Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night: Even on paper, Bob Dylan making an album of Frank Sinatra covers sounds weird enough to be awesome. Maybe you’re not a Dylan fan, but I am, so the idea of him interpreting straightforward classic pop songs seemed kind of fun. Unfortunately, instead of being quirky, Shadows is just boring. Dylan’s lyrics and his distinct voice were always his strength, and when you take out half of that equation, it no longer adds up to much of anything. It doesn’t help that these songs were made famous* by the best singer of his or any generation, and Dylan is unable to take them in any interesting new directions.
*These aren’t really very famous Sinatra songs, but you get the point.
Skrip, Renegades Never Die: I’ll admit my experience with Skrip’s music is limited at best. I’ve only heard his last mixtape, The Und_erscore II, but I thought it was some of the best rap music released in 2013. I was looking forward to what Skrip could do with a full album’s worth of production, but instead of the brilliant pop-culture-sampling from Und_rscore, Skrip has backed his skillful verses with EDM-baiting beats. I guess this could have been pulled off, but Renegades has the whiff of Andy Mineo’s last album, Heroes for Sale, which filled out its instrumentation with metal riffs and guitar solos. They’re both albums by good rappers who committed too much to musical styles that don’t fit their flow.