These are the Hot Picks for May:
Digital Underground / Cuz a D.U. Party Don’t Stop
Forget the Year of the Rat; 2008 seems to be the year of so-so career endings. First, industrial legend Ministry gave fans the middle finger with one of the lamest farewell tours in history, and now seminal hip-hop group Digital Underground releases their final studio album – and it is a bit of a disappointment for longtime fans expecting more. It is easy to see the band was trying for something different and that is worthy of applause, as its one of the group’s most enduring talents.
The album starts out promising with typical D.U. shenanigans in the form of “Eat Boiled Peanuts,” but about 60 seconds into the second track, “Who’s Bumpin’,” you realize something is missing. There’s not much rapping to be had, especially by group founders Shock-G and Money B. “Cali Boogie” hits next and slams it home with Shock-G and Money-B trading rhymes, but as “Lettuce in the Club” hits the speakers, it is evident that D.U isn’t bringing a slam-dunk with this release.
There are a few other decent tracks, like “More Manure,” “Blue Skyy” and “Everything Ya Done For Me,” but the rest of the album is made up of live tracks and interludes that are neither poignant nor hysterical like the majority of the groups past material. It’s clear the point of the album is to pass the torch to the group's younger members like Esinchill, Element, and the amazing spinning and sampling of DJ Nu-Stylez. It’s a laudable attempt and something that has made D.U. the true definition of a “rap collective” much more so than a group like Wu-Tang Clan.
Shock-G and his alter ego Humpty Hump, along with Money-B and the rest of the massive D.U. family, are one of the brightest crews in hip-hop. It will never be forgotten what they have brought to the table of hip-hop. Sadly, this album does not do them justice for whatever reasons. If your familiar with D.U., pick this up to support the D-flow family if nothing else, but if you're new to the scene and are only familiar with “The Humpty Dance,” start with something else like their masterful album The Body Hat Syndrome or the creative funk of Sons of the P.
Iron Maiden / Somewhere Back in Time The Best of: 1980-1989
Not the first Best Of for the metal masters, but it is still a tight little set of songs that is a companion piece to their current world tour. Covering the bands career from their self-titled debut up to the concept album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, this is an indispensable release for younger fans featuring both key live tracks and studio versions. Like all Maiden releases, the artwork is killer and the opening attack of “Churchill’s Speech/Aces High,” taken form their concert documentary Live After Death, is a nice touch. (Released May 13th)
Ted Nugent / Live in Sweden
“The Nuge” puts down his hunting equipment long enough to rock the good people of Sweden into a coma on this single CD live release recorded at the 2006 Sweden Rock Festival. As unbelievably insane as a Fox News editorial, the show features a handful of hits like “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” and “White Buffalo,” as well as some more recent songs. A welcome treat from the crazy conservative loudmouth you either love or hate. (Released May 13th)
Marvin Gaye / What’s Going On + Greatest Hits Live (DVD)
Musicians are a strange lot to say the least. The backstory of legend Marvin Gaye is an interesting one. The documentary What’s Going On makes a great attempt to condense Marvin Gaye’s history into a 100-minute Cliff Notes of sorts. Since Gaye left no autobiography for fans, this is considered one of the best works on his life, complete with re-enactments and live footage. The addition of the film Greatest Hits Live is the real gold in this release. Culled from his first European performance, the show is one of only a handful of Gaye performances captured in its entirety. (Released May 13th)
Hail of Bullets / Of Frost and War
May brings another interesting release from Metal Blade Records in the form of a concept album from dark metal veterans. Made up of songs entirely devoted to the early years of World War II, the album is a vicious blast of old-school death metal. The old-school vibe is intended as the band — including Gorefest drummer Ed Warby and Thanatos guitarists Paul Baayens and Stephen Gebedi — was aiming to recreate the feel of classic death metal bands like Death and Bolt Thrower. The result is a job well done. (Released May 13th)
Bryan Adams / 11
Bryan Adams has been keeping a low profile, at least in the United States as of late, but that’s about to come to an end. With the release of 11, Adams teams with retailer Wal-Mart for an exclusive batch of songs that show he is still a potent songwriter who can hold his own against new school heavyweights like Jack Johnson and James Blunt. The album is appropriately described as an “acoustic rock record,” sporting tell-all titles like “I Thought I’d Seen it All” and “I Ain’t Losin’ the Fight.” (Released May 13th)
36 Crazyfists / The Tide and its Takers
For their fourth album, 36 Crazyfists comes correct with an unrelenting tithe of metal madness for their fans. Maybe it’s the long days and nights of the Alaskan frontier that give these guys an edge, but whatever it is, The Tide and its Takers shows that the band has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. (Release Date, May 27th)