Hey, look at that! The February embargo on new rap releases has officially been lifted. We’ve got new stuff from Raekwon and Lupe Fiasco this week. Toss in the fact that R.E.M. released a new album this week and you’ve got a whole bunch of wonderful to discuss. Also, there’s a new Avril Lavigne album. Kill us, please!
Let’s get to it. This is your Weekly Release for the second week of March, 2011.
Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Well, that Lupe Fiasco record that we’ve waited years for is here. It took a bunch of label jackassery to wade through before we got it, but it’s here now. Unfortunately, for all the hype and news that surrounded the release of Lasers, it’s far and away the most inconsistent album he’s released. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have it’s highlights. There are quite a few, in fact. But overall, it’s just not in the same league as the rest of his stuff.
Maybe the record label should have just left him alone and let him make the record he wanted to make. Unfortunately, we may never know if that would have helped.
We do know that whoever thought sampling Modest Mouse’s “Float On” was a good idea should be beaten with a stick though.
Avril Lavigne – Goodbye Lullaby
Oh, look, it’s a new Avril Lavigne album! May tweens who think black fingernails equal rebellion rejoice! We reviewed the lead single from Goodbye Lullaby awhile back. It’s called “What the Hell” and we think it’s about having lots of carefree sex following a divorce. Or something like that.
Whatever, this album will probably make its way onto a bunch of year-end “best of” lists, and Avril Lavigne will probably find herself on a few more “Hottest Women Who Rock” type lists as well. As for us, we’re just not feeling it in either respect.
Raekwon – Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
Raekwon is a lot like his Wu-Tang cohort Method Man. Both are insanely skilled and never fail to bring the highlight reel material on guest appearances and Wu-Tang albums, but once they hit the studio by themselves, the results are mixed at best. Raekwon’s first solo album (kinda), Only Built for Cuban Linx, is an undeniable hip-hop classic. Only Built for Cuban Linx Part 2 wasn’t bad, but it definitely didn’t live up to its name. The albums he released between those two are best left unmentioned.
So what side of the line does Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang fall on? We’re happy to report that it sits solidly on the side of the classics. In fact, in everything but the name, this is the follow-up to Cuban Linx that the world was hoping for. It’s that good.
R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now
Fact: Every new R.E.M. album for the past ten years has been touted as a “return to form” that promised to bring back the magic of the band’s early albums like Murmur and Life’s Rich Pageant. Here’s another fact: None of them have been. Accelerate came close, but it mostly sounded like a band trying really hard to recapture their former glory as opposed to a band that had actually recaptured it.
But R.E.M. seems to have finally pulled off the unimaginable with Collapse Into Now by making an album that holds up nicely against the magic of their early years. It’s the kind of album we’ve always known they had in them, we’ve just never known why they never bothered to make it. Now that they have, we don’t care. We’re just happy to have it.