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Helpful Votes: 40

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"theskinnycritic" RSS Feed (Sacramento, Ca)

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Dangerously in Love
Dangerously in Love
Offered by DAILY "Black-Friday" 4U
Price: $17.99
293 used & new from $0.01

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Effort, July 28, 2003
This review is from: Dangerously in Love (Audio CD)
Overall, a brilliant effort from Ms. Knowles. She may not have a feel-good anthem like Ashanti's 'Rock With You' but 'Crazy in Love' is still a wicked contender. It takes gumption to share studio space with Big Boi but B pulls it off on 'Hip Hop Star'. Instead of R&B posturing, it's good to hear a talented singer have fun with an irresistable melody like 'Signs' (as Missy rachets herself up another notch towards production preeminence). Beyonce finds her groove on 'Me, Myself, and I' and doesn't miss a step until 'Dangerously in Love 2'. 'Speechless' is the best song on anybody's album in recent memory. The menacing bass line hints at a hungry vixen akin to Prince's "Wildcat in a celibate rage". By the time Beyonce screams 'Yes!', you'll be scrambling for contraception. On 'That's How You like It', Jigga is actually sharper than on the single 'Crazy', and the song sounds more sincere, as if removed from the pressure of a hit single the two can lavish boatloads of talent entirely on the other. 'The Closer I Get to You' is as polished as one might expect from Luther but one wishes B would have cut loose at least once on the elder baladeer. She sings almost with contrition, as if Vicar Vandross suspects her naughty missionary work on 'Speechless'. She finishes with an okay song to her dad but shows some songwriting ability. Instead of a sappy interlude she belts how her Dad responded to her bad tattoo by getting one as well. I guess Father indeed knows best. Four stars, Ms. Knowles.

The Low End Theory
The Low End Theory
Price: $7.00
98 used & new from $1.95

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hip Hop Tour de Force, July 13, 2003
This review is from: The Low End Theory (Audio CD)
In one defining moment, A Tribe Called Quest made a classic CD as well as opened possiblities to what Hip Hop (and music) could become. This makes the Low End Theory one of the most important Hip Hop CDs ever made. If the Native Tongues (De La Soul and Jungle Brothers) added fresh new colors to Hip-Hop, then A Tribe Called Quest were the Michaelangelo of their time and the Low End Theory was their Sistine Chapel. Check the Rhime, Vibes & Stuff, and Verses From the Abstract were all sounds that hip-hop fans had never heard before. The Tribe took obscure, yet masterful jazz abstractions and anchored them with heavy, low end beats. Add in Q-Tip's enigmatic flow and a game Phife (check him on Butter and Scenario) and the resulting music was more fun than Be-Bop and is still light years ahead of most of the hip-hop in your CD player right now. Never before had rap artists put in such work to fuse beats, melodies, lyrics, timing, and thought into a relevant musical effort as ecletic and stomping as this CD. As a group, a Tribe Called Quest raised the bar in Hop-Hop at a time when it needed raising (Hammertime, Young MC, anyone?) and for that, the heads are eternally grateful. The Low End Theory crystalized the the Tribe as legends in the rap genre and still makes a definitive statement about creativity, innovation, and artistry in modern music.

Chocolate Factory
Chocolate Factory
Price: $6.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hit Factory Still in Operation, April 6, 2003
This review is from: Chocolate Factory (Audio CD)
Like Tupac's Me Against the World, an artist facing steep legal troubles achieves a pivotal moment of clarity--with the music following suit. One of R. Kelly's best efforts, Chocolate Factory is thug lite, soulful, and sinful, like any self-respecting R&B effort ought to be. With a trial pending there is no time for tiresome intros and interludes. R. Kelly starts off in the pocket and doesn't miss a beat until 'Showdown'. Kelly keeps the party going over the first few tracks and absolutley soars on 'Forever'. The second half of the album is just as good. Kelly's conducted a freakin' R&B clinic by the time he's done gliding on the 'Step in the name of Love' remix. Pretend the last three tracks don't exist. 'Showdown' and the the Mr. Bigs theme is dead. 'Snake' and 'Who's That' are mindless hip-hop chatter. Aside from these last three tracks, Chocolate Factory is easily one of the best R&B albums of the year from the man who's redefined the genre over the past decade. The jury may still be out on his legal troubles but R. Kelly's musical genius is undeniable.

Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Price: $11.39
107 used & new from $0.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jigga's bored at the office, December 1, 2002
The age old riddle, how does one follow up a classic? It's very difficult and the answer is to do something totally different and this might have worked had Jigga not titled it Blue Print 2.
This two disc set contains some jewels and most of the other reviewers had it right when they said that one CD would have been enough. "Excuse Me Miss" swings like nothing else on the set. "All Around the World" is vintage Jay-Z, sounding very much like the foundation he laid on the Blueprint. Scarface works his magic and pushes Jigga to work his on "Somehow Someway". Jay-Z weaves and works more magic on "Meet the Parents". Speaking of storytelling, Big Boi upstages everyone on "Poppin Tags". When we argue about flow, Biggie and Rakim have their place but the boys from Outkast should be in the mix too. "Bonnie and Clyde" is okay but a bit tepid. Ja Rule's cover of "Pain" at least tried to capture some of the passion of Pac's work. "Bonnie and Clyde" sounds like the elevator music version of the original.
Blue Print two is an admirable follow up to a Hip-Hop classic. It's moments were great, not so great, memorable, and very forgetable. This sounded like a medium for Jigga to exorcise the demons and paradigms that rap has represented the past few years, sort of like Prince's 'Chaos and Disorder'. I expect the next release from Hove to be totally fresh, clean, and trend setting.

