Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Alicia Keys: Here [RCA, 2016]
One reason this is her best album since she was a kid is that it extends her nice upbringing into a sphere that's simultaneously raw and political. But a bigger reason is that Swizz Beats defines the funk her adventures in gospel grit demand, evoking Memphis thump while remaining so hip-hop that the samples stay in Nas-Wu-Tribe territory. Lyrically, it sometimes stumbles--cosmetics mess with a girl's identity, we get it. But the beats lend bite and gravity to homilies about mother earth and mother love that bear all the repeating they can stand. A-