Blockbuster or Bust: Music
Tue, 26 May 2009 10:36:19
Eminem - Relapse (5/19/09)
It's been nearly five years since the public got its last dose of Eminem with 2004's Encore. The intervening years saw the rapper battling rumors of drug dependency, obesity and—most frightening—irrelevance. Having seemingly shaken off the first two pitfalls, he's turned his attention towards battling the last with his newest release, Relapse. Certified kingpins and Aftermath compatriots 50 Cent and Dr. Dre are on board for the revamped Slim Shady show, and the enormous response to first single "Crack a Bottle" proved Em's name was still a potent draw for rap fiends.
Prediction: Marshall Mathers will have the faithful lined up for blocks to cop his new product, which will undoubtedly mean big numbers out of the gate. However, there's the outside chance that younger listeners will be looking for their fix elsewhere, leading to a precipitous drop off in sales after the first week.
Passion Pit – Manners (5/19/09)
Every year sees the rise of one or two buzz bands with the potential to explode across the blogosphere and rise to levels of indie notoriety that translates into blockbuster success in their sphere. Following the breakout success of their single "Sleepyhead," Passion Pit may just be that act for summer '09. As the brainchild of Michael Angelakos, Passion Pit churn out a high fructose blend of synthesized melodies and children's choir choruses that has the potential to bubble up in an iTunes commercial and rocket them into the larger public consciousness.
Prediction: It'll take the right music supervisor to breath commercial life (both literal and figurative) into the band, but it's more than possible.
Busta Rhymes - Back On My B.S. (5/19/09)
Busta can definitely claim veteran status in the game, though he doesn’t exactly oocupy the same rarified air as Nas and Jay-Z. The Flipmode frontman is making a push to maintain his status as king of the club banger with Back On My B.S. His eighth studio album—which was initially slated for release last summer under the name Blessed—follows a spate of legal drama and label woes for the rapper. Even with tracks "Don't Touch Me (Throw da Water on 'em)" and "Arab Money" keeping the dance floor hot, there was a question as to whether the album would ever see the light of day. Thankfully, the confusion seems to have fallen away, leaving the music to stand on its own two.
Prediction: It's been a long time since Busta really had us all in check (woo haa!), and the crippling delays means this album will trickle out as a requisite vehicle for its popular singles and likely nothing else.
Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D. (6/9/09)
It may be titled The E.N.D. but rest assured, we have only experienced the beginning of the new Black Eyed Peas LP. The ethnically inclusive, over-styled foursome have already shot to the top of the charts with first single "Boom Boom Pow" and they shouldn’t be expected to stop there. Ringleader will.i.am crafts albums where every song could—and might—serve as a single. He's decided to push that aesthetic to it's logical end this time around, as the title is an acronym for The Energy Never Dies, which in his words means "It's a diary ... of music that at any given time, depending on the inspiration, you can add to it." It's a method of pop craftsmanship that lead to the group's gargantuan success in the past and virtually guarantees it again this time around.
Prediction: The BEPs will not be fading gently into the night with the The E.N.D. Instead, look for them to go out with a Boom. Boom. Pow.
Lil Wayne – Rebirth (7/21/09)
It was Weezy's willingness to break out of his early Cash Money confines by treading into more abstract waters that helped make him a critical darling on top of being a commercial success. Now, after making a reasonable claim to the title of "Best Rapper Alive" with The Carter III, he's taking a step even further afield with the upcoming Rebirth. Billed as his "rock" record, Rebirth could either serve to reignite 90's Nu-Metal hybridization or kill Weezy's penchant for experimentation. Few MC's even have the artistic capitol to buy themselves the benefit of the doubt in this regard, so the fact that he hasn’t already been laughed out of the building for even suggesting this turn should count as a victory for Wayne.
Prediction: The hip hop massive are willing to give certain artists a fair amount of creative rope (see: 808's and Heartbreaks), but it's often just enough for the message boards to hang them with. Wanye will convince a core group of fanboys that Rebirth is an evolution but those of us enough old enough to know better will see it as a return to rap riffs better left for dead.