RECORD OF THE WEEK
Solange Knowles has been trying on a rather different outfit as of late, and it’s not just her artsy fashion choices. As recent output has proved, her new tastes are beyond Indie fandom and she has slowly adopted a fresh identity. Knowles made her comeback this year, partnering with producer Dev Hynes, who works under the moniker Blood Orange, to create a great unique album.
Her newest EP “True” proves the singer is off to an exciting start.
Hynes’ go-to sound is signature, shown best in the EP’s single, “Losing You.” A warm synthesizer accentuates and keyboards bleed into a sensual cool. Knowles rides the production with an equal loose feel, but as soft as her vocals flow, Knowles’ laments of a broken relationship or unfulfilling lover strongly. “Some Things Never Seem to F—— Work” is dreamy, but also a great channeling of Knowles dysfunctional frustration. The more hard-hitting “Lovers in the Parking Lot” gets the singer into more burning, painful R&B.
The two crystallized tastes of Hynes and Knowles come together in the final track, “Bad Girls (Verdine Version).” Knowles seems the most free along with Hynes performing his funky, mellow jams.
After hearing how comfortable both artists are in “Bad Girls,” the Hynes-Knowles combination in the album “True” feels like a perfect match full of potential.
SINGLES OF THE WEEK
“Cherry” by Chromatics
Chromatics had a hot year. The band released a new album, “Kill for Love,” performed at a Chanel fashion show, and is now working on “After Dark 2,” for its label Italians Do It Better. The band dropped the video for the newest single “Cherry” this week and it’s as sweet as it is vicious. The funky bass walks with confidence as the guitar reverb hangs creepy like gothic strings. Vocalist Ruth Radelet hits her notes nicely and complements the romantic track. “Cherry” doesn’t lose a beat in the consistently solid works of Chromatics.
“Sorry” by T.I. (feat. Andre 3000)
This has been a good week for T.I., as part of the Big Boi single “In the A” and dropping a knocking single from his own upcoming album, “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head.” Backed by a warm trunk-rattling production by Jazze Pha, T.I. goes in on the serious tip. “Sorry” and T.I.’s real talk is above all consciousness and status-defending clichés. And when does Andre ever not have a spectacular verse these days? Maybe he’s not as show-stealing as T.I., but he holds his own well. However, Andre soars above heads and tongues tapping an equally serious rap. If T.I. continues doing what he does in “Sorry,” “Trouble Man,” out Dec. 18, should be top of its class.
MISS OF THE WEEK
For those not in the know, the Wu-Block project is a collaboration of two New York hip-hop forces: the Wu-Tang Clan of Staten Island and D-Block of Yonkers. This alliance isn’t really new and can be traced back to Ghostface’s “The Pretty Toney Album” where Jadakiss lent a verse for “Run” while the other two members of D-Block, Sheek Louch and Styles P, were guests on “Metal Lungies.” Both groups are veterans of street griminess, so it’s already a force not be reckoned with.
Or so it seemed, at least, when looking at the project on paper.
The actual record really isn’t what the title “Wu-Block” implies. To clarify, this is a Ghostface and Sheek Louch album featuring buddies from time to time. The other prominent features are Styles P and Raekwon, who kill it every time they slide in, but the main voices remain Ghost and Sheek. They stick to the usual street talk game, which is detrimental to the collaboration rather than a tough image. Ghost and Sheek voluntarily put themselves in a box, appearing barely flexible enough to reach out farther than macho bragging and affirmation of their veteran status.
After numerous punchlines seem more like weak jabs and cheeky skits poking fun at young rappers, “Wu-Block” bumps like old men getting together to do old men things. Even the wild Ghostface gets a little restrained carrying those albums-of-the-aged cliches, and it’s a bummer.