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M. J. Moore (Chicago, Illinois United States)
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La Dona
La Dona
Price: CDN$ 8.87
32 used & new from CDN$ 1.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Teena Marie Is Back, May 24 2004
This review is from: La Dona (Audio CD)
Teena Marie hits the scenes again. After more than ten years since her last release and after 25 years since her debut on the scene, one of the first Blue Eyed, White souls comes again at us. I am still surprised by how ghetto and hip Teena is. She is so wild and gangsta-like but at the same time lady and respectful like. The 48 year old has not made hardly any noise in the last decade or so but coming back has been hot. Before Pink, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and some of our other soulful singers came on the scene for the current generation, Teena was the White lady holding it down like no other with soul. I am not familiar with much of her older music just because I am so young but I have heard my Mother listening to and kinda fawning over her. Maybe due to radio's heavy rotation of the song here in Chicago as well as just something about her compelling me to buy the CD, I decided to cop this CD.
LA DONA- One of the best and most meaningful intros about Teena returning to the scenes to reclaim her throne or her place in music. The inclusion of her daughter is real special and hot.
STILL IN LOVE- First single off the effort which has made some noise at radio and on the charts in the top 30 of the R&B Charts, this was not a song I really felt at first just because her vocals sound kinda tired here and it sounds too too old school for me. But after radio unrelentingly playing the cut, I was hooked more. Produced by Teena and Mannie Fresh, the song is pretty good as many people already know. A-
HONEY CALL- Produced by Teena Marie and Pamela Williams, this neo-jazzy but also R&B song talks about that "honey call" is a nice song that reminds me of the few Teena cuts I have heard played. The song is old-school but fresh and new at the same time. Probably one of the best cuts. It is a mid-tempo by the way. A
BABY I'M yOUR FIEND- Produced by Teena Marie and James Allen, this is another hot track slowed down a little more than the former cut. It is one of the better tracks with its jazzy element to it. It is more jazzy than many of the others but also newer sounding. Teena's voice fits this music pretty well and it is just refreshing to hear this unstructured, unpolished kinda R&B songs. It talks about feenin' for someone. A
MY BODY'S HUNGRY- Produced by Teena and Doug Grisby, this song where the title says it all is Quiet Storm, slow, simmering track is another signature (my opinion of signature) Teena song. It reminds me of that late night vibe and it is pretty hot. The song is just that laidback, making love kinda tune. A
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME- I think this is the 2nd single off the CD, featuring Gerald Levert and produced by Teena and James Allen, this cut is pretty good. It has that old mixed with the new kinda vibe to it again. Gearald and Teena mix well especially at the climax. This is a nice radio-friendly cut. If they played STILL IN LOVE, they can play this as well. This song is pretty hot. A
OFF THE CHAIN- Featuring Baby "Birdman" and produced by Teena, Doug Grisby and Mooks, although this song has Baby on it and has the title about things being off da chain which means hot, the song still is Teena. Maybe some of the lyrics do sound a little different than what to expect from someone her age but Teena sounds pretty good doing it. The song is a little too weird for me. The chorus is strange and the verses are as well. It is not really matched to Teena's vocals as well. There is nothing really hot about the song except for Baby's rap. B
MAKAVELLI NEVER LIED- Produced by Teena and James Allen, this song which talks about Tupac's alter ego I think is pretty hot. It is a slower jam with a little beat to it that talks about authentic people never lying and is just a song that provokes thought. Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Jesus Christ are mentioned as never lying. A
RECYCLE HATE TO LOVE- This is the first song that sounds like something FULLY modern or newer because most of the cuts have that old-school or jazzy vibe to it but this one which fits Teena's vocals well featuring Lady Levi, Alia Rose and produced by Teena Marie and Doug Grisby, the song is thought-provoking about recycling hate and changing it to love. The song is hot but I dont know how much Lady Levi adds to this Reggae and also Latin-like song. Teena's high vocals fit this song well. A
THE MACKIN' GAME- Feautring M.C. Lyte and Medusa and produced by Teena, James Allen and Doug Grisby, this cut which looks at the macking game sounds hot. It can even and should be considered as a single. This is another song that sounds modern but also has Teena being herself. The raps are good on this song and it is just a hot track. Probably one of the best cuts. A+
I LOVE HIM TOO- Featuring De De O'Neal who I have never heard of before and produced by Teena and Doug Grisby, I get confused by the two because they kinda sound alike. This Quiet Storm, slow groove is Teena back into her element or what I would assume is hers because of how most of the songs sound. This cut really goes nowhere but it does set it down straight about loving whoever both of them. A-
I GOT yOU- Produced by Teena and Doug Grisby and featuring Teena's longtime musical companion, this song is a nice mix of the old and the new with its older sounding element but I also like the singy songy chorus and add-in of the background vocals. It talks about just simply having someone. A
HIT ME WHERE I LIVE- Produced by Teena, Doug Grisby and James Allen, this cut is a little faster paces jazz cut is pretty good. It is fresh and pretty hot. Teena sounds good singing this. A-
HIGH YELLOW GIRL- Featuring her daughter Alia Rose and produced by Teena and James Allen, this is a tribute to her daughter. Her daughter sounds good here. The only problem is that they stress her high yellow, "mellow yellow' skin complexion saying that entirely too much but it is a good track nonetheless with its jazzy kinda bluesy vibe to it. A-
BLACK RAIN- Produced by James Allen, this jazzy song which talks about black rain is really nothing special to me. It is maybe the weakest track just because I am not used to this kinda music. B-
I'M ON FIRE- A good close-out tune about Teena being on fire and for the most part, she pretty much is. It is just the music and Teena's voice. Produced by Teena and Doug Grisby, it kinda makes one wish that Teena would have done more songs like this where it is just her voice and the music. It is a nice tune. Music and voice. A
Overall, the CD is pretty good. Teena does talk alot at the beginning of the songs and you can tell that this lady is urban, she is hip. The CD does not sound as Hip-Hoppish as some people try to make it. Save a couple tracks, it sounds like something Teena could have done in the 80s. The production is not so polished and structured and traditional as most other R&B songs or music for that matter. I wondered how that would sound but because I am not used to it, I did not really feel it. However, Teena has introduced me to a kinda music that I have never heard before and probably would not hear for a while. It is a CD that I listen to just because I like Teena but the music I am not really used to. Teena does not try to sound young or stay young in any way so the older fans and even younger people can feel it. Teena's vocals are still pretty fresh and hot. Her high soprano fits many of the songs well. It is only the vibrato and some of the sharp higher notes that are weak or makes her sound older or off but other than that, she is still on-point with her vocals.

