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Published: Sunday, 2/23/2003

CD reviews: Flat debut from 50 Cent

With the backing of Eminem and Dr. Dre, 50 Cent has been proclaimed as the next big star in the rap game. His hit, “In Da Club,” is the hottest song on video, radio, and in dance clubs. This, along with his established street credibility, has created “50 Cent-mania.”

But based on his debut release, it's difficult to understand what the uproar is about.

50 Cent can flow, but there is nothing in particular about his style that catches the ear. On tracks such as “What Up Gangsta,” and “Heat,” his delivery is a laid-back monotone that leaves the listener wanting more emotion.

His flow on “In Da Club,” which is similar to Tupac's, is missing through most of the CD, and anyone purchasing “Get Rich ...” based on the hit song will be disappointed.

The uneven feel of the disc can also be attributed to the number of different producers, including Dr. Dre, Eminem, Rob Tewlow, DJ Rad, Sean Blaze, and others. Tracks such as “Blood Hound” and “High All The Time” don't sound like they belong on the same disc.

50 Cent is the hottest thing going at the moment in hip-hop, but the hype outreaches the actual product.

- STEWART WALKER

Marr is the first, and possibly only, post-punk guitar hero. With The Smiths he forged a sound that has been imitated for 20-some years. But “Boomslang” is the first time he has truly set out on his own, including serving as lead singer. The results are mixed. For the most part a harder-edged effort than Smiths fans may be accustomed to, the disc suffers from Marr's vocals. He's an average singer at best, and “Boomslang” cries out for someone like Morrissey or Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders to effectively deliver his songs.

- ROD LOCKWOOD

The Swedish singer - her name is pronounced “Teh-tee-yo” - makes a strong U.S. debut. The title track opens the CD with a sauntering beat and greasy slide guitar, and delicious harmony on the chorus. That leads into a Fleetwood Mac-like pop/rock sound on “1989,” and “Love Has Left Your Eye,” with more slide guitar and great chorus. Titiyo varies her material enough to keep things interesting, and even when tracks of distinctly different styles follow one another, they don't clash.

- RICHARD PATON

The tongue-in-cheek title tops a compilation by a stellar cast of blues notables such as Tinsley Ellis, Ronnie Earl, Jimmy Thackery, and others. It runs the gamut, from the mournful sounds of the Mississippi Delta to the high-energy rock styling of Chicago blues. Of course, not everything these stars recorded became a hit. In fact, the album cover notes that these are “13 songs that never went near a chart.”

- KEN ROSENBAUM

Sometimes you know something good is about to happen from the first few notes of a recording. That is exactly the feeling generated by pianist Mike Longo's kickoff of the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine,” when he took to the stage at the 2002 Detroit International Jazz Festival with bass player Santi Debriano and drummer Ray Mosca. The tracks run from Wayne Shorter's “Footprints” and John Coltrane's “Trane's Blues” to a “Porgy and Bess” medley. Longo is obviously a musician who feels and emotes jazz, from his bebop roots to contemporary themes.

- LARRY ROBERTS

BRIEFLY NOTED

  • CULTURE, Live In Africa (RAS) This well-known reggae group made its South African debut on stage with Burning Spear and the Wailers. Here are 20 rhythmic numbers gleaned from their three shows in Cape Town. It's traditional reggae all the way. K.R.

  • EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS, Adam Sandler (Columbia) Call it a microcosm of Sandler's hot-and-cold career: An opening song that's clever and imaginative, followed by lots of schlock unworthy of being recorded.

    - TOM HENRY



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