Kid Sister and Opinions on Vampire Weekend & Alicia Keys

Chicago rapper Kid Sister joins Jim and Greg to talk about her new album Ultraviolet and perform live in the studio. Plus, reviews of the latest from Vampire Weekend and Alicia Keys.

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Sad news this week week: Memphis musician Willie Mitchell has died at the age of 81. Mitchell was a trumpeter, arranger and producer for Hi Records. There he helped to launch and evolve the careers of artists like Otis Clay, Syl Johnson and most notably, Al Green. Greg credits Mitchell with creating the signature horn and drum sound you hear on Green's recordings. They two even teamed up again in 2005 for the album Everything’s OK. To honor the musician Jim and Greg play one of their favorite tracks—Ann Peeble's "I Can’t Stand the Rain," as produced by Willie Mitchell.

Kid Sister

Chicago rapper Melisa Young, better known as Kid Sister, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. She began to get notice after releasing her breakthrough hit "Pro Nails" in 2007, and since then has become a mainstay in the club and festival circuit. However, it wasn't until November 2009 that she released her full-length debut Ultraviolet. Melisa explains to Jim and Greg that it just wasn't perfect, and she wouldn't release it until it was. Now the album is an up-tempo blend of hip hop, electronica and house, and features guest appearances by Cee-Lo Green and Kanye West on a new version of "Pro Nails." But, Melisa assures Jim and Greg she hasn't gone Hollywood. She's still got plenty of energy and appears to be happier just jamming out at the gym.

Contra Vampire Weekend

Contra (Bonus Track Version)

The first review of the new year goes to Vampire Weekend. Their album Contra is the follow-up to their 2008 debut—one that Greg explains had a backlash even before its release. The Brooklyn certainly seems to polarize. In fact, Jim absolutely hated the debut. But do they deserve such passionate hatred or praise? With Contra, they are trying to be more ambitious musically. There are elements of reggae, dub and even autotune. But, Greg still hears a perfectly nice pop band—nothing more, nothing less. He gives the record a Burn It. Jim  admits Vampire Weekend has a terrific drummer and undeniable hooks, but he can't get past the preppy yacht schtick. He wishes they were more critical and thoughtful in their lyrics and gives Contra a Trash It.

The Element of Freedom Alicia Keys

The Element of Freedom (Deluxe Version)

Pop and R&B singer Alicia Keys also has a new album out this week called The Element of Freedom. This is the 4th record from one of the biggest artists of the last decade, and according to Greg, she's being more conservative and less gimmicky. The album is therefore more consistent, but lacks the rough edges you can hear in a song like "Love is My Disease." He wishes she'd let lose more and gives the record a Burn It rating. Jim is able to overlook Keys' horrible lyrics, but can't get over the hair metal production. He thinks these songs fit better in the hands of Jon Bon Jovi and gives The Element of Freedom a Trash It.

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