Previewing new albums from Trick Daddy, Allison Moorer, Jarvis Church, and more.
Everyone knows rapper Trick Daddy loves a good party. But for his latest Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic release, "Thug Holiday," the Miami native makes a notable shift in his career. "'Thug Holiday' is all about change," Trick Daddy says. "Times change and people change. I've changed since the last record. 'Thug Holiday' talks about my problems and the problems of today, especially the 9/11 attacks. It also talks about my family coming closer and forming a tight circle, because the streets have changed and become more vicious."
Trick pulls no punches with tracks like "Ain't No Santa Claus" and the album's title cut. "Naw, it wasn't hard for me to record [those songs]," the MC says. "I used to hold back because people would get offended, but now I'm like, 'You're going to hear me, regardless. Whether you accept what I have to say or not is on you.'
Lead single "In Da Wind," which features Cee-Lo and Outkast's Big Boi, has already created much anticipation for the set. "I wanted to get the Florida and Georgia thing going," he says of the single, which is No. 20 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart. "Nobody never really did it and really represented it before, so I wanted to make it happen. I got good vibes off it and we're around the corner from each other -- meaning Cee-Lo and Big Boi are from the same hood upbringing. We come from the same background, so it was a breeze."
'Shake' And Bake, With A Little Hot Cake
People in the industry may know the name Jarvis Church because of his pivotal role in discovering, writing for, and producing Grammy-winning DreamWorks artist Nelly Furtado. What they probably don't know is that Church has spent more than a decade in the music business, releasing three Sony Music albums pre-Furtado.
Now the artist hopes to focus the spotlight squarely on himself with the release this week of his solo debut, "Shake It Off," on RCA. First single "Shake It Off" is supported by a Chris Robinson-directed video. "I feel I've been working toward this album for the last 10 years of my career," says Church, who initially logged a lengthy tenure as the lead vocalist with eclectic soul combo the Philosopher Kings.
Vocally, Church possesses an accomplished and strong falsetto that is best showcased when paired with a strong, organic soulful backdrop, as found on the title track, the Prince-like ballad "That Old Love Song," and "If We Only Knew." Elsewhere on the album, pop and reggae elements creep in along with more programmed electronic beats and sounds that certainly make for an eclectic set. "I hope musically it's not too spread out for people to get," confides Church. "I wanted to create a certain cohesiveness that would hold it together. That was my biggest challenge."
Recordings from Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison are featured on a 44-song, two-disc set chronicling the history of Sun Records. Due this week from BMG Heritage, "Sun Records 50th Anniversary" contains such legendary tracks as Presley's "Mystery Train," Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes," and Sonny Burgess' "Red Headed Woman."
The Memphis label, launched by producer Sam Phillips after he recorded such artists as B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and Jakie Brenston for blues label Chess Records, melded R&B and country to pave the way for rock'n'roll's mainstream acceptance.
"What I like most of all [about the set] is that [BMG] didn't try to doctor it with a lot of EQ," Phillips says. "I absolutely didn't want it cleaned up too much. You'd take the indigenous feel and the heart and the soul right out of it. I just went out to get gutbucket, and in the main, we did just that. It wasn't that I was afraid of changing someone's style, I just felt like I wouldn't have what we could do best if we put a real tuxedo on someone who loved a truly good pair of overalls."
Allison Moorer doesn't shy away from living life on the musical edge. "It's not always easy to categorize all music," the singer/songwriter says. "I know my music is hard to put in a box, but that's fine by me. It's up to you all to name it." Too edgy for country radio, yet too country for pop radio, the Nashville-based Moorer is one serious Music Row misfit. This left-of-center standing may -- or may not -- change with the release this week of Moorer's new album, "Miss Fortune."
The artist's first set for Universal South, "Miss Fortune" is inviting, warm, and stylish; it's also home to one of this generation's most gifted singers. But unlike what came before, the seductive "Miss Fortune" -- replete with melancholic strings, lush pianos, and organic guitars -- shines the light on an artist who is taking major musical strides forward. While Moorer's neo-traditionalist country roots are ever-present, so too are blues and pop overtones.
"It's funny," Moorer says. "I made a very traditional country record at the beginning of my career, but I wasn't accepted by radio or the [country] establishment. Whatever the reason, after I realized I wasn't fitting in, I decided I didn't care. And when you don't care, it becomes a lot easier to get the job done."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- Universal's "XXX" soundtrack, which is divided into two discs; a hip-hop set features cuts from the likes of Nelly and N*E*R*D, while a rock album boasts songs from Bush's Gavin Rossdale and Queens Of The Stone Age.
-- A new album from rapper Scarface, "The Fix" (Def Jam).
-- Country artist Phil Vassar's "American Child" (Arista).
-- Pianist/songwriter Jim Brickman's "Love Songs & Lullabies" (Windham Hill).
-- U.K. rock outfit Gene's "Libertine" (iMusic).
-- The soundtrack to "24 Hour Party People" (ffRR/Essential), featuring a new song from New Order and classic cuts from the Clash, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, and more.
-- Singer/songwriter Victoria Williams' "Sings Some Ol' Songs" (DualTone).
-- A self-titled album featuring Blur/Gorillaz mainman Damon Album in collaboration with musicians from Mali under the moniker Mali Music (Honest Jon's/Astralwerks).
-- A tribute album to industry veteran Lee Hazlewood, "Total Lee" (Astralwerks).
-- A reissue of U.K. rock act Clinic's sophomore set "Walking With Thee" (Universal).