Tag Archives: Atlantic Records

Johnny Gill – Chemistry

Johnny Gill
Chemistry
April 22, 1985
Cotillon Records/ Atlantic RecordsWMG
065/100
Johnny Gill - Chemistry
1. Half Crazy // 2. Can’t Wait Til Tomorrow // 3. Don’t Take Away My Pride // 4. One Small Light // 5. The Way That You Love Me // 6. Because Of You // 7. Chemistry // 8. I Found Love

It can’t be stressed enough in reviewing a Johnny Gill album. The voice you hear on the record does not fit the little boy on the cover. Even though he was eighteen by the time Chemistry dropped he looked fifteen and had the voice of a thirty-plus year old. A very exceptional thirty-plus year old even. Gill’s husky, masculine baritone could give the likes of Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass a run for their money in its sheer power, seductiveness and sultriness.

Unfortunately for Gill up until the 1988 New Edition album Heart Break, on which he replaced Bobby Brown, he had never gotten the material to unlock his potential. His epynomous Freddie Perren-helmed debut had been boring as hell, as had Cotillon Records’ attempt to sell the boy to starlet Stacey Lattisaw’s audience: the far from perfect Perfect Combination. Producers Freddie Perren and Naranda Michael Walden couldn’t come up with material that was either memorable or did more for Gill than showcase his excellent voice.

The Linda Creed-helmed Chemistry isn’t quite the instafix to Johnny’s problems, it shares the same questionable ’80s production values and dime-a-dozen R&B songwriting that evaporates from memory as soon as the record stops playing. But moreso than either of Gill’s two prior albums it’s rather entertaining when it is on.

Half Crazy and Because of You are decent piano ballads. They may be corny but they are corny by design and bear their queso with pride.
Can’t Wait ’til TomorrowOne Small Light and The Way That You Love Me are the sort of uptempo ’80s post-disco soul songs that brings to mind Lionel Richie’s Running With the Night and summon nighttime joyrides.
Don’t Take Away My Pride and I Found Love take a cue from Freddie Jackson and JG does this type of song as well as the man himself (take that how you will).
Chemistry makes it’s titular subject a metaphore for sexy business and doesn’t quite manage to have fun with it, but doesn’t outright suck and its sticking to a subject makes one wonder what the hell happened to songwriting as of late.

At only eight tracks Chemistry doesn’t overstay its welcome, which is never a bad thing, and although it’s not a very substantial album it is, very much like, and certainly no worse than Whitney Houston’s debut (it’s a shame Cotillon didn’t put more effort in pimping it to her fanbase), a pleasantry (albeit a carbon dated one), and sometimes that is all music needs to be.

Best tracks
Half Crazy
Can’t Wait ’til Tomorrow
Don’t Take Aaway My Pride
Because of You

Recommendations
Chemistry is not for everyone. It’s some seriously cheesy, slight ’80s R&B/Soul, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for what it is it’s pretty good. So white, middle aged housewives easy listening/ adult contemporary audiences, if you come across this one for a reasonable price, go for it.

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Johnny Gill & Stacey Lattisaw – Perfect Combination

Johnny Gill & Stacey Lattisaw
Perfect Combination
February 27, 1984
Cotillon Records/ Atlantic RecordsWMG
055/100
Johnny Gill & Stacey Lattisaw - Perfect Combination
1. Block Party // 2. Fun And Games // 3. Falling In Love Again // 4. 50/50 Love // 5. Perfect Combination // 6. HeartBreak Look // 7. Baby It’s You // 8. Come Out of the Shadows

Johnny Gill’s debut album hadn’t sold very well or provided the charts with any hits (the internet provides no clues of the opposite being true), so the people of Cotillon/ Atlantic records decided to put him in the studio with proven success and labelmate Stacey Lattisaw (Wikipedia says they were childhood friends as well, believe what you will) to pimp him to her fanbase and to create a cute teeny 1980s update of a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell duet album (although those two things are actually one and the same thing.)

