Nicki Minaj is the most successful female emcee we’ve had in some time-a decade, at least. So that counts for something. Actually, she’s a talented rapper, but her skills aren’t always properly utilized. The two most recent things Nicki has been a part of have been head-scratchers, to say the least. First, there was the “what the FUCK was that?” Grammy performance, and then there was the beyond bad Madonna collaboration(s) So do I think Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded will be worth getting? I don’t know. This will definitely be one to test drive before buying. There’s definitely a lengthy guest list, which of course includes her Young Money compatriots Lil Wayne and Drake, as well as Chris Brown, Beenie Man, and the entire inmate population of the Los Angeles County Jail! Well, not really, but would you really have been too surprised if things went in that direction?

One hip-hop act that I never have to “test drive” is De La Soul. Pos, Dave and sometimes Mase have been bringing the goods for almost a quarter century these days. I’m not totally sold on this First Serve concept-I mean, this new album (which is self-titled, more or less…) isn’t exactly a De La Soul album. It finds Pos and Mase adopting the guises of upstart rappers and…that shit is convoluted. But I have EVERY confidence that the music will be good, since there’s been no evidence in the group’s catalog of them ever doing anything even remotely average.

So what do I know of Rascal Flatts? One of the dudes in the group is (was??) fat, and…um, they were sort of like country music’s Nsync for a minute, right? That would make the fat one Joey, then. At any rate, these guys have long outlasted their boy band competitors and will be making a challenge for the top spot with their latest album, entitled Changed.

Pretty exciting release date so far, huh? Well that ain’t it!

Remember back when Eminem was so popular that even his moderately talented cronies could release records and have hits? Well, his homie Obie Trice (remember “Got Some Teeth”?) is apparently still making records. I remember there being a follow up to his debut that I had to review for Popmatters and it was appalling, to say the least. I don’t know (and really don’t care) whether he’s released anything since then. Anyway, Bottoms Up is his latest release (previous albums were entitled Cheers and Second Round’s On Me, so you get what’s happening here…) and, of course, Em is featured. Dr. Dre and The Neptunes also apparently make appearances.

What else is on the agenda? I’m definitely not the metal guy on this site, but I do know that High on Fire is kind of a big deal, and they’ve got a new album out, called De Vermis Mysteriis, which means “The Mystery of The Worm.” So fucking metal, worms are. There’s also Orbital‘s first new album of material in eight years, called Wonky. I always get Orbital confused with The Orb, who I’m only familiar with because one of the first times I ever got stoned was in my co-worker Bryan’s dorm room in late 1993 while listening to a double-disc live album of theirs. Sooooo spacey, man.

Speaking of the Nineties, today brings you new albums by grunge-era two hit wonders Candlebox as well as Wilson Phillips, who are (yet again) returning to the classics. This time, they’re taking advantage of their bloodlines, alternating between Beach Boys covers and The Mamas and the Papas covers. Finally, someone who was actually making music back when Carnie, Wendy and Chynna were just a twinkle in their respective daddies’ eyes was Dr. John. The legendary New Orleans keyboardist has found a benefactor in the red-hot Dan Auerbach (of Black Keys fame) and is releasing a new album entitled Locked Down.

Y’all know the deal. Pause and Play. Go there.

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