It’s been some time since Aaliyah has committed herself to
a long player, but it’s not like she’s been slacking. She
had one of those can’t-avoid-hearing-it-every-twenty-minutes-unless-you-were-fishing-in-the-Northern-Territories-all-summer-long-type
hits in "Are You That Somebody" from the Dr.
Doolittle soundtrack a few summers back. Aaliyah also
co-starred in a Big Time Motion Picture Action Thriller, Romeo
Must Die, picked up some decent reviews for her work in
the role, and scored a big hit on the movie’s soundtrack to
boot. With Destiny’s Children running the pop soul
diva show for the year 2001, Aaliyah is showing up halfway
through the summer as the only real competition, and the girl
has definitely got game.
It wouldn’t matter to me if TEN BILLION copies of "Survivor"
were sold, and I don’t care about how hot the Destiny Chicks
looked as they slunk their glistening bootylicious bodies
through the botanical gardens on the set of the "Survivor"
music video shoot. "Survivor" is a bewildering mess
of a song, with everything from the Casio Store going off
at once as the Children took turns at the mike, each in a
vain attempt to cram ten minutes of lyrics into a four and
a half minute bag of space while sporting their flow. Success
from such awful excess just makes me wonder if people who
actually buy that stuff (‘specially after hearing tracks
like "Survivor" over and over again like some weird
secret Chinese military brainwashing project designed to test
the limits of sanity) really listen to the music. I
bring all of this up because Aaliyah’s opening track barfs
on itself the same way. Although he can’t resist leaving his
sonic stamp on every record he works on, long-time Aaliyah
collaborator and molten-hot hip-hop producer Timbaland
isn’t usually given to the type of overkill that makes "We
Need A Resolution" such a horrible disaster. Aaliyah
is allowed to work from way too many directions…honestly,
it sounds as if there are ten Aaliyah’s singing, sighing,
purring, weeping…and a potentially pretty melody gets lost
in the confusion.
So, in order to enjoy Aaliyah’s new disc, simply skip over
its weak opener and work from "Loose Rap" on down.
"Loose Rap", featuring a flirtatious flow from Static,
pares the sound back down to where things usually are in the
Timbaland Laboratory of Robotic Sonics, and there are merely
a handful of Aaliyah's harmonizing with each other. The track
pops along pleasingly, as does "More Than A Woman",
where Aaliyah, without getting bogged down in the language
of specific warranty details, promises more than any man can
dare hope for, all to a nice n’ plump bass keyboard line,
some high synths and Timba’s syncopated drum programs.
Aaliyah is an artist ready to blow up big time, and this
is the record that might lift her up to icon status…here’s
why. The music scene has been dominated by teen pop idols
for some time now, and that trend shows no sign of slowing
down. Hip-hop is huge as well, and just seems to get bigger
and bigger everyday, despite the self-destructiveness (read:
STOOPID BEHAVIOR) of some of it’s bigger stars. Aaliyah, who
is barely old enough to buy booze legally, is already a veteran
hit maker, and her music isn’t soft serve for the masses.
In fact, compared to her competition, she’s actually challenging.
Take a smoker like "What If" for example, with it’s
machine percussion and blasts of electric guitar that rock
harder than anything currently being made by any black artist
this side of a certain Mad Genius composer from Minneapolis.
Check the quirk of the robo-Cuban horns, keys, and beats of
"Read Between The Lines." Listen close to notice
the cartoon-sputter sound used as rhythm instrument in "I
Care 4 You", and you may catch yourself wondering if
that goofy little noise is enough to stop you from filing
the disc next to The Very Best Of Luther Vandross and
your other bedroom classics. Listen closer and you’ll notice
Aaliyah isn’t engaged in the current ghetto posture trend,
lacing lyrics with profanities for the sake of "keeping
it real." Aaliyah could pull off sounding ghetto about
as effectively as Sean "P-Diddy-Ding-A-Ling-Daddy-Doorknob"
Combs, so thank goodness she doesn’t embarrass herself
trying like he has soooo many times before. Instead,
she comes off sounding classy and sophisticated, which could
mean that perhaps she is, in fact, classy (zounds!)
This is, by no means, the best record I’ve heard all year,
and I don’t think it’ll change anyone’s life but hers. She
has made the right record at the right time, and by this time
next year, everybody including yer grandma will know her name.
- We Need A Resolution - Featuring Timbaland
- Loose Rap - Featuring Static From Playa
- Rock The Boat
- More Than A Woman
- Never No More
- I Care 4 U
- Extra Smooth
- Read Between The Lines
- U Got Nerve
- I Refuse
- It's Whatever
- I Can Be
- Those Were The Days
- What If
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