Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ryan Leslie's Stagnant "Transition"

Why is Ryan Leslie releasing another album so soon? His self-titled debut dropped in February of this year. Transition, his sophomore effort, will hit stores during the first week of November.

Generally speaking, Transition isn't a bad album; it's just that his debut was so good. Not good in the sense that Leslie is a particularly dynamic producer or singer, but good because he managed to handle the album's material so well in spite of all of that. What Leslie lacks in vocal ability and musical diversity he makes up for in sentiment. Ryan Leslie didn't always sound good, but it always felt good.

In that sense, Transition is more of the same. In fact, it's basically the same album. Entirely written, produced and composed by Leslie (Dream complex much?), there's nothing remotely original here. If Transition were his debut I probably wouldn't be as disappointed in Leslie, but as it stands, there's really no reason to hail this offering.

Janet Jackson's "Make Me" & Mariah's "Memoirs"

Janet Jackson Prepares Greatest Hits

Just in time for the Holidays (is it even realistic to assume that people still receive cds as gifts?) Janet's returning with a new label, new single, and new(ish) project. Number Ones will pull together more than 30 of Janet's chart-topping hits, along with one new offering; the Darkchild produced "Make Me."

Janet can't do too much wrong in my eyes, and I'm excited to see her working on anything at all; still I can't help but think that Number Ones is a questionable effort at best. First, the last quarter of Janet's career hasn't been as lustrous as the first few, and this compilation makes that painfully obvious. I suppose a number one dance single is still a number one, but really, comparing the success (?) of "All Nite (Don't Stop)" (which I love) to "That's The Way Love Goes" is a stretch. More than that, "Make Me" sucks. It's the only new song on the album, and while it captures the throwback Janet vibe that fans have been looking for, it's too repetitive and predictable. If Janet couldn't catch a hit with "Feedback," I think "Make Me" is an obvious bomb. Lastly, the album art is recycled from her 2001 tourbook. Really Janet? When you're 43 looking 25, you photograph it while it lasts.

In any case, I've already pre-ordered an album full of songs I listen to everyday anyway. Again, Janet does no wrong.

Keep reading for a few words on Mariah