First off is the highly anticipated debut album from rising rapper Nicki Minaj with Pink Friday. With Young Money on your side (Birdman, Lil' Wayne, Drake, Jay Sean), you can't go wrong with the buzz Minaj has brought to the hip-hop game. From her numerous cameo appearances with other high-profile rappers, her rep increased at a rapid rate and high expectations were set for her solo album to deliver. Unfortunately, those expectations were arguably set too high as the album is something totally different. Her crazy personality still applies to the album, but those expected lots of her rapping skills to show up on her own, be prepared for disappointment on that end. There are like two or three hip-hop/rap heavy tracks in the whole album and pretty much my favorites as well from "Roman's Revenge" featuring Eminem, which is rapping Nicki at her finest to "Moment of Life" featuring Drake. The rest of the album feels very poppy from a mainstream standpoint with lots of singing by Nicki herself to a point it feels like a repeat of the Drake album since both those albums feel very similar. Then again, it shows the case that Nicki is indeed a diverse performer besides a rapper like her label mate, but it still feels like an identity crisis who she really wants to be established as. The current singles, "Your Love" and "Right Through Me," and "Check It Out" with Will.I.Am (more on him later) are examples of her truly going the poppy route to appeal to as many fans as possible. Those expecting the majority of her album to be hip-hop, you're not to get it on her own album, but rather in other rappers' albums from Kanye's "Monster," and so on. Despite that, Pink Friday is still a solid debut album for Nicki Minaj, but something different from what I expected it to be.
Next up is Ne-Yo with his newest album, Libra Scale. This album actually came out silently for me because of all the delays as it would be came out earlier in the fall. I think the delay did hurt the album considering all the singles and videos pretty much came out before the thing even came out. The videos Ne-Yo went for this album are continuous actually being one whole big story of him of course getting a girl. "Beautiful Monster" is the only song in Libra Scale that feels like he is trying out different stuff putting out a clubby joint as your lead single distancing away from his traditional R&B style we know him of. Other than that, it is still your typical Ne-Yo album of the similar songs we are accustomed with. After listening to it, it makes me wonder if his peak has passed already after Because of You and Year of the Gentlemen since those are still pretty good R&B albums today. Libra Scale feels like one step back for Ne-Yo, but you're in a need of a new R&B fix, it is still fine.
Ke$ha has been one of the breakout artists of the year in the mainstream pop scene whether or not you like her. She decided to take a similar approach that Lady Gaga did last year with The Fame Monster and release an EP, called Cannibal, of more songs along with packaging it with the Animal album. Unlike Gaga's EP effort, Ke$ha's new EP will probably not put a big punch into the radio stations as Gaga's Fame Monster did since that EP was an instant classic with all of the songs being potential singles. Then again, Gaga and Ke$ha still feel like two different artists with their distinct styles. There are standouts though from Cannibal that are worth playtime on the radio and the clubs with the title track, "Blow," and the lead single, "We R Who We R." In a nutshell, its more catchy pop by Ke$ha that will annoy haters of mainstream music.
Speaking of mainstream pop, I'm already calling this one my most disappointing album of the year which is The Beginning by The Black Eyed Peas. Remember when BEP was a hip-hop group that put out dope music? I can't completely blame the inclusion of Fergie being the downfall of the group in terms of leaving what they're good at and going on the poppy approach as Elephunk was still a good album, but by Monkey Business, you start to see signs of their change in direction of their sound from that chill hip-hop days of "Joints & Jam" to songs like "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling" from The E.N.D. album, which pretty much cements their position in the mainstream music world. While I can tolerate what was in their last album, the one I just mentioned, The Beginning feels like a rush job or basically a repeat of The E.N.D. That's probably what they want at the end of the day even though I feel like this album should of came out a year later. Now we get more dumb mindless songs like the "The Time (Dirty Bit)" which is a disgraceful cover of that "Time of My Life" song. In other words, what a way to ruin a timeless classic by adding crazy electro beats to it to make it dumb. I do have my limits with catchy mainstream pop as some can do it right not being serious about it and others can do it totally wrong as the Black Eyed Peas are sadly in the latter camp for me now. It is still crazy that group went a complete 180 degrees in terms of putting out quality music. Sorry Will.I.Am, Apl.de.ap, Taboo, and Fergie... you guys need to go back on the drawing board and reboot yourselves again with new ideas because I am pretty much had enough with your style of clubby crap. (End "rant")
Now with that out of the way, we finally can talk about something considered pure greatness from beginning to end. When I first heard about Daft Punk doing the soundtrack for Tron Legacy, I got pretty excited of the potential they can do with a movie-like score and boy did they took advantage of the opportunity. I never thought this duo that is known for being one of the best electronica artists in the game to forever change my mind about movie soundtracks as this is something truly epic. It almost feels like a match made in heaven between the movie with its robotic and futuristic atmosphere and Daft Punk themselves handling the score. Plus, who of ever thought that they would compose a soundtrack for such a high profile movie like Tron Legacy, which is out in theaters on December 17. There were teasers of what to expect by the mysterious men with the trailers that are out for the movie, but the whole soundtrack itself feels like its own experience and does the Tron-like feel exceptionally well. A lot of people expected this soundtrack to be treated as a new Daft Punk album, but it is pretty much not because it is indeed a orchestral score done Daft Punk style. From all the orchestral pieces that have the futuristic vibe blended in beautifully like "The Game Has Changed" to the Daft Punk-y tunes of "End of Line" and "Derezzed," you feel like you're in one hell of a ride and that ride just builds and builds to something amazing. I gotta hand it to them for bringing that atmosphere to life with their sounds as it is just something special even after the credits song rolls. Daft Punk's Tron Legacy soundtrack is something you can't miss as it is an experience worth remembering from beginning to end and among one of my favorite albums of the year.
That's it for now... I can't think of other albums in the next month I'm looking forward to now.