That this album isn’t  as horrible as that description makes it sound is largely to thank the vocalists for, Johnny with his singing that sounded like it belonged to a man twice his age, and miss Lattisaw sounding capable and confident beyond her years as well, but to a lesser extent (they were both seventeen when they dropped this).

The sound is fine for those who enjoy this particular brand of queso (not me.). The midtempo cuts sound like store brand imitations of SOLAR Records svengali Leon Sylvers III’s post-disco electro-pop jams. (Shalamar’s A Night To Remember, Lakeside’s Fantastic Voyage, Dynasty’s Midas Touch et al.) and the ballads sound like they are rejects from the An Officer and a Gentleman soundtrack.
That’s not to say anything sounds horrible, in fact the songwriting itself puts most of today’s R&B music to shame in it’s ability to choose a subject/ concept and stick to it, and this Naranda Michael Walden guy seems at least adequate in putting together a record, but that is not to say you should give a fuck.

That the best thing on here is a cover of an old Shirelles song, previously covered by the Beatles, written by Burt Bacharach is telling about the songwriting. Kinda how Johnny’s debut‘s best song was a cover of an old Sam & Dave song written by Isaac Hayes.

Best tracks
Perfect Combination
Baby It’s You

Recommendations
Don’t bother.


Michel’le – Michel’le

Michel’le
Michel’le
October 23, 1989
Ruthless Records/Atlantic Records/ WMG
080/100
Michel'le - michel'le
1. No More Lies // 2. Nicety (feat. Dr. Dre) // 3. If? (feat. Michael Holmes) // 4. Keep Watching // 5. Something In My Heart // 6. 100% Woman // 7. Something In My Heart // 8. Silly Love Song // 9. Never Been In Love // 10. Close to Me // 11. Special Thanks // 12. If? [Reprise] (feat. Michael Holmes)

While Ruthless Records is rightfully known as a quintessential gangsta rap label they also dabbled other genres, such as R&B (back when hip-hop and R&B were distinct musical genres sorta, kinda). Michelle Toussaint, Dr. Dre’s then-girlfriend, was the first non-rap act to release an album on the world’s most dangerous record label. With Dre and Yella producing the album wall-to-wall, Eazy-E overseeing everything and Jerry Heller walking away with most the money Michel’le is every bit as much an N.W.A offshoot as Eazy-Duz-It yet it is always overlooked or straight-up ignored by hip-hop fans, ostensibly because it isn’t a hip-hop album. But for those open-minded enough to listen to something different every once in a while, it has plenty to offer.

For those expecting an album full of Straight Outta Compton-styled beats, with singing over them in stead of rapping, because Dre was involved, Michel’le might come off as a bit of a disappointment. Dre was and is more malleable than that and actually goes for broke in an attempt to create a legitimate urban soul album and wholly succeeds in making the proceedings sound authentic in the instrumental department, providing an intoxicating mix of dance, quiet storm, hip-hop lite and new jack swing. If the credits said everything was produced by Babyface that would’ve been completely believeable, which isn’t something one would expect from a Dr. Dre-produced record, having listened to Straight Outta ComptonEazy-Duz-It or No One Can Do It Better.

If today an R&B album is released on a label that houses several famous rappers, said rappers are usually all over the album dropping verses, trying to be good employees and bidding for crossover appeal. Except for a blink-and-you’ll-miss it Dre verse on Nicety no-one in N.W.A, JJ Fad or Above the Law appears in anything but skit or background vocal capacity giving our hostess the room to show her talents, a smart move.

Michel’le is a talented, confident singer who could easily go toe-to-toe with more famous contemporaries such as Toni Braxton or Tamia. Her strong, full bodied, thunderous singing voice (which forms a hilarious contrast with her squeaky Betty Boop speaking-voice, which can be heard on the second last track Special Thanks) is ripe with emotion without her trying to hit every note in existence, Whitney Houston/ Mariah Carey/ the Voice-style. The lyrics, written by Laylaw and the D.O.C. and Michel’le herself are classy, consistent, clever and sticking to a theme in a way that is completely absent from a lot of R&B music these days.

