Big Boi Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors Review

Big Boi (of Outkast) recently released another solo album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, filled with  collaborations from a variety of indie music darlings and rap superstars.

Big Boi Vicious Lies and Dangerous RumorsWhere to begin?  Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is all over the place, spanning genres and sounds. Some songs are R&B slow jams, others have the booming bass of Southern rap, and finally there are the genre mash-ups featuring big name indie rockers. On this album, Big Boi collaborates with rap superstars Ludacris and T.I.; indie darlings Little Dragon and Phantogram; and surf rockers the Wavves. There is a little bit for everyone here.

I tended to gravitate toward the songs with the indie rockers.  I think the strong, distinct female vocals of Little Dragon and Phantogram add a lot to these songs.  My favorite tracks were “Objectum Sexuality” (featuring Phantogram) and “Shoes for Running” (featuring the Wavves) – both have been in heavy rotation. The 13 year-old in me enjoyed the ridiculously sexually explicit “She Said OK” (when asked Let me see your titties).  These extremely classy lyrics like this make me giggle – a lot.

Big Boi also announced that Little Dragon’s vocals on “Mama Told Me” were replaced with Kelly Rowland at the last minute due to some label dispute.  I like both versions of the song, but the smoky vocals of Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano edges out the autotuned pop singer Kelly Rowland.  Big Boi leaked the Little Dragon version to the net.  Get it here for free.

Verdict: Some of the collaborations with the indie rockers are fantastic. The rest of the album has some enjoyable tracks, but generally they lack originality and won’t hold your interest.  The collaboration I really want to see is Big Boi and Andre 3000 working on another Outkast album.

Standout Tracks: “Objectum Sexuality,” “Shoes for Running,” “Mama Told Me” (Little Dragon version)

Videos from Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

Big Boi
“Mama Told Me”(featuring Kelly Rowland)
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

Big Boi
“She Said OK”
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

Heems Wild Water Kingdom Review

Heems, of the now disbanded rap group Das Racist, released his first solo album, Wild Water Kingdom.  The Wild Water Kingdom mixtape is available for free at livemixtapes.com.

Image

Did you like Das Racist? Then Wild Water Kingdom will be right up your alley. Its ironic wordplay and verbal hooks will be familiar to Das Racist fans.  Those people will also be familiar with varying strength of writing from track to track.

The identity of Heems, well-educated party rapper of Indian descent (and this is mentioned in every article written about him), is unique in hip-hop. Heems may come across as the court jester, but under this comedic guise he makes pointed comments about the music scene while simultaneously talking about race politics in “post-racial” America.  It’s a tall order to fill for every track and sometimes he comes up short. The lyrics range from racially conscious to cheesy, there are few refrains, and almost all the songs devolve into repeated phrases.

The sound of Wild Water Kingdom is somewhat simplistic.  The beats are deliberately slow, almost to the point of a chopped and screwed album, and usually feature a heavy dose of synthesizer. The vocal delivery has a bit of lilt and some swing to it.  Some of the tracks have an 8-bit feel to them.   I had trouble getting through some of tracks multiple times, but a few are really enjoyable.  I liked “Soup Boys,”  “Deepak Choppa,” and “Wild Water Kingdom” mostly for the beats.

I can’t recommend Wild Water Kingdom for everyone.  If you’re into things like Cool Keith, you should check this out.

Verdict: Check it out – it’s free! There are a couple tracks on there worth listening to.

Stand out tracks: “Soup Boys,”  “Third Thing,” and “Wild Water Kingdom”

Video from Wild Water Kingdom

Heems
“Soup Boys”
Wild Water Kingdom

Crystal Castles (III) Review

Canadian electronic duo Crystal Castles returns with their third album eponymous named album, denoted as (III).

Crystal Castles (III)

I have to disclose that I’m a huge fan and think Crystal Castles’ live shows are incredibly energetic. In terms of loudness, I think only Prodigy has topped them in pure volume. I strongly recommend seeming them in concert if you get the chance.

In attempt to differentiate (III)‘s sound from the previous albums, Crystal Castles used different instruments and effects.  The results aren’t immediately noticeable, but I think the sounds are a lot smoother – less distortion is used, Alice Glass’s vocals don’t devolve into raw screams, and generally the songs are a little more subdued.  The sound is definitely still Crystal Castles, but there is some movement away from the fast and hard punk influence toward something a bit more shoe-gazey.

I tended to gravitate toward the dancier Crystal Castles songs of previous albums, putting them on mixes and generally singing the duo’s praise. I did this while simultaneously keeping the harder tracks away from my friends who might shy away from this type of music.  (III) seems to have fewer dance tracks compared to previous albums, but there are still some very catchy songs. I find myself listening to “Violent Youth” over and over. The single “Plague” is also a track I’ve much enjoyed, although I seem to have worn it out.

This might be the problem I have with (III) – it’s solid and enjoyable, but doesn’t do much to separate itself from Crystal Castle’s previous work. It’s essentially the same thumping bass lines and repetitive synthesizer sounds.  Sometimes it really grates on me – like auditory jack hammering in my brain. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s changed from the previous albums – but what I really enjoyed seems to be missing from a lot of the songs found on (III).

One strength of (III) is the lyrics. Some of the vocal distortion makes it hard to understand what Alice Glass is saying, but song writing is well-done and sometimes profound. Check out the Crystal Castles site to read them.

Verdict: Crystal Castles’ (III) is worth a listen. I’d preview it before buying in case you’ve grown tired of the gritty electro-clash thing.

Stand-out Tracks: “Plague,” “Sad Eyes,” “Violent Youth”

Video from (III)

Crystal Castles
“Plague”
Crystal Castles (III)