College Dropout
College Dropout
Price: CDN$ 7.99
52 used & new from CDN$ 1.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Something Fresh: Like no Other, May 16 2004
This review is from: College Dropout (Audio CD)
Kanye West is one of the freshest, most innovative artists to hit the stage recently. I got tired of hearing Hip-Hop that sounded just like everything else but Kanye takes it to another level.
WE DON'T CARE- First song that has the sing-along chorus to it. This cut talks about doing what it takes to get by and the obstacles that come from living that lifetime but at the same time overcoming that. Song is encouraging and jus is hot. It is laidback, and something to listen to for sho. Miri Ben-Ari who appears on Twista's project and Patti LaBelle's latest TIMELESS
JOURNEY adds the violin to this track. A
ALL FALLS DOWN- Current Spring single off the project. Syleena Johnson appears on this track which is like a Hip-Hop ballad or slow jam. The song is talking about things that fall down in life. It gets you thinking about stuff if you listen to the lyrics and Syleena sounds better than she ever has adding her vocals to the chorus and riffing all over the place. A
I'LL FLY AWAY- Little interlude with the Gospel song about flying away.
SPACESHIP- Old-school cut that features GLC and Consequences. It contains elements from Marvin Gaye's DISTANT LOVE song and is just a song you gotta listen to to take your interpretation from. It is something to definitely think about kinda talking about working hard but getting no where but wanting to take the space ship somewhere else. The song is hot and creative. A
JESUS WALKS- This is what I am talking about. The song kinda has the Army or War vibe to it as well as the religious with the background vocals and the low hum that continues throughout. It is hot hearing Kanye come at us with a Gospel track. It is refreshing and tells the truth about radio supporting the cut or not just because Jesus is mentioned. A+
NEVER LET ME DOWN- Jay Z appears on this as well as J-IVY has that "Get up, I get down". The slow cut that talks about the important things in life such as family and other loved ones instead of having that high regard for the temporary, superficial things. This song is hot for real. A
GET EM'HIGH- Featuring Talib Kweli and Common, this cut is about getting a girl to the house to do the do with Talib pushing him on but the song is talking about a few other things at the beginning. B+
THE NEW WORKOUT PLAN- I am sure everybody has heard this creative song which talks about nothing but working out. The song is like nothing else heard before. I call it the Ghetto Workout Plan. A
SLOW JAMZ- Everybody and they granmda has heard this so I won't waste time really reviewing the track which features Jamie Foxx and Twista. I cant hear this anymore. A-
BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT- Featuring Ludacris and Miri Ben-Ari on violins, this cut which talks about getting cash is like something else I have heard before. Ludacris or crazy Luda adds something to the cut as always. The song is alright but is like
the first real filler track. B+
SCHOOL SPIRIT- The title explains it all and Aretha Franklin's SPIRIT IN THE DARK is sampled here and a Mickey Mouse version of her voice appears here. The song is hot and innovative just because Kanye couples that old school piece with this and then talks about school at the same time. That is probably what is one of the hottes qualities about Kanye that he couples and mixes things together that you would not think. A
TWO WORDS- Probably the weakest cut on the CD featuring Mos Def, Freeway and the Harlem Boys Choir, this seems too hardcore for Kanye. I aint used to hearig this kinda music from him. I usually skip over this cut. C+
THROUGH THE WIRE- Modeled off Chaka Khan's THORUGH THE FIRE, this creative and hot track is something that everybody has heard. The song is touching and dramatic. I like the inclusion of Chaka's here. A+
FAMILY BUSINESS- "All that glitters is not gold" is included here with a man saying it. The song is about one of the strongest fabric of us all and that is the family. The music, the lyrics, the arragement, everything comes together to make for an emotional effect that is needed on the track. Another one of the best tracks. A+
LAST CALL- Song is kinda long at over 12 minutes. It is a little bit of everything going on here but the beat is smooth and hot. A-
Overall, Kanye's CD is tight and hot at the same time. One of
the main things I like about his CD is that he gets you to thinking about some serious stuff. It just ain't about getting the money or getting in somebody's (...), Kanye talks about everything from the hard life to school to God. It is off da hook about this fact because we get to hear about a little bit of everything. If Kanye keeps it up, he will be around for a long time because this material is already veteran rapper material.

College Dropout
College Dropout
Price: CDN$ 7.99
52 used & new from CDN$ 1.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Kanye Gives It to us Fresh and Like No Other, May 16 2004
This review is from: College Dropout (Audio CD)
Kanye West is one of the freshest, most innovative artists to hit the stage recently. I got tired of hearing Hip-Hop that sounded just like everything else but Kanye takes it to another level.
