I’m not quite sure how it started, but somewhere along the line, record companies decided to flood the market with their big-name “urban” releases at the end of the year. I’m not sure if that’s really the smart thing to do, as it seems that lots of albums tend to get lost in the sauce among all the other “A” list releases out. Hell, I don’t think I’ve heard one song from any of this week’s releases on the radio yet. Then again, I don’t really listen to the radio, so what do I know? For all I know, these artists might have records bumping every 10 minutes on Hot 97. But I doubt it.

You want consistency in hip-hop? Go find Ghostface Killah. The Wu-Tang emcee brings his “A” game every time out, and his solo career is filled with more classics than the rest of his group put together. Tony Starks has already blessed us with one strong effort this year courtesy of Wu-Massacre, recorded with his brethren Method Man and Raekwon, but Ghost is back on the solo tip with his latest, [amazon-product text=”Apollo Kids”” tracking_id=”popblerdcom-20″ type=”text”]B004BQV5L2[/amazon-product]. Even though this week is an R&B-heavy release week, as opposed to hip-hop heavy, Ghost fits right in perfectly not only due to his choice of samples (which leans heavily towards 70s soul), but also because he’s one of the most purely soulful emcees out there.

Remember when Keyshia Cole was considered to be the second coming of Mary J. Blige? Well, seeing as Mary hasn’t gone anywhere and Keyshia has yet to make the big pop breakthrough MJB made a few years back, Ms. Cole still has a long way to go to hit Mary J.’s legendary status, and it would appear based on sales that her career is on a downturn. Calling All Hearts is the name of her latest album, and it’s getting a much quieter start than her previous several albums have, since there doesn’t seem to be an event single or even a big track on R&B radio right now.

Speaking of events, I think an event is what Keri Hilson‘s label was looking for when they released that borderline-porno video of hers a couple weeks ago. The singer-songwriter’s sophomore effort is entitled No Boys Allowed, but judging from the production roster (which includes Timbaland and Polow Da Don), I’m guessing plenty of boys were allowed. There’s something very strange about singers who preach female empowerment while their careers are completely guided by men. Anyhow, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Ne-Yo helped make Keri’s debut album a success-let’s see if anyone can save her this time around.

Also out today, The Best Night of My Life, the much-delayed fourth album from Jamie Foxx, in addition to Avant‘s The Letter. The only non-R&B/hip-hop major release of the week is Duran Duran‘s All You Need is Now. Available on iTunes until sometime in February, the Mark Ronson-produced album is rumored to be a return to form for the Duranies. As someone who just can’t get with the whole purchasing digital albums thing, I’m gonna just hold out another couple of months.

New Release Report will be taking a short break from regular publishing, returning on 1/11/11. In the meantime, a special report looking at the first quarter of 2011 will be coming soon. Also, make sure you’re checking Pause and Play for more detail into what’s coming out when.

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