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Luvanmusiq
 

Luvanmusiq

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Musiq Soulchild has been traded to Atlantic, from Def Soul Records, but his latest record, Lovanmusiq is easily recognizable as a Soulchild joint. This is the fourth set representing a blend of old-school soul and modern R&B from Musiq Soulchild. The biggest "mainstreaming" effort is to trim down the overall length and pitch a single, "B.U.D.D.Y.," billed on the promo copy as an "anthem." This is a straight rap track that hits the soul horns, a la Ohio Players, pretty hard. It's totally mainstream, but not the strongest or most innovative thing on the CD. Getting this first track and first single out of the way, what follows is a pretty cool Musiq Soulchild record.

"Betterman," produced by the consistently clever Raphael Saadiq, is much more representative. It's a medium-up jam, with more soul that hip-hop behind the groove. The vocals are prime, with the real-deal soul tenor thing that Soulchild does best right on top. The mix lets you hear the vocal, and dig the production blend; Saadiq's chord vamp and Musiq Soulchild overdubbing himself in a classic R&B vocal style. Bobby Ozuna can lay down a mean beat, with a combination of programming, scratching and "real" drums. This is also all about love making you a better man. Oh yeah, there's another sort of departure.

If you're sick of rap/pop/soul/hip-hop guys becoming millionaires and holding onto that dark ghetto vibe way past reality, here's a refreshing change. The words are all Musiq's, and he shows some serious maturity. It's not that he's a downer, but this is a more serious guy than he was before. On "Ms. Philadelphia" he creates an almost Joe Jackson image of the title character. The lyric is a description of a first meeting in a cocktail lounge. The characters talk about real things, learn about each other and become real people. This will also become a fav in Philly. There just aren't that many Philadelphia songs. Way to represent for the hometown crowd!

Musiq has lots of production control on this set, and he owns his vocals and the backgrounds pretty completely. The whole CD has lots of space and subtle beats. On "Thequestions," a basic piano ballad, the thoughtful lyric winds over a romantic synth line and some piano arpeggios. There's not much there, and the strength and weakness of the tune rides on Musiq's shoulders. By and large, he carries the weight. On the dance tracks he rolls out that smooth soul, and on the spacier stuff he has a sentimental side.

The dance tracks, like "Makeyouhappy" will make you happy. The whole E.E.Cummings, run-on title thing is getting old, but the vibe is all pop-happy. Basically, here's a guy who grew up. He still makes excellent, easy going, pop songs that are easy to dance to, or just drive along to. He brings some more introspective stuff to bear on Luvanmusiq, and the jury is still out on that stuff. On either front, the guy sings great. He has a deliberate, thoughtful style that might be too deep for the serious stuff.

By Dave Morgan

1. B.U.D.D.Y.

2. Ms. Philadelphia

3. Teachme

4. Betterman

5. Thequestions

6. Today

7. Makeyouhappy

8. Ridiculous

9. Millionaire

10. Takeyouthere

11. Lullaby

12. Greatestlove
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