WE DON'T CARE- First song that has the sing-along chorus to it. This cut talks about doing what it takes to get by and the obstacles that come from living that lifetime but at the same time overcoming that. Song is encouraging and jus is hot. It is laidback, and something to listen to for sho. Miri Ben-Ari who appears on Twista's project and Patti LaBelle's latest TIMELESS JOURNEY adds the violin to this track. A
ALL FALLS DOWN- Current Spring single off the project. Syleena Johnson appears on this track which is like a Hip-Hop ballad or slow jam. The song is talking about things that fall down in life. It gets you thinking about stuff if you listen to the lyrics and Syleena sounds better than she ever has adding her vocals to the chorus and riffing all over the place. A
I'LL FLY AWAY- Little interlude with the Gospel song about flying away.
SPACESHIP- Old-school cut that features GLC and Consequences. It contains elements from Marvin Gaye's DISTANT LOVE song and is just a song you gotta listen to to take your interpretation from. It is something to definitely think about kinda talking about working hard but getting no where but wanting to take the space ship somewhere else. The song is hot and creative. A
JESUS WALKS- This is what I am talking about. The song kinda has the Army or War vibe to it as well as the religious with the background vocals and the low hum that continues throughout. It is hot hearing Kanye come at us with a Gospel track. It is refreshing and tells the truth about radio supporting the cut or not just because Jesus is mentioned. A+
NEVER LET ME DOWN- Jay Z appears on this as well as J-IVY has that "Get up, I get down". The slow cut that talks about the important things in life such as family and other loved ones instead of having that high regard for the temporary, superficial things. This song is hot for real. A
GET EM'HIGH- Featuring Talib Kweli and Common, this cut is about getting a girl to the house to do the do with Talib pushing him on but the song is talking about a few other things at the beginning. B+
THE NEW WORKOUT PLAN- I am sure everybody has heard this creative song which talks about nothing but working out. The song is like nothing else heard before. I call it the Ghetto Workout Plan. A
SLOW JAMZ- Everybody and they granmda has heard this so I won't waste time really reviewing the track which features Jamie Foxx and Twista. I cant hear this anymore. A-
BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT- Featuring Ludacris and Miri Ben-Ari on violins, this cut which talks about getting cash is like something else I have heard before. Ludacris or crazy Luda adds something to the cut as always. The song is alright but is like the first real filler track. B+
SCHOOL SPIRIT- The title explains it all and Aretha Franklin's SPIRIT IN THE DARK is sampled here and a Mickey Mouse version of her voice appears here. The song is hot and innovative just because Kanye couples that old school piece with this and then talks about school at the same time. That is probably what is one of the hottes qualities about Kanye that he couples and mixes things together that you would not think. A
TWO WORDS- Probably the weakest cut on the CD featuring Mos Def, Freeway and the Harlem Boys Choir, this seems too hardcore for Kanye. I aint used to hearig this kinda music from him. I usually skip over this cut. C+
THROUGH THE WIRE- Modeled off Chaka Khan's THORUGH THE FIRE, this creative and hot track is something that everybody has heard. The song is touching and dramatic. I like the inclusion of Chaka's here. A+
FAMILY BUSINESS- "All that glitters is not gold" is included here with a man saying it. The song is about one of the strongest fabric of us all and that is the family. The music, the lyrics, the arragement, everything comes together to make for an emotional effect that is needed on the track. Another one of the best tracks. A+
LAST CALL- Song is kinda long at over 12 minutes. It is a little bit of everything going on here but the beat is smooth and hot. A-
Overall, Kanye's CD is tight and hot at the same time. One of the main things I like about his CD is that he gets you to thinking about some serious stuff. It just ain't about getting the money or getting in somebody's panties, Kanye talks about everything from the hard life to school to God. It is off da hook about this fact because we get to hear about a little bit of everything. If Kanye keeps it up, he will be around for a long time because this material is already veteran rapper material.

Jackpot (Advisory)
Jackpot (Advisory)
Price: CDN$ 12.65
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Chingy's Jackpot: Almost, May 16 2004
This review is from: Jackpot (Advisory) (Audio CD)
Chingy backed by Ludacris is one of the premiere latest artists to have come out.
HE'S HERRE- This is more of that clubbin' or ridin' in the car kinda song. It is a straight track to kick off the CD. The song is introducin Chingy to us. A-
REPRESENT- Familiar to the last track, this song is lookin at representing for certain things. There is nothing really unique or special about this. It sounds like so many other hip-hop songs that have come out lately. B+
RIGHT THURR- 1st kick-off, lead single. Everybody has pretty much heard this which is a hot song. There ain't really nothing else to say about this cut except that it is hot. Rememba that chicken head dance that this brought to the forefront. A
WURRS MY CASH- Mid-tempo song with some of that old-school pimp vibe in it. The song is talking about findin the cash out there. There is nothing really special about this track either. B
CHINGY JACKPOT- Featured in the ONE CALL AWAY video, this song sounds like some of the others but stands out with the female's voice adding another element to it. The chorus is real catchy for sho. The rap fits the music a little better with Chingy's style. This is the first song aside from RIGHT THURR that stands out. A
SAMPLE DAT A**- Once again back to that run-of-the mill kinda rap, this cut talkin about gettin a hit or chance at hittin some (whateva the title says). The song really aint nothing real hot or nothing. It is ok. B
ONE CALL AWAY- My fave Chingy song so far- the one that made me really notice him. I like the laidback groove of the song, the add-in of the vocals and Chingy's smooth but high rap holdin the song down. It is also a lovely, refreshing rap song that is just talkin about some simple lovin'. A+
GETTIN' IT- Sounds different from the other tracks. This up-tempo, in and out beat song is hot for real. The song has that carnival or party like vibe to it which makes it fire. A
HOLIDAE IN- Song is tight for sho thanks to its unique beat that is slower in some ways and crazy like but danceable at the same time. Also Snoop and Ludacris adds to this cut. The 2nd single off this CD. A
JUICE- I like this cut. It is a lil more unique than the others but talkin about juicin these o's- nol quit playin. It is a good call-out song. A-
MADD AT ME- I like the background on the song and the beat. A nice filler track that folks can actually get into. A-
BAGG UP- Old school like song that sounds tight. It is good hearing Chingy doing something different than what he usually does on this CD. The faster, but old school beat mixes well with Chingy's flows. Hot tracks. A
The CD aint nothing special but it really is nothing to complain about if you are into rap or hip-hop. Chingy does pretty good throughout but the best moments are when he steps out and does something fresh such as HOLIDAE IN or BAGG UP. Most of the tracks sound alike and I see why there was no single released after ONE CALL AWAY because most of them are filler but the CD is satisfying for the most part.

