Rick Ross, Mastermind (Maybach Music Group)
It’s a new year and another new Rick Ross album. If you want the same subject matter with similar sounding production, Mastermind is for you. It’s not a bad album; it’s just exhausting to listen to Ross lament about being rich and dealing with his haters over and over again. At times, the familiar territory is welcome. Jay Z’s braggadocio on “The Devil Is a Lie” complements Ross’ expensive boasts. Kanye West and Big Sean bring some soul to the bearded rapper’s “Sanctified.” There’s nothing new in Mastermind’s 19 tracks, and eventually Rozay is going to have to evolve. ★★✩✩✩
Pharrell, G I R L (Columbia)
Pharrell recently told Revolt TV “I just want to jam.” Pharrell’s second solo album, G I R L, encompasses this statement. Coming off of the smash hit “Happy,” Skateboard P jams for 10 songs with feel-good music that weaves in elements of ’70s soul and disco. Remnants of Michael Jackson and Diana Ross can be heard throughout on songs such as “Brand New” and “Marilyn Monroe.” G I R L’s themes are weightless, and Pharrell ultimately wants you to have a soundtrack to enjoy life. Not a bad thing at all. ★★★★✩
NEW MILLENNIUM GANGSTA RAP
ScHoolBoy Q, Oxymoron (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Kendrick Lamar put a lot of pressure on fellow TDE artist ScHoolboy Q to deliver a quality album. However, where Lamar is known for multilayered rhymes, Q opts for a more straightforward approach. Nothing like good kid, m.A.A.d city, Oxymoron successfully establishes ScHoolboy Q’s own identity. While m.A.A.d city is a narrative of living surrounded by gang culture, Oxymoron exists inside of it. The album finds Q staggering through abrasive tales of drugs and survival (“Hoover Street”) with the occasional break to enjoy the mere concept that he’s alive (“Man of the Year”). As raw as Oxymoron is, the remarkably polished sonic experience is a standout album that shouldn’t be missed. ★★★★✩
Upcoming on Andreas’ radar…
APRIL 15: Iggy Azalea has been buzzing on the web for quite some time, but can the Australian product deliver on her Island Def Jam debut album ambitiously titled The New Classic?
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Nasir Jones dropped his seminal classic Illmatic. To honor the 20th anniversary of the album, Nas will release Illmatic XX. The double CD will include a re-issue of the album with a second disc full of unreleased songs and remixes. Good enough reason to buy it again.