She shines on both the uptempo ass-shakers (No More LiesNicetyKeep Dancing100% WomanNever Been In Love) and the slow jams (If?Something In My HeartSilly Love SongClose to Me)

With only twelve tracks, ten of which are actual songs, there is little room for filler and the album doesn’t overstay its welcome at all.

Michel’le was a hit upon release, racked up a bunch of hit songs, sold tonnes of records and helped pave the way for other hip-hop-soul songstressed, including but not limited to Mary J. Blige, TLC, Faith Evans and SWV. Unfortunately for her and music lovers her career more or less ended with this album, after which she was relegated to the occasional cameo appearance on Ruthless-released albums (and later on on Death Row Records). And she wasn’t able to put out another album until 1998 when everyone had forgotten all about her, on the sinking ship that was Death Row Records. That record flopped accordingly.

Michel’le is a very entertaining album that despite you never having heard of it is worth your hard-earned cash and is deserving to be known as the classic that it is.

Best tracks
No More Lies
Nicety
Keep Dancing
100% Woman
Never Been In Love
If?
Something In My Heart
Silly Love Song
Close to Me

Recommendations
To those who enjoy soulful, well-put together R&B with a vintage sound Michel’le is a must-own. For those who dislike today’s R&B because they find it overproduced, lacking in the musical department and/or sounding like it was recorded by cyborgs rather than humans, by all means should give Michel’le a try.


The D.O.C. – No One Can Do It Better

The D.O.C.
No One Can Do It Better
June 16, 1989
Ruthless Records/Atlantic RecordsWMG
090/100
The DOC - No One Can Do It Better
1. It’s Funky Enough // 2. Mind Blowin’ // 3. Lend Me an Ear // 4. Comm. Blues (feat. by Michel’le) // 5. Let The Bass Go // 6. Beautiful But Deadly // 7. The D.O.C. and the Doctor // 8. No One Can Do It Better // 9. Whirlwind Pyramid // 10. Comm. 2 (feat. MC Ren) // 11. The Formula // 12. Portrait of a Masterpiece // 13. The Grand Finalé (feat. Ice Cube, MC Ren & Eazy-E)

The story of the D.O.C.’s rapping-career is a tragic one. After his rap group the Fila Fresh crew got to take part in what some consider to be N.W.A’s first album N.W.A and the Posse the world’s most dangerous recording group probably learnt of the man’s existence when they finally got to listen to it themselves after they found out Macola Records released the damn record, which was a collection of some of their singles, with some unrelated songs by random artists thrown in for good measure, without their permission while they were touring.

Fortunately for N.W.A though their “posse album” sold a ton of copies, birthed their career and fortunately for D.O.C. they liked his contributions enough that he could parttake in the recording of the seminal gangsta rap classic Straight Outta Compton, writing rhymes for Dre and Eazy and lending vocals to several tracks, such as on Fuck the Police (it’s Doc on the intro).

Then as a reward for helping Eazy and Dre sound competent behind the mic he got to record his own album No One Can Do It Better, released in the summer of ’89,

In 1989 rhyming about how good you are at rhyming (rhymeception, if you’re into terrible cornball-ass gag-humour) was the thing to do. Everyone from RUN-DMC to the Sugarhill Gang had proclaimed their dominance over the rap game as well as their own superiority over “sucker MC’s” at one time or another, and perhaps rightfully so since RUN and DMC’s nursery rhymes had been cutting edge when the world first heard them. When the D.O.C. proclaimed dominance over the rap game however it was simply a matter of fact beyond a shadow of a doubt. No one could do it better indeed, bar maybe Kool G Rap, Rakim or KRS One.

D.O.C.’s rhymes and delivery were lightyears ahead of even his boys in N.W.A in terms of multi-syllable complexity. Peep this.

