Where do we even begin????!!!! A debut CD from a new artist, a new CD from "Mother Earth," and the return, not comeback of an Icon.
Before we knew who Cheri Dennis was, her heavily leaked single, radio friendly track "I love you" was in circulation at least two years on the Internet before the new first Lady of Bad Boy released the physical copy of her previously released I-tunes set "In and Out Of Love".
The lead track "Portrait of Love," not the strongest, but most dance worthy on the set revisits the 80's and immediately reminds you of Prince or maybe even Vanity - it gained Cheri more attention, but this just as most of the other tracks don't do her talent any justice. If Puffy spent as much money as he did on making the band as he did Cheri Dennis then maybe we would have had a phenomenal smash CD. Instead we get a recycled Biggie beat (it's a shame he's still making money off of him) and some other mediocre tracks that don't at all highlight Cheri's obvious vocal abilities.
Upon first listen you aren't sure where the CD is going. You like what you're hearing, then mid-CD it turns into something that you either hate, hate the producers for or hate her label for. The confusion doesn't lie with Cheri - because there is talent there, it could be one of those things where her talent is so immense, the production team has no clue on what to do with her. And the only way we'll ever know if she works with someone who isn't a hater like Sean Combs - and not to make this review about Sean Combs, but he doesn't do any of his artists, besides Biggie and Faith and Mary J. Blige justice. Everyone else's career (Carl Thomas, Loon, Shyne, 112, Total) has been stifled, shut down or immediately to the Z list. You can argue and say Puffy had a hand in making Uptown what it was, but we all know that was the handy work of the LEGENDARY Andre Harrell.
Cheri has some great tracks on the album. Mostly mid-tempo tracks that talk about the ups and downs of relationships. The CD, something to pop in and groove to or get your mind right after an argument or breakup, is a great introduction but it left me wanting more and something different. The only thing I think could have saved this CD is turning her interlude "Finally Made It" into a full fledged song! You can hear she is read to burst out and sing...something she was holding back on the other tracks.
In the end, this is just an okay debut. Enough to have a solid following, but not enough to make a lot of noise and make fans remember you. If she does get a second chance at making another CD, it should be done her own way, with the people that can extract her talent and let her do her thing free of the control of someone who historically fails true talent. Cause if he didn't want her to fail, he wouldn't have put her up against Badu or Jackson. You have to learn to compete...but only when real momentum is behind you.
Standout Tracks:Dropping Out Of Love, Pretend, Show Down, Ooh, Ooh
We all know that familiar drum line that opens the song, "On & On." It was the first time we were introduced to the "leader" of NeoSoul, Erykah Badu. Head Wraps, Incense, "deep" sometimes crazy things she said that always lead to even more crazy actions. But there was something about Erykah Badu that made us pay attention. We thought she was just a strange Muslim girl who didn't eat pork and talked about living a holistic life before God or whatever we thought she was doing. Before we knew Ms. Badu-Wright, SHE existed, swagger jacked to the core, Erykah monopolized on her stage presence ran with it. We ain't mad at her, cause we love what she delivers - it's always will we get it when she says it?
I was totally juiced when I heard that E. Badu was coming out with a new set! But I knew that I was going to have to be faded on some level to get what she saying the first time. The thing I like best about Erykah is her innate ability to fuck with your mind and throw you into a whirlwind while causing you to think...logically about life, black liberty and the pursuit of black happiness.
An opening that is fit to be the soundtrack to any 70's Nostalgia black film is what you'll hear when you you first pop in New Amerykah. The set is brilliant in the sense that it provides a real musical escape from the pop that plagues the radio not only that, but Erykah picked the most radio friendly track "Honey" as the lead single to make people think that she returned to her "normal" roots as she first displayed back in 97. Once you get past the chanting on the head bobbin' track "The Healer," you understand that "we've been programmed wake up..." and it will make you want to pick up the "Telephone" which is seemingly the ending to "Green Eyes," (Thanks Marz) which was on her 'Mama's Gun' album.
