Let me be very clear – Madonna should never rap. For any reason, at any time.
“American Life” would be a flawed album even without this misguided attempt at incorporating a new style into Madonna’s current electro-binge, but the rap is just unbearable.
I suppose, on paper, this attempt to take a predominantly urban – to use the currently popular euphemism – genre and bring it to the middle-class lives of boring white people looked good. Mocha lattes, Pilates and Cooper Minis are just not suitable topics for rap.
Once you get beyond that initial bump, the first few tracks are very similar to Madonna’s “Music” album in feel. Out of her entire discography this is probably the least impressive album. That said, it still has some catchy songs and fun beats. Beyond “American Life” and “Hollywood,” where “American Life” really finds its groove is after “Nobody Knows Me,” which is danceable, but has some of the most inane lyrics of the album.
“Nothing Falls” is classic Madonna. Melodic and yearning, it feels like the mature sort of song she is can create. This is also where a string of songs that touch on religion begin. In a reference to “Like a Prayer” there is even a choir towards the end of the song and a theme that is spun into a moving climax.
Dominated by acoustic guitar and Madonna’s voice, “X-Static Process” is also a beautiful song that really helps redeem this album’s regrettable raps and inane lyrics.
Madonna has reached the end of her electronic train and is bound to take a turn as different as the “Ray of Light” album was from “Something to Remember.” I’m guessing a move towards the new wave of rock/punk is in the future. Hopefully she’ll stop trying to rap.
Paris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.