Hey Kandi

Kandi simply doesn't possess the attitude her own songs have...

They say you should never judge a book by its cover… but you sure should judge an album by its title – and ‘Hey Kandi’, as a title, sucks the big one. It sounds worryingly simplistic and gives no insight into the background of the artist it’s selling: a slyly talented, Atlanta-born singer-songwriter.

Kandi Burruss was a member of Xscape, a successful girl-group Jermaine Dupri discovered back in 1993. Although Xscape‘s three albums didn’t make Burruss a household name, it initiated her craving for fame. She recently tasted this as a songwriter after writing career-rejuvenating hits for everyone from Mariah Carey to TLC (‘No Scrubs’), Pink (‘There You Go’) and Destiny’s Child (‘Bills, Bills, Bills’, ‘Bug-A-Boo’ and ‘So Good’). She has a talent for writing about aggravating aspects of youthful relationships – whether he/she will call, whether you’re being cheated on, and, of course, what your friend thinks of him/her – and relays her tales in a humorous, street-geared manner. They sell tons. Unsurprisingly, Kandi now wants to make it big with her hits in her own right – but it’s doubtful whether ‘Hey Kandi’ is the vehicle upon which she will hitch her ride to fame.

The problem is not with the music, since Burruss is still working with her teammate, producer Shek’speare; the problem is that something’s missing. Burruss simply doesn’t possess the attitude her own songs have. She doesn’t spit her lyrics like Pink did. She doesn’t possess the breathy disdain Destiny’s Child‘s Beyonce has. She isn’t as believably cocky as TLC. That’s not to say the confrontation contained on the likes of the you’ve-been-busted! tracks – like ‘Pants On Fire’, the Miami bass ‘Don’t Think I’m Not’ (the first single) or the retributional ‘What I’m Gon’ Do To You’ (surely an ex-girlfriend anthem for the future?) – are wack, it’s just that they sound tamer than they should. By the time you reach the album’s only duet, ‘Easier’ (with Faith Evans), where Burruss coos about the subject of loss, you realise that that’s where she’s most comfortable as a performer – being earnest, not bolshy.

Jacqueline Springer