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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released November 14, 2008 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released January 2, 2007 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released December 18, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

Bow Wow's 2006 effort was supposed to be his "edgy" album and according to the man himself in pre-release interviews, maybe his last album, but on the title cut he declares he'll stay with game because he's "addicted to the cream." This is just one example of the identity crisis Price of Fame suffers from since it isn't really "edgy" either. There are hardcore poses, somewhat sensual tracks that might have mom and dad running into the room, and a couple thug songs that paint the star of Like Mike as a real G. Still, even if there's a guest artist by the name of Cocaine J, all of the hard stuff is undermined by pulled punches and editing of the cuss words when there's no "Parental Advisory" version available. Price of Fame can't decide if it wants to be the now-19-year-old Bow Wow's first street record or last teen record -- the same straddling as found on his much better, 2005 effort Wanted -- but it also tries to jump on the Southern hip-hop bandwagon with the tired "4 Corners" which features some seriously thin beats and scratching. Saving the album from being a disaster are two perfectly acceptable singles; "Shortie Like Mine" which swaggers with a great hook, and the bonus cut "I'm a Flirt" with R. Kelly and Bow Weezy jackin' for chicks." Running a close third is the soul-searching "Tell Me" which is a good argument Bow Wow is ready to take on more mature material and might even come up with something astonishing. Mentor Jermaine Dupri's beats are just so-so on the abundant filler and the guest artists -- Lil Wayne, Pimp C, Chris Brown, and so on -- don't really offer anything substantial, so if you don't have a poster of Bow Wow in your locker, check the singles and skip the album. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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R&B - Released November 21, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

The Hits does contain Jagged Edge's biggest hits from 1997 through 2005, but it's very brief at only 11 cuts and leaves out a handful of singles that did chart (four of which went Top 40 R&B) throughout the same span of time. Most of the group's albums -- 1997's A Jagged Era and 2001's Jagged Little Thrill especially -- have more to offer than just their singles, so this compilation will satisfy only those who are set on obtaining the outright smashes (such as "Let's Get Married," "Walked Outta Heaven," "He Can't Love U," and "Where the Party At") and nothing else. It has to annoy the group that this disc was released only six months after their self-titled fifth album, and that the compilers didn't even consider some of the best album cuts ("Wednesday Lover" and "Watch You," just to name a pair). Regardless, The Hits is a decent introduction to a group that made up for its lack of jaw-dropping greatness with consistently good output. © Andy Kellman /TiVo

Ambient/New Age - Released October 9, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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A Mary Mary Christmas is filled with plenty of joy and excitement. Erica and Tina Campbell and their producers keep proceedings light and funky on a set that's split between originals and covers of classic holiday tunes. Most Christmas albums that showcase original compositions find them overshadowed by the chestnuts; here the opposite occurs. The R&B-based songs like "Only One," "'Tis the Season," and the sunshiny "California Christmas" are so filled with fun and sweetness, the gospel songs (the tender "Still the Lamb," the rollicking "Call Him Jesus") so filled with passion, they make the classics they cover faithfully ("Merry Little Christmas," "Carol of the Bells") sound stodgy. When they do take chances with the arrangements (the seemingly Lion King-influenced "O Come All Ye Faithful," a modern update on "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"), the results are decidedly mixed. While A Mary Mary Christmas is a solid addition to the holiday CD blizzard, a few more originals and fewer "classics" would have made it even more enjoyable. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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R&B - Released September 4, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Pop - Released September 10, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released September 10, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Pop - Released September 4, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Pop - Released September 1, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Pop - Released September 1, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released August 15, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released August 7, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Gospel - Released July 25, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

Surrounded marked the beginning of a new era for contemporary gospel group Men of Standard. In terms of associations, the disc also marked their transition from foursome to threesome -- former member Michael Bacon parted ways in 2005 -- and their shift from Malaco's Music Shoals label to Columbia Records. More importantly, Surrounded recast them as a contemporary R&B trio. In Christian circles, the style is called urban gospel, but other than the empowering, worshipful messages, Surrounded has little in common with the down and dirty nature of gospel. Instead, the effort recalls Boyz II Men, Jagged Edge, Blackstreet, and other vocal groups that favor slickness over substance. Before anyone cries wolf, Men of Standard don't lack depth or spiritual zeal, but they do skew younger in the album's first four tracks, sounding every bit like the male counterparts of gospel duo Mary Mary -- the connection is sensible, seeing how both groups share hitmaker Warryn Campbell as producer. Once the bouncy bangers run their course, Men of Standard begin to sound their age, turning in a stylish, soulful numbers that would fit swimmingly on adult urban stations, like the Stevie-ish titular song and the excellent "I Need You," the best song Babyface never wrote. Men of Standard really kill the performances in this stretch of Surrounded, particularly the live band gospel stuff ("Cover Me," "Yours"), which the group handles with enough composure and self-assurance to remind us why Men of Standard were once one of the most promising groups in contemporary gospel music. © Andree Farias /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 21, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Pop - Released July 7, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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R&B - Released June 26, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

