POSTED JULY 5 2001
New Jersey trio City High's debut is the kind of uplifting hip-hop
soul that you would expect, given that much of it is produced by
Wyclef Jean. They use their soulful voices and organic arrangements
to grapple with harsh realities, adding a spoonful of sugar to the
"Moulin Rouge [SOUNDTRACK]"
While the stars of Baz Luhrmann's new film, Moulin Rouge, preen and
prance in turn-of-the-century costumes, the movie's soundtrack is
decidedly more modern. With Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya, and Lil'
Kim remaking Labelle's raunchy "Lady Marmelade," and Beck and
Timbaland reworking David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs," it's definitely an
"Forces Of Nature"
The latest entrant in R&B's ongoing abdominal muscle
sweepstakes, the deep-voiced Tank has the musical chops to back up
the physical evidence. An ex-backup singer for Aaliyah, Tank's debut
is a blend of sexual healing workouts and romantic whispers. It also
includes "Maybe I Deserve," a cheating man's admission of guilt.
"Songs in a Minor [US-Import] [IMPORT]"
One of the most talented young singers on the R&B scene,
20-year-old Alicia Keys may be cute, like many other chart-toppers.
But her commitment to music, and her training as a classical
pianist, make her more than the average junior diva. Her lovely
debut showcases her vocal force, as well as songwriting skills which
transcend adolescent preoccupations.
"First Born Second"
Like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, and the Roots, Bilal is a product
of Philadelphia's vibrant musical scene. Since his first single,
"Soul Sista" dropped, anticipation for this excellent debut has been
building, and with it, Bilal proves that he has the voice and
charisma to deliver on the hype.
Washington funk legend Chuck Brown is joined by jazz vocalist Eva
Cassidy in this lovely session of jazzy, soulful standards. It's a
cross-genre feast for the ears.
"Best of Sade"
Sade's elegant musical sensualism is timeless, and this excellent
collection compiles her best work, including "The Sweetest Taboo,"
"Smooth Operator," and other evening classics.
Lionel Ritchie, an ex-member of the Commodores and an '80s
superstar in his own right, is back. And not much has changed: he's
adding hip-hop and funk elements to the adult-contemporary template,
and he's delivering the romantic ballads that have left ladies
swooning for three decades.
One of R&B's lushest voices, Luther Vandross returns with an
eponymous album that shows him going back to his roots: silken love
ballads. Though this collection also includes up-tempo numbers, it's
really all about Vandross's soulful romancing.
FREE DIGITAL MUSIC
Legendary bassist Bootsy Collins, one of the originators of "the
funk," is honored in Rhino's new "Glory B Da Funk's on Me!"
anthology. And Amazon.com is currently featuring a download of his
song "Body Slam," which is funky and then some. Collins's
contribution to the funk is immeasurable, as he's worked with both
George Clinton and James Brown (funk's two godfathers), and remains
a musical superstar. Download " Body Slam" now.
Go to all R&B/Soul downloads
FROM THE VAULTS: GROOVIN'
"Very Best of Rose Royce [US-Import] [IMPORT]"
Los Angeles' Rose Royce became famous by producing the soundtrack
to the film Car Wash. And though the single "Car Wash" was probably
their biggest hit, the soundtrack's second single, the lovesick "I
Want to Get Next To You," is music at its most magical.
"Fattest of Fatback"
Fatback was a dancefloor mainstay in the '70s and '80s, and
listening to this greatest hits collection, it's easy to see why.
The group's swaggering funk, anchored by thick, bottom-heavy
grooves, made this New York group one of the best. Their singles
also added a welcome touch of humor to the music scene.