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CD Reviews: Big Boi, Game, Green Day
‘Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors’
Big Boi (Def Jam)
Big Boi is artistic throughout his sophomore solo album, taking risks by meshing electro sounds with his raps and singing. But this collection doesn’t sound like Flo Rida or Pitbull. This is classic.
“Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors” is a 14-track set that is full of gems, and flows from the intro “Ascending” to the closing track “Descending,” with Little Dragon. And what’s in between is just as great, including “Raspberries,” ”Thom Pettie” and “The Thickets.”
Another treasure is “CPU,” featuring Phantogram, an indie pop group that consists of singer Sarah Barthel and vocalist-guitarist Josh Carter. It’s a sonically upbeat song with Big Boi rapping about the new age of technology, while Barthel sings her airy vocals.
Big Boi, T.I. and Ludacris each go on a verbal assault, boasting their achievements while paying homage to their hometown, Atlanta, on the hard-hitting “In the A.”
Big Boi and Phantogram team up again on the impressive “Objectum Sexuality” and “Lines,” which also features rapper A$AP Rocky. On the Kelly Rowland-assisted “Mama Told Me,” the OutKast member rhymes about how maintaining his identity has given him longevity in rap — thanks to the advice of his mother. Moms do know best.
— Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press
The Game (Interscope Records)
The Game returns with a heavy dose of guest appearances on his fifth offering, including Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx and 2 Chainz. But like his last album, “The R.E.D. Album,” he isn’t outshined by any of the features on “Jesus Piece.”
With his hoarse delivery, Game’s words are full of bravado, his topics are concise and his rhymes are easy to digest on these well-produced tracks. That’s certainly evident on “Pray,” featuring J. Cole and JMSN, where the Game tells a compelling story about being a “guardian angel” for a woman struggling with drug abuse.
On “Can’t Get Right,” featuring K. Roosevelt, Game is in confession mode. He raps about his struggles to avoid the fast life and envisions through a nightmare that his mentor, Dr. Dre, was shot as a gospel choir sings background.
Game is able to mesh his brash raps while talking about his trials of spiritual growth — especially on “Heaven’s Arms” and “See No Evil,” with Kendrick Lamar and Tank. “Jesus Piece” is an entertaining song with verses from Game and Common, and a hook from Kanye West.
But the album takes a wrong turn on “Hallelujah,” where Game opens the song praising God with the use of profanity, rapping about the struggle to overcome his worldly desires during church services. Some have said the song is offensive, but don’t let this particular track overshadow the rest of this quality album.
— Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press
‘Uno,’ ‘Dos’ and ‘Tre’
Green Day (Reprise Records)
As record sales continue to wane, one has to wonder the logic behind separately releasing a trilogy of albums over the course of three months. Maybe when you’re a punk band coming off a pair of hugely successful concept albums turned into a Broadway smash, you do things a little differently.
Still, it’s an unusual way to release your ninth, tenth and eleventh studio albums.
“Tre,” the final installment of the trilogy, out this week, is a bit more diverse than the others, with a slightly mellower and more mature sound that embraces a variety of styles. Imagine 1997′s “Nimrod,” but with more songs like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”
Look no further than the opening and closing tracks to sum it up. There’s the country blues-inspired “Brutal Love” to start, and the piano ballad “The Forgotten” to end.
While a common thread runs through the trilogy, each record is distinctly different.
The first, “Uno,” returns the band to their pre-”American Idiot” sound with a dozen rocking songs that are melodic and highly energetic. The songs are also more mature, with themes like married men on the brink of infidelity. Standout tracks on this riffy guitar assault include “Fell For You” and “Oh Love.”
“Dos” attempts to capture the no-frills sound of a garage rock band, but feels like a drop-off after “Uno.” Some of the tracks work well, namely, “Stray Heart” and “Lady Cobra,” but others don’t fire on all cylinders.
The best of “Uno,” ”Dos” and “Trois” is “Carpe Diem” ”Stray Heart,” and “99 Revolutions,” respectively.
Overall, this last installment of the trilogy shows another direction of the band’s evolution.
— John Carruci, Associated Press