I Am Not a Human Being |
"Life is a bitch, but I appreciate it." So goes an alien-sounding Lil Wayne on I Am Not a Human Being. Certainly, the rapper is intent on remaining a vital player in hip-hop even while serving a prison stint that is expected to be over next month. To that end, Weezy has enlisted his own Young Money label roster-including Drake and Nicki Minaj-to help round out whatever he couldn't do from Rikers Island. Drake appears on three cuts, creamily crooning on the doo-woppy slow jam "With You," while Lil Twist turns up on another highlight, "Popular," which harks back to '80s Prince with its "Little Red Corvette"-esque synths. Despite some filler-such as the title track, which sounds like an outtake from this year's much-maligned "rock" album Rebirth-it's pretty impressive coming from behind bars.
Bullets in the Gun |
On his 15th studio album, it goes without saying that Toby Keith has got this country thing down. There are redneck anthems ("Trailerhood"), truck-driving tunes ("Drive It on Home") and boot-kicking breakup songs ("Ain't Breakin' Nothin' "). Best are the pistol-packing title track and the fresh-heartbreak ballad "In a Couple of Days." Sometimes, though, Keith feels like he's just in cruise control, and he loses points for the crude closer "Get Out of My Car," on which he propositions, "Get outta your clothes/Or get out of my car." Yuck.
Something About Faith |
Since her 1995 debut, Faith Evans has been in the considerable shadow of Mary J. Blige, the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. But on her first set since 2005, Evans shows she's still an R&B diva to be reckoned with. Smartly acting her age, she sings about grown-up issues and hooks up with old-school rappers like Snoop Dogg, Redman and Raekwon. Highlights include the gospel-infused "Troubled World" and the Keyshia Cole-assisted "Can't Stay Away," where Evans borrows a bit from "Hypnotize" by her late husband, the Notorious B.I.G.
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The singer tweeted that her latest catchy single, "Raise Your Glass," is "for all my underdogs." The song will be included on her upcoming compilation, Greatest Hits ... So Far!!! (out Nov. 16).
The Other Side of Down
The second set by 2008's American Idol runner-up may get too bubblegum for some tastes, but Archie's pure sweetness of voice and vibe can really sell pop fare like "Complain."
"Rock crowd throw your arms around me," sings Yorn on this quick follow-up to 2009's Back & Fourth, which packs more rock punch as the mellow dude gets his garage on.
THE SECRET SISTERS
The Secret Sisters
Not to be confused with the Scissor Sisters, Alabama siblings Laura and Lydia Rogers dig into classic country on their harmony-rich debut album.
FAR EAST MOVEMENT
These Asian-American club boys bring the L.A. party scene to your living room on their major-label debut, which includes the electro hit "Like a G6." But sometimes they recall a poor man's BEP.
LADY GAGA, "ALEJANDRO"
My summer anthem! My girlfriends and I played it nonstop on a trip to Vegas, so every time I hear it I think of them.
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE, "I'M NOT CALLING YOU A LIAR"
I first heard them in London this summer, and I immediately downloaded the entire album! Her voice is amazing, and hearing her at the VMAs made me love her even more.
BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH, "WALLS FALL DOWN"
I listened to this song on vacation in Tahiti, the most gorgeous paradise on earth. It instantly takes me back.
BROKEN BELLS, "OCTOBER"
This is a very chill, relaxing song. I looove James [Mercer]'s voice-it's got a sexy, raspy quality.
JIMMY EAT WORLD, "MY BEST THEORY"
One of my favorite bands since, maybe, junior high school. It kind of gets me pumped up. I like listening to this when I'm working out or driving.