taking a listen
reviews of local & state music CDs
— The Blueprint 3
Jay-Z will be 40-years old in December. Think Street cred is usually the first thing to go, though Jigga Man insists only three tracks into his 11 th JAY-Z about that for a moment. Even Snoop Dogg and Eminem are a few years away from that milestone, and Dr. Dre got out of busting rhymes and into cut ting checks a long time ago. Dre knew that rappers age, not like fine wine, but like a gallon of milk.
album, The Blueprint 3, that he’s “still the hardest rapper here.” In a business that prides itself on swag ger, grit and the gory details of street life, Jay-Z has become the Ben Bernanke of hip hop; an ivory-tower rapper, lacking any semblance of perspective, who only seems able to rap about how rich he is. On The Blueprint 3, he reminds us again how he came up, just like he does in every album he’s ever made, but this one seriously lacks the urban anti-heroic qualities that put Jay-Z at the top of the game on Reasonable Doubt and The Black Album. Jay-Z does know how to market himself, however, and he covers all of his bases with an army of trendy producers, including Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, the Neptune and the mind behind the first Blueprint, Kanye West. Timbaland does his best to derail the album with one unconscionably-bad beat after another, as “Off That,” “Venus vs. Mars” and “Reminder” are an affront to Jay-Z’s catalog, lyrically and musically. No ID manages to breathe life into most of the remainder, but The Blueprint 3 goes down as simply one sequel too many.
JONAS SEES IN COLOR — Jonas Sees in Color
It already seems as though they’ve been around for eternity, but the self-titled debut album of Greensboro indie-boppers Jonas Sees in Color (www.myspace.com/jonasseesincolor) hits shelves on Sept. 29 and honestly, what can be said about it that hasn’t been said about every other Aaron Johnson-produced album? It’s a slickly-arranged collection of mildly-formulaic, emotional ballads that’s neither completely off-putting nor particularly engaging. In other words, any selection would fit nicely within the soundtrack of a primetime network drama aimed at twenty-something females, but it’s unlikely that any shrewd music fan would take it seriously. Not that the band is without sincerity and incapable of appealing to the discerning listener, but that dimension doesn’t rear itself until the album’s twilight. By then, most would have been bored to tears by one fluttery piano intro after another, an element that seems to induce raging tumescence in producer Johnson when his entire catalog is taken into account. The same intro is used so many times through the first two-thirds of the album that the songs become nearly indistinguishable when consumed in one sitting, as songs like “Loose Threads” sounds like bungled attempts to recreate the Fray’s “How to Save a Life.” “Luck and Love” hints at the underlying maturity found later on songs like “Water On the Rise,” but Jonas Sees in Color’s debut can seem to overcome the ham-fisted influence of a one-trick-pony producer.
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