Rick Ross, "Rather You Than Me" (Epic)
There are many changes afoot for the (other) Boss, Rick Ross. Eleven years since his classic "Port of Miami," the baritone rapper/flashy producer has shifted labels (Def Jam for Epic), followed the more caramel-coated R&B muse that filled the moody majority of his last album, the shamefully slept upon "Black Market" of 2015, and crafted a new pro-black stance with politicized sidebars ("I'm happy Donald Trump became president, because we gotta destroy before we elevate") far from his usual drugs-money-strippers-power mien.
Ross and co-producers Bink and Lil' C take Thom Bell's "People Make the World Go Round" for a swanky new ride (the corny but cool "I Think She Likes Me"). The Boss joins with Philly pal Meek Mill and pensive R&B vocalist Anthony Hamilton for the product-placement-hop "Lamborghini Doors."
Then Ricky Rosay pairs with new jack swing king Raphael Saadiq for the groovy, thought-provoking "Apple of My Eye" and some of that aforementioned Trump trash talking. That so much braggadocio and such trash chat continues with "Idols Become Rivals" means the new Boss is the same as the old Boss.
A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer
Nelly Furtado, "The Ride" (Nelstar)
As Furtado has always told us, she's like a bird and, for five years, she only flew away from the spotlight, learning how to sew and taking some playwriting classes.
The time away served Furtado well, giving her new album, "The Ride," a renewed sense of focus without losing her experimental edge.
On "Flatline," she combines bleeping medical sounds with a bouncy pop groove and cooing come-ons like "Come on, resuscitate me." The melancholy "Carnival Games" shows how many relative female newcomers, from Sia to Daya, owe at least a bit of their success to Furtado's "Promiscuous" days, when her distinctive vocals helped pave the way for edgier voices on pop radio.
The first single, "Pipe Dreams," however, reveals how Furtado has been influenced by recent pop herself. The spare, dreamy vibe and laid-back, synth-driven groove offers her gospel-tinged twist on the successes of Miley Cyrus, with world beat rhythms forming the backbone instead of trap beats, while "Right Road" throws some Robyn-styled alternative dance pop into the mix.
Throughout "The Ride," Furtado seems energized and ready to see where her musical journey takes her next.
GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday
• The Chainsmokers, "Memories … Do Not Open"
• Father John Misty, "Pure Comedy"
• Joey Bada$$, "All-Amerikkan Bada$$"
• André Cymone, "1969"
• Guided by Voices, "August by Cake"
• New Pornographers, "White-Out Conditions"
• Imelda May, "Life Love Flesh Blood"
• Michelle Branch, "Hopeless Romantic"
• Cold War Kids, "L.A. Divine"