Ship it, ship it to the stations
in your jurisdiction
Others say I’m dope
and the others think I’m bitching
No crowd can avoid the D O to the C
When I’m P E R F O R M I N G
D.O.C. – It’s Funky Enough

And besides his lyrics and flow being on point the D.O.C. had enough skill to make it all feel natural and unforced. For all it’s expertly constructed complexity the guy is here for you entertainment first and formost, and even if his vocabulary is larger than average he doesn’t repeatedly and offensively smack the listener in the face with it, like for instance Canibus does whenever he drops one of his fucking albums. Also helping matters is the wall-to-wall pre-chroniced Dr. Dre-production, which brings a distinct funky, dusty scratchy atmosphere for our host to rhyme in. The combination of these beats and these rhymes make the D.O.C. one of the few old school rappers whose music could challenge the works of rappers from the second golden age, such as Nas, Biggie, Jay-Z or the Wu-Tang Clan when it’s enjoyability that’s concerned.

No One Can Do It Better has aged perfectly, with everything sounding vintage rather than outdated.

The best-known song It’s Funky Enough‘s opening line “One, and here comes the two to the three and four” is one of the most re-used in the hip-hop genre. The song’s instrumental is funky aplenty, and the song is hands-down the catchiest thing on here. With no profanity to speak of and and a beat that makes people want to shake their money makers and yet doesn’t compromise the Ruthless Records gangsta rap sound it’s a lesson in making a lead single for a rap album.

D.O.C. and the Doctor is the mandatory ode to the DJ that appears on all early hip-hop album, back when hip-hop albums had one producer per album, rather than five new producers (and twelve guest rappers as well as eight autotuned R&B singers) per individual song. Rather than the corny dickriding that constitutes most such cuts this is a display of actual chemistry between the rapper and the producer.

Mind Blowin’ is another display of the Doc and the Doctor’s combined potential being reached with Dre providing some percussive piano keys for his boy to play around with his words and his flow over to great effect.

Lend Me an Ear is sonically a much faster paced Straight Outta Compton with D.O.C. ripping the beat to shreds and quite succesfully  making a case for him being one of the best rappers ever.

The Formula may be the point where Dr. Dre discovered the G-funk sound that would revolutionise the rap world when he put out his solo debut in ’92.

Beautiful But Deadly, the mandatory ode to gold digging evil women, has a Licensed to Ill-era Rick Rubin-esque instrumental, what with it’s hard rock quitars and its distinctly funkless sound. It’s an interesting enough diversion since it sounds like nothing else on here, but it still fits in with the rest since it shares Doc’s golden voice, rhymes and delivery with the rest of the tracks.

The album ends with the Grand Finale, a Ruthless Records posse cut with Doc plus everyone in N.W.A minus Dre going for broke over the most Straight Outta Compton-esque instrumental of the album, and Doc being on par with the world’s most dangerous group.

Every song on here bangs, even the two commercial-themed interludes have their place. No One Can Do It Better leaves one salivating for more. Unfortunately for the world of hip-hop and for Doc himself he would lose his ability to rap soon after this album’s release when his vocal chords were severed after he flew through a windshield in a car crash, leaving him a thin rasp of a voice that was lightyears removed from his pleasant smooth voice displayed on here, relegating Doc to perform on skits on N.W.A’s and later Dr. Dre’s albums, as well as the ghostwriting that had made him the unofficial fifth member of the Comptonite posse in the first place.

Make no mistake, the D.O.C.’s loss of voice was every bit as much of a loss to hip-hop as the murder of the Notorious B.I.G., and No One Can Do It Better is all the proof one needs for it. Unlike Biggie and 2pac however Doc, who didn’t die a martyr’s death (he’s still alive today), wasn’t namedropped as frequently by other rappers, which means that very little of today’s rap music fans actually know who he is. (On the plus side Ruthless Records has withstood the temptation of pairing every shred of D.O.C. vocals with the likes of T.I. and Lil Wayne on frankensongs with krunk beats, released on “Tribute albums”.)

