It's time to put your money where your mouth is, folks. We tend to be very critical here on this site (and by "we" I mean the SB staff and our wonderful visitors) but all the critiques in the world count for nada if we aren't actually purchasing music, the legal way. What follows is a rundown of releases hitting stores in the near future and some that still deserve some love. What are you buying?
OUT THIS WEEK
Solange: Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams (Anticipation Rating: 2 out of 5)
Solange Knowles is trying her damnedest to carve out a niche of her own. This is a respectable goal and one all artists should aspire to no matter the pedigree. But I'm erring on the side of caution with her album. When I learned that it was being aimed at the "intellectual, backpacking, coffee shop, digital kid", I took pause. This niche audience lives by its own rules and doesn't enjoy being pandered to. In fact, this is possibly the group that will defiantly look the other way based on her last name. Note to Geffen and the artist: Release the music you believe in and whoever comes on board will do it because they're feeling it. Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams features high-profile production by The Neptunes, Cee-Lo, and Mark Ronson. Will you buy? [Amazon][Review]
September 9th will see releases from two seasoned male artists with a dedicated female following. Eric Benét's Love & Life ranks high on our anticipation scale because of all the love our readers have shown him over the past few weeks, a level of yearning that's only second to Maxwell 'round these parts. LL Cool J is one of those artists we genuinely love because of their persona and tenure, but the music is just "there". In general, we think someone should take him aside, perhaps a Pete Rock or a DJ Premier, and really give him some of the hungry, old school Hip Hop flavor that kept him energetic and on-point back in the day. But here's wishing him success on his Def Jam swansong Exit 13.
N*E*R*D: Seeing Sounds [Amazon]
Anyone that's been keeping up with the production outfit known as The Neptunes for any length of time knows that the fellas seem most in their element as N.E.R.D. Their third release has the kind of colors, big sounds and attitude that was tragically lacking from Pharrell's In My Mind. Each track is bursting with flavor and musical changes. Simply put, the joint is polished clean with not a single track overstaying its welcome. In fact, my only complaint would be that it all ends too soon.
Let us know in the comments what you plan on buying or what you have purchased in recent weeks. We know the Internet makes it easy to snag music for free these days, but there's no shame in supporting an artist you actually like.