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Be Here Early: Choice Album Reviews 12-9-16 – 12-15-16



Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide – Hodgy – Odd Future member, and Mellowhype member, Hodgy drops his debut album (I know), and it isn’t Mellowhype pot deep beats.  As Hodgy himself noted “It’s fuckin’ musical.These instruments are crying, and laughing, and searching for something. It’s not just an album, it’s an experience. It’s beyond me just rapping. I’m speaking to reach higher ground.” Reaching but not quite arriving, in a week of minimalism it is busier than it needs to be. Although “The Now” is so brilliant, and the rapping so good, maybe I’ll try it again in a couple of days – B

4 Your Eyez Only – J. Cole –  I was in the minority in not much caring for his autobiographical  2014 Forest Hills Drive, but 4 Your Eyez Only -a featureless rap album that never stops, never considers stopping, in its contours of distress. J. Cole is a better rapper than you thought, he gets more out of his voice as he thinks of himself and his imminent mortality and the rap community awakes to the whitest President of all time, J Cole is in a state of discombobulation. “Dirt on my name? never?” Cole declares on “Vile Mentality” -maybe. This is a quiet, beautiful, sad and earnest artistry, “have you ever seen a motherfucking ribbon in the sky”? Cole asks. Take it, Stevie… – A-

In The Next Life – Maria Taylor – “Outside this window things are always changing,” the great singer songwriter claims early as Maria invents her own  version of  worrisome domestic peace in a world of shifting times and shaping children – A-

Strictly Roots – Morgan Heritage – It is a strange very Rasta phenom, how the children of reggae greats continue the legacy. And with all due respect, it is easier to continue Denroy Morgan (who introduced roots reggae to nyc) than Bob Marley. Morgan Heritage, the sons of Morgan, have done a great job over the years, and this double is very fine indeed. If you think roots reggae is either Chronixx or in jail, you will be happily surprised by potential beauties like “Child Jah” – B+

Peace Trail – Neil Young – Neil is beginning to sound like a parody of himself, these all sound exactly like Neil Young acoustic without the benefit of actual songs. “I think I know who to blame…?” Neil sings in an act of empathy he can’t own.  Good intentions are good but they aren’t music and if you are gonna call a song “Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders”, write a song people want to hear – C-

Love You To Death EP – The-Dream – This is as close as modern r&b gets to soul, gorgeously constructed melodies over space shifting rhythm tracks, dramatic as all get out. And this is the power of the EP, over five songs The-Dream doesn’t come close to getting it wrong, but “Rih-Flex” is his best in five years – A-

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