I’ve done your shopping this week, kids. Check it out:
Donnie, The Daily News
Donnie’s makes what I like to call political soul. Along with Lyfe Jennings, he actively tries to defy your assumptions about black men, black people, and black culture. Unlike the Jills, Musiqs and Indias though, he is strikingly unpretentious and thrilling.
Adina Howard, Private Show
When we talk about sexuality and black women in public discourse, we are usually working with half the text, so to speak. People (black and white alike) rarely get to hear the black women who create sophisticated, complicated sexual personas and therefore never truly understand how black women manage to actually own their sex in ways we could never have imagined. Artists like Joi Gilliam and Truth Hurts are uncompromising women who make passionate, insurgent music. But when it comes to thrilling, captivating sexuality, no one compares to Adina Howard. And what’s more, homegirl can sing her ass off. Adina is my generation’s Millie Jackson, destined to be revered, copied, and adored forever. Every moment of this, her third album, manages to flip conventions in ways you didn’t think possible.
Chrisette Michele, I Am
Chrisette has a thick gutter soul voice, but employs a refined pop music lyricism that creates a fascinating tension. At first listen, it will make you think that you are hearing Leela James again. But she quickly dashes that when she funks up two Babyface midtempos right in the middle of the album on her way to a killer Salaam Remi joint called In This For You that is easily the best song on the album.
Kelly Rowland, Ms. Kelly
This is a purely political choice. I am determined to make the world see that Kelly Rowland is the best thing pop music is currently wasting. That said, the album is better than her first, but still nowhere near a good indication of what Kelly is truly capable of. And it is worth having, if only for the masterful last 4 songs. As I’ve said a bunch of times, Kelly is not really a pop vocalist. I hope that this album does well enough that she’ll get the courage to dump Daddy Matthew and call Mike City, Raphael Saadiq and DJ Quik to lace her with some original, passionate soul that will finally get her out from behind Beyonce’s weave.
Pharoahe Monche, Desire
It’s about damn time, Troy! Shit! Been waiting for you to come back and reignite my love of hip-hop, release my inner b-boy. Thank you thank you thank you! Listening to this album reminds you why you suffer through Jay’s mediocrity, Nas’ overreaching, maddening brilliance, and Method Man’s preposterous funk – the pure love of hip-hop. That’s what is here on Desire. It’s just fun, deep yet light, complex yet so accessible. I haven’t really heard anything this wondrous since Kweli’s Reflection Eternal. Bravo!