This is all the more reason to revisit No One Can Do It Better, a criminally underrated rap album that has stood the test of time a lot better than most rap albums from the 1980s. An album that gives off an unfulfilled promise of a long and prosperous career in music.

Best tracks
It’s Funky Enough
Beautiful But Deadly
The Formula
Lend Me an Ear
Portrait of a Masterpiece
The Grand Finalé

Recommendations
Pick this one up, now.


J.J. Fad – Supersonic

J.J. Fad
Supersonic
1988
Ruthless Records/Atlantic Records/ WMG
070/100
J.J. Fad - Supersonic

1. Supersonic // 2. Way Out // 3. Blame It on the Muzick (feat. Dr. Dre) // 4. In the Mix // 5. Eenie Meenie Beats // 6. My Dope Intro // 7. Let’s Get Hyped // 8. Now Really // 9. Time Tah Get Stupid // 10.  Is It Love

On N.W.A and the Posse Dre, Eazy, Ren, Cube, Arabian Prince and Yella hadn’t yet figured out whether they wanted to be hardcore gangstaz, as in Boyz In da Hood or electro-hop party starters as on Panic Zone. On Straight Outta Compton they had mostly made their choice and they had mostly kept their most electro-inclined member; Arabian Prince out of the proceedings. Apparently he was working on this in stead.

J.J. Fad’s Supersonic is what Straight Outta Compton could’ve been if the world’s most dangerous group would’ve gone for the dancefloors rather than the streets. High energy beats with lyrics that are mostly commands to dance and some boasting about the rhyme skillz of the artists you’re listening to, as well as general freshness, thrown in for good measure. It’s an infectious mixture that’s more in line with what Teddy Riley was cooking up at the time than the work of the Compton residents with attitude issues who were working on this behind the scenes. (Dre, Arabian Prince and Yella produce this in its entirety while Eric Wright and Jerry Heller took all the revenue. Whether Cube, Ren and D.O.C. wrote any of these raps I know not.)

Supersonic is split in two halves, the pop-side and the hip-hop side. The first half of the album may be a little too vanilla for fans of N.W.A., the beats are more slick and polished than on Straight Outta Compton or Eazy-Duz-It and no profanity is being dropped anywhere. But it contains some first-class, pop-rap. Especially the title track, which was resurrected some time ago as Fergie’s Fergalicious, is some cornily endearing fun.

The second half however contains some vintage late-80s Dre/Yella beats that one can imagine Eazy, Cube, Ren and D.O.C. ripping to shreds. Let’s Get Hyped in particular wouldn’t sound out of place on an N.W.A disc, if the b-word were dropped more than once, that is. Now Really is a dis-track aimed at competing female rap-group Sugar and Spice and seems to be included mostly to start some shit so that Supersonic might have some street cred, not the best idea that, but Dre saves the day by providing another banging-ass beat. Time to Get Stupid is a short DJ cut on whitch Dre has some turntable fun. And Is It Love closes out the album by going after LL Cool J’s I Need Love. All the music is on point and instrumentally this album is really good, if a bit all over the map.

As for J.J. Fad themselves, they are perfectly serviceable rappers. That is; they know how to flow and stay on beat. But a lot of their lingo (“time to come correct”, “cold gettin’ stupid”) dates this album as much as the outfits they sport on the album cover do. Also it’s really hard to tell MC JB, Baby D and Sassy C apart since they all sound identical. In fact, one could almost convince this reviever that there was only one girl rapping here.

As a whole Supersonic is a nicely executed piece of pop fluff that was probably born out of Eazy and Jerry seeing the pop-rap thing going down and wanting a piece of the action, or maybe Dre made the electro beats featured on the first half of the album for Straight Outta Compton, but used them for this project in stead after N.W.A switched directions. Don’t read these theories as a dismissal though. Supersonic is some campy fun and does in fact deserve to be revisited, especially so that the teen-aged girls who like to bump Fergalicious know where she got it from.