More
More
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 10.13
25 used & new from CDN$ 10.13

4.0 out of 5 stars The Voice of An Angel Needs to Take Us to the Next Level Now, May 10 2004
This review is from: More (Audio CD)
After busting back on the scene with Fabolous' INTO yOU, Tamia has come back witht this joint which is very shaky. It has it strengths but its weaknesses are even stronger and kinda overshadow.
ON MY WAY- Cool, breezy mid-tempo with a positive feel to it featuring Red Cafe and produced by Poke and Tone, this song really is nothing special. It sounds like other songs that I have heard before especially from the 90s. This is more like a filler, intro track. The song is ok but that is it. B+
MORE- Featuring Freck the Billionaire and produced by Poke and Tone and Spanador, this mid-tempo is a standard R&B track. It is definitely good but does nothing original or special. Tamia's voice fits the song well and the arrangement is on-point. B+
OFFICIALLY MISSING yOU- Produced by 7, this was the first single off the CD which made ends at Urban AC outlets and some Urban. I did not initially like the song mainly because I do not think it is a good lead, first single but it is a lovely song that really fits Tamia's voice. I heard this is a remake of an earlier song and it is good. Soft and calm. A
STILL- Produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox. If there is a song that has potential to crossover into various formats, this is the one. This is definitely the best song on the CD. Tamia's vocals are great and really fit the song. The arrangement is great and this slow but mid-tempo song has a good message of still loving someone after being together for such a long time. It is a refreshing song. A+
QUESTIONS- 2nd single which has made some gains on the charts. I really liked this song the first time I heard it but it has worn on me but it is a good song. It is definitely a slow jam that we have all heard time and time again but it is nice nonetheless. Produced by R Kelly. A
WHISPERS- Produced by Joshua Nile, this slow, Quiet Storm sounds like a song I heard before but I cannot place it. "Whispeer swweet nothings in my ear." The song which is in a higher key fits Tamia's vocals well. The song is one of those laidback, nightime, Midnight Love songs. A-
I'M yOURS LATELY- Produced by Poke and Tone and Spanador, it sounds alot like ON MY WAY in a way. It has that cool, highway feel to it but it sounds like one of those Pop/R&B joints from the late 90s and like most of the other faster songs on the disc, it is not innovative and is just plain unorignal. The chorus is kinda annoying. B
INTO yOU- The big hit featuring Fabolous and produced by CLUE and DURO that we have all heard time and time again. There is nothing to really say about this track. Beautiful song. A
SMILE- Produced by Babyface and it kinda sounds like a Babyface track. This slow song is very good actually. The song fits Tamia's high, pure and angelic vocals well. This is one of the better tracks that showcase her vocals well. A
POETRY- Probably one of the best songs on the CD. This more original and very creative song that talks about "making it like poetry" is produced by Joshua Nile and the Phantom. The song is very good from the arrangements to the vocals and everything just simply works. A new and nice spin on a song. A+
MR. COOL- Featuring Mario Winans and produced by him, this is one of the uptempo or faster tracks that work. Probably because of Winans' more original production. The song is fun, is lively and very positive talking about that Mr. or translated Mrs. Cool in whoever's life. Mario adds some depth to the song as well. A
THEY LONG TO BE CLOSE TO yOU- Produced by and featuring Gerald Levert (Edwin Nichols), this song is a remake of a song I never heard. Just like Luther's and Beyonce's remake, this one works unlike some others that do not. Both of their vocals complement one another and Gerald does not over sing or over power Tamia. One of those heartfelt duets that bring back many of the old school even to those like me who are not a part of the old school. A
WHY ASK WHY- Produced by Mario Winans, Mario shows that he is a strong and good producer. This slow jam that has an original quality and aspect to it with the whispers and the why the keyboard is programmed and the shimmers (hard to explain) makes this a good cut. A
TOMORROW- Produced by Shep Crawford, this Gospel song that talks about the fact that tomorrow is not promised shows that this girl has some chops and a love for God. I did not know that she could sing quite this well and she makes one feel the song. Check out the note she holds in the song. It is unbelievable. A+
The CD is stronger with the ballads and slower cuts. The biggest problem is the uptempo or faster songs that are too formulaic and too 90s sounding thanks to Poke and Tone. Mario Winans lends two of the better tracks to the CD. R Kelly does well as does Jermaine Dupri and Cox on STILL. Tamia is a great vocalist with an impressive range, a very pure and natural soprano. The CD is good but she needs that killer material that fully shows her range and personality from slow to fast cuts. That is what is missing. What is Tamia's personality. I did not find one throughout the 14 tracks. The CD is good but Tamia gotta take us to that next level now. This is the 3rd one and she needs more producers like Kelly and Mario to do it. POETRY a new and creative track shows us a deeper and different side of Tamia. This is a nice CD save the few missteps.

Soulful
Soulful
Offered by International CDs Canada
Price: CDN$ 9.99
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A Steady but Somewhat Wavery Debut that Tries to do too much, May 10 2004
This review is from: Soulful (Audio CD)
American Idol Season 2 winner comes out with this CD that has its ups and downs, its strengths and weaknesses. Ruben is a good singer but he is not as great as some may think. Many of his notes are very frayed and you can notice the support or the strength to sustain certain notes is not there. One of Ruben's biggest strengths is his soulfulness as well as his tonal quality which allows his voice to fit in well with the music.
