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Jon Caramanica

Reporter

  • There Will Be A Light

    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 the jammy date-rock icon's platitudinous lyrics ("Take My Hand") and his generic barrelhouse-blues arrangements ("Wicked Man"). The traditional, […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Urban Legend

    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 a high-friction war of words with Houston's Lil' Flip. On Legend, T.I. claims victory but is still looking […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Street’s Disciple

    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 when you're supposed to be saving a genre. "I carried the cross to help you afford that plasma […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Unfinished Business

    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 second joint album from the best (albeit sorta-retired) rapper in the game and the best (albeit steadily indicted) R&B singer-songwriter. Backed […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Nas Takes It to the Street

    New album includes appearance by fiance Kelis

    • Music
  • These Songs For You, Live!

    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 political anger and romantic tenderness. Culled from several early-Seventies concerts, These Songs for You, Live! displays the passion […]

    • Album Reviews
  • College Dropout

    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 a warm, almost sentimental brand of hip-hop, using bright, soulful beats and melodic choruses to humanize otherwise chilly gangsters. His […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

    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 full-length, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, is an immaculate album about disappointment in all its forms: romantic, civic, […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Under Construction, Pt. II

    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 haters and wanna-be's? Cast aside the meandering Magoo lyrics that bog down Under Construction Part II — the […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Eminem Goes on the Attack

    Leaked tracks target Benzino, the president and Irv Gotti

    • Music