Manufacturer: Warner Bros.
Brand: Warner Bros
When the first track from a band's debut album gets added to major rock stations four weeks before its official release, it must be something very special. That's the case with "One Step Closer" from Linkin Park's first album, Hybrid Theory. Built on an aggressive hard rock foundation, flavored with hip-hop vocal stylings and electronic fourishes, as melodic as it is confrontational, with a strong lyrical message, Linkin Park is diverse and unique. It's also one step closer to scoring an important debut album - and that's not just theory.Certified Multi-Platinum (8 times) by the RIAA. (4/02) It may be too cynical to assume Hybrid Theory changed its name to Linkin Park in order to appear right next to Limp Bizkit in your local record bin. But rock-rap workouts like "One Step Closer" and "Papercut" do make Linkin Park a comfortable fit with Fred Durst and his ilk. Producer Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Lit, Eve 6) and twin vocal threats Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda serve up industrial-strength rap and rock melodicism with equal aplomb on this woulda-been-self-titled debut effort. "Points of Authority" aims to sound like Trent Reznor wanking it up with Lars and company, whereas guitarist Brad Delson's Edge-y harmonics help "In the End" and "Pushing Me Away" evoke a dark romanticism akin to A Perfect Circle. Curiously, the band gets by with no bass player, while sample-happy DJ Joseph Hahn's step into the spotlight on the instrumental "Cure for the Itch" suggests a potential for eclecticism that could help Linkin Park outlive its seemingly transient genre. --Bill Forman
LIMP BIZKIT SIGNIFICANT OTHER Florida-bred metal-rappers Limp Bizkit sold a million-plus records of their debut largely on the strength of a George Michael cover song. But the band indeed had "Faith" and the group's second outing proves that the Bizkit have the goods. Still, it seems as if boastful frontman Fred Durst is loading the band's deck again, this time by including scads of guest vocalists, such as Stone Temple Pilots' singer Scott Weiland, Method Man from Wu-Tang Clan, and Korn's Jonathan Davis. (In fact, Korn gave Limp Bizkit a leg up in the industry.) But the 16 diverse yet cohesive tracks on Significant Other don't need any help. Not as heavy as their mentors Korn--or as they are on their debut--Bizkit give Everlast a run for his money on the tuneful and appealing "Rearranged." "Just Like This" is another winning hip-hop and rock entry, while the amusing and memorable "Nookie" (as in "I did it all for the nookie") has self-deprecating lyrics not unlike the Offspring's "Self-Esteem." Bizkit segues with ease from pleasing rock and hip-hop amalgam to spooky Tool territory on "Don't Go Off Wandering" to moshable moments in the entreaty "Show Me What You Got." Significant Other may be hard to categorize, but it's easy to like. --Katherine Turman
CD > POPULAR MUSIC > ROCK Heâ€™s been shot nine times. Incarcerated. And stabbed up and down. And thatâ€™s only whatâ€™s happened on 50 Centâ€™s down time. Hands down, 50 Cent is the biggest buzz emcee since Eminem (who just happens to be his label CEO), and Get Rich also features Dr. Dre on production, so itâ€™s a canâ€™t-miss record, right? Well, mostly. Get Rich is not filled with midtempo, radio-friendly numbers like "Wanksta," his thinly veiled Ja Rule dis first heard on the 8 Mile soundtrack. Instead, Cent brings the heat, not heater. He sheds his inner thug on "21 Questions," featuring G-funk crooner Nate Dogg showing some semblance of respect to the hotties, and then reverts right back to his thug persona on "In da Club," where he boasts "Iâ€™m into having sex, I ainâ€™t into making love." Thereâ€™s no "How to Rob, Pt. 2" here, although "Many Men" comes close, as he addresses some of the haters who may not fully get why heâ€™s now rapâ€™s big cheese. Surprisingly, the two Eminem-produced joints--"Patiently Waiting" (which thematically is very much like Emâ€™s "Lose Yourself"), and "Donâ€™t Push Me"--almost rival the beats supplied by Dre. Then again, it seems his most well-known cuts ("High All the Time" and "Wanksta," for example) are actually some of the weakest of the lot. Sure, Get Rich could never have lived up to the hype, itâ€™s nowhere near Biggie's Ready to Die or Nas's Illmatic, but there's no fast-forward material here, a near miracle in these times. --Dalton Higgins
NEED REF On The Slim Shady LP, Eminem wants it all. He's conflicted, you see; the world has treated him badly, and he wants to respond in kind. But he isn't a straight-up gangsta--this is, after all, the first release on Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, his post-Death Row-era venture--and Eminem (born Marshall Mathers) doesn't really want anyone to follow in his footsteps, which leads to some interesting contradictions on this album. In the first single, "My Name Is," he's self-deprecating, rapping about his poor upbringing and his hairy palms. But on the very next song, "Guilty Conscience," he plays the devil to Dr. Dre's angel--that is, until Eminem brings up an incident from Dre's devilish past, rapping, "You gonna take advice from someone who slapped Dee Barnes?" Later, on "'97 Bonnie & Clyde," he turns Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us" on its ear, making it a tale of murder; but on "My Fault," he actually feels bad--though whether it's for the girl he overdosed or for himself is tough to figure out. With his nasal Midwestern tone, Mathers has a clean, clear flow, and the production--by Dr. Dre, Marky, and Jeff Bass--is crisp but consistently fun. With his outlook, it's tough to take Eminem too seriously, but he's made an album you don't have to take seriously to enjoy. --Randy Silver
