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Fri Oct 24 22:33:49 SAST 2014

NEW ON YOUR PLAYLIST: 09 November 2012

Pearl Boshomane | 09 November, 2012 00:07

MACY GRAY: TALKING BOOK

When newly re-elected US President Barack Obama appeared on stage in Chicago on Wednesday morning, he did so to Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours, which topped the charts for six weeks in 1970.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Obama calls Wonder his "musical hero", a man who has risen above odds to become a superstar.

Macy Gray has similar appreciation for the blind musical genius. Although the song that celebrates the joys of rising above previous mistakes to pledge oneself completely does not appear on this tribute to Wonder, Gray lends her particular style to reinterpret the ones that do.

Talking Book is subtitled Macy's love letter to Stevie Wonder on the 40th anniversary of his classic album of the same name.

It comes just seven months after her previous release, Covered, which includes songs by Radiohead among others.

On this tribute album Gray revisits each song from the original album in her own style.

The tempo is slowed down and the arrangements are jazzed up, providing an alternative reading of songs like Superstition and You Are the Sunshine of My Life, which has a calypso backing beat and a staccato delivery of the lyrics.

I like the album that features an interesting take on some of Wonder's best-loved songs, but I can't but help miss the Motown hero's more uplifting style.

I'm sure the president would agree. - Andrea Nagel

KENDRICK LAMAR: GOOD KID, M.A.A.D CITY

In the past year, Kendrick Lamar has gone from indie hip- hop's best-kept secret to chart-topping "it" boy. His major label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City has critics singing his praises and fans waxing lyrical on social media.

Of course, such hype doesn't come without detractors, such as rapper Shyne calling the album "trash".

Makes me wonder if he's heard the same album I have, because Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is probably the best commercial rap record of the past few years.

It has that old-school feel with gangsta rap, West Coast, G-funk thing going on.

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City chronicles a kid's life in a rough US ghetto, from first love (Sherane) to dabbling in crime (The Art of Peer Pressure) and violent deaths of those you love (the heartbreaking Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst). At face value Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is fluffy rap music, but it is actually good storytelling with great beats.

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