MUSIC Comments Off
Dec 182010

The mainstream strikes back? Well, not really. The major labels have slowly but surely been losing ground as fans continue to rip and download CDs. There may be less of them now but the stronger labels will survive even if they will have to be leaner and meaner in the process. There are still successes out there, that manage to retain certain aspects of musical artistry whilst being commercial enough to justify major label backing. We look at three examples, either released or distributed by Universal Music.

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Nov 172010

Press release: -

Kevin Lester’s debut album, LETS TALK ABOUT KEVIN LESTER, has been released. The album is available for FREE download at At the site, click “Buy Now”, and type in “0″ USD to download the song or album for free. It will prompt the fan for his email address, and the free download link will be sent to his/her email.

The album features 8 original tracks, with features by P.Cess of Thaitanium, SonaOne from Kartel Records, Vanessa Fernandez, Syaheed of Bedsty and a few fellow band members of SIXX.


More info here.

[amazon-product alink="0000FF" bordercolor="000000" height="240"]B002US1YU0[/amazon-product]


EMINEM Recovery (Aftermath/Interscope)

The bad boy of rap (oxymoron!) returns with Recovery. Originally intended to be a sequel to previous album, Relapse (and to be named Relapse 2, natch!), Recovery now stands on its own. Although largely consisting of tracks recorded during the Relapse sessions with executive producer Dr Dre, Recovery is more song-oriented than Relapse and contains no skits at all.

There are also quite a few pop numbers on Recovery which frankly do nothing for me but where Eminem’s bad attitude penetrates the slick production haze, that’s where Recovery kicks ass. I mean, how many lyricists can trash talk and deliver putdowns with such poetry and comic effect as well!

Therefore, tracks like Cold Wind Blows, On Fire and Goin’ Through Changes reflect Eminem’s continual resistance against normal and proudly declares his personal manifesto, perhaps best summed up in Not Afraid – “I’m not afraid, to take a stand/everybody, come take my hand/we’ll walk this road together, through the storm/whatever weather” spoken in his own (real) voice.

The music is slick, well-produced for maximum commercial effect but it all serves the words that Eminem spits out with his patented angst. Naturally, as usual, there are a couple of gems and do not require any underlying music to have the desired effect.

“I’ll be nicer to women/when Aquaman drowns and the Human Torch goes swimming” (Cold Wind Blows)

“I put both hands on your throat/I sit on top of you squeezin’/till I snap your neck like a popsicle stick, ain’t no possible reason/I can think of to let you walk up out of this house and let you live/tears stream down both my cheeks, then I let you go and just give/and ‘fore I put that gun to my temple I told you this” (the excellent albeit disturbing Space Bound)

“I’m the thumb tack you slept on son/now here I come screaming ‘a tac!’ like I just stepped on one/low on the totem till he showed ‘em, defiance, giant scrotum” (Almost Famous)

And so much more…

Sometimes its hard to take Eminem seriously when you read some of these lyrics but that’s probably the whole point. But then again, even Eminem offers a message of hope in the liner notes -


Check it out!


EMINEM Not Afraid (off upcoming new album, Recovery)

The bad boy of Rap (now that’s an oxymoron, kids) is back with a new album, Recovery, and a new single, Not Afraid, which suggests that Eminem is going all touchy-feely on us, with kubaya-like lyrics and a video that has him flying around like a super-hero! The album should be a doozy (out, 21 June).



KID CUDI Man on the Moon: The End of Day (Universal)

As regular visitors to the Power of Pop will be aware, I’m not that big on rap. But I know enough about music to appreciate that once in a while, an artist comes along to transcend the limitations of his (or her) chosen genre. Typical hip hop is relatively easy music to make, utlizing stock beats and standard phrasing. The equivalent of aural wallpaper.

That’s why Kid Cudi with his new concept album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, is such a refreshing breath of air! This experimental and distinctive debut album is chock full of left-field sonic ideas and deep concepts. Don’t get me wrong, its still rap but Kid Cudi embellishes his tracks with different rhythms and intriguing progressive approaches.

For instance, Simple As… plays around with spoken word in a manner reminiscient of Kraftwerk, the hit single Day N Nite (Nightmare) is brash with bright keyboard sounds, Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part I) comes across like vintage Barry White disco, Pursuit Of Happiness is full-blown 80s electro-pop with guests MGMT and Ratatat and Hyyear has a smooth loverman vibe that is irresistible.

It’s ambitious and harbours widescreen intent and that is pretty good in my book for someone who is very much rap-phobic. Check out Man on the Moon: The End of Day, even if you hate rap.

Official site




EMINEM Relapse (Aftermath/Universal)

It’s hard to believe that rapper Eminem aka Marshall Mathers aka Slim Shady has been around for more than ten years now. Since his low-key debut Infinite (1997), Eminem has gone on to sell more than 75 million records and in doing so has cut for himself a controversial path. Like Elvis Presley before him, Eminem has been accused for being yet another white boy who stole the blues. In addition, Eminem’s graphic representations of violence, misogyny and anti-homosexuality in his “music” has courted criticism and has been described as a negative influence on youth. However, there are also those who argue that Eminem is merely a commentator, highlighting (and thus, lampooning) the ills of society and not celebrating the topics of his “songs”.

Personally, I find it hard to listen to rap in general, for the fact that it’s not music (in my humble opinion) but merely words spoken rhythmically over a repetitive score, without musical value. Of course, in the 50s and 60s, I’m sure many shared these views about rock ‘n’ roll. Not to mention, the shock tactics that Eminem employs in communicating attitudes against women and homosexuals. Yet again, the same accusations of misogyny were levelled against the Rolling Stones and KISS in the 70s. So…

Let’s give Eminem the benefit of the doubt then. Having been on hiatus since 2005 amidst persistent rumours that he had retired as a performer, his first album in 4 years is not characterized as a “comeback” but rather humorously described as a “relapse”. The opening track – Dr. West (featuring actor Dominic West) – introduces us to the concept i.e. Eminem is out of rehab but the evil Dr.West tempts Eminem’s alter ego Slim Shady out of the cage and all hell breaks loose. Reading between the lines, is Eminem’s mega-selling rap act, a disease and an addiction? Hurm.

And thus, over the course of this 20-track album, Slim Shady is up to his old tricks. On Bagpipes from Babylon, Slim Shady obsesses over Mariah Carey – “I mean I really want ya bad ya cunt”, on My Mom, he goes all confessional as he gushes – “My mom loved Valium and lots of drugs”, on Insane, he reminisces about his step-father’s abuse – “we going out back-I want my dick sucked in the shed”, on Stay Wide Awake, he expresses his own violent inclinations – “see whore you’re da kinda girl I’d like to assault and rape and figure why not try to make your pussy wider/fuck you with an umbrella then open it up when the shit’s inside you” and… need I go on?

In the final analysis, reading these lyrics can be pretty stark although the impact is mitigated somewhat when you hear the silly music and the cartoony way in which Eminem delivers the words. You may say that Eminem has his finger on the pulse of US society and is merely reflecting reality (perhaps exaggerating for effect) in the same way as popular TV shows, films and video games do. Or you can dismiss him as an exploitative hatemonger. The choice is yours, as always.

Me? I’m sitting firmly on the barb-wire fence. Strictly for hardcore rap fans only.

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