Best tracks
Supersonic
Blame It On the Muzick
Let’s Get Hyped

Recommendations
If you find this album in the discount section of your local record store, or in the used-bin or for cheap on the internet by all means pick it up.


Johnny Gill – Johnny Gill

Johnny Gill
Johnny Gill
January 16, 1983
Cotillon Records/ Atlantic Records/ WMG
055/100
Johnny Gill - Johnny Gill (1)
1. Super Love // 2. Thank You // 3. Show Her Love // 4. Guilty // 5. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby // 6. Every Radio // 7. I’m Sorry // 8. I Love Making Music // 9. You // 10.  Half Steppin’

If you can spot the crime against style on this album cover please leave a comment, hint: it isn’t the Jheri curl.

Johnny Gill the singer was always something special, even though Johnny Gill the album wasn’t, well not his 1983 debut anyway. His 1990 album, confusingly also titled Johnny Gill is actually quite good.

What’s most striking about this album is how little the teenager on the album cover resembles the man one would imagine the voice you hear on record to belong to, indeed the powerful soul vocals sounds really mature. And not in a preteen Michael Jackson way either, Michael just sounded extraordinairily skilled and experienced for someone his age, Gill actually sounds like a thirty year old.

Not that he sounds gimmicky, au contraire, he’s one of the top R&B vocalists of his era when it’s reach and power that is concerned, not unlike Whitney Houston, with whom he would in the future affiliate through New Edition.

Also not unlike Houston’s Gill’s debut album suffers from a serious case of professionally made but generic sounding ’80s pop/ R&B material the boy had to sing his way through. And not in a trashy fun sense the way his future group New Edition’s debut Candy Girl was.

Props to Gill for making the ride as enjoyable as it actually is. Shame on Cotillon for not getting him the musical collaborators he deserved. Not that they didn’t get Johnny a prefessional producer, Freddie Perren is a former member of Motown Record’s production company The Corporation, which produced hit singles for the Likes of the Jackson 5, Gloria Gaynour, the Sylvers and many other Motown Greats, but he brings none of that heat here.

That is; He doesn’t land a classic record but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely useless, Super Love and Guilty are passable post-disco stabs at electro funk. Show Her Love is an okay drum-less R&B ballad in the vein of MJ’s She’s Out of My Life. These songs certainly aren’t bad and should satisfy fans of early-to-mid ’80s R&B.

Best of all is Johnny’s cover of Sam & Dave’s When Something is Wrong With My Baby, which is actually a ’60s soul song, and showcases Johnny’s range really well.

I’m Sorry and Every Radio are some cornball bullshit, though. I Love Makin’ Music and Half Steppin’ fall flat in their attempts at funky. And You wants to be classic Motown-ish slow jam, but is too flaccid to compete.

So, one good track, four okay ones and five terrible ones. That leaves this one at barely passable. Luckily Johnny got another shot at recording an album, because the boy certainly would eventually turn out to have good music in him, not now though, since this was not only a critical failiure but also a commercial one.

Best track
When Something is Wrong With My Baby

Recommendations
Nothing on here warrants a purchase.


Craig David – Born to Do It

Craig David
Born To Do It
August 14, 2000
(UK)
July 17, 2001
(USA)
Atlantic Records Warner Bros. Records/ WMG

070/100

1. Fill Me In // 2. Can’t Be Messing ‘round // 3. Rendezvous // 4. 7 Days // 5. Follow Me // 6. Key To My Heart*// 7. Fill Me In [Part II]*// 8. Last Night // 9. Walking Away // 10. Time to Party // 11. Booty man // 12. Once A Lifetime // 13. You Know What // 14. Re-Rewind

*Only on USA editions of this album.

