?s Trap Lord. AUGUST 27: CeeLo rejoins his Goodie Mob family as they attempt to rekindle the magic of almost two decades ago with Age Against the Machine.