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The Yearbook: The Missing Pages

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Oct
The Yearbook: The Missing Pages
Sounds like … hip-hop of the highest order, similar to Eminem and John Reuben, but this time with occasional nods to Gnarls Barkley, T Pain, and Lil Wayne.At a glance … this expanded edition of The Yearbook brings a touch of variety and added value to a set that was originally too familiar in the canon of KJ-52. Track ListingDo Yo Thang (remix)Keep ShiningStuck in the 80'sStarbucks Takes All My MoneyI Got It Got ItPush Up (remix)You Can Still Come Back (remix)Pump That (remix)I Can Never Forget YouWhat You WantAll I NeedI Used ToI Almost Got Shot Last Night

It took him a while to unleash them, but it was about time Jonah Sorrentino, better known in sanctified rap circles as bestselling hip-hopper KJ-52, reopened the vaults containing the leftover sessions from The Yearbook, his fifth full-length and also the first where he personally handles production duties. Word is that he laid down nearly 75 tracks for that album, 19 of which made the 2007 release. It only makes sense, then, that The Yearbook: The Missing Pages picks up where its predecessor left off. The disc is essentially a reissue of the original album bundled with an assortment of 13 downloadable remixes and b-sides, for a whopping total of 32 tracks.

It's a novel and generous idea, but unfair to those who already own The Yearbook, since there's no way of obtaining the unreleased material as standalone tracks, unless they're purchased individually from iTunes—and that would be too costly for material that is essentially studio surplus. (Then again, maybe the idea is to have fans give their extra copy of The Yearbook to friends and then scoop up the re-release.)

Logistics aside, the good news is that The Missing Pages sounds and feels like a project in its own right. In many ways, it seems like KJ-52 went back to the drawing board and made these tracks from scratch. There's a stronger sense of cool and left-of-centeredness to the tracks that eluded the more complacent vibe of the original Yearbook sessions.

Such is the case with downbeat stuff like the love paean "All I Need" and the richly instrumented "I Can Never Forget You," both of which almost seem out of character for the otherwise wired KJ. Other songs seem to capitalize on the recent pop music obsessions with auto-tuner and all things '80s, like the too-close-for-comfort remix of "Do Yo Thang" and the original "Starbucks Takes All My Money," an inane love-hate ode to caffeine.

The rest is more of the same—songs that walk a tightrope between silliness and seriousness, done to KJ-52's pop-friendly version of hip-hop. But at least The Missing Pages seem to offer glimpses of what the rapper could become if he were to ditch his compositional crutches and go out on a limb a little more.

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