What's surprising about Lyfe Jennings' career is that not only does his soulful music recall the freedom the soul genre experienced in the early '70s but how his major label, Sony, gives him that freedom in the rather stilted 21st century. Listening to his sophomore effort, The Phoenix, the question could be raised as to who is responsible for the album's heavy Kanye West and John Legend influence. Legend's emotional, piano-driven style rears its head often and West's elaborate ambition is all over the place, but a couple listens in, it's obvious that Jennings is responsible for all the unique moves and doubtful that Sony told him, "We need you to be our Kanye." The fact Sony gave the man's debut plenty of time to sink in with the public -- they worked it for an eternity by 21st century standards -- is a clue, but the proof is all over The Phoenix, a giant of an album with giant rewards, giant flaws, and grand swoops of unbridled creativity that somehow got Sony's stamp of approval. First off, there's a song-explaining interlude between practically every track, something that wears out its welcome in three listens or so. The interludes that bridge "Goodbye" (excellent and achingly poignant), "Let's Stay Together" (silky smooth), and "Biggie Nigga" (uplifting and fascinating) are especially clumsy, with Lyfe explaining how he faced the "making up is easier than breaking up" conundrum and made the more difficult choice, then made the easier choice, then dumped his lady for another girl who made him feel like the Notorious B.I.G. The chitter-chatter undermines this killer trilogy of songs, but if you want a really strange move, check out how the tougher-than-tough "Slow Down" (with G-Unit member Young Buck) uses the Gilligan's Island theme for its hook. As part of the whole, it works beautifully, as do the outlandish lyrics dropped into "Biggie Nigga" ("I was breast-fed by Godzilla") and "The River" ("I'm cursing the vagina that gave life to me"), since they're surrounded by eye-level views of Lyfe's past and his delivery is always convincing. On top of it all, he pulls off the tricky "sexual abstinence" song ("S.E.X.") without a hitch, throws out enough bold ideas and grand statements for two West records, and his raspy voice is as rich as ever. The Phoenix is a crazy, big, flawed album, but it's a trip, and a riveting one that anyone who loved his debut will want to take. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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R&B - Released August 7, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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Pop - Released June 6, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

Pop - Released May 23, 2006 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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After a solid yet otherwise understated in-studio debut, contemporary gospel supergroup Tye Tribbett & G.A. took to the stage of a Philadelphia megachurch to record the follow-up, Victory Live!, thus offering a more true-to-form representation of the group's sound, synergy, and spirit. Ironically and perhaps coincidentally, Victory Live!'s predecessor, 2004's Life, had more in common with Philly in the way it married urban gospel with neo-soul tendencies, but overall it was too polite an album to really catch anyone by surprise. Victory Live! is different: it explodes right out of the gate to position itself as one of the most unusual, spellbinding contemporary gospel spectacles of 2006, if not of the entire history of the subgenre. The album's sonic ambitions recall those of gospel provocateur Tonéx -- himself a kindred spirit of bandleader Tye Tribbett -- but here things aren't overblown to the point of exhaustion or showmanship. Instead, Tribbett makes sure his agenda for the disc -- to inspire the faithful to use praise to declare victory over their own inadequacies -- isn't obscured by the pyrotechnics, which are already formidable to begin with. By keeping a firm footing on high-powered gospel vocals, Tribbett is able to gel an endless palette of sensibilities, including ferocious funk-rock ("Victory," "I Want It All Back"), Celtic pop ("Hallelujah to Your Name"), bossa nova (Andraé Crouch's "Bless the Lord"), pop/rock ("No Other Choice"), inspirational ("Seated at the Right Hand of God"), and even straight-up Broadway ("Everything Will Be Alright," "Sinking"). Such an extensive laundry list of styles could've been a hot mess if handled any differently, but Tribbett is a church boy: he and his troupe know where they are, so they stick to the program and try as best as possible to keep it churchy. While on occasion things do get too grand for their own good, Victory Live! is a triumph in the end: it stretches the boundaries of gospel music to places that it's never been. © Andree Farias /TiVo