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>So today I’ll be reviewing a few of the newly released Hip Hop albums, and sorry I didn’t listen to Gucci Mane‘s “The State vs. Radric Davis” even though I actually really like the first two singles from that album “Wasted” and “Spotlight” featuring Usher. Maybe this weekend I’ll download it, but for now I want to talk about some of the more Established names in the Hip Hop industry. Starting out with one of the most well known names and a true Hip Hop Legend Snoop Dogg and his 10th studio album “Malice N Wonderland” which hit stores December 8th. Snoop is definitely a staple of the genre, and he’s actually managed to be rather consistent over the past 16 years but he seems not so interested in wow’ing his listeners with anything groundbreaking or innovative, and this album is a testament to that. Snoop’s aim seems to be divided on each release, about half of the songs are genuine “Thug” anthems, and the other half would be him flowing effortlessly over the sound of the moment or smoothed out R&B sounds. So on “Malice” he’ll go from the heavy bass and abrasive lyricism of “That’s Tha Homie” or the albums best cut “Upside Down” which are ready-made for cars with huge woofers and rims. Than he’ll switch it up with “Different Languages” and “Luv Drunk” featuring Jazmine Sullivan and The-Dream respectively (The-Dream shows up on two cuts, “Luv Drunk” and the albums first single “Gangsta Luv”, and they are two of the better songs on the album) which are ready-made for radio play. What’s awesome about this album is that he keeps it simple and short. Unlike last years “Ego Trippin” or 2006’s “Tha Blue Carpet Treatment” which were solid albums but were brought down because they were so long, “Malice” is a solid and cohesive album that never feels overlong, and the Neptunes produced “Special” is the perfect closer for another really solid outing from Uncle Snoop.

Clipse also released their third studio album “Til the Casket Drops” on December 8th, and the Neptunes protegee’s also keep it short and sweet however the result is less effective. Just like their other two studio albums, this one is produced predominantly by The Neptunes and that might be it’s downfall. There’s not one song I can call out as being bad, with bad lyrics or a bad track because there’s really nothing wrong with the album on the whole. It does all flow well together and you never want to turn it off or skip past anything while listening, but there’s just nothing that grabs you. I think that’s because The Neptunes tracks that were provided are a little too mellow for their own good, at times it feels like one long song. Mind you, I’ve only listened to the album once and maybe can go for another one person listening party. And if I can call out a few of the tracks that I rated higher were the end tracks “Life Change” and “Champion”, one of it’s leaked singles “I’m Good” is also one you might want to check out.

The one album of all the three that I have been listening to the most is Timbaland‘s “Shock Value II(also released December 8th), however much like 2007’s “Shock Value” this album is so NOT Hip Hop. In fact this one is even less Hip Hop than the previous outing which at least included a few collaborations with Missy Elliott, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre. “Shock Value II” is strictly a POP album where as “Shock Value” was a little grittier and leaned more toward the Rock/Alternative side. With collaborations with Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Nickleback, Daughtry, Nelly Furtado and The Fray to name a few “II” can’t be classified as anything other than Pop. Surprisingly Timbaland does a very good job with this, it’s the perfect album to end 2009 because it draws from the popular sounds of this past year. And that’s not to say there isn’t anything original on this album. “Undertow” with The Fray and Esthero is easily the best track on the album, a smooth ballad that benefits from the extra electronic glitches he includes. “Lose Control” featuring Jo Jo and “Carry Out” featuring Justin Timberlake are perfect songs for the car during the summer. “Can You Feel It” and “If We Ever Meet Again” featuring Katy Perry are perfection when it comes to dance rythms, and even when he gets with Disney Queen Miley Cyrus the result is alot more inventive and edgy than you’d imagine it would be. Though two songs I generally skip over, this is one album that doesn’t take any wrong turns. I could sometimes do without him trying to sing, if he had just produced this album and left all the vocals to more talented guys it would have been an A+, but still if his voice didn’t annoy you in “Shock Value” than you’ll be more than ready for the sequel. (And this is important, you should buy the Deluxe version that features an excellent collaboration with Daughtry “Long Way Down” and three other worthwhile tracks that shouldn’t be missed)

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