SORRY 2004- 1st single which made some ends on the charts, needs no explanations. Produced by the Underdogs, this is definitely a jam that I got into when it came out. I am tired o f it now though but it is a good song. A
NO RUBEN- Produced by Melvin Coleman and Harold Lilly, this soft hard arranged with old school elements is a good song by Ruben. It talks about Ruben being nothing without certain things. The song is good but the theme is what kinda turns me off but the song is good no doubt. A-
HOW CAN yOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?- Produced by Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, this remake of an old school cut by the Bee Gees is done in a more soulful arrangement by Ruben. It is very reminiscent of the old school and Ruben handles it well. He makes you feel the emotion of the song. It is talking about mending a broken heart that has been shattered. The song is good and a stand=out. A
TAKE THE SHOT- Produced by Swizz Beatz, this jam sounds hot no doubt. The beat is cretive and just off the chain. The song kinda shows the hardcore or harder side of Ruben. The song could be released as a single and could make some ends. This is a good song. A
WHAT IS SEXY- Featuring Fat Joe, produced bu Irv Gotti. This song is modeled after Mary J. Blige's REAL LOVE and the song is good no doubt. Fat Joe adds something cool to this "big boys' anthem" as Ruben says. A
WHAT IF- 2nd single off the joint, this slower mid-tempo is so standard for R&B/Urban male artists to release. It is nothing new and is a very safe follow-up to SORRY 2004. Prodcued by the Underdogs again who produced that same song, the song does nothing special but it is a good one nonetheless talking about the what if's of a relationship. A-
SUPERSTAR- The first recorded song of Ruben's that many had the opportunity to hear. This definitely shows the strength and beauty of Ruben's voice as he ably handles this classic adding his own stamp to the song. Produced by James McMillan. A+
CAN I GET yOUR ATTENTION- Featuring Pretty Tony and produced hy Harold Lilly and Gerard Thomas, this is nothing special. I really skip past this song which contains elements of Cameo's IT'S OVER. The mid-tempo that talks about getting attention is like many other songs and the constant repeating of "now" is annoying. B
FOR ALL WE KNOW- This Gospel-tinged remakeof the standard is produced by Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken is a very strong song as Ruben puts a new spin on the cut that I have never heard before. This also shows the positives of his voice and it fits him. A
PLAY OUR SONG- Produced by Jazze Pha and Kevin Hicks is alright. The mid-tempo is nothing spectacular and sounds like a filler track. Talking about playing the song in the club so that the two can get down. It is good but is run-of the mill. B+
DON'T QUIT ON ME- Produced by Swizz Beatz, this is too hip-hop for Ruben. It talks about not giving up on love. The song is nothing special and is very weak. B
AFTER THE CANDLES BURN- Another cut that suits Ruben's voice souding like one of those old school classics with a new spin. Produced by Andre Harris and Vidal Davis. This fits Ruben and you can feel the song all the way through. True Soul.A
FLYING WITHOUT WINGS- You know every Idol has to release that cheesy, mushy ballad like Kelly Clarkson's A MOMENT LIKE THIS. Hers is better because this does not really suit Ruben as well. It sounds good but it seems like Ruben is not comfortable singing it. Produced by the Underdogs. It has a nice heartfelt theme though. A-
WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN- Featuring and produced by GOSPEL GREAT and Anointed Fred Hammond, this song is tight. This indicates what Ruben is meant for and that is singing the praises of God. The song talks about not forgetting the blessings of God. This is what I am talking about. A+
Ruben makes missteps when he tries to do the hip-hop which does not fit him well. The stronger songs like SUPERSTAR, FOR ALL WE KNOW, AFTER THE CANDLES BURN and WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN show that soul and Gospel is what fits him best. The Hip-Hop does weaken the disc and like Kelly Clarkson but not as bad as Kelly Ruben tries to do too much. Hopefully, he finds his niche and strengths and play to them more in the future.

Private Room
Private Room
Price: CDN$ 14.72
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Good But No Stand Out, May 10 2004
This review is from: Private Room (Audio CD)
Avant who bust onto the scene in 2000 with the hits SEPARATED and MY FIRST LOVE is back with his third joint which in my opinion is better than his first and second. However, this one is very forgettable. At first, I was into the CD but it really does not leave a lasting impression especially as other music comes out. Avant is a good singer but he is no standout in the R&B arena and many think of him as a R Kelly knock off but there is no doubt that he has made some ends in music.
