32 items by Jon Caramanica

  • There Will Be A Light

    There Will Be A Light | ALBUM REVIEW

    Ben Harper may be pure of heart in enlisting classic gospel act the Blind Boys of Alabama to collaborate with him on There Will Be a Light, but even the Blind Boys' graceful voices can't wholly redeem...

    November 12, 2008 12:00 AM ET
  • Street's Disciple

    Street's Disciple | ALBUM REVIEW

    No rapper is more conflicted than Nas, the prodigal son of hip-hop's early-Nineties golden age. For the better part of the decade since his perfect debut, 1994's Illmatic, he has openly struggled with the burdens that come...

    December 15, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • Urban Legend

    Urban Legend | ALBUM REVIEW

    Atlanta's T.I. found himself on the wrong side of jailhouse bars for a few months this year, thanks to a variety of probation violations. When he got out recently, rather than laying low, he promptly launched into...

    December 15, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • Unfinished Business

    Unfinished Business | ALBUM REVIEW

    Unfinished Business translates as, "Like, if we could just get this pesky little obligation out of the way, we could get around to more pressing engagements." That disinterest is in the air on the...

    October 26, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • Nas Takes It to the Street

    Nas Takes It to the Street | ARTICLE

    Nas wants to make his seventh record, Street's Disciple, his most personal album yet. The set, due September 14th, is the rapper's first since 2002's God's Son, though this spring also saw an expanded reissue of his...

    June 28, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • These Songs For You, Live!

    These Songs For You, Live! | ALBUM REVIEW

    Voices such as Donny Hathaway's come along maybe once a decade. Before his brief but influential career was cut short by suicide in 1979, Hathaway proved himself a maestro of protest soul who effused equal amounts of...

    June 24, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • College Dropout

    College Dropout | ALBUM REVIEW

    Kanye West has made his name by letting his production — not his voice — do the talking for him. As the man behind Jay-Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and Scarface's "Guess Who's Back," he has perfected...

    March 4, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

    Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes | ALBUM REVIEW

    Brooklyn's TV on the Radio are indebted to everything from late-Eighties indie rock to classic soul music — on last year's stunning Young Liars EP they did a doo-wop cover of a Pixies song. The band's debut...

    February 26, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • Under Construction, Pt. II

    Under Construction, Pt. II | ALBUM REVIEW

    Ask 50 Cent and Nas: beef sells. But is it too much to ask that Timbaland, the most flamboyant sonic risk-taker in hip-hop, not spend the lion's share of his album firing mushy lyrical barbs at nameless...

    January 28, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • Eminem Goes on the Attack

    Eminem Goes on the Attack | ARTICLE

    Five unreleased tracks by Eminem have leaked out in the last two months, and they show Slim Shady in fighting form. In mid-November, The Source magazine released a tape of a fifteen-year-old Eminem freestyle in which he insulted...

    January 8, 2004 12:00 AM ET
  • At Last

    At Last | ALBUM REVIEW

    The great curse of Cyndi Lauper's Eighties breakthrough was that her excellent voice was always overshadowed by her highly eccentric fashion sense. This all-covers album spotlights Lauper the lounge chanteuse, alternately dignified and bombastic. Ironically, what's missing...

    December 2, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • 101

    101 | ALBUM REVIEW

    D.A. Pennebaker's documentary of Depeche Mode's 1988 world tour shows how an effete glam-goth synth-pop band from Essex, England, could ultimately sell out Pasadena, California's Rose Bowl. Woven in is up-close footage of a busload of eager,...

    November 10, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • Live 2003

    Live 2003 | ALBUM REVIEW

    This chronicle of Coldplay's 2003 Sydney, Australia, dates is as smooth and serious as the band itself. Employing nine cameras and switching between black and white and lush, extra-sharp color, this is a visually arresting document, though...

    November 10, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • Measure of a Man

    Measure of a Man | ALBUM REVIEW

    Who would have thought in 1981 that the influence of soft-rock kings Chicago would still be felt in 2003? In interviews, twenty-four-year-old Clay Aiken cites Chicago singer Peter Cetera as a vocal idol, and the painstakingly measured...

    November 4, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • Pet Sounds Live

    Pet Sounds Live | ALBUM REVIEW

    For six nights last year, Brian Wilson re-created Pet Sounds live at London's Royal Festival Hall. Though his behavior is a tad nutty and his voice a bit frail, he and his crack band do the majestic...

    November 4, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • Coverage

    Coverage | ALBUM REVIEW

    Effortlessly genial and impossibly well-scrubbed, Mandy Moore is almost shimmery enough to overshadow her middling vocal talent on Coverage. Taking on familiar songs, though, always unearths the rough edges beneath the polish, especially when they sound flat...

    October 22, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • The "R." In R&B Collection, Vol. 1

    The "R." In R&B Collection, Vol. 1 | ALBUM REVIEW

    If only you could separate the music from the man. In an era of hip-hop excess, Chicago's R. Kelly held a torch for vintage soul, updated for the streets. 2000's "I Wish" remains one of the great...

    October 8, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

    Speakerboxxx/The Love Below | ALBUM REVIEW

    OutKast's Big Boi sees the sharks circling, sniffing for blood. On "Tomb of the Boom," from his half of the duo's new album, he raps, "They say, 'Big Boi, can you pull it off without your nigga...

    September 24, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • Worldwide Underground

    Worldwide Underground | ALBUM REVIEW

    The most psychedelic of soul singers, Erykah Badu still hasn't found her way through the haze. Most of the songs on this short album are variations on some atmospheric theme: Tracks such as "Bump It" and "Back...

    September 24, 2003 12:00 AM ET
  • In This Skin

    In This Skin | ALBUM REVIEW

    Trained as a gospel singer, Jessica Simpson long ago learned subtlety was at direct odds with testifying. Judging by Skin, her third album, it's a lesson she's still working through. Her powerful voice is done a disservice...

    August 27, 2003 12:00 AM ET