By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Meshell NdegeOcello’s journey through genre and sound continues on her fantastic new CD, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Decca Label Group), an Afro-punk soul-jazz-rock hybrid whose thematic concerns (social injustice, spiritual struggles and salvation, wounds inflicted by family, lovers and society) are the same ones she’s wrestled throughout her career. Working with folks like Doyle Bramhall II, Pat Metheny, Sy Smith and Oliver Lake, she’s pushed her sound and sometimes elliptical lyrics to a place where she often comes off as a stepdaughter of Sun Ra. Don’t be put off by the gratingly affected Brit-punk accent she uses in the opening lines of the track, “The Sloganeer: Paradise.” What follows is so very real.
Cross-over Babies: Will.I.Am doesn’t suck. He knows and clearly loves hip-hop, and is blessed (or cursed) with a pop sensibility finely tuned to now. But he can pander shamelessly in his desperate quest for pop stardom. His Songs About Girls (Interscope) has dope touches here and there (especially the lovely, vaguely House-scented groove of “Impatient”) but is largely formulaic dreck.
On Keyshia Cole’s Just LikeYou (Geffen), the no-nonsense Oakland native sings her ass off, defying sophomore slump odds and more than living up to the promise of her 2005 debut, The Way it Is. The new album flexes higher production values than her debut (producers include Missy Elliot, Puffy, SoulShock and Karlin), but still evokes the tough-but-cool girl from down the block, singing on her front porch, in her bedroom along to the radio, at the school talent show. She’s been understandably compared to Mary J. Blige (Keyshia’s also a steel-coated black girl with nicks in the armor) but this album could well be her Emancipation. It shares with Mariah’s comeback CD a strong affinity for old-school soul — and it’s one of the best R&B albums of 2007.
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