AV- Produced by Sizzle. This song is a nice first song on the CD. This midtempo is arranged well with the background vocals adding a whole notha level to the song. Avant's vocals aint bad either. This is actually one of the better songs on the CD. A
READ yOUR MIND- 1st single off this project. Produced by Sizzle as well, a little bit of everybody has heard this song. There really is not much to say about it then. I heard it so much that I am a little tired of it though but it is a nice smooth jam. A-
HEAVEN- Mid-tempo produced by Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell and Harold Lilly Jr. has some elements of old school in it. It is a laidback, cool joint but it is forgettable. I mean we have heard this before but it does work. A-
DON'T TAKE yOUR LOVE AWAY- Probably the reason why I bought this CD. This 2nd single produced by Sizzle is a tight and very melodramatic love song about longing for the lover to not take her love away. This reminds me of MY FIRST LOVE a little and Avant shows his talent here on this song with singing as well as writing. He makes the song come alive and when I hear it, it is almost like a story to me. A
HAVE SOME FUN- Produced by Warryn Campbell and Harold Lilly, this song is off da charts. It changes keys, tempos all of that. Being a very musical person, I am all into this cut right here. This is like a music masterpiece and very unique- something you dont hear much. Avant's soft tenor blends in well as he adjusts to the music changes well. The song talks about having some fun, the song itself is fun and I enjoy it all the way through. A+
HOOKED- Produced by Sizzle, this midtempo that has soft handclaps throughout is a smooth jam about being hooked to someone's loving. I mean I have heard this before but the song does work and Avant makes it work. Nothing new but a cool song nonetheless. B+
PHONE SEX- Produced by Sizzle, I do not care for this song. I think artists take it too far when talking about sex so explicitly. Avant, you are not R Kelly so get over it. I think it is desperate or too over-the-top talking about some phone sex. I do not listen to this song which is arranged in a very familiar R&B way. C+
FEAST- Produced by Sizzle, this slow New Jack Swing kinda song does not work at all for me. It is kinda creative but I cannot get into it at all. Probably the theme of the song about feasting on a girl in a sexual way does not sit right with me but the song is ok. B
SEEMS TO BE- Produced by Sizzle and featurig Olivia, this is a creative jam that has hit written on it. The two artists' voices complement one another. This is the kinda music I am talking about. This beat slow jam has a good chorus and it just works. It is a jam no doubt. A+
yOU GOT ME- Produced by Sizzle, I like how the song starts with whistle blowin'. The song is a good song that talks about being sprung. There is nothing really original but the song is good no doubt. All the elements work together here. A-
WANNA BE CLOSE- Produced by Sizzle, this is the big ballad song which is my kinda music. Avant handles this well and it shows that ol' boi can sing. The song could also be a hit. A+
EVERYTHING ABOUT yOU- Produced by Sizzle, this slow song which looks at the good qualities in his lover is very good. I like how he flows over the verses and the words are touching. Both of these last two songs are what it is about- showign love which Avant does well. A
yOU- Produced by Sizzle, this is supposed to be like a party cut but it does not make me wanna do nothin but turn from it. I really do not care for this song as there is nothing special about it. It works but nothing sticks out about it. B
READ yOUR MIND PT.2- This remix is jammin. I like how the song is modeled off "COME GO WITH ME." It almost sounds better than the original mostly because it is refreshing after hearing the original so much. A
FLICKIN'- Featuring Bumpy Johnson and produced by Sizzle, this is more of a party jam. The song makes you wanna start dancin and it is very fun. Avant shows off some of his harder side but the song is cool and there are kids' voices over the chorus. A nice summer joint. A
Overall, the CD is good but nothing extra special. Everything works but for the most part it is the same we have heard before although there are some standouts. Avant is so dramatic to me. It is like many of his songs are mini-movies which is good because that is a strength of his as a singer. If Avant starts being a little more creative, he can transcend the formulaic R&B that he gets stuck into but the CD is good no doubt.

Hard (W/2 Bonus Tracks)
Hard (W/2 Bonus Tracks)
Offered by Rainy Day Games
Price: CDN$ 9.99
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Jagged Edge Came Hard on This One for the Better, Feb. 18 2004
This review is from: Hard (W/2 Bonus Tracks) (Audio CD)
Jagged Edge who are known for their heartfelt ballads return strongly with this CD which has some more strong and hot ballads and some decent faster songs. The maturity shown on the other CDs come through here. For their best all around CD, I would have to definitely go with this one. The track, WHAT'S IT LIKE, is worth the CD all by itself as it is something we all feel before actually experiencing love, we wonder what it is like. The harmonies, the intros and everything are just good all round. The CD is hot and I really do hope that it does well on the charts because JE are one of the hottest male groups of modern times. This is a tight CD no doubt.
THEY AINT JE- Intro full length track that has Jagged Edge putting it down that "they aint JE". Track is stronger than most intro cuts but I still do not pay much attention to it as there are so many other stronger cuts on the CD. B
WALKED OUTTA HEAVEN- Produced by longtime collaborater Bryan Michael Cox, this song which went to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is pretty impressive was one of those slowbuilding but strong tracks for JE. The song is actually trademark JE with their unique vocals and the dramatic but fitting production taking over the song. This is certainly one of their best songs and it even made ends on Poppish stations across the country. A+
GIRLS GONE WILD- Produced by Sick Cents Productions and the Come Boys, this midtempo which features an artist named Major Damage is a good laid back but still bumpin track. The vocals are there and everything. The song about meeting one of those girls who go wild actually has potential to be a single no doubt. In fact, it was on the CD single with WALKED OUTTA
HEAVEN. This is one of those tight spring/summer tracks. A
VISIONS- One of my favorite songs, this cut which is produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox has the intro that JE is known for. It is just something about the harmony they have at the beginning of most of the songs that is so cool. This midtempo which teatures a tight singer by the name of Tiffany Beaudoin and has elements from hit, "you Are My Starship" is one that all who go through the game of love experience. That feeling that maybe this person is not meant for them even if they know its their soulmate. That uncertainty still lies. The harmonies are so tight its ridiculous. A+
HARD- Produced by Sick Cents Productions and Melvin Coleman who is all over the CD is another strong song. It is the title song of the CD and has a very unique circulating type beat to it. The song talks about trying very hard to get back the one you love. The vocals are good, the arrangement, everything in this song which is about longing for that love back fits right. This is another trademark JE. Watch out for the bridge and the end, these dudes jus straight let loose with some of that soul. A+
DANCE FLOOR- Faster, party song produced by Melvin Coleman actually works. It is hard to see this as a single because though it is a decent track, it really has nothing special about it. The song talks about getting on the dancefloor to let loose and have a good time. How many times have we heard a song like that? But it is JE and they do a good job with it. B+
TRYING TO FIND THE WORDS- Uptempo that works better than the latter and could actually be released as a single is produced by Melvin Coleman is a faster song that actually fits their vocals all around. The song is almost R&B pop which makes it that much more able to cross over all formats. The song is one of the best w/out a doubt. A+
