Rihanna - Talk That Talk (4/5). Congratulations to Rihanna on her horniest work yet. On, Talk That Talk, Rihanna's vagina has never been more revved up and ready to go. It begins with the beat heavy urban-drenched opener "You Da One" in which she sings ("You had me yellin' like that... Ain't no other niggas like you") then to the drum and synth heavy R&B title track "Talk That Talk" featuring hip-hop heavyweight Jay-Z.
Then it flows to the albums sexually climatic mid-section where things border on sexual overload--with the bass-doped "Cockiness (Love It)" which bluntly opens with the lyric: "I want you to be my sex slave" which sets the tone for the just as vulgar chorus ("Suck my cock-iness, lick my persuasion") which harbours the repetition of "I love it, I love it, I love it when you eat it."
This is quickly followed by the kinetic hip-hop of "Birthday Cake" a short interlude where Rihanna lays her cards on the table as she states with blunt disposition: "I wanna fuck you right now," and the more darkening R&B of "Roc Me Out" ("Boy I'm so ready, you're taking too long to get my head on the ground"). A prude, she is not.
Sexual vulgarities aside, Talk That Talk, is Rihanna's most musically interesting and diverse (albeit lyrically disappointing) album to date--venturing into a well-executed mix of dance-pop, R&B, hip-hop and even more left-field alternative territories. Eighth track "Drunk On Love" samples British indie pop band The XX's "Intro" from their debut album--Genius! "Where Have You Been" has a strong, throbbing euro-pop edge. It reminds me of Ne-Yo "Closer" a little, before the skewing synths and drums kick in.
Others aren't so enthralling. The attempt at uplifting pop in "We All Want Love" is nothing short of underwhelming (and a little weird as it follows "Birthday Cake"). And I'm not too sold on the Caribbean pop "Watch n' Learn," which is actually just as sexually driven as the aforementioned ("Imma do it on the bed, on the floor, on the couch..."). However, the album does close on a nice note, with the vocally engaging ballad "Farewell" which only highlights how far Rihanna's come since the piercing screeching of "Unfaithful."
Best: We Found Love, Drunk On Love, Talk That Talk, You Da One, Where Have You Been, Farewell
Drake - Take Care (3.5/5). Canadian rapper Drake showcased his distinctive taste in hip-hop with his debut album last year, Thank Me Later, which ultimately revolves around a seductive blend of soft beats, the occasional piano chords, hollowing atmospherics and his indisputable flow. Admittedly, I didn't give it enough appreciation, however the problem I had with such a sensitive sound is that things can get a little dull and repetitive, which is a flaw that transfers itself onto here, except only this time it's an extremely extensive 18 track album that more or less cuts from the same vein. On a more positive note, with such a similar sounding set, it's easier to pick out the highlights such as the scattering beat-heavy hip-hop of lead single "Headlines," the awesome mix of pounding bass lines and piano chords on title track "Take Care" featuring Rihanna. The dark mid-tempo "Marvin's Room" is also personal favorite. Expectedly, some interesting collaborations pop up--such as the quite mellow R&B of "Doing It Wrong" featuring Stevie Wonder and the obligatory Nicki Minaj collab ("Make Me Proud"). Best: Headlines, Marvin's Room, Take Care, Make Me Proud, Doing It Wrong