It's hard to digest all of Kanye West on his new album.

"Yeezus" is the rapper's darkest, eeriest and most erratic album of his six solo releases. He is in militant form on the 10-track set, rapping over beats that are artsy, electronic and gloomy. It's a far stretch from the contemporary rap and pop success he achieved with more than a dozen Top 10 hits, including "Gold Digger," "Stronger" and "Heartless." That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"Yeezus" continues on the dark and emotive path he set on 2010's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and "808s & Heartbreak," which was released two years earlier. The production throughout "Yeezus" is exceptional, with Rick Rubin, Daft Punk, No I.D., RZA and more helping out. The album flows nicely, with songs including layered vocals and transitions that elevate them to great heights: "On Sight" starts the album with the right energy, and West gets an epic and soulful assist from Charlie Wilson on the closing track, "Bound 2." It's a classic Yeezy effort and arguably the album's best track.

Lyrically, though, West isn't always at his best. The album lacks deep storytelling from the 36-year-old, which he powerfully delivered on past albums. He sounds random and frustrated at times; at others, he will frustrate you.

West raps about religion a good amount on "Yeezus," which is his Jesus-like moniker. "If I don't get ran out by Catholics, here come some conservative Baptists," he says on "Black Skinhead." And on "I Am a God" -- well, you get it.

Religious folks won't be the only ones upset with the album: While West has promoted "Yeezus" with performances on "Saturday Night Live" and video projections to match the album's wild sound, he's releasing it without a huge single on radio or on the charts. There isn't even an official music video. While he charted new territory on "Twisted Fantasy," that album was sprinkled with such radio-ready anthems as "All of the Lights."

For the performer with the largest voice in rap -- and sometimes in all of music -- he deserves praise for not conforming to mainstream and radio rules like other pop stars. He may lose some fans because his new sound isn't easy to digest, but he likely will gain others, too.

-- Mesfin Fekadu, Associated Press

Guest stars deliver on Lonely Island's album

The Lonely Island pull another magic trick out of the fun box -- and it's their third studio record, "The Wack Album." The Weird Al Yankovics of the 21st century tackle sexual etiquette, double standards, general stupidity and wardrobe malfunctions with the help of Solange, Edward Norton, Pharrell, Too Short, Kristen Wiig and Robyn, among many others.

The jester minstrels' lead single, "YOLO," is an anthemic track deriding the oft-used acronym with guest vocals from Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar.

"3-Way (The Golden Rule)," originally released in 2011 with Lady Gaga and their always game collaborator Justin Timberlake, offers a classic R&B sound.

Another standout on the 20-song list is the tongue-in-cheek "Hugs," where the threesome -- led by Andy Samberg -- lay the rules for a good platonic "upper body grip," while the bouncy "You've Got the Look" reveals an unexpected side of Hugh Jackman, who shows off his pipes and sense of humor.

Unburdened by the bland, nonsensical lyrics of the mainstream, their sexy hooks work for and against them.

Sometimes the track sounds so authentically straight up that some might miss the genius of the words. "Yo, I drove past a rally saying 'honk for peace,' so I took out my gun and shot 'em all in the knees." That about sums it up.

-- Cristina Jaleru, Associated Press

J. Cole shows growth on excellent 'Sinner'

J. Cole continues to live up to the hype he initially got from rap great Jay-Z, delivering an assortment of quality songs on his sophomore album, "Born Sinner."

As on his 2011 debut album, the 28-year-old primarily produces his new offering with some help from No I.D. and Elite.

Cole shows improvement as a producer and lyricist, spitting rhymes with honesty and clarity throughout the 16 tracks, which include two entertaining skits and two interludes.

The North Carolina native raps about temptation and commitment struggles on several songs, such as "Trouble," "Runaway" and "She Knows," which effectively co-stars Amber Coffman of the Dirty Projectors.

Cole raps about the stronghold of lust on the Kendrick Lamar-assisted "Forbidden Fruit," which samples jazz organist Ronnie Foster's "Mystic Brew."

It could be the album's best track if Lamar had been featured on more than just the hook.

Overall, "Born Sinner" is a treasure: Cole paints pictures with his superb rhymes and sets the mood nicely with his solid production.

-- Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press