2010 summer releases

Thank Me Later

Drake

Label: Universal Motown

Release Date: 15 June

Listen to: “Over,” “Miss Me,” “Light Up”

8/10

Less than a year and a half ago Aubrey Drake Graham was best known for his role on Degrassi. Last week Drake released his first album and the hype is completely eclipsing that of Eminem’s Recovery. In overshadowing established artists like Eminem, the conclusion is obvious: Drake is calling the shots, and we’re just along for the ride.

Thank Me Later stays very true to the style we have come to expect from Drake. The same crooning vocals over satiny-soft rhythms are audible on this album and running parallel to Drake’s undeniable romantic side, songs like “Over” and the party-anthem “Miss Me” mete out enough frenetic rhyming to stop Thank Me Later from turning into an R&B record.

This album describes his obvious discomfort at being famous. “Fireworks” is a moody dissertation on impermanence, whether it’s his up and down romance with Rihanna or the fleeting nature of fame, and “The Resistance” laments the loss of pre-fame Drake’s privacy and personality.

Drake also seems to have managed to pry the very best out of his guest artists. “Unforgettable” reveals Young Jeezy’s previously unheard-of soft side, while “Light Up” lights a fire under rap mogul Jay-Z.

Admittedly, portions of Drake’s albums have been synthed to death, but he deserves a hearty round of applause for its production. His elegance in the studio is unrivaled and at only 23 years old, the future is looking bright for Drake.

—Robin Smith Esq.

Recovery

Eminem

Label: Aftermath

Release Date: 18 June

Listen to: “Not Afraid,” “Cold Wind Blows”

6/10

Recovery marks Eminem’s seventh studio album and the follow up album to his 2008 album Relapse.

His new songs throw back to the sound he originally became known for, which was sorely lacking on his two previous albums.

Opening with “Cold Wind Blows,” Eminem appears to be back and better than ever, mixing his signature freestyle beats with harmonizing vocals.

As the album progresses, however, he appears to be clumsy and looking for his comeback in all the wrong places.

Differing from most of his previous albums, Recovery incorporates numerous collaborations, including: “Talkin’ 2 Myself,” “Won’t Back Down,” “No Love,” “Love the Way You Lie” and “Session One,” featuring Kobe, Pink, Lil Wayne, Rihanna and Slaughterhouse respectively.

Lyrically, the album appears to be composed of nothing more than a whining rapper insisting that he’s the best.

Overdone with lyrics about the same thing, tired-sounding vocals and seemingly random duets, Eminem appears to be losing his touch.

The music itself appears to be catchy, but Eminem’s transformation from rapper to pop star seems to be complete and isn’t doing much for his reputation.

—Meaghan Walford

How I Got Over

The Roots

Label: Def Jam

Release Date: 15 June

Listen to: “Over,” “Miss Me,” “Light Up”

6.5/10

The Roots are back with their latest release since 2008, How I Got Over. The band has been jamming with late night comedy host Jimmy Fallon since 2009, raising doubts about their ability to produce new material and tour. The Roots crew silenced the rumours and delivered a finely honed hip hop album with an array of rap, rock, jazz and soulful influences.

The album bursts into action with tracks like “Walk Alone,” “Dear God 2.0” and “Radio Daze,” all featuring a range of outside musicians and former band members.

The title track is a bright song with a catchy chorus and reflects on the band’s hope for a brighter future. The Roots are once again in their element with Questlove (Ahmir K. Thompson) slamming the drums and Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) rocking the microphone. The album showcases classic Roots with an exceptional supporting cast of musicians behind them.

A few of the tracks, however, require an already established appreciation for The Fifth Dynasty’s (aka The Roots’) music.

Many of the tracks are obscured with a mixture of distorted voices and soul music (think T-pain meets Lauryn Hill).

The album remains unmistakably Roots sounding through and through, but may be off-putting to those not so accustomed with their style and sound of music.

In the end, The Roots actually manage to pull it off and get points for creativity and keeping things fresh. The album shines with tracks like “The Fire” (feat. John Legend) and the aforementioned “How I Got Over” lives up to what can be expected from The Roots crew.

But is it purchase worthy? Unless you are a diehard Roots fan, it might not be a great investment.

How I Got Over may not rank as highly as previous albums Things Fall Apart and Phrenology, but why weren’t the Roots able to produce another groundbreaking album? Perhaps Jimmy Fallon is to blame.

—Drew Higginbotham

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