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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cd Reviews

    Concept albums rarely thrive in the hip-hop world – yet artist and mogul Jay-Z strikes gold with his first try, American Gangster. After viewing an advance screening of the new Ridley Scott film of the same name about a Harlem drug lord in post-Vietnam America, Jay-Z found himself writing a new album.

    Jay-Z, who announced retirement from the record industry in 2003 but promptly returned to recording and producing music, proves with American Gangster that he was meant to continue creating music.

    Inspired by the similarities in the lives of “”Gangster”” inspiration Frank Lucas and his own, Jay-Z layers his 10th studio album with audio clips from the film and samples of the Isley Brothers, the Beastie Boys and Marvin Gaye. Noted contributors include Kanye West, Beyonce Knowles and Pharrell Williams.

    Sound like a conglomeration of hip-hop’s elite? It is. The album opens with “”Intro,”” a two-minute thematic breakdown of what is to come. Sprinkled with the film’s audio clips and voices defining the role of gangsters and hustlers, it states that a gangster mentality was “”created by the white and mastered by the black”” and insinuates the political and social role of a gangster in today’s terms.

    American Gangster
    Jay-Z – Def Jam
    3.5 stars

    On “”Pray,”” Jay-Z opens up about that gangster mentality, further humanizing the role: “”I’m not a angel, I’m sure/ But every night before I lay/ I drop my knees to the floor and I pray.””

    For the single “”Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)”” and “”Party Life,”” Jay-Z raps about the gangster’s lifestyle: sleek suits, endless amounts of cash and the loyalties of the duffel bags, and shoe boxes used to house drugs and money. The album thrives on imagery from Lucas’ era and today, and Jay-Z’s lyrics bring together the two periods seamlessly.

    On “”Sweet,”” infused with Motown vibes, Jay-Z raps about the pride a gangster has for keeping his craft in the family, along with never feeling shame for his actions. The lyrics especially demonstrate Jay-Z’s focus on his own life: “”If you think you can make it this far without a fight … I’m always real/ That’s how I sleep at night.””

    Overall, Jay-Z took a chance by focusing on his successes achieved through hard work and determination. By displaying his views on life through the life of a drug lord, he hits a solid note.

    Laura Hassett

    In 2006, LCD Soundsystem released its 46-minute track, “”45:33,”” as an iTunes exclusive after being commissioned by Nike to create a workout worthy song.

    The epically long track provides for a successful running experience – a steady beat allows for a steady running pace, while the music laid on top creates an entertaining experience. The track is laced with male and female voices, both at a normal tempo or tremendously slowed down, as well as various horns and distorted sounds.

    45:33 is the album release of the song as well as three songs originally available only in the U.K. The title track is split into six segments, but each one seamlessly transitions into the next, to not disrupt the listener.

    The 12-minute “”Freak Out/Starry Night”” entrances the listener as James Murphy chants during “”Freak Out”” that, “”If we do it again, I’m gonna freak out/ So do it again,”” while a drum solo leads the way into the second-half of the song. “”Starry Night”” begins in an unexpected manner, launching right into the cult-like chorus backed by electronic bleeps and conga drums.

    LCD Soundsystem – DFA Records
    3.5 stars

    “”Hippie Priest Bum-out”” closes the album, although not on a very successful note. The song drones on to the same beat and only leaves the listener craving what the first six tracks had to offer.

    45:33 is a solid album if you are working out or throwing a house party. Outside of those realms, though, the lengthy songs might lead listeners to stray to other musical outlets.

    Jamie Ross

    Spice Girls fans are probably ecstatic this week as the famous girl group returns with its greatest hits album, Spice Girls: Greatest Hits.

    The girl group was formed in 1994 and promoted a surge of girl power within many young women. They have now reunited for one last album and tour around the world.

    The album is a compilation of the ladies’ hits from the ’90s, including the cult classics “”Wannabe,”” “”Spice Up Your Life”” and “”Goodbye.””

    Greatest Hits also includes two new tracks, “”Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)”” and “”Voodoo.””

    “”Headlines”” shows a softer, more mature side of the girl group. The love song has a great melody and in typical Spice Girl fashion, features each woman singing her own verse.

    “”Voodoo”” is the quintessential Spice Girls song. It is fun and upbeat and shouts “”girl power”” with every lyric. The song is somewhat of a ping-pong match with the girls taking turns with the lines of the verses.

    Spice Girls: Greatest Hits
    Spice Girls
    3.5 stars

    Spice Girls fans will love this album because it will bring back memories of dressing up and dancing in front of the mirror with hairbrush in hand and girlfriends by your side. Don’t go looking for it at Target, though; it’s only available at Victoria’s Secret stores or iTunes.

    Allison Warren

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