EMINEM THE MARSHALL MATHERS Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? On Eminem's sophomore album, he can't decide who he wants to be: the deranged pseudo-psycho of the Slim Shady LP, or a nice guy who just likes to rhyme about slicing and dicing his girlfriend ("Kim"). Of course, according to Eminem, he's just kidding. He refuses to take responsibility for the misogynistic, homophobic bile he spews, whining that he's the victim of people who don't get his unique sense of humor. It's good old America's fault if the kids aren't alright (Eminem blames bad parenting), and he's just capitalizing on Uncle Sam's dark side. On the Marshall Mathers LP, he's ambivalent about his fame, angry at his life, pissed off that people take him seriously, and fightin' mad at boy bands--and a lot of other white people. But the blue-eyed brat is acutely aware of his status as rap's resident alien: he has the most offensive mouth running, but never uses the "N" word. He gives lyrical love to tragic (black) legends like Tupac and Biggie while dissing white rappers hard. Even sitting duck Puffy gets the kid-gloves treatment. Of course, Eminem is an interesting, witty rapper, and there's some nice production on this CD, courtesy of Dr. Dre and others. But the hatred in Eminem's rhymes makes the album rotten at its core. And his protests that Slim Shady is just a persona become less convincing with each arrest. Then again, Eminem's got it hard: he's rich, famous, white, and male. --Lizz Mendez Berry
Manufacturer: Interscope Records
EMINEM THE EMINEM SHOW Any lingering doubts as to the depth of Eminem's skills or his potential for raw yet compelling honesty are dispelled on The Eminem Show's first track. Armed with a quicksilver flow and a thundering rhythm track (the record was exec produced by longtime mentor and partner Dr. Dre), "White America" finds Eminem ferociously mauling the hand that feeds him, lambasting his critics, the industry, and the racism that, in many ways, helped make Marshall Mathers more than just another rapper. "Let's do the math," Em sneers, "If I was black I would have sold half/ I could be one of your kids/ Little Eric looks just like this." After the bombast of The Marshall Mathers LP and Eminem's well-noted use of sexual epithets, this kind of material is made more controversial because it actually rings true. From a brutal retort to his long-estranged and equally troubled mother ("Cleaning Out My Closets") to a surprisingly tender ode to his child ("Hailie's Song"), Eminem examines his life, loves, arrests, addictions, failures, and successes with surprising insight, making this a funk-drenched hip-hop confessional well worth the hype. --Amy Linden
Debut album from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Emerging out of the Pacific Northwest, the pair have been featured at major festivals including Lollapalooza, Rock The Bells, Sasquatch, MusicFest NW and Outside Lands. Album guests include Ben Bridwell of Band Of Horses, Allen Stone, ScHoolboy Q & Ab-Soul.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
awesome debut The first solo album by the Fugees' most distinctive voice quickly wipes away the pretensions of so many current hip-hoppers' discs. It does so by both engaging their widescreen ethos--"To Zion," with its martial drums and gospel choir, is as epic a production as has been heard in 1998's pop music--and speaking the plain truth. Reminiscent in its scope of nothing so much as Aretha's early-'70s Spirit in the Dark and Young, Gifted and Black, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill also easily earns its late-'90s place next to Erykah Badu's Baduizm. Even more personal, if hardly any more political, than cohort Wyclef Jean's Carnival, Miseducation focuses equally on her life (especially the birth of her child) and social concerns about the present and future. Its often quiet surface, if anything, lends intensity. "Everything you drop is so tired," she scolds artistically dead-ended rappers on "Superstar"; if more artists shared her vision, occasional eccentricities and bottom-line talent, she wouldn't have to complain. --Rickey Wright
Manufacturer: Roadrunner Records
Within the confines, or lack thereof, of VOL. 3: (THE SUBLIMINAL VERSES) lies a new level of musicianship, achieved through the hard work poured into supporting their self-titled debut and their subsequent hit album, IOWA. Produced by Rick Rubin, Vol 3 not only captures the bandâ€™s strengths to this point- it sees the spore that is Slipknot exploding in all directions. The songs on this daring effort transcend traditional hard music structure, and will surprise the uninitiated with their dynamic appeal. Masterful guitar work, visceral drum beats, and a newly-expanded vocal range are highlights of this work that Corey Taylor (#8) calls "both brutal and beautiful." Much of the creative inspiration in evidence on the new album is owed to Rubin and his reputedly- haunted mansion, in which the band lived while recording VOL. 3: (THE SUBLIMINAL VERSES). "You can really feel (the effect of the mansion) on the album. There were ghosts in the machine, in the equipment! . Things would freeze, things would loop for no reason at all. It was strange," adds Taylor. Paul Gray (#2) comments on what Rubin brought to the tableâ€¦ "Rick brought a huge amount of open mindedness - normally 9 different people trying different things can be tough - Rick got us to just throw all our preconceived notions out the window. He was able to integrate bits and pieces of everyone's ideas." The first single off VOL. 3: (THE SUBLIMINAL VERSES), "Duality" is, "lyrically, what you might think... we've been through a lot as a band and the lyrics really reflect our maintaining faith and the perseverance of all 9 of us," says Joey Jordison (#1). "Duality" represents the album well in its unwillingness to compromise the bandâ€™s rock foundation and its ability to be aurally appealing and melodic at the same time. Other songs of note on the record, "Before I Forget" and "Vermillion" underline the statement made by "Duality", with their dark melodies and fierce instrumentation. "Before I Forget" is about rising above the bull*#!t...