In Search of...
In Search of...
Offered by Customer Direct
Price: $4.00
141 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars N.E.R.Ds in a Class of Their Own, October 5, 2002
This review is from: In Search of... (Audio CD)
Keep right on sleeping on the N.E.R.Ds. It's because of those who slept that I crept up on this album for $7.99. Every song is not a prefabricated hit but therein lies the genius of this effort. Listen to that guitar stomp and the snare drum skip on 'Truth or Dare'; Pharell nails it on the first syllable when he groans "Yeah". 'Rock Star' gets all the accolades but 'Tape You' sounds like what would've happened had Prince and Madonna hooked up seven years ago and made a fun, kinky groove. 'Run to the Sun' is a San Francisco autumn, at dusk, set to music. 'Things Are Getting Better' is too adroit for anything on mind-numbing Rock or R&B radio rotations. The much aligned 'Bobby James' and 'Am I High' do, indeed, elevate. Hey, nobody knocks the oft-induced Santana so don't even start mounting the proverbial high horse with these Va Beach skaters. Now lyrically, don't expect Lauryn Hill-like epiphanies or Jay-Z dexterities. The N.E.R.Ds offer lyrics like "Woke up wearing the same clothes I had on last night/Must have passed out . . .". After listening to these guys you'll think Lenny Kravitz capable of penning the Songs of Solomon. Still, the N.E.R.Ds are a razor sharp band with inexhaustible ideas and virtually no ego to stand in the way of some beautiful and innovative music. They rock, they rap, they rule. Once they smarten up lyrically, things are going to get serious. Go ahead, pick a school and tick off your favorites: A Tribe Called Quest, Smashing Pumpkins, Prince, PM Dawn, Beastie Boys, Tony Toni Tone. These guys are right there. If music appreciation class is in session, consider the N.E.R.Ds present and well accounted for.

Price: $21.54
81 used & new from $0.01

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slinky and Kinky, August 17, 2002
This review is from: Rebirth (Audio CD)
If nothing else, one can count on Keith Sweat for not selling out. You won't hear any sappy collaborations with boy bands, corny remakes, or featured youth choirs on a Keith Sweat album. I'll spot him one star on that premise alone. As for Keith Sweat's 'Rebirth', it is better than his last CD ('Didn't See Me Coming') but falls short of some his best work. Thankfully, Sweat put the uptempo tracks together at the beginning so that we can skip over them all at one time. They are fairly unintelligible from everything else on the radio. Worse yet, they are difficult to tell from each other with formualic, looped beats and sophomoric, self-aggrandizement. When he is not trying so hard to impress the fellas, Keith Sweat can actually make some of the best uptempo tunes in R&B, like 'Twisted', which he included here as a live version. The remaining tracks on 'Rebirth' are solid Keith Sweat slow jams. The head-bobbing, slinky grooves go down as well as they always have with only the occassional crude lyric tossed in. Check 'One on One' which starts with instructions for some unsuspecting lady to bend over and touch her toes. Probably not a realistic opener unless you're out with Lil' Kim, Anna Nicole Smith, or both. 'Wonderful Thing' is a refreshing slow jam. 'Show Me' ranks right up there with some of his best ballads. If you're a Keith Sweat fan, skip the first six tracks and commence slow grooving at track seven. If you don't don't know much about Sweat, 'I'll Give All My Love to You' and 'Still In the Game' proove more complete CDs for the money. The bland up-tempo songs on 'Rebirth' drag down what is otherwise a fine effort by Mr. Sweat.

Truthfully Speaking
Truthfully Speaking
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $14.99
136 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Funk, August 11, 2002
This review is from: Truthfully Speaking (Audio CD)
Truthfully Speaking is one of the more original and interesting CDs to drop this year. Truth Hurts' voice and sound are very distinctive and the album is driven by some bonafide funk. As big as a smash as "Addictive" has become, "I'm Not Really Looking" is nearly as good and more fun. "Real" might be the funkiest thing you'll hear this year. I've kept it on repeat for three days. "BS" and "Jimmy" pick up right where Lucy Pearl left off. Though Truth keeps a certain edge and attitude throughout the CD she can let her guard down too. On "Do Me", Truth is totally vulnerable, lonely, and frustrated. All she wants is a hug and some caressing done right. "Tired", "Queen of the Ghetto", and "Hollywood" meander, misfire, and try one's patience but overall, this is a very funky and refreshing CD. Truth be told, I'm totally addicted.

Paid In Full
Paid In Full
Price: $14.99
47 used & new from $0.25

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the Greatest, August 10, 2002
This review is from: Paid In Full (Audio CD)
Before this album dropped, Hip Hop and fat shoe laces were in fashion and each stood as good a chance as the other to remain in vogue. Some talented acts like Run- DMC, the Fat Boys, Whodini and Kurtis Blow kept Hip Hop on the radar scope but rap as a staple genre was nowhere near being a fixture in our culure. And then we heard Rakim, Hip-Hop's first true artist. His flow was in fact, just like the waters of the Nile: cool, deep, and flowing north against the grain of every MC out there at the time and most since. Rakim's flow seemed somehow ahead of its time yet familiar, as if he'd always been there, from the ancient Pyramids to suede Pumas, all the while whistling his melody. This album cemented hip hop in our culture and Rakim still remains the standard by which all great MCs are measured. That makes Paid in Full arguably the greatest hip hop album and one of the most important albums of all time.

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