CD Reviews

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Nov 092004
 
Authors: Nicholas LoFaro

Handsome Boy Modeling School, “White People”

Handsome Music Made With A Little Help From Handsome Friends

Hip-hop producers Dan the Automator and Prince Paul have

returned to the scene, recruiting some friends along the way. They

have come to deliver an eclectic mix of experimental hip-hop

disguised inside a self-help manual on how to become handsome. The

lineup on “White People” includes some of modern music’s biggest

names. Comedy interlaced in between songs gives the album some

laughs; “Saturday Night Live” funny man Tim Meadows and former

“SNL” staple character Father Guido Sarducci appear on four

hilarious skits including “Dating Game” and “Knockers,” regarding

girls, dating and other inappropriate humor.

“If It Wasn’t For You” with De La Soul has a tight beat with

’40s-style throwback music, and “Are You Down With It” has a

12-string guitar on an R&B jam with scratches in the backdrop.

“The World’s Gone Mad” with Del the Funky Homosapien controls slow

reggae flow with a message about the search for a righteous prophet

among all wicked profits, “Look kids, you need to change your tune,

that avenue you travelin’ will be unraveling soon.”

“Breakdown” is a catchy, melodic Jack Johnson song with the

boost of Sublime-like hip-hop beats and scratching in the

background, and it includes a solo that is kazooed by Johnson. Dan

the Automator and Prince Paul’s “First … And Then,” samples an

obnoxious line from “Dude, Where’s My Car?” but manages to fit it

in a funky rap tune. On the song “It’s Like That,” rapper Casual

shows his Tupac influence and speaks out on how life, relationships

and politics function and dysfunction. The female vocals provided

by Cat Power make the song “I Been Thinking” an ambient jam good

for a slow dance.

Rahzel, formerly from The Roots, Mike Shinoda and Chester

Bennington from Linkin Park, and Grand Wizard Theodore and Jazzy

Jay (two artists who helped get hip-hop off the ground back in the

day) all throw in their talents into creating the hop/rock odyssey

“Rock N’ Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This).” The song moves back

and forth from rock and hip-hop beats and rhythms, furious

scratching and sampling from guitar riffs and classical music.

Rock influence continues to help out the song “The Hours,” which

features the Deftones’ guitarist/singer Chino Mereno screaming over

oriental music notes, and the classic John Oates appears on the

acoustic “Greatest Mistake.”

“White People” is a strange concept album, but the all-star

lineup and diversity on and the experimental sound combinations

propelled by Dan the Automator and Prince Paul will create a new

road for hip-hop to travel down. And by the looks of it, it’s paved

in gold.

Britney Spears, “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative”

Hits Album Signifies An End To Drama Queen

OK, we might not get lucky with an “end” to the lip-syncing,

teenie-bopping, dance queen, but at least we’ll see Britney go into

what the entertainment world calls a hiatus. Let’s discuss the

concept of a “greatest hits” album.

As the history of music dictates, after a band has been going

strong for a short while and has gained enormous popularity in a

short period, and it out of nowhere releases a “greatest hits”

album, it’s not going to be looking so good in the future. In

retrospect, look back to past greatest hits albums from bands such

as Oasis or the Backstreet Boys among many others, and think to

yourself – Where did they go?

The concept of a greatest hits album usually means that the band

or artist is not planning on making music for some time or maybe

never again. Of course, just like the concept of farewell tours

such as the ones KISS and Cher put on almost every year, the demise

or success of an artist is always subject to change. Britney is

young, though, so there might not be too much time for her before

she becomes not so hot anymore. To those who hope to not hear any

more lip-syncing, keep in mind that she is young and distraught. It

is clear that she is sick of her success. Britney Spears, who some

call a phenomenon and others call a fake, has sold 55 million

albums in fewer than five years. Good Lord, that’s a lot of

money!

With the exception of the remixes “Toxic,” “Everytime,” “Breathe

On Me” and “Outrageous,” the album has all of Spears’ overplayed

hits. There are no live versions, and there are no new tunes. What

is obvious about her hits album is that it is being released while

Britney is still huge. Usually, a hits album is released years

after the artist has stopped creating new music (i.e. hits albums

from Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones and Michael

Jackson) and the album is for the fans to have a definitive

collection from that artist’s time. Britney Spears has released her

greatest hits while she is in her prime. This is an outwardly

wicked and obvious marketing technique to make more money while the

flames are still hot.

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