The only real reason I went to have a peep at It’s All About the Stragglers is because it was the first major label project Craig David appeared on. Am I doing that album a disservice? Am I going too far in completing mr. David’s discography? Probably neither of the two, since although Stragglers was a guilty pleasure, it made for incredibly inessential listening. And Craig was the only person who appeared on it whose music career survived that of the Artful Dodger. Well except Mark “The Artful Dodger” Hill himself, who kept producing hit songs for Craig including this entirety of this album; David’s debut Born to Do It (There were a bunch of other guys in Artful Dodger, which was offcially a group, but nobody knows what exactly it was they did.)

What surprises me about Born to Do It  is that its original British incarnation was actually released months before It’s All About the Stragglers, making the latter not an auditioning tape for a bunch of artists that Mark Hill might grant a solo-LP if their debut single managed to captivate an audience, which was one of the few impressions it left on me. But rather it was a greatest hits for a group whose only real member had moved on to bigger and better (more profitable) things already. Those things being Born to Do It.

The British version of Born to Do It, released in august of 2000, I do not have. In stead I have the US version, released nearly a year later, which includes two extra tracks. This isn’t mentionable in and by itself, an interationally released album often has different track lists in different countries. But it does make for a nice bridge to that mr. David also sold a bunch of records in the USA, leaving a lot of contemporary British pop tarts, including Robbie Williams, biting Transatlantic dust.

Craig’s style of rapping/singing could be approached by blending fellow goatee’d-up British soul singer/heartthrob George Michael with the midwestern US rappers Bone-Thugs ’n Harmony’s tendency to cram more syllables into a bar than you though was humanly possible, while being quite a lot more suave than either. Add to that beats by himself and Hill that Usher would’ve made his around this time in the naughties and you have an album that sold something around seven million copies worldwide.

One reason it sold so well is that the 2step niche, of which David was the poster boy, is thrown to the sharks for all but three tracks. Except for Re-Rewind (the Artful Dodger garage-hit that put Craig on the map), Fill Me In, (which is easily the most edgy thing on here, with Craig sneaking past the parents of the chick he just bedded on his way out), and Can’t Be Messing ‘round, it is a completely conventional pop/R&B record, limited even in it’s hiphop influences, making it approriate for shopping malls as well as MTV.

Gentle sounding acoustic guitar driven pop such as Rendezvous and 7 Days were instrumental in making our man of the hour the pop star he became. And although it’s a bit gentle and tame, especially compared to today’s thumping house-y R&B, it’s pretty terrific stuff. Although there’s quite a lot of downtempo material there’s just enough switching up the flow of the album to keep the listener from falling asleep. Craig works equally well ballads and dance numbers. The bouncing disco-esque sequel to Fill Me In for instance has a nice mellow preparing-to-hit-the-club vibe and as does Time To Party, with its Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See sample. The only time Craig seems to actually seems to arrive at said party (presumably having spent the previous consecutive twelve hours grooming his facial hair) is at the tail end of the disc when Re-Rewind comes on, which is indicative of how good Born to Do It could’ve been if Craig and Mark would’ve decided to record a garage record rather than a R&B one (although it probably still would only have been so-so considering how It’s All About the Stragglers sounded.)

So all in all Born to Do It is an okay typical early 2000s R&B album. Generic lyrics about love and fucking, expertly generic beats. Nothing surprising on here, nothing godawful (except for the hook of Booty Man, where craig spells out webfan site for the girl he’s about to do the nasty with). Pretty good if this is your cup of tea. It is sure is mine.

Best tracks:
Fill Me In, Can’t Be Messing ‘round, 7 Days [DJ Premier Remix]* feat. Mos Def, Fill me In (Part II) Walking Away, Re-Rewind

*Alright, technically not on any incarnation of the album. But this hiphop version of the song kicks the original’s ass, just for staring at it funny. Also indicative of what might’ve happened if Craig had invited a couple of different, more distinctive producers and guests to record with. Check it out.

Recommendations:
Buy this Album