This is a hip-hop site, but I do occasionally pay attention to genres other than my first love. So, I have made, especially for you, my brief thoughts on two recent albums from singers that interest me: Janelle Monae and Tamar Braxton. I’ve handled Tamar’s comeback cd below and I’ll ponder Janelle Monae’s latest collection of android love songs tomorrow. Those annoyed by this temporary change in theme can ignore these posts and look forward to the usual hip-hop stuff coming soon after this aberration. I’ve got a Procussions EP and album to chew through, the Flatbush Zombies last mixtape, plus a lot of mainstream stuff that I might want to discuss came out recently. Maybe I’ll wax on the fine symbolism within Gucci Mane’s latest trap masterpiece?
Tamar Braxton – Love and War
Mrs. Knowledge is the main reason I know who Tamar Braxton is. She’s the bad influence that got me started watching the Braxton’s reality show and then Tamar’s spinoff, and she has played Tamar’s music ever since the Love and War single release last December. Despite the buzz created by the tv shows and single, Love and War, the album, was only released last month. I assume that her recent pregnancy was the cause for this long wait, and hope that it didn’t hurt her sales too badly. But last I checked, Love and War had debuted at #2, sold around 200k units total, and she’s also sold more than 1.5 million singles between Love and War and The One. I’d still call all that successful even though I expected more album sales by now. Anyway, on to the music.
Like anyone who watched the aforementioned shows, I’m not surprised by the ratchet R&B-pop here. Actually, the number of songs of other types is what surprised me about Love and War. With Tamar repeatedly saying on her tv shows that she wanted ratchet on this album, I expected that would be her main style. But it’s split pretty evenly. Faster, ratchet-er club songs coexist with ballads and even an inspirational/spiritual tune. Some will love that variety, but I ended up only liking half the album. I can’t say that anything was poorly made or executed, and I have to admit that her voice sounds great on every track. But most of the dance songs and even some of the slower ballads were too extreme for me. I like some more soul with my R&B.
All the singles are good, but in my perfect world, Hot Sugar would have been Tamar’s summer single, instead of The One. That would have showcased the sexy and fun sides of the album (I refuse to type the r-word anymore), complimenting Love and War, which already showcased the serious ballad style. The One is fun in its own way, but is a little too wholesome to represent songs like Tip-Toe, a song about keeping meetings with a lover secret from gossip-hounds.
For an album that’s not at all built for my tastes, Love and War is pretty damn good. I think its styles show her personality well, and as far as future releases, more of that would be fine with me.