Now that my Dark Knight haze has lifted, I can talk about some new music. Be forewarned, however, that I'm still getting over a cold and my writing is suffering.
Anyone who's been sick the week before an essay's due in school knows what I'm talking about.
Ryan Leslie's an emerging R&B artist I've had my eye on for a while now. I picked up his single "Diamond Girl" a few months ago (as in, 170 iTunes songs back), and was impressed by the swirling production and Leslie's raspy voice. It's great to hear an artist not being sucked into the Usher/Ne-Yo black hole of "modern R&B crooners." His newest single "Addiction," is a bit more generic, but is once again saved by innovative production. I use "innovative" in the loosest sense of the word; Leslie is a talented producer himself, but he's more Timbaland than Bjork.
The track checks all the necessary boxes for radio in 2008: Unknown rapper with a 30 second solo? Check. A hooky chorus with a female accompaniment? Check. "Subtle" references to pop culture? Holy crap check. If we're going to talk about name dropping, "Addiction" features more than enough. Lindsey Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, Kevin Federline...and all in three verses. It's more than I can take. When Fabolous (the "unknown" rapper, who is technically more "known" than Leslie) references Cobain, he ties it in with "suicides," a nickname for the doors to his sports car. If that isn't crossing the line, than I'll shut down this blog right now.
On the positive side, though, it's well-orchestrated hip hop, and Cassie's vocals, devoid of personality or even sex appeal, sound appropriately blank in contrast to the blippy production and Leslie's own vocal track.
Another song that has recently gotten my attention--and I wish it hadn't--is Robin Thicke's "Magic." Ew. It's just not a good song. The instrumentals in the first fifteen seconds are a strong build up, a la Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction," but they turn out to be the only decent part of the song. Thicke sounds like a young Justin Timberlake, or worse, like an Other from N*Sync or 98 Degrees, whining about having "the magic." The seventies musical rehash has been played out for a year now, so "Magic" loses any points for originality. I tried hard to love this song, but I can't hear the track without wincing now.
To close, I'd like to talk about CSS. I have been a fan of CSS since "Alala" was on a videogame three years ago, and I don't hate their new album ("Donkey"). BUT, if you're in the mood for music with a little spunk, download "Meeting Paris Hilton." I never did until recently, and it's satirical perfection.