For some reason, December has established itself as the month when a lot of bigname urban artists release albums. I’m not sure when or how that happened, but over the past couple of years, this month has hosted releases by Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and Jamie Foxx…and, hark! They all have new albums scheduled for release THIS December! How coincidental! However, those albums won’t be out for another week or two, so let’s concentrate on what’s in stores today:

Chris Brown “Graffiti”: So, here’s the test: can Chris Brown recover his career? That’s hard to say. A lot of people have a hard time separating someone’s art from their personal lives, although an interesting case study can be found in R. Kelly. Those child-porn charges didn’t stop people from coming out in droves to buy “Chocolate Factory”, did it? That said, Kelly returned with an album that got excellent reviews and spun off a couple of hit singles. So far, “Graffiti”‘s first single, “I Can Transform Ya”has only scored moderate success, and reviews of “Graffiti” have been savage. So this will be an interesting one to watch. Finally, if Chris’s album outsells Rihanna’s in the first week, what does that say about us as a society?

Timbaland “Shock Value 2”:  Allow me to say for the record: as talented as Timbaland is as a producer (and despite being overrated, the man *is* talented), his albums tend to suck. The first “Shock Value” had a couple of good songs and a ton of crapola. This one piles on the star power to the point that there might not be a whole lot of actual Timbo vocalizing on this album-which is probably a good thing. Guests on this album include (inhale) Gucci Mane, Drake, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, The Fray, Chris Daughtry, Katy Perry, T-Pain, Keri Hilson, Brandy and others. This might be my only purchase of the week-promises to be an interesting listen.

Snoop Dogg “Malice N Wonderland”: Does anyone even care about Snoop’s music anymore? “Sexual Seduction” got me all excited about buying his last album, “Ego Trippin'”, and then the album turned out to be a piece of shit. Let’s face facts: Snoop has basically made variations of the exact same album for the past sixteen years. Nothing suggests “Malice” will be any different, although the production, courtesy of legends like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and the rapidly-falling-off Dr. Dre, will probably be stronger than on any of the D-O-Double G’s latest albums. Still, this is a “skip” for me.

Gucci Mane “The State vs. Radric Davis”: I knew I wasn’t going to like this dude as soon as I heard his name. As soon as you hear “Gucci Mane”, you know he’s one of those Southern rappers with a mouth full of gold teeth, talking absolute nonsense. Now, to be fair, I only heard this guy once-I caught a commercial just yesterday announcing the album’s release on BET, but those 30 seconds were enough to convince me that this guy is an absolute joke. Of course, given the guy’s impending jail sentence for a parole violation, this will probably be the biggest seller of any of the albums listed here. Sigh.

Clipse “Til’ the Casket Drops”: After a frustrating two-album stint with Jive Records, the Thornton Brothers of Virginia have linked up with Columbia Records and are now releasing their third effort. Granted, Jive and Columbia are both Sony-distributed labels, so I don’t know how much different things can possibly be, but let’s just say it’s a new start for the sake of agreement, OK? Anyway, I find these guys annoying, although some people (especially white music critics) seem to go completely apeshit over these guys. Oh well, they don’t have to go back to the ‘hood and see the consequences of an environment where kids actually accept the unapologetic drug and violence tales of acts like the Clipse as the gospel truth. Honestly, I don’t either, but that’s the environment I come from and it pisses me off to see the unfortunate situations a lot of urban youth find themselves in being exploited by record executives and artists who don’t give a fuck as long as they’re being paid.


Elsewhere, not a lot to report. Ska-rock legends The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are releasing their first album in seven years, while Jared Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars have settled their legal differences with their label and have returned with “This is War” (look for this one to do boffo numbers when all is said and done…). “Glee” (the most overrated new TV show this year) releases a second soundtrack in record time (the first one came out barely six weeks ago), and there are also new albums out by Jimmy Buffett (for you youngun’s, he’s like an old version of Kenny Chesney or Jack Johnson) and Puddle of Mudd (write your own joke in here).

A full list of this week’s new releases can be found here.