Chief Keef – Finally Rich (2012; Interscope)

Lyricism is an aspect of rap that purists would rank the most essential in terms of a rapper’s talent. Chief Keef is no purist. He also has no shortage of talent.
Throughout Finally Rich, Keef rarely supplies anything that would qualify as technical rap skills. What he does possess, however, is undeniable energy, personality and tunefulness. On opening track “Love Sosa”, Keef delivers a simple, repetitive, but extremely infectious melody – the first of many to grace Finally Rich’s 15 tracks.
These mantra-style hooks range from the Future-channeling autotuned gurgles of “Citgo,’ to the absurdly simplistic “Laughing To The Bank” (with a chorus that literally incorporates a hearty “HA HA HA”). Much of the production is left with in-house beatmaker Young Chop, who is as much responsible for this winning formula as Keef himself.
Like it or not, Keef has made an effective and rewarding album with next to no lyrical ability in the classical sense.

Trial Track: “Love Sosa”
Rating: 7/10

– Trevor Smith

Girls’ Generation – I Got A Boy (2013; S.M. Entertainment)

I Got A Boy is the latest release from iconic K-Pop group Girls’ Generation, also known as SNSD.Widely notorious for their syrupy sweet-sounding breakout single “Gee” in 2009, the group’s fourth studio album has gone beyond the boundaries of pop by experimenting with various music genres.
The album has 10 tracks, yielding a magical blend of sweet voices syncing harmoniously with a catchy beat that leaves you hooked. Some of the album’s notable songs include “Express 999,” which has a nostalgic, upbeat ‘80s/’90s sound. “Dancing Queen” – not to be confused for ABBA’s – rings a bell for many music junkies. It borrows a beat from Duffy’s “Mercy.”
The one to pay attention to is “I Got A Boy.” Sporting a strong layer of hip-hop, you’ll find yourself humming subconsciously when you listen to the catchy chorus. I Got A Boy – both the album and single itself – are definitive ear candy.

Trial Track: “I Got A Boy”
Rating: 7 /10

– Saturn de los Angeles


Dropkick Murphys – Signed and Sealed in Blood (2013; Born & Bred Records)

Dropkick Murphys, the Celtic punk band from Quincy, Massachusetts, has released their eighth studio record, entitled Signed and Sealed in Blood.
Produced by Ted Hutt (famous for his work with SideOneDummy Records’ artists Flogging Molly and Gaslight Anthem), the album was released on the bands vanity label, Born and Bred, on Jan. 8.
If you are Dropkick fan, you’ll love this record, most likely because they haven’t tried to fix a working formula – a formula comprised of fast-paced punk guitar, bass and drums, coupled with lyrical drinking anthems, growling vocals and a set of bagpipes to boot.
The album is under 41 minutes in length, providing an excellent collection of Irish-fueled goodness. While the lack of innovation does show in the band’s latest effort (they feature AC/DC-like musical composition), it’s hard to argue with music this energetic and entertaining.
Crack open a beer and sing-along!

Trial Track: Rose Tattoo
Rating: 8 / 10

– A.J. Cordeiro


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