WHAT'S IT LIKE- Current, 2nd single that is one of my favorite songs of JE is produced by Melvin Coleman. This track which is longing for seeing what love is actually like. The days of being a runner or bustdown or player or pimp whatever have gotten tiresome and it is time to see what it is like to be in love. The pure emotion that is injected into this track shows that they have experienced this feeling of what it actually is
like to be in love. This song is tight no doubt. A++
TRYNA BE yOUR MAN- Produced by Bryan Michael Cox, this seems like one of those filler faster tracks. The song works without question but at the same time there is nothing special about this Latin-tinged song which has JE talking about not trying to be a girl's friend but trying to be her man. B+
I DON'T WANNA- Produced by Bryan Micheal Cox and Kevin Hicks, this slow jam has that trademark R&B/soulful modern male group all over it. The song is definitely one of those heartfelt slow cuts that talks about not wanting to give up a good love, letting someone know actually how much they are loved. The harmonies are good as always and the song works all the way through. A
IN PRIVATE- Produced by Melvin Coleman, this track talks about those things done in private-oooo. JE handles this slow, sensual track well but there is nothing special about it. It sounds like I already heard this before with Ginuwine or something but the song does work no doubt. A-
IN THE MORNING- Produced by Melvin Coleman, one of the strongest tracks on the CD. The song looks at what one wants even after doin the freaky thangs at night- a lover to still be there in the morning. This song definitely is something that many experience. The slow jam is a good track. A
SHADY GIRL- Produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Micheal Cox, this track sounds kinda outdated and is not as strong as some of the other faster songs. I usually skip over this song but it still holds pretty strong. I could actually see them trying to release this as a single but there is nothing real special about it. B+
CAR SHOW- Faster, Stop/Go kinda instrumentation featuring the ever good Big Boi of Outkast, the song talks about what? CAR SHOW. The song is one of the strongest faster songs but it does nothing real special. Produced by Sick Cents Productions A-
THEY AINT JE (REMIX)- This song opened the CD and it will close it. Instead of saying JE all the way through, they say "me". Produced by Sick Cents Productions and featuring Street Katz and Woodie, this is actually better than the intro and could be a single possibly. A
Jagged Edge who are known for their heartfelt ballads return strongly with this CD which has some more strong and hot ballads and some decent faster songs. The maturity shown on the other CDs come through here. For their best all around CD, I would have to definitely go with this one. The track, WHAT'S IT LIKE, is worth the CD all by itself as it is something we all feel before actually experiencing love, we wonder what it is like. The CD is hot and I really do hope that it does well on the charts because JE are one of the hottest male groups of modern times. This is a tight CD no doubt.

This Is Not a Test
This Is Not a Test
Offered by inandout_canada
Price: CDN$ 7.99
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars O Missy Where Are you? It Seems She is Almost Back, Feb. 2 2004
This review is from: This Is Not a Test (Audio CD)
I must say that compared to her three earlier, bangin' releases, that Missy's Under Construction was a lackluster, boring and very uninnovative release. The CD had nothing really exciting about it as it was a retread of earlier hip-hop. Her other three CDs, namely DA REAL WORLD and SO ADDICTIVE were some of the most creative all-around CDs ever. This CD kind of returns Missy to that status of being the uninhibited as we all know her as. However, the CD is not selling as well as the others and the debut single flopped.
BABY GIRL INTERLUDE/INTRO- Featuring Mary J. who does a good job here as the background vocal. Hearing this song, I knew that this CD was going to be better than her last. The beat is tight. A-
PASS THAT DUTCH- Produced by Missy herself, this creative trademark Missy song with all the noises and spectacle surprisingly did not do much as the first single. The song is as good as any of the other lead singles: GET UR FREAK ON, THE RAIN, SHE'S A B***H and WORK IT. A
WAKE UP- Featuring JayZ, this cut which is actually featured on the PASS THE DUTCH video is pretty tight. The track is definitely danceable, is Missy returnin to form and has JayZ giving some needed spark to the song. Produced by Timb and Missy, the song is one of the better on the CD. The beat is just banging for real. A
KEEP IT MOVIN- Produced by Missy and Timb and featuring Elephant Man, this midtempo, Reggaelike song is pretty good. It has Missy singing on it and remember she can do it pretty well. Of course, she is not one of the best but she can hold a note. Elephant Man's energy adds to the song and the song as a whole is tight. A
IS THIS OUR LAST TIME-Featuring Fabolous and produced by Missy and Souldiggaz, this old-school sounding track works better than almost any of the others from her previous CD, UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Missy sings on this one again and Fabolous adds much to the song with his kinda lazied vocals. The song talks about being the last time: is it over? We all know that feeling. Has something changed? A-
I'M REALLY HOT- This is Missy no doubt. This current single is off da chain no doubt. 2nd single that has party jam written all over it should have been released in the summer instead of now but it is tight. Produced by Missy and Craig "X" Brockman. A+
DATS WHAT IM TALKIN ABOUT- Featuring R Kelly and Missy's singing vocals, this track is kinda weird no doubt. Produced by Missy, Craig "X" Brockman and Nisan Stewart, with R Kelly on it does add some depth to it. Song is nothing to scream about but it does work. A-
DON'T BE CRUEL- Featuring Monica and Beenie Man and produced by Timb and Missy, the song is tight. It is so creative with a little bit of evrything in it: electronic, Reggae and of course the Missy/Timb type of Hip-Hop. It is nice hearing Monica sing in a new, more free way. Beenie Man does good with his part as well. A
TOYZ- Produced by Missy, this older sounding, 70ish skatin type song is nasty. It has Missy talking about toyz replacing the real thing. The song is..... B+
LET IT BUMP- Produced by Timb and Missy, this track which is a mix of the old school and Missy/Timb sound almost does not work but it is something that redeems it: maybe Missy's energy and the beat that is tite. The song works pretty well. A-
PUMP IT UP- Featuring Nelly and produced by Missy and Timb, this song is so weird. A mix of old school and new, it is not as good as I would like a Missy and Nelly collabo to be but it does work. Song has potential to be a single. It has a factory type kinda sound to it. Nelly does good with his part. A
IT'S REAL- Produced by Missy and Craig "X" Brockman has Missy holdin it down ballad/slow jam style. The song is refreshing no doubt and is a throwback to that old school kinda singing about the feelings of love being real. In fact, it has parts from a Chaka Khan song. Lindsey Fields gives some good background vocals and there is a nice bridge. A
LET ME FIX MY WEAVE- Produced by Timb and Missy, this midtempo about fixing the weave is nothing real special. Missy's rap is tight and it sounds like one of those battlin songs. The song however is missing something. A-
SPELLING BEE- Crazy beat and song about spelling. Is this Missy's favorite subject but it does show off her creativity. The beat is nothing special in this cut produced by Timb and Missy. A-
I'M NOT PERFECT- Featuring the Clark Sisters- Gospel vets- this song is refreshing with some tight vocals. It talks about no one being perfect which is an undoubted truth. Missy usually does these kinda songs at the end with an inspirational type song. A+
Overall, the CD is better than her last one, UNDER CONSTRUCTION and even the first one. It is not as old school and has some good beats although they are not as jammin and bangin as some of her other ones. The beats here are more crazy and midtempo but are good. If Missy just does a lil better with her next joint, she will no doubt be back to her former self of being the creative and innovative artist she is.

