audio review : I’ll Call U Back ( song ) … Erykah Badu

At just under two minutes long, this may be more of an album (mixtape) interlude than an actual song. Either way it serves as one of Erykah Badu’s best. I’ll Call U Back, the busy party prepper says to someone on the phone over a lush soundscape produced by Zach Witness. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the beeps go on a bit too long at the end.

my rating : 5 of 5

2015

audio review : But You Caint Use My Phone ( mixtape ) ... Erykah Badu

audio review : But You Caint Use My Phone ( mixtape ) … Erykah Badu

audio review : But You Caint Use My Phone ( mixtape ) ... Erykah Badu

New Amerykah Part Three was supposed to come out in 2012, but Erykah Badu has apparently abandoned that series, which would be okay if this were her next album. Instead we waited nearly six years for a mixtape. The title comes from Tyrone and the concept is based on, meaning literally every track has to do with, phones. Why phones? That’s a good question. Why a whole mixtape about a song she made nearly two decades ago is a better one.

Telephone is one of her best songs and a portion of it is Screw Mixed here, but it just makes you want to listen to the original; the same with her version of New Edition’s Telephone Man and Drake’s Hotline Bling. That’s not to say Badu’s renditions don’t improve on them; I like her soulful quirky style; it’s just disappointing to hear so many covers. The rest of the tape sounds like demo bits from what could be another good album. I’ll Call U Back is especially groovy.

my rating : 4 of 5

2015

audio review : Scary Hours 3 ( EP ) … Drake

audio review : Scary Hours 3 ( EP ) ... Drake

Drake’s third Scary Hours is, with its six songs, more of a traditional EP than the previous two. What’s odd is how its release is, at least initially, attached to a special Edition of his newest album; For All The Dogs; as opposed to standing on its own. The music itself makes more sense.

The rapper comes out throwing bombs on Red Button, which marks the tone for a set of new songs; these aren’t Dogs leftovers; that, for the most part, avoid the genre’s biggest flaw. There are hooks, and they’re expectingly weak, but they’re sparse enough not to ruin the project.

my rating : 4 of 5

2023

audio review : Innocence ( album ) … Kenny G

audio review : Innocence ( album ) ... Kenny G

An album of lullabies? Why not? It seems Kenny G stopped making regular (nonconceptual) albums years ago. Entering the genre of baby sleep music also serves as an unintentional quip at critics who complain that his music is boring. He should’ve used a different title though. Innocence brings to mind that song from The Moment.

There are only seven originals here. The rest are covers; the worst thing about the set. Mixing them, as opposed to just making a full-on cover album, is even more of a misstep. Still the project ultimately serves its purpose. I’d prefer a lead piano, even guitar, over a sax, but; screw the kids; it’s pleasant and serene enough to put me to sleep.

my rating : 3 of 5

2023

Black Rifle Espresso 300 [ Triple Shot ] : Caramel Vanilla

Black Rifle Espresso 300 [ Triple Shot ] : Caramel Vanilla

If you sip a can of this Espresso, which packs 300 milligrams of caffeine, expecting hints of Caramel and Vanilla, you’ll be in for a disappointment. You can’t detect either flavor. The Triple Shot moniker more accurately represents its three main ingredients; the only ones you can taste; Colombian coffee, milk and sugar. Still it’s a mildly pleasant experience.

my rating : 4 of 5

audio review : Ghetto Thang ( song ) … De La Soul

Ghetto Thang sounds damn good when the bass loop plays out in full with its accommodating whine synth. When it drops out, as during the title breaks, the quality plummets. The question is whether or not that happens often enough to ruin the song completely.

The refrain lasting just four bars as opposed to the usual eight, with one exception at the end, makes it more forgivable than it otherwise would’ve been. Still it’s an annoying distraction on a song the rappers (Trugoy/Posdnuos) should’ve rapped straight thru.

my rating : 3 of 5

1989

audio review : 3 Feet High And Rising ( album ) ... De La Soul

audio review : Killer Wants To Go To College ( song ) … Paul Simon

This, the second Killer Wants To Go To College of two from Paul Simon’s Capeman; he did a similar thing on the Hearts And Bones album; should’ve been titled Killer Wants To Go On TV as there are no direct school references here. It’s the better version though. Simon’s vocal melodies; he’s playing the role of Salvador Agron; sound stellar over the 1950s honky-tonk groove.

my rating : 4 of 5

1997

audio review : Songs From The Capeman ( album ) ... Paul Simon

audio review : Is She The Reason ( song ) … Destiny’s Child

The best part of this song; a “love” song dedicated to a heartbroken girl’s unofficial boyfriend; is 9th Wonder’s soulful 1970s-style beat, which loops a sample from Melba Moore’s I Don’t Know No One Else To Turn To.

The worst part is the bridge, which Michelle Williams basically ruins with her annoying vocal inflections. There should also be some kind of talking (monologue/dialogue) before the first verse. It’s a good song otherwise.

my rating : 4 of 5

2004

audio review : Destiny Fulfilled ( album ) ... Destiny's Child

Bamba Peanut Puffs

Bamba Peanut Puffs

These are like a cross between Peanut Butter (Cap’n) Crunch and Cheetos Puffs; the flavor of the former and the texture of the latter. The Bamba mascot suggests a snack for one-toothed infants, but it’s good for “the whole family” in terms of both taste and health. The ingredients list is surprisingly simple with no sugars or sweeteners.

my rating : 4 of 5

G Fuel Energy Drink : PewDiePie

G Fuel Energy Drink : PewDiePie

I don’t follow PewDiePie’s YouTube channel, so I don’t know if it makes sense for him to have his own beverage, but he is perhaps the most popular (video/computer) gamer in the world and Gaming is what the G in G Fuel stands for.

The picture on the can has him levitating what looks like a handful of cherries, which are included on the ingredients list, and that’s what this Energy Drink sort of tastes like, but they’re apparently supposed to be lingonberries.

my rating : 3 of 5

audio review : Rule Of Thumb [ Rule 1 ] ( album ) … E-40

This was supposed to be the sequel to Gift Of Gab, but, assuming the Rule 1 subtitle implies there’ll be a part 2, E-40 decided to save the title for a whole new series. Not that it matters much. These days his albums sound very much alike.

The rapper used to pen an array of vocal styles/flows, but now his Game is mostly generic. The same with these basic beats; Lovin Somebody, which sounds like an outtake from R Kelly’s Happy People set, being an obvious exception.

my rating : 3 of 5

2023

G Fuel Energy Drink : Hype Sauce

G Fuel Energy Drink : Hype Sauce

This Energy Drink; the G apparently stands for (computer/video) Gaming; is supposed to be based on raspberry lemonade, but you wouldn’t necessarily know by the taste. You certainly can’t tell by reading the can, which mentions neither flavor, though the ingredients list does include some interesting oddities like blueberry and broccoli.

my rating : 3 of 5