Posted by: Andy | March 2, 2008

cd reviews: New Amerykah & Carnival vol. II

OK, it must be hip-hip day inside my head I guess. No, that can’t be right, because I woke up with Neil Diamond’s Forever in Blue Jeans stuck in my head. That was odd. (That was from Friday when I purchased these albums. Today is Sunday. Just in case you care what day it is).

Note: Click on images to hear the songs. 

06. The Cell
So, first off, I’m quite let down by New Amerykah. I’m expecting the music press may be all over it as “bold”, “experimental” and “innovative” but for me, frankly, sometimes I just want an artist to put out predictably great music. I love her other albums, but this one will be reserved to background music I suspect. There are only a few tracks that even really feel like “songs” in the standard sense, others are like spoken word, and some just feel like fucking around. Not knocking the musical skill at all, there’s lots of that here, it’s just not particularly compelling to me. She ‘s always been experimental, so none of this is really a surprise. The best/most listenable by not avante-garde audiences is first single – Honey, which I’ve already posted the video

for. I’m bummed the rest of the album wasn’t that groovy. Not that it’s trash – there’s some good stuff there, and I’ve posted one track (click on the image to hear The Cell). Also, this supposed to be part of a sequence of concept albums, I’ve even heard rumor that she’ll release at least one other album this year, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ll give this one a 2.5/5 for now. Maybe it will grow on me in time.

03. Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill) feat. Akon, Lil' Wayne and Niia

I had much lower expectations for Carnival Vol. II – maybe that’s why I was so surprised by it. I never got around to picking up his last 2 albums (I’ve got the first two) – although Ecleftic was fairly strong, it wasn’t strong enough to motivate me to go pick up #3 & #4. #5 here was an impulse buy because I saw it in the used bin (even though it was new…) for $9. Hey, once in a while I take CD risks!! If they suck, I just trade ’em back.

Am I just the crazy white guy in the room, or is it annoying when artists “feature” a bazillion others artists on their albums? I guess this is the whole “artist-as-producer/producer-as-artist” paradigm, and maybe I’m just too old to be able to appreciate it. Usually it just strikes me as annoying. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t like the songs, or that the music isn’t solid, I just find it weird when an artist is mostly just background on their own album. Perhaps a better comparison would be to a composer or orchestra conductor? I think thinking about it like that will help me to be less annoyed by it.

Anyway, so yeah, it’s a pretty decent CD. I’d say around 3.5/5. Click on the image above to hear Sweetest Girl (which has Wyclef in there somewhere ;p ).

Sooooooo, other than me buying both these albums on the same day, what do they have in common?

One answer: They both name check Farrakhan. He’s been all over the news lately, or his name has rather, because people keep wanting Obama to denounce him. I don’t think I would have even noticed if not for all the press lately.



  1. I think the art of collaboration has given way to the marketability of collaborations. I’ve heard people say they don’t like Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan/Britney Spears but Jermaine Dupree/Timbaland/etc produced/raps on all the songs so… they bought the album. Really? That’s just not for me. Like if I buy a person’s album, I get really annoyed if they only solo perform two songs on it. But that’s all hypothetical since I don’t buy albums. I’m just saying. I feel you. But not like that. Cause that’d be like incest.

  2. I distinctly remember, for some reason, seeing you at some punk show at the fairgrounds, circa-97 (or since you’d gone to UCSB anyways) and talking to you about how much I was into the new (then) Wyclef Carnival (1) record.
    Me: “It’s sweet- it’s got Dominican reggae tracks on the end!” (or something like that.

  3. )

    Sorry. forgot the close-peren.

  4. Nice catch on that paren!

    HMM. I wonder what show that was? Was it the class of ’97 graduation instead? That was at the fairgrounds wasn’t it?

    Yeah I still dig that first album. I wish there were less stupid talking tracks on it though. I may have deleted all the talking ones from my mp3 player – assuming they were actually separate tracks. It’s even worse when people embed that stuff INSIDE another track at the end or whatever. ANNOYING.


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