alicia-keys-hereOn her eighth album classically trained Alicia Keys goes old school hip hop. By old school hip hop I mean hip hop that used to be for causes and social justice not bling and fancy cars. Don’t think she has strayed too far from her roots, though, as her New York and R&B soul is sprinkled liberally throughout. Amazing that someone of her talent level shows signs of still maturing and growing even this deep into her career. Strong tracks include “Illusion of Bliss”, “Work on It” and “Girl Can’t Be Herself”. A hint of what was to come was when she appeared on an awards show without any make-up on saying that she wanted to go back to a more natural look. She is not willing to play the game anymore. The woman is going to look like and record the type of music she wants to. Commercial appeal be damned! Anthems of social justice and equality make up a large part of the album. What makes it even more appealing is that it is quite even toned with loads of hope, caring and uplifting messages. The heart of a true artist as she is looking at life from all angles – it is dark and light at the same time. Raw, powerful and will have you thinking long after you finished listening.