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Save The Last Dance is a terrific little movie, which, as its title suggests, couldn’t succeed without a good deal of rhythmic impetus from the soundtrack. The protagonists could hardly be expected to wiggle and thrust their way to love, triumph and a hip-hop attitude all on their own.

However, laying down a percussive platform on which to boogie does not automatically make for a riveting album. Or, in this case, two albums.

The first release was replete with slick beats, soulful voices and lots of licentious lyrics trying very hard to be sexy instead of silly. Despite falling short on that last desideratum, it was a smooth and genuinely booty agitating CD. At least it had our feet hopping if it wasn’t a hip-hop classic.

What we have here is more like hip replacement. These are the grooves that didn’t make the first cut, and while there are consistently danceable beats throughout they are also consistently banal. Unless you have a fetish for reverse percussion samples. There’s enough of those to have you hip-hopping backwards. And I always thought you were supposed to shake your booty, not have it lead the way. As with all backwards recordings we must look for a hidden message. Here it seems to be that if you can’t come up with an interesting enough drum pattern, there’s nothing like a backwards snare to divert attention from the lack of creative progress.

Typical of the bland style imitations is the pseudo-Jamaican patois of The World Beaters’ So Special. Nothing more than low-rent Shaggy, it relies on one catchy chorus hook for any entertainment value beyond the obvious. And “low rent Shaggy” might well be an apt description of Jesse Powell if the lyrics of So Special are anything to go by. “Let’s make love until the early morn” sums up the prowess of his supposedly seductive poetry. Along with extensive repetition of the phrase “I’m so into you”, which one suspects he’s opining to a mirror. I’ll relent that singers are entitled to a little narcissism, but I can never forgive songs like this one that feature continually ringing phone samples. I suppose we are to assume there’s a living, breathing, highly bonkable mannequin on the other end aching for a heavy dose of Jesse’s luuurve. But I know better. It’s Barry White ringing to say Jesse’s gotta dig down a few octaves if he wants to join the Love Gods.

A few better moments on the disc include Angela Ammons’ When It Doesn’t Matter, a lovely dollop of folk-rock that sits as comfortably among this mediocre compilation of hip-hop as Willie Nelson at a rave party. And Audrey Martells’ Hate The Playaz, which educes a spirited feel from those staccato orchestra stabs so beloved by Boy-band producers. Even if the chorus borrows a little too heavily in this regard from one of the recent mega-hits of N’Sync. Or was it Backstreet Boys? Or is there any difference.

I assume this disc is the result of the popularity of the first, and of the film. The latter surpasses its genre and deserves success. But not because of the music featured on this unnecessary adjunct. An unfortunate case of more is less.
Brad Green

Published July 5, 2001

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Save the Last Dance

Track 7 - When It Doesn’t Matter
Track 4 - Hate The Playaz

TITLE: More (music from the motion picture) Save The Last Dance

ID: TVT 6980-2

Hollywood Records

ARTISTS: Methodman/Redman; Shawty Redd; The World Beaters; Audrey Martells; Ta-Gana; Jesse Powell; Angela Ammons; Sy Smith; Fat Man Scoop; Medina Green; Blaqout; JR Youing; Blaqout.


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