Manufacturer: Roc A Fella
Brand: Umgd/Def Jam
WEST KANYE THE COLLEGE DROPOUT This debut from the most sought-after hip-hop producer not named Pharrell delivers the unthinkable: West magically sledgehammers home his opinions on taboo topics over beats that are equally daring. The envelope-ripping beats shouldn't come as a surprise given that he's supplied the soundscapes to monster singles by everyone from Alicia Keys ("You Don't Know My Name") to Talib Kweli ("Get By"). What is freakish is that in West's world, rhymes about strippers, God, college life, and guns can co-exist tidily and not undermine each other. On "Breathe In Breathe Out" he raps "I gotta apologize to Mos and Kweli/is it cool to rap about gold if I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali"--tongue firmly planted in cheek. On the catchy "Through the Wire," fuelled by a Chaka Khan hook, he spits some impeccable rhymes despite his jaw being wired shut after a near-fatal car accident. Maybe it was this brush with mortality that kicked his lyrics into high gear on "All Falls Down." The skits on here are just as potent, one poking fun at the overeducated underclass that makes a small fraction of the loot he does. With jaw-dropping cameos from Jay-Z, Common, Mos Def, and the Harlem Boys Choir plus the feel-good club tune of the year, "Slow Jamz" featuring Twista, College Dropout is as explosive, contradictory, and complex as rap music gets. --Dalton Higgins
Manufacturer: Roc A Fella
Special edition double vinyl LP. The week this debut album came out, Kanye's name was all over the Top 20s for his hit singles "Through the Wire," "Jesus Walks," "All Falls Down" and "Slow Jamz." What's even more remarkable is that this breakthrough came during his recovery from a car wreck that nearly took his life-the song "Through the Wire" is about the accident, and was recorded two weeks after he was in the hospital, with his jaw still wired shut. He's hailed the event as both the worst thing that could've happened to him, and the best. The record sold 441,000 copies in its very first week and has been named both by "Time" and "Rolling Stone" as one of the greatest albums of all time. Guest appearances here include Jay-Z, John Legend, Ervin "EP" Pope, Miri Ben-Ari, Syleena Johnson and Jamie Foxx
Sometimes stars emerge. Sometimes stars are thrust upon us. And sometimes stars simply slip into the atmosphere as if propelled by something otherworldly. It is into this last category that the astonishing presence, voice, look and feel of Lana Del Rey falls. Musical stardom is not an option with Ms. Del Rey. It is her vocation. She calls herself the -gangsta Nancy Sinatra- and defines her genre as -Hollywood pop/ sadcore-, a dramatic new loop for pop music. Lana Del Rey proudly presents the highly anticipated BORN TO DIE, featuring the hit singles "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans".
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Brand: SYSTEM OF A DOWN
2001 album from the California Metal quartet led by Serj Tankian. The album was produced by Rick Rubin. System of a Down's sophomore effort is a musically and lyrically ambitious 14-song collection that's even more left-of-center and powerful than their 1998 self-titled debut. Here the Los Angeles-bred foursome tackle everything from government ("Prison Song") to cocaine-crazed groupies ("Psycho") in a more pointed and aggressive manner than Rage Against the Machine. Serj Tankian's hardcore vocals and occasional Middle Eastern flourishes ("Science") contribute to the unique, ultra-intense, and quirky qualities of System circa 2001. Unexpected time changes and death-metal-like intensity give way to mellower moments, all of which make for demanding but irresistible listening. Toxicity is a masterful, unusual, and forceful opus. --Katherine Turman
Brand: Del Rey, Lana
Highly anticipated 2012 debut album from the New York-based singer, songwriter and performer. She has described herself as a "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" and cites Britney Spears, Thomas Newman and Bruce Springsteen as her musical influences. Lana Del Rey's direct influences were visual as well as musical; David Lynch, soundtracks for `50s black and white movies, the whirring sound of the Ferris at Coney Island, fame itself. She lived in a New Jersey trailer park and decked her homestead in flags, streamers and seasonally inappropriate Christmas lights. Like these things she loves, the album sparkles with color and vitality. Includes the hit singles 'Video Games' and 'Blue Jeans'.
Radiohead Photos Â Â Â Â More from Radiohead OK Computer The Bends Kid A Pablo Honey Amnesiac The Astoria London Live Filling the gulf between OK Computer's epic progressive rock and Kid A's skittering electronic theatrics, Hail to the Thief borrows equally from each. Its title implies that this will be a collection filled with songs of anger and dissent, but Radiohead no longer howl at the moon like they did on 1995's The Bends. Instead, they use eloquent metaphors and complicated arrangements to express the uncertainty, fear and anger arising from the 2000 U.S. presidential election and a post-9/11 world. Thereâ€™s no doubt about where Thom Yorke and company stand; the prog-rock break on "2 + 2 = 5" and Yorke's terror at the thought of being "put in a dock" make that immediately clear. But there's a prevailing sense of powerlessness here. The tinkling piano behind the cold sonic surface of "Backdrifts" and the brief, swooping melody in the middle of "Sail to the Moon" are islands in a sea of confusion. Like the band's best work, Thief requires more than a few listens to fully appreciate, but those who stick around will be richly rewarded. --Matthew Cooke
Manufacturer: Warner Bros.
Brand: Warner Bros
The Red Hot Chili Peppers of the quadruple-platinum smash Blood Sugar Sex Magic are back - revitalized and reunited - with their first album in four years and perhaps their most anticipated album ever. Most importantly, Californication marks the homecoming of guitarist John Frusciante, a key ingredient in the group's most successful albums. His return signals the energized re-emergence of one of rock's premier emotional, powerful and exciting bands. Certified at 4 million units by the RIAA. (2/01) Reunited with producer Rick Rubin and guitarist John Frusciante (both of whom were on board for the 1991's breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik), the Chili Peppers waste no time in burying their last effort, the so-so One Hot Minute. Californication's kickoff cut, "Around the World," swaggers around the room, reacquainting itself with old fans and welcoming new ones. Fuzzy Hendrix vibes and popcorn bass lines still rule the roost, along with a heaping helping of disco magic and some unexpected twists. Ten years ago, Anthony Kiedis and company wouldn't have been comfortable doing revamped new wave ("Parallel Universe") or unpretentious ballads (the acoustic "Road Trippin'"), but such material fits Californication's extra-wide canvas. Except for a few meandering numbers that could have been excised, the Red Hot Chili Peppers succeed and regain their footing on the mountain of adrenalized funk. --Jason Josephes