Archive for June, 2010

Drake – Thank Me Later Album Review

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

The debut LP from Drizzy Drake is one of the most anticipated of the year across any genre and probably the most anticipated hip-hop release since Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 in November 2009. Needless to say, I have been anxious to hear it since I heard So Far Gone(the original) in early 2009. While the album isn’t everything I hoped it would be, it is far from a disappointment and if it were released by anybody with less expectations than Drake has resting on his shoulders it would probably be receiving universal critical acclaim right now. So let’s get into the particulars.

One of Drake’s greatest strengths is his ability to choose production to his advantage. Boi-1da is one of the hottest young producers in the game and has been with Drizzy since his early mixtape days. They have great chemistry and they usually connect for high quality music. The same can be said for 40. Surprisingly, I think Drake’s album loses some steam by the superstar production featured. Swizz Beats, Timbaland, and Kanye West all have what I would consider underwhelming contributions. It seemed like Drizzy was just a bit out of his comfort zone trying to fit into their sound. Having said that I don’t think there are any bad songs although the album certainly could have done without Fancy.

Another advantage of Drake has always been his collaborations. From the mixtape days of collabos with the likes of Trey Songz and Lil Wayne to what I would consider the posse cut of 2009 in Forever, Drake does seem to get the best out of his guests. Alicia Keys sounds great on Fireworks and Lil Wayne actually sounds like he tried on his verse for Miss Me. Jay-Z gave what I would consider to be his best guest verse since Go Hard(Remix).

As a whole this album is very good. But it has two potential drawbacks. The first and probably more important in the hip-hop community is all the singing Drake does. Most fans don’t mind the occasional hook but Drizzy goes all out on several tracks and sings everything as if he were an pop/r&b star. It’s not that Drake sounds bad per sé, but rather hip-hop would prefers to see Drake display his lyrical ability as often as possible and these verses take away from their opportunity to hear him.

The second and less costly drawback is the lack of a certifiable hit. Plenty of tracks sound good but I don’t think any of them are memorable beyond present day. If you are like me and like to listen to complete albums this does not obstruct your listening. But from a historical perspective it does hurt. For me it is also the difference between this being more than a 4 star album. But it is just that.

Overall this was an excellent first effort for Drake. He is a victim of his prior success and thus had high expectations that were difficult to match. While I think that his album is better than fellow newcomer Kid Cudi’s was, this album probably does less in the way of growing Drake’s fan base as oppose to Cudi’s album which added to his following and hype for his next release because of lower expectations. Moving forward Drake must continue to craft his formula and perfect his sound. But his future is more than bright.

Best Guest Spot: Jay-Z(Light Up)
Best Production: Boi-1da, Al-Khaaliq(Over)
Best Songs: Miss Me, Light Up, Unforgettable

Raven by Allision Van Diepen

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

After finishing Pretty Little Dirty, I finally got a chance to move on to Raven. At present time, Allison Van Diepen is my favorite author to read. Her first two novels were excellent and Snitch is probably my second favorite book. So anytime she releases something I am anxious to check it out. I thought I would offer a few of my thoughts after I finished reading this impressive novel.

Van Diepen has a very smooth writing style that allows the reader to quickly become interested and then stay interested. Her style is transitive and before you know it you have already read 100 pages. Fantasy books do not make up the majority of my choice reads although I have read my fair share of them. Therefore I essentially only wanted to buy this book because of Van Diepen and the respect I have for her work. Truth be told, I never even read the preview. Needless to say I was not disappointed and actually read the entire book in one sitting.

The book is very good and the ending leaves the storyline open for all types of possibilities. A sequel could definitely be written although it probably isn’t pertinent. The main thought that came into my head when I finished the book was the potential for a television series. In my opinion the characters and plots create a universe that could easily be a success on TV with plenty of room for expansion and a strong foundation coming from this first book. I can also see these characters in a comic book series.

In either event it is a very good read and I recommend it.