Mixed-up, muddled-up comp of contemporary R&B, hip-hop and soul saved by classics from Destiny's Child, Kelis and Kelly Price...
As ‘urban’ music grows in prominence, definition and surface area, the UK’s favourite soulman faces an ever-greater challenge. To somehow present hip hop, soul, R&B, jazz and even gospel, side by side, as if they were always a part of the same chart-busting craze. It’s a sure recipe for awkward compiling, monotonous pacing and remix-overdose – and it shows.
Stick Craig David’s ‘Walking Away’ between Nelly’s rugged ‘Country Grammer’ and Lil’ Kim’s gutsy ‘No Matter What They Say’ and you get something rather ugly. An overzealous remix. A truly sweet R&B track shedding its soul to arm wrestle with hip hop.
And it happens more than once on this 36-cut CD summary of Trevor Nelson’s perennial MTV residency. It happens when Sisqo rubs shoulders with Dr Dre and, again, that Lil’ Kim. And when some obscure soul crooner named Veronica gets it on with Courtney Pine and Me One. Frankly, it’s a little too much. Omar loses his divine cool on the tail of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s depravity and LL Cool J loses his balls to a dodgy Face track about cocktails and booty.
That said, props where props are due. It’s not often that jewel artists like Amal Larrieux, Rahsaan Patterson or Changing Faces are given mainstream attention, and if getting it means climbing out through Nelson’s revered earlobes, then let it be. And, of course, there’s the infallible presence of those who can do no wrong – Destiny’s Child, Kelis, Kelly Price et al. No solo track from Jill Scott, though – baffling.