Because of the fact December was a busy month (Christmas and what not) I didn’t have a chance to review half of the stuff I wanted to. So, even though I wanted to be review these albums in full, for the sake of time and wanting to start the new year off well, I shan’t be. Instead I shall be doing a little series of micro-reviews.
Nicki Minaj – The PinkPrint
By the time I publish this review it is now common knowledge that commercially, for a Nicki Minaj album ‘The PinkPrint’ was a flop. Someone on her label went on a rampage on twitter saying how it was due to her marketing that the album is struggling to break even. I can see where he’s coming from, even musically.
‘The Pinkprint’ is all over the place, and all of it so simple. You have the opening tracks on here that are the blatant attempts at the ‘deep and emotional song’ but they’re so vague and uninteresting. We then go into some of the tracks that are basically just porn put into music like ‘Get On Your Knees’ and ‘Feeling Myself’, which actually turn out to be some of the more interesting moments on the album if you can stomach them. In other places Minaj raps about some completely dull and inane subjects about absolute nothingness like the song ‘Only’ with Drake, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne which has them all desperately talking about how they haven’t slept with each other. All of dullness thrown together make the single ‘Anaconda’ feel weirdly out-of-place on this album, sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s no wonder that this album was a marketing disaster, her fans don’t know what to expect, especially when to take into account the distinct lack of the things that her fans have come to love like her wacky voices and bouncy persona.
D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah
Following up D’angelo’s critically acclaimed album 15 years ago, ‘Black Messiah’ dropped onto the world last month highly unexpectedly. Blending the sounds of many of the godfathers of soul and RnB including Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Prince and many others but still manages to make the music sound like something we’ve not heard in a fair while – something that’s experimental and something with fantastic instrumentation.
On this album D’Angelo smoothly slides through all of his instrumentals with a voice that’ll sometimes be so high and so multi tracked that it’s hard to actually make out what he’s saying, but still sounding unbelievably smooth. The grooves and the instrumentation in general are sometimes so strange on this record in the mixing like the song ‘1000 Deaths’ which features booming drums, synths and guitar leads all thrown together in this odd mix that ends up sounding weirdly beautiful. This probably works due to the fact that the man himself is a fantastic songwriter, even looking past the fact that he’s a master of creating an atmosphere and diving into his lyrics. The song ‘The Charade’ features some of the more political anger on the album with lines like ‘All we wanted was a chance to talk/’Stead, we only got outlined in chalk’. He reportedly brought forward this album due to the Eric Garner incident, and it shows on the themes on here.
‘Black Messiah’ is perfect if you’re after some solid RnB with inventive live instrumentation, inventive use of vocals, and fantastic lyrics. It’s probably one of the best RnB records we’ve been blessed with in years – welcome back D’Angelo.