2 Chainz featuring Drake—“No Lie”
Drake’s misogyny is more subtle than that of other rappers (and rockers, and country singers, and so on), but it’s still misogyny. Instead of calling women names and physically and/or verbally mistreating them, he argues that they’re complicit in his manipulation of his celebrity to test drive women who strike his fancy. They all know what he’s about, right? So fuck ‘em and forget ‘em. It’s an old story, and Drake can’t be completely blamed for it, but considering the guy has built a career on his self-doubt and worries about his moral compass his inability to cop to his own bullshit is offensive. And for all that, Drake, who is rapping better than ever, is the least offensive thing on this record and the only reason to listen to it. 2 Chainz wouldn’t recognize a woman as a human being even if she kicked him in the nuts. Though I do encourage somebody to try.
Tony Lucca—“99 Problems”
Justin Bieber—“Turn To You (Mother’s Day Dedication)”
I’m having a hard time understanding the new, “mature” Justin Bieber. “Boyfriend” mixes dark, sensual music with some of the most naïve, unerotic lyrics ever heard, while this tribute to his mother is more reminiscent of southern rock murder ballads than a paean to a loving parent. He’s either mistaken sounding somber with sounding adult, or his much-vaunted precocious talent doesn’t extend to an understanding of what any particular piece of music means. That would go a long way toward explaining the emotional blankness of his singing.
Adam Levine & Tony Lucca—“Yesterday”
Jermaine Paul—“I Believe I Can Fly”
Christina Aguilera & Chris Mann—“The Prayer”
A lot of people are impressed by Bentley—or at least they were impressed by “Home”—but I’m not one of them. He’s a better than average country rocker, but only slightly. Put him in a battle of the bands with Eric Church or Miranda Lambert, even Blake Shelton, and they’d wipe the floor with him before the second song. On a good night he might be able to take Justin Moore, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Usher featuring Rick Ross—“Lemme See”
This is a step up from “Scream”, but nowhere near “Climax” (a tall order, I admit). The beat has a jumpy, eerie quality to it, but the song itself doesn’t work. Ross’s Trayvon Martin reference is too soon, and in some ways too little. Usher himself sounds, especially when he shows off his chest, as if he’s engaging in self-parody. That would be fine if it fit with the music, but it doesn’t. Maybe he hasn’t quite figured out all this electronic stuff.
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