For the rest of the year, Regina Respert will be taking a look at new CDs, to prepare you for those lazy, hazy days of summer. She will try to include a variet of music, and will provide (soon to be famous) Respert Ratings for each album.
There are four new CD's on our list today, all toppers on the Billboard Charts. We are going to take a quick look into the world of hip-hop with Nas, smooth R&B with TLC, the spunkiness of Britney Spears and good ole' country of Shania Twain.
For each we will take a quick look at the recording, give a description and review of the CD, and then give a rating, which is based on a scale of one to five stars.
Nas' new album on Columbia Records, which was just released this month, hit the top of the Billboard 200 and the Billboard R&B charts at number one. The new album, I Am..., is the third effort of this lyrical, hip-hop genius. Many other artists are featured on the album, including DMX, Aaliyah, and the infamous producer Sean Puffy Combes, who also produced the rapper The Notorious B.I.G. Nas hails from the Quennsbridge Projects in New York City. Nas, also known as Nasir Jones, has recently become a major name in hip-hop, and his new album is one of the best hip-hop records of the year.
On this album, Nas' words flow keenly as he delivers real-life stories in undisputed rhymes. His rapping aften tells a story. On the album's first song, "Nas Is Like," he speaks about his poetic style. The song starts up with faint sounds of birds and the words, "Freedom of jail clips inserted/ Of babies being born/ Same time my man is murdered, the beginning and end." Other song titles on the album include, "We Will Survive," "Dr. Knockout," and "Big Things." Nas brings a refreshing sound and revolutionary sense of truth to the hip-hop
The controversial group, TLC, followed behind with their third album on LaFace Records entitled Fanmail, which also was released this month. Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes, and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas have made a name for themselves since 1992 when they first released their album, Ooh...On the TLC Tip. During the release of their first album they became known for their controversial habit of wearing condoms, Band-Aids, and other unthinkable items. They were also known for their colorful, baggy pants and T-shirts. The group's attitude has attracted a lot of attention and given them their share of problems with men, producers, managers, and money when they filed for bankruptcy around 1997.
The music on this album ranges from R&B to rap to funk, and this is displayed more clearly on this album than on previous ones. Their first release from this album, "No Scrubs," sits atop the singles chart, but has had a few men hiding under their shirt with guilt. The word scrub, as they explain in the song, "...is a guy that thinks he's fly, but is also known as a busta'." This particular track is somewhat humorous and true. Other titles from this album include, "I'm Good at Being Bad," "Lovesick" and "Unpretty." "Unpretty" comes from a poem written by T-Boz and talks about the struggles of women with their looks and confidence.
TLC is back with an album that gives thanks to their fans; these three divas are hoping that this album will sell big, as they acknowledged on MTV. Also, in the interview Chilli stated, "We want this album to be universal. This time we are giving back to the fans by naming the album after something that hasn't been taken care of."
Baby One More Time
Britney Spears, who has appeared on commercials, off-Broadway plays, and later the Mickey Mouse Show, has her new album appearing third on the Billboard 200 chart. The album on Jive Records is titled Baby One More Time, is also the title of her first single. This cute, sixteen-year-old blond maintains a lollipop sound on this R&B based pop album. Born and raised in Kentwood, La., Spears started performing at a young age in her church choir and local talent shows.
The title track gives a taste of funk, R&B, and rock. If you have seen the video, you know what I mean. This talented teen shows her compatibility in music, but the album as a whole seems fit mainly for her peers. Its positivity speaks on love, relationships, and life; it contains, again, a lollipop sound that is delightful and new, but for some may seem a bit too much. On the other hand, this teen is destined to go far because she displays talent and versatility. Another track entitled, "From the Bottom of My Heart," is reminicent of the sentiments a teenager in love who has few worries. Other titles on the album include "Sometimes" and "Soda Pop."
Rating: **1/2 (a point for talent and a point for versatlity)
Come On Over
Now for all you country music lovers Shania Twain continues to deliver her Canadian-born style to this genre's music scene. Growing up poor and spending most of her life on a farm, Twain began performing at a young age at clubs, talent shows, and television shows. In an interview on VH1 she told of her struggle with the help of her family to make it in the music industry, and finally made down to Nashville. In Nashville she got signed on the strength of her originality and her skill.
This young girl with a wide gap in her teeth turned out to be one of the most beautiful and successful singers and performers today. Her new album on Mercury Records, Come On Over, topped the Billboard Country chart this week. The title track excels beyond those of most country music female vocalists, as does many of Twain's other songs. The album features sixteen new compositions by the artist. Her sweet, yet strong voice strings over the tracks and sends warm, inviting lyrics. This is especially evident on the track titled "From This Moment On." On the track she cries, "There is nothing I wouldn't give." It sure doesn't because on this album, again, Shania Twain brings it all. Twain is performing in concert with her husband and producer Robert John "Mutt" Lang at her side.
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 22, April 30, 1999
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