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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Amerie and Rihanna: Same label, same album quality?”

    Things that make you go “”hmmm””: Within the past two months, CDs of two familiar R&B songstresses, Amerie and Rihanna, were released. Both gals sing in an R&B/pop genre, both are label mates on Island Def Jam. Both gals share some physically similar characteristics (height, hair, complexion, etc.) and both have distinctive voices. One has been in the music game longer, while the other seems to receive more promotion. Furthermore, one has been embroiled in a mountain of inescapable publicity due to an unfortunate argument with her boyfriend gone wrong. 

    While the similarities give cause to pause, we thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the content and artistic merit of these ladies’ albums; Amerie’s In Love & War and Rihanna’s Rated R. This comparison is not meant to pit the two against each other but rather reveal the quality within the albums.

    Amerie: In Love & War

    This album’s concept is clear. Amerie, famous for hit singles “”Why Don’t We Fall in Love?”” and “”1 Thing,”” strays away from the topic of blissful infatuation and love to the struggles and tensions common in a strained relationship on her newest work. Hailing from Washington, D.C., Amerie’s chirpy vocals had been in the past matched with the multi-percussion style of fellow D.C. music producer Rich Harrison (who produced the two aforementioned singles and “”Crazy In Love”” by Beyonce). This time, she leaves Harrison behind, writes every song on this album, and delivers more raw vocal stylings to express the painful content of her music.

    In Love & War starts out with hard-hitting up-tempo beats and slides into a slower, more lackadaisical pace, likely signifying the stages of anger in a relationship. The up-tempo songs beginning the album coincide with the first stages of a fight — tempers flare, yelling ensues, demands and accusations are slung about. “”Higher,”” “”Heard ‘Em All”” and “”Why R U”” are fast-paced unique sounding songs with excellent lyrical quality and piercing vocals. 

    Then, a couple of days after the fight, the heightened emotions change into a calm as you ponder the reasons why the two of you are in a relationship. The head-nodding interlude “”You’re a Star”” should have been a full song, but still provides a good transition into this next stage of the relationship. “”Different People”” and “”Dear John”” are also of fantastic lyrical quality and have good slow melodies.

    Trey Songz, Fabolous and Lil Wayne all make worthy guest appearances on the album, yet not all on the album is peachy. “”Swag Back”” was probably written with good intentions, but it is a “”skip”” track.

    Overall, this album is a great attempt for Amerie. She has been in the music industry since 2002 and has been aiming to make it big, but hasn’t quite got there yet in comparison to Rihanna, who exploded onto the scene in 2005.

    Rihanna: Rated R

    Amerie’s label mate Rihanna has the most number-one hits in the 2000s for a female artist. The Barbados-born singer has her own distinctive singing style laden with wails and echoes (think “”Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh””). Those stylings are not absent on her latest, Rated R, the highly anticipated release after a wildly publicized domestic violence case with her ex-boyfriend.

    On the album, she may be alluding to her feelings about being the victim of such a terrible assault. The album is dark and invites you to come into her “”Madhouse.”” Yet, there doesn’t seem to be an organized album concept beyond that, unless you count a hodge-podge of songs scattered potentially reminiscent of a scattered state of mind after the abuse. That is understandable.

    Rihanna literally “”wai-ls”” on “”Wait Your Turn,”” which has an infectious slow beat with Caribbean flavor. “”Hard,”” featuring Young Jeezy, is uproarious and designed to be played full blast; an animated Rihanna echoes “”ah-yeah, yeah, yeah”” amidst a driving beat. 

    Two songs written by Ne-Yo make the album: “”Stupid In Love”” and “”Russian Roulette.”” “”Stupid In Love”” is a good ballad, as is “”Russian Roulette,”” but “”Roulette”” is a little overwrought. “”Rockstar 101″” is also a little too much. “”Cold Case Love,”” written by Justin Timberlake, is a substantial entry and “”Fire Bomb”” is amusing, though at times Rihanna’s vocal arrangement sounds unlike her. She even sounds Fergie-esque on “”Photographs”” featuring none other than will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas. 

    Lyrical content alluding to guns and burning people are prevalent in the album, possibly to show people how edgy and dark Rihanna can be. Darker, however doesn’t always mean better quality. While Rihanna’s album is disturbingly interesting, Amerie’s is just as engaging.

    Both are worthy pieces of art.

     

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