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Review by Brad Green:
Took a peek at the track list before I pressed play. Nothing familiar except for the last: when I got to the end, Barry White would be waiting to tell me Ė in his super-smooth, soul serenading, racy-bass braggodoci Ė that he was gonna love me just a little bit more. So how to get in the mood in the meantime?

As far as tracks one and two go, not very successfully. In fact, the opener doesnít only feature a miserably average rap drone, itís performed over a backing that sounds suspiciously akin to a looped sample of a Barry White groove. The beat improves slightly in track two, but the rap remains the same. Sorry, Barry, at this rate Iíd rather stay home and wash that rap right out of my hair.†

But suddenly, things look up for the black Casanova with the deep libido. Call me a man who reckons Barry White would look hotter in a pink teddy than Cindy Crawford, if this ainít some of the most soul stirring, hormone stimulating, feet catalysing, funky hip-hop Iíve heard since they invented the genre.†

Hip-hop first caught the ear with its fresh beats; and production that was sexy, savvy and classy without being drowned in the spit and polish of the pop factories. The attitude was more street-wise cool than fool-headed fly; but it wasnít long before the complacency that develops on the back of formula came along, and then the whole deal got hijacked by the gangsta rappers.

Queen Latifah, hot on the hoofing heels of her Chicago triumph, reclaims some sophistication for the genre here. She stars in the movie, is co-executive producer of the soundtrack and performs a couple of top cuts herself including the Old School-reverent Better Than The Rest.†

Latifah, Floetry, Kelly Price et al take the best elements of hip-hop and allow songcrafting to regain the throne Ė without the strictures of the pop paradigm. Instead of using sequencers and samplers as ersatz musos, they are employed to push rhythms out of their comfort zones. The stuttering beats are more of a swagger than a stammer; and a fine foundation for the meticulously crafted mayhem that rages above. Layered instrumentation and vocals career off in all directions, riffing freely on catchy hooks.†

Itís all highly seductive; much to the benefit of the waiting Mr. White. But sorry Barry, youíll have to wait a little bit longer. The rewind switch looks irresistible, and Iím gonna love tracks three, four, five and nine just a little bit more.†

Published May 1, 2003

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TITLE: Bringing Down The House
FMR/Hollywood Records
ARTISTS: Eve and Jadakiss; Foxy Brown; Queen Latifah; Floetry; Kelly Price; Mr. Cheeks; Iceberg; Lilí Wayne (featuring Big Tymers and TQ); Queen Latifah (featuring Mario Winans); The Unit; N.E.R