Tag Archives: hip-hop

My Five Favorite R&B/Hip-Hop Albums of the 2010s (So Far)


Black History Month is soon approaching, but it doesn’t have to be a certain month for me to talk music. This post is all about R&B and hip-hop, specifically some of my favorite r&b and hip-hop albums of the 2010s.

Beyoncé: 4

Year released: 2011

This was the album where Bey went back to her R&B roots. Personally, I feel that this album doesn’t get enough credit for how good it is. This album spawns the girl power anthem “Run the World (Girls),” a beautiful love song “1+1,” and one of my all time favorite songs of hers, “End of Time.” I feel like this album was overshadowed by her pregnancy.

drakeDrake: Take Care (also available on Hoopla)

Year released: 2011

This was the album when Drake mania exploded to another level. It’s also where the assumption that Drake is emo began. Personally, I don’t think that he’s emo. I just think that he’s comfortable with expressing how he feels, which is refreshing. This album is one that you can press play & let it ride. One of my favorite tracks on this album is “The Real Her” that features Lil’ Wayne & Andre 3000, who delivers my favorite verse on the song. This album also features the classic “Marvin’s Room,” which spawned several remixes over the summer of 2011.

Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream

Year released: 2012

Miguel carefully avoided the sophomore slump with Kaleidoscope Dream. This album is what made Miguel crossover into mainstream attention. This album features the Grammy Award winning, timeless single “Adorn.” The album is alternative R&B & it works. It’s a great album from start to finish.

J. Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Year released: 2014

J.Cole has always made great music, but this is the album that finally made the naysayers pay attention & give him his long overdue credit. Cole did a very brave thing with the release of this album by having it come out without releasing any singles. This was a bold decision, but it worked because it sold a lot in its first week. Not many artists nowadays can do that. This album was a story, with each song being a snapshot into a different time in Cole’s life. It’s a great album not only for hip-hop, but for music in general. The album features “Apparently,” which is a great song and the first verse always gets me emotional when he talks about his mother.

Chris Brown: F.A.M.E.  

Year released: 2011

This album was Brown’s comeback album, and in my opinion, his best album. On this album, Brown showcased that he could do practically any genre of music, even rap. He proved that on the blockbuster single “Look At Me Now.” This album earned Brown a Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2012. It was well deserved.

kendricklamarHonorable mention- Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (also available on Hoopla)

Year released: 2012

This album is one of the best rap albums that I’ve heard in a long time. This album is basically Lamar’s autobiography set to music. Throughout the album, listeners can hear snippets of his friends and family on different tracks. It gave audiences a closer glimpse into the life of Kendrick Lamar.

These are some of my favorite R&B/hip-hop albums of the 2010s so far. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below.


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We’re Playing Your Song

Humans have made music for thousands of years, and yet we still manage to keep coming up with new and pleasing combinations of sounds. That’s a good reason to celebrate, don’t you think?


Click through for tickets and more information!

The Library agrees. On March 7, 2014 our After Hours series continues with a magical mystery tour through centuries of sound, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Mark your calendars, buy your tickets, and swing by Main Library at 7 p.m. sharp for trivia, tasty nibbles, and tunes.

If you’ve been to our previous After Hours programs, you know we have a knack for creative good times, and our latest event is no exception. Your tickets include:

Whether you’re a coloratura soprano or strictly a “sing to the cats when nobody else is around” sort of person, you’ll find something to love at After Hours. Click here to buy your tickets, and click here for more information about the event, our sponsors and partners, and the tax-deductible value of your ticket purchase.

Sing out if you’re coming! And don’t forget to spread the word.

–Leigh Anne


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It’s Called Gratitude (And That’s Right)!

I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to express my gratitude, and I’m not organized to keep up with the Facebook post-of-thankfulness every day in November, though I do enjoy reading them – so keep it up, people! So I thought I might share a little of my thankfulness here.  Without further ado, and in absolutely no particular order…

Book Cover 1. Missy Elliot – If it weren’t for Missy Elliot, my work days would have considerably less glee.  I sit down at my desk, get my ear buds ready, and load up The Cookbook, Supa Dupa Fly, or a Missy-produced track like Let it Go and I breeze my way through emails, projects, and reports.  If you are walking by my office and see me grooving in my chair, don’t judge.  It’s science.

2. Library Staff.  The coolest people work at the library.  They make mustache displays, plant chalkboards with interesting questions, recommend books online and in the library, answer ridiculously difficult questions in the Reference Department, visit you where you work, play and belong.  This is an inspiring place to work everyday, and I’ll never tire of blubbering over the myriad ways my colleagues engage the community in literacy and learning.

After Hours @ the Library: Happy Hour 3. After Hours – Speaking of engaging the community, I am thankful to work at a library that throws such cool events.  After Hours is a chance for you to party at the library after we close!  The next one is this Friday, 6-9, at our Squirrel Hill location.  It is with much regret that I admit that I will be out of town for this weekend, because I’ve had a blast volunteering at previous After Hours.  I’ve dressed up as Grandma Nut from Candyland, and was one of many Waldos, all for your enjoyment.  The night always includes libations, tasty food, fun games and mildly educational activities!

http://vufindplus2.einetwork.net/bookcover.php?id=.b28331618&isn=067973743X&size=large&upc=&oclc=35840728&category=&format=4. Bury Me Standing – This is the book I read before bed each night, recommended by a colleague with excellent taste.  I am learning so much about Eastern Europe and the Roma people. It’s quite topical if you’ve been keeping up with the political issues in Europe this fall, specifically of the Roma in France, or the recent scandals with children in gypsy encampments in Ireland and Greece.


5. The Medieval Kitchen,by Hannele Klemettilä, is the book I have just finished.  I’ve been on a nerdy nonfiction kick lately.  There is a longstanding obsession with medieval times, spurred on in part by my literary crush on Chaucer and my affinity for anything written by the Gies, a husband and wife duo who wrote extensively about the period.  I recommend Life in a Medieval City and Women in the Middle Ages : both will enlighten you!  The Medieval Kitchen also discounts some myths around how medieval folks lived and ate.  Their diets were rich in herbs, vegetables, and seasonal fruits.  The poor unintentionally lucked out by missing gout, as that disease was preserved for the meat-gorging rich.  This book is filled with fascinating little tidbits, such as:  almond milk helped everyone get through fasting periods, when dairy and meat were prohibited by the church.

6. Dogs – It’s been well-documented that I’m a sucker for a big slobbery dog – so much so that we now have not one but two big slobbery shelter dogs (see above, MCA joined Frida in January).  And I am in good company, as other librarians have written of the joys of dog companionship.  No, we are not all cat people!  And yes, I do talk about my dogs all the time. Maybe I am a little obsessed.

Where is your gratitude going these days, Pittsburgh?  Please do share in the comments!



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Aural Histories


Our outreach collection on 8/10/2013 in Arsenal Park. All items were available for check out!

This past week I was lucky enough to attend Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Festival (R.A.N.T.) on behalf of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Music, Film & Audio Department. In addition to providing the opportunity for patrons to make their own harmonicas, we also had a well-curated selection of music documentaries, CDs, and books available for check out. While pulling books for our outreach table, I discovered just how many interesting oral history books we have about music–there’s one for just about every genre or interest. The following are a few gems I’d like to share with you today, arranged by genre:





















Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground


And Punk, again


Happy reading & listening all,



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