Sings The Rosemary Clooney Son
Sings The Rosemary Clooney Son
Price: CDN$ 13.94
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars From Midler to Clooney, Dec 9 2003
Bette Midler returns to the musical scene after a three year absence with a fitting tribute to Rosemary Clooney. As someone who is very young, I am priviledged to have heard Clooney sing before and that is due to my exposing myself to all kinds of music. I agree totally with all that Bette says about Clooney: to read this, look at the liner notes where Bette says her thanks. I already knew that this CD was going to be an older sounding, standards like CD which is not something that I really care for but because it is Bette who is one of my top favorite entertainers, I had to buy the CD.
yOU'LL NEVER KNOW- Very slow and nice intro track. I had never heard it before. The song is very beautiful vocally and in arrangement. Bette really shows that she still has the chops with this melodic song that could easily be the theme song for numerous movies or the perfect Valentine's Day song for veteran couples. A
THIS OLE HOUSE- I am not a big, big country fan but I really do respect the music and I even have several country artists. This bluegrass, "MOSES" (off of BETTE 2000 CD) is a decent song. I have never heard the original but I do think that Bette does a good job with the song. Her voice is very fitting for the song and the arrangements are superb here. I like the breakdown towards the end of the song and it is a very good song. B+
ON A SLOW BOAT TO CHINA- a duet with Barry Manilow begins off with some nice chitter-chatter between Bette and Barry. This big band, jazzy song is one I heard the two perform on the Today show at the beginning of October to promote the CD. They both handle this well and though I have not heard the original, I can certainly imagine how great it was. The banter between the two is so great imbuing this song with even more life and spunk. A nice dancing, swaltzing type of song. A-
HEY THERE- This song is probably less than a half tempo slower than the previou song and it is one of those couple dancing songs about the beauty and love that one possesses for another. The song is very inviting and very beautiful in so many ways. Bette's voice blends in well with this song. B+
TENDERLY- My second best song which I first heard when Bette performed it on Ellen Degeneres' Show. There is something about the arrangment and Bette's voice that makes this one of the best songs not only on this CD but of all of her songs. I really enjoy it much and it is just so lovey-dovey. I like the parts where the music does the two-stepping kind of things and there is a magical quality to the song. A+
COME ON-A MY HOUSE- My favorite song on the CD which I heard her perform on the Today show, this is probably the most modernized sounding, hip-hop like song on the disc. The music is just so nice and she can definitely perform this live with some choreography thrown in. This is probably the most commercial song off the CD. A true standout! A+++
MAMBO ITALIANO- Sounds like something Bette would have done in the seventies or eighties toward the beginning of her career. This is probably the second most commercial sounding song and I could see the potential for it on the dance charts. The song which is very eccentric in many ways fits Bette so well. This is one of the best songs on the CD. A
SISTERS- This big swinging, big band duet with Linda Ronstadt who blends in more than she actually comes to the front. They sound well together with Bette taking the lower, alto part and Linda taking the higher, soprano part. The song which comes from the movie WHITE CHRISTMAS originally is one of those blissful songs that can help to take away some of the cares and worries of life. A-
MEMORIES OF yOU- Slower, laidback song that has Bette putting her voice in the forefront. The song is very peaceful and is one that one could fall asleep on for much of it's beauty. Bette also shows some of her vocal abilities in the lower register here. I like the note she holds at the end. It is so peaceful!! A-
IN THE COOL, COOL, COOL OF THE EVENING- Witty and once again peaceful song with Bette singing as Rosemary had before about stuff going on in the cool, cool, cool of the evening. This is a very good song actually. B+
WHITE CHRISTMAS- Very few people have not heard this Christmas standard before. I remember hearing this as a little child. Bette does a good job with this trademark Rosemary Clooney song. It makes one desire a Christmas CD from Bette of all Christmas songs. Throughout the song, she does a very good job using her voice inflections in the right places to really evoke the emotions of the song. A
Overall, this is a good tribute CD that I am sure the Clooneys would be proud of. Kudos to Barry and Bette for making the CD for having the courage. Also, this CD showcases some of the best vocals from Bette in some time: actually, the best since her 1995 BETTE OF ROSES CD. I really do not care for this kind of music so it will not really be played too much but I do respect it and respect Bette's effort and tributing to Clooney. A great CD for so many who want to hear songs from the past with hints of the future sung in the present.

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