Common's "Universal Mind Control" would perhaps have to be my favorite of the bunch. His album is like the epitome of what hip-hop/rap is supposed to be in 2008. It really displays how hip-hop/rap has evolved. Common has been in the game for a minute and this is his eighth album and some of his best work, in my opinion. I saw him perform a lot of these tracks from this album earlier this year and I was impressed then. If you don't have this album, you need to pick it up. The exeuctive producer of the album is Pharrell Williams and it's safe to say he and Common make an excellent team. This album is a masterpiece, to say the least.
FAV TRACKS: "Universal Mind Control," "Make My Day" and "Everywhere"
MUST HEAR TRACK: "Everywhere"
Jamie Foxx's "Intuition" was the shocker of the group and I was REALLY pleasantly surprised by this album. I mean, I could listen to the whole thing without skipping a track. Almost every song on there is very radio friendly. "Blame It" featuring T-Pain is one of my favorites. I know this song is already getting played on New York radio and could be the anthem of the New Year. The album is also enjoyable because of the special guests that include T.I., Lil' Wayne, The Dream, T-Pain, Ne-Yo, Fabolous and Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry. Talk about a who's who!! And I have to admit when I first heard he was releasing another album at the American Music Awards I openly said that I was NOT purchasing this album. However, I kept hearing about how good it was and had to see for myself. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed with this album. Good job to Mr. Foxx!!
FAV TRACKS: "Blame It," "She Got Her Own," "Just Like Me," "Freak'in Me"
MUST HEAR TRACK: "Freak'in Me" features the sultry songstress Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry. Jamie and Marsha really go in on this song. You gotta hear it!!
Beyonce's "I Am...Sasha Fierce" doesn't need much analysis. It is, well, Beyonce. But despite what many think about this release, I would have to say this double-disc effort is pretty good. I think Beyonce really shines on her ballads [i.e. Hello and Halo]. Obviously, "Single Ladies" and "Diva" are the catchy party-hard Beyonce tracks that everyone has come to anticipate. However, Beyonce does it all and she's great at -- bottom line.
FAV TRACKS: "Halo," "Hello," "Sweet Dreams"
MUST HEAR TRACK: "Hello"
Keyshia Cole's "A Different Me" is more than a just a sexy album cover. It's the sophomore effort of the modern-day Mary J. Blige. Yeah, I compare Keyshia to Mary because both have been known to sing about heartache and pain and really make you feel it. But on this album Keyshia shows she can deliver by making some feel good tracks that aren't just about sour relationships. It's no secret that Keyshia had it tough growing up. We've seen her struggles live and on front street on her TV reality show. On the opening intro for this album, Keyshia says, "I would like to introduce a sexier side of me." While I didn't feel this album was overly "sexy," it certainly was a different Keyshia. But I have no complaints. Old Keyshia or "different" Keyshia, I'll take either. One thing this album did do is solidify Keyshia as an artist who will be around for quite some time.
FAV TRACKS: "Please Don't Stop," "Playa Cardz Right," "Trust" feat. Monica
Brandy's "Human" is the much anticipated release from this former teenage singer who we've watched become a mother and woman. On this album she teamed up with old friend Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins to give fans just what they'd been waiting for. "Departed" was the comeback single, which I don't especially care for. But thanks to a good friend -- who played this album for me to hear -- I actually like some tracks on this album. On "The Definition," Brandy says, "I dropped all that baggage / Let go of that habit / The pain you can have it / 'Cause now I'm content with me." She went on to say, "Been through it, you name it / The heartache and break / And the shame / Played that game but I / Can't seem to win." It's really a good song about some of the struggles she's been through after lying about being married. Not to mention, she was involved in a fatal car accident. Brandy is all grown up, there's no denying that, and this album is a great example of how much she's grown as an artist and as a woman. B-Rocka is back!
FAV TRACKS: "1st & Love," "Warm It Up (With Love)," "The Definition"
MUST HEAR TRACK: "1st & Love"
Musiq Soulchild's "Onmyradio" is the latest from the soul singer from Philly. I feel like this release got lost in the shuffle somewhere. I think it's probably not getting much attention. Although everyone else may be sleeping on this album, it's actually a really good album. The best track is "Ifuleave," a duet with Mary J. Blige
FAV TRACK: "Ifuleave"
MUST HEAR TRACK: same as above
John Legend's "Evolver" is yet another R&B album released late in the year that seems to have flown under the radar. Good album with some good features including Andre 3000, Kanye West, Brandy and Estelle.
FAV TRACKS: "Green Light," "Quickly" and "No Other Love"
MUST HEAR TRACK: "No Other Love"