Monday, October 22, 2007

Model Music-Amerie CD review

I’ve always been a fan of Amerie since I brought her first album “All I Have”, I’ve always dug this model, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress. When I first heard “Why Don’t We Fall In Love”, I was impressed with her combination of confidence and beauty. That album and her second album, Touch, were defined by slick, marketable production, and each had two songs which I heard on the radio frequently when they were released. Her image on the first album for me was that sexy model/singer dealing with looking hot; like in “Talkin’ to Me” she deals with a guy who can’t talk to her so she has to read his body language to see that he likes her. On the second album she’s trying to break out of that goody two shoes image in songs like “Touch”. Again, we see how hard it is being Amerie; she wants guys to holler at her and for them to see her wild side, but she’s hot and guys are too scared to talk to her! This theme, along with her other recurring themes of being a flygirl lookin’ for love and dealing with relationships and wanting some passion in her life, are further explored on her new album, “Because I Love It”.

On her second album there was go-go, hip hop and even some “crunk” on it. On “Because I Love It”, Amerie seems to abandon the simple formulas that worked on her first two albums (which may be because she didn’t work with the same producer on this one) and enlists a whole guest list of producers who dig in the crates and really funk this album up. This album amazes me because not only does she seem to consistently recognize the old school of funk, r&b and hip hop, but she shows her more soulful side in the singing as well. I was surprised to see that she had a song on here that was produced in 1975 by Curtis Mayfield, a track so obscure I was surprised I didn’t know about it. Then there were samples of Issac Hayes and even Willie Hutch! This approach by Amerie is a bold and daring move on her part to make a somewhat non-commercial, personal record like this one.

Being a big fan of old school hip hop from the early 80’s, I was curious when I read that she sampled “World’s Famous” by the World’s Famous Supreme Team, which is one of my favorite old school hip hop tracks. She takes the song and does a simple, flirty rap to a guy too scared to talk to her, letting him know he needs to step up his game because she’s waiting, she’s hot, and his time is running out! It may piss off some hip hop purists, but to me it’s cute. It falls between Nenah Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” (which sampled the same groups song “Buffalo Gals” and Mariah Carey’s “Honey”, which sampled “Hey DJ”, another one of the group’s classics. I listened to that song a couple of times after first hearing it.

Amerie’s theme’s on this album include that ever recurring theme of all her work-finding true love. She explores different aspects of that theme, and she seems to go deeper on this album. “Take Control” has her telling her man he has to be a man, and take control! On “Gotta Hold Back”, she is the most soulful that I have ever heard her, and I was surprised when I heard this song how she can really sing from the heart. “Crush” has her singing about that guy she just can’t get over, and “Crazy Wonderful” is about passion towards that guy again. “That’s What U R” has a hot beat that could’ve been rapped over. “Paint Me Over” has a sample by another favorite artist of mine, Willie Hutch”. “Somebody Up There” would’ve been a good song for the radio. Before the “bonus” cuts, she ends the album with the interesting “All Roads”. This song had lyrics directed toward a “guiding light”, making me wonder; was it gospel, or another song about a man? After listening to it a couple times, I concluded that it was up to the individual to decide.

This album was not easy to find. It wasn’t available on ITunes, it was sold as an import on Amazon, and I think I was lucky to find it in the record store. I read some reviews of the album in Vibe, and I waited and waited until the album would be available on ITunes. However, I found out from the fan written bio of Amerie on Wikipedia that the album was released in Europe in May 2007, but there was no definitive U.S. release date. Between my two sources, no definite reason for this could be found, and it’s weird to me that an established commercial artists like Amerie was released in Europe before being released here. I can only guess that since she took a different route artistically and in the production of the album that the industry execs screwed her up by not giving her a well marketed or promoted release in the U.S. Oh well, Amerie’s my girl and despite what haters might say about her, I think she put out an excellent album and it should get the marketing push it deserves.

Buy the album on Amazon! Check out Amerie's official site.

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