No winners this week, guys. Just same ‘ol, same ‘ol.
Timbaland: Shock Value II
Timbaland is one of the best producers in the world. I’ll still jam on old school Ginuwine, Tweet, Missy, and whatever obscure acts from the mid-’90s used him as a producer, because when he’s raw, there’s no better music for dancing to. His sense of syncopation and rhythm is insane. That being said, Shock Value II is a letdown. Especially because of how good it COULD’VE been.
Timbaland has a giant array of guest-stars on this album, and there’s no lack of talent. The guest-list rivals Shock Value I. But whatever musical ideas Timba was going for here are choked out by his aspirations, reaching for the scraps of teeny-pop. He’s still at his best when the songs are raw and driving. It’s something to be said when Timbaland is so talented that he can make Jojo sound good, but instead of finding compelling rhythms, he’s settled for flavor of the week. And he’s better than that. Get “Carry Out,” “Lose Control,” and “Morning After Dark.” And “Say Something” if you’re into Drake copping a Weezy-lite aesthetic. Personally, though, I’m not.
Chris Brown: Graffiti
One of the most loathed contemporary pop stars is back for another outing. Chris Brown has been complaining lately about the way people look at his music, trashing a Rolling Stone review that gave his album two and a half stars. This one won’t be any better. Chris Brown’s never made anything besides forgettable, bubble-gum R&B, but in light of recent events, one would think his sound would change. Or at least, lyrical content. Or something to indicate he’d grown musically or as a person. But there’s no evidence on this album. Just cloying word-play and the same bubble-gum beats as before.
Chris Brown had the opportunity to show that he wasn’t a product, a soulless archetype molded to fit modern pop perceptions. Rhianna came back with a hard record. In a few years, Chris Brown won’t come back at all. There’s something to be said about his PR management having him put out another record of boasting right after an incident like this, when he could’ve laid low and surprised people with his musical direction.
Instead we get tracks like “So Cold,” where he laments his baby leaving him. Even the best track on this album, “I Can Transform Ya,” is only elevated by guest stars Weezy and Swizzy, and even then, not by all that much.