Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at the self-titled solo debut of former Group 1 Crew member Blanca Callahan.
Week of 05/15/2015
The shift from member of a group to solo headliner often requires a shift in dynamic for the performer involved. Beyoncé may have transitioned to the solo life rather seamlessly...but we all understood that she was the center of attention for Destiny's Child to begin with. Blanca Callahan, a former member of Christian hip-hop act Group 1 Crew, doesn't have that blessing so she spends much of her first solo album, self-titled (under the simpler performance alias Blanca), trying to find the sound that suits her.
That's not a complaint necessarily. Nothing on Blanca comes across as a disaster...at its worst, the album can be a tad patchwork. Opening number "Different Drum" takes a marching band approach to grab attention right off...a tactic employed by Beyoncé herself with "Run The World (Girls)." At the album's most out-there moment, "Not Backing Down" brings in dubstep backing. Emcee Tedashii makes a nice guest appearance on the track, providing a healthy amount of fresh air. Lecrae also swings by, providing a verse for "Get Up."
It's the track after the chart-topping Lecrae's appearance that piques our attention most however. "Surrender" serves as the high point for the formula that Blanca employs most often, and most successfully, throughout the course of her debut. It showcases a voice that can get the job done without the flair featured on tracks such as "Different Drum" or "Not Backing Down," a voice reminiscent of Jordin Sparks at her best.