Nu Music 4-18

Pussycat Dolls
The six-member female singing group known as Pussycat Dolls has potential to be a vocal force with their array of voices and singing styles. Instead, one gets a cross between The Village People and Spice Girls, with a dash of Britney Spears for spice. The songs here on their debut are horribly written (“Right Now,” “Wait A Minute,” “Bite The Dust”), and the lackluster production doesn’t help matters. The album feels thrown together, like a last minute comedy act. Thing is, I shouldn’t be laughing … but I am. Sadly, their hit single “Don’t Cha” is as good as the Pussycat Dolls can get.
Syleena Johnson
Chapter 3: The Flesh
Syleena possesses a nice singing voice with no identity. At times her vocal arrangement make her sound too much like Faith Evans. While the comparison is not a bad one for Syleena, separation needs to occur. On this, her third album, Syleena sticks with relationship-based story telling and mood-setting numbers that attract the seasoned adult ear. The majority of the songs are excellently written (“Slowly,” “He Makes Me Say”). But it all sounds so Faith-ish. One finds oneself questioning if they like the songs because they’re good or if they like them because they sound like good Faith Evans songs. Syleena gets great assists from fellow Chicago natives R. Kelly (“Special Occasion”) and Twista (“Phone Sex”), while making beautiful music with Anthony Hamilton on “More.” Overall this is a solid album.

Charlie Wilson
Charlie, Last Name Wilson
   Charlie Wilson has one of the smoothest, most recognizable voices in R&B music. His work with The Gap Band has made him a legend. He previous solo album, “Bridging The Gap,” is a soundtrack of love songs. The numbers play well with any scene of passion or compassion. It is beautifully written, arranged, produced and performed.
   On this, his second solo effort, Wilson turns himself over to the creativeness of R. Kelly to make him sound younger and more modern. Problem is, Wilson doesn’t need to be modernized. His skills are ageless and timeless. He remakes “Lets Chill,” which was originally performed by Guy, and he runs this R&B classic into the ground. It starts good, but there was no structure in the end. He over-sings the finale, a problem with most songs on the album. The producers wanted him to be “Charlie Wilson” instead of just letting him be Charlie Wilson. The title track and “Thru It All” are nice.
Little Brother
The Minstrel Show
     Surprise, surprise – In 2002, Little Brother quietly sneaks in the back door of the music industry forcing every rapper to step their game up to new levels. With no one looking or expecting, the group’s first album, “The Listening,” becomes a timeless classic. Comparisons to great hip-hop albums before and after it put the group in a league of their own. Little Brother is groundbreaking.
     Three years later, 9th Wonder, Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte return with this, their highly anticipated second album. Saying they did it again would be an understatement. Their first album played like a radio station, with “Minstrel Show” acting like a variety show. The joke is on their record company, as the trio never conforms to a fad, sales-worthy style or club/radio formula.
     The production is soulful and street at the same time. 9th Wonder’s mix of melody and mash makes heads happy with neck-bopping boom-bapness. Lyrically, Phonte and Big Pooh are leap years ahead of everyone else. The duo content is thought provoking, humorous and jaw dropping. Every verse is well written. Check out “Still Lives Through,” “Beautiful Morning,” and “We Got Now.”