Edd’s MANtra: Holiday shopping guide

It’s kind of a shame that Thanksgiving, a holiday built around reconnecting with loved ones, has been boiled down to two things – food and shopping. Not that I mind either.

Well, I used to mind the shopping part. Back in college when I was the best video games salesman on Earth, my coworkers and I all dreaded the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday.

Why did we dread it so? Because y’all don’t know how to act.

Every year, the mall would open at 7 a.m. Seven o’clock. But starting at 6:30, crazy people would literally bang on the gates and windows asking when we’d open. Which, of course, would be at 7 – like everyone else. Then they’d start making up crazy stories:

– “Sir, I have to use the bathroom! Open up!” My reply: There’s a bathroom across the hall

– “Sir, my kids need to sit down!” My reply: We ain’t got no chairs up in here, where are you gonna sit?

– And my favorite “Man, you gonna hook a brother up?” My reply: Do I know you?

Anyway, if you promise not to harass any salespeople this Friday, I’ll fill you in on some good music you might have missed this year. Consider these albums while you’re fighting the mobs.

Janelle Monae, Metropolis: The Chase Suite
For fans of: Eclectic (read: weird) R&B

Did Erykah Badu’s last album leave you scratching your head? Janelle’s just as strange, but her album is a little easier to comprehend. Metropolis is set in a world filled with sexy robots fighting the system and trying to find love. That’s a VH1 reality show waiting to happen. But don’t be run off by the premise – the brief album exudes creativity and puts a new spin on typical issues like self-esteem and poverty.

Mixing problems on a couple tracks slightly muddle her otherwise crystal-clear vocals and the slight number of tracks disappoint (it’s an EP, so you only get about five full songs), but check her out if you’re looking for something new.

Black Milk, Popular Demand
For fans of: Vocoder-free hip hop

Disappointed that Kanye has lost his mind? Don’t worry, we now have Black Milk. A producer in the mold of the late J Dilla, ’07’s Popular Demand is loaded with those soul beats that made Mr. West famous in the first place. But Black Milk is more than a Kanye or Dilla clone – his beats and rhymes have much harder edge.

Black Milk’s a much better producer than rapper, but he’s miles ahead of anyone with the first name “Young” on the radio. He fills the gaps with help from other rappers, most of whom you’ve probably never heard of. Lyrically, the album is merely decent, but production is top-notch. There are even a few instrumentals for you to vibe to.

Also, check out his latest release, Tronic, while you’re at it.

Algebra Blessett, Purpose
For fans of: Good ol’ 90s R&B

Tired of off-key pop artists disguising themselves as R&B singers? Algebra is the solution!

Puns like that is why I don’t get paid for this.

Algebra’s rich harmony will warm you up on those winter nights. Purpose is neo-soul without falling into the cliche, mumbling acoustic stuff; uptempo yet structured; diverse but not jarring. It’s a great mix of well-developed ballads and danceable tracks – like the good old days.

My only complaint is sometimes the album is a little too safe. You’ve heard tracks like “Happy After” and “Simple Complication” a million times before.

So go out and get some good music this holiday. Anyone who buys that new T-Pain album will get coal in their stocking.

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