A glass of Merlot, a few lit - scented candles and Erykah in the background is enough to let you know that you aren't the only one going through shit, you aren't the only one who see's what is happening in the world and you aren't the only one changing and evolving even though it may seem like you are. Erykah challenges if not inspires you to think beyond that imaginary box that keeps us tied down.
The entire set is a sure play through. There aren't any sound effects present to make you think that your shit is skipping, a la Worldwide Underground. A mellow, yet futuristic ride on Erykah's all black train to planet Badu is what you'll get. But proceed with caution! Once you get on, you either will be stuck, won't want to get off or never go back again...
My only request is that you LISTEN to what is being said...fuck a beat.
Standout Tracks: The Cell, The Healer, Telephone, Honey
It's seems like only yesterday that I was writing a review for Janet's much anticipated 20 Y.O. album - so while we were somewhere in gay heaven waiting on a tour, we got a phenomenal movie and then this, DISCIPLINE!!!
When I first heard the first single "Feedback," I was more than juiced. Something about that baseline had me out of my chair at work dancing in my office like I was at club in Amsterdam high on 'E'
What I love and respect most about Janet is that she does her. She doesn't care about what anyone thinks, or what they have to say - and considering they tried to bury her alive she is still kicking dirt at them...as she asks them to give her feedback.
Off top, I was excited at the promise of this CD. I was still hoping that somehow some way, Janet would leave Jimmy, Terry and Jermaine at home and go into the studio and capture 'Control,' 'Janet,' and 'Velvet Rope' in one CD. And guess what...she ALMOST delivered.
She's back on MTV (not 100%) she has one of the hottest singles out now...and while I LOVE JANET prolly a lil' more than Darian, I'm not at all afraid to say that this CD is just okay and I'm almost over it...Janet...already.
I love the fact that Janet along with Stargate, Rodney Jerkins, Ne-Yo and The Dream (okay J.D. too) tapped that classic Janet sound and sped it up 10 light years to today. She draws on the 80's baselines and added a futuristic sound that she can only pull off. I think my only complaint is all the interludes - while they are her all the way, it gets a bit annoying especially when she is talking to her robot "Kyoko." Which isn' too far fetched, I mean she did have Llama's and Tigers growing up...
The CD is great with the exception of two tracks, Never Letchu Go and Greatest X. We know you're in love with Jermaine and you haven't been dicked down this good since James DeBarge, we get it, we understand it, we embrace it...let's move on. I'm ready to hear what Janet thinks about "Racism, Illiteracy and Bigotry" now that it's 20 years after Rhythm Nation.
The CD is a mix of Dance and mid-tempo songs with a couple of songs that make you want to take of your clothes and touch yourself or get fucked into an orgasmic state of oblivion by your favorite jump off, husband or boyfriend...maybe all 3 if you roll like that.
With the futuristic, melodic sound that we get from, "Luv" to the Stargate up beat, borderline techno song "2nite" can get any club or pre-club activities poppin. She doesn't hold off on the dance tracks or the groove songs like "What's Ur Name," in which she describes a situation we've all been in (listen to it to find out what I am talking about).
Overall the CD has Janet written all over it. I think that people will appreciate her more after a tour and an actual hiatus...enough for us to miss her and want more. In addition Janet's ability to make great music is priceless. There is something to be said for anyone who has a 20 year music career and can still sell out stadiums, sell records and still look good. It was amazing to me how at 5 I was completely fascinated by Janet and all that she brought. Now 20 years later, my 5 year old sister and I can watch the new Janet. I'm sure she'll still be here in 20 years, popping up, making an occasional appearance or cutting a new record that will make her hardcore fans lay out like a white girl at one of Michael's concerts.
Janet makes great music - period. All of her music is timeless. You can pop in any Janet record and groove like it is brand new. Discipline is to be added to the list.
Standout Tracks: Curtains, Luv, 2nite, So Much Betta, What's Ur Name and Feedback
Watch Janet in action: