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Ciara, Jay-Z Lead This Week's New Releases

07/10/2013
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(Radio.com) Every week, Radio.com's Dan Weiss runs down the week's new full-length music releases, from charting hits to more obscure depths, the underrated and the overrated, from a critical pop fan's perspective.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Ciara – Ciara (Epic): Not a great sign when the princess of Crunk & B has her boyfriend's first initial tattooed on her finger and she starts her fifth album saying she "just went through a breakup." But that's about the only thing here that bodes ill.

Her honorable career from "Goodies" (a great euphemism) to "Like a Boy" (an all-time great, feminist R&B song) sticks to its sex-positive guns for "I'm Out," where Nicki Minaj celebrates her "big, fat ass," and "Body Party," helmed by prince-of-PBR&B Mike Will Made It, where she gives Future what he says he deserves. "Read My Lips" beckons to "bring your appetite" and rhymes "savor it" with "favorite dish," all while removing the grossness from Destiny's Child's "Cater 2 U."

The ebullient "Livin' It Up" celebrates girls "making up their own rules." And best wordplay goes to "Sophomore": "So soft, I got him saying give me more."

Jay-Z – Magna Carta… Holy Grail (Roc Nation): The least interesting man in music today was your favorite rapper yesterday, who admired Coldplay's salable commitment to ambivalence and achieved it on his second career.

What's surprising is its lack of commerciality; having pre-sold to Samsung, there are no hits here even though he leads with Justin Timberlake doing a most ridiculous Adam Levine impersonation over "Where Is the Love?" callback piano.

Fortunately, Jigga never again touches that worst first track, with all pleasantly odd beats from there on out, with sort of a peak on the "Heaven"-"Versus"-Beyonce triptych. The R.E.M., Nirvana and Lady Gaga references are far more glaring than J. Cole's, though, when it comes to pointing out his own inferiority. And when he vows to "f*** up the world," he sounds like Bono promising to "f*** with the mainstream" right before the tour where he couldn't escape from a giant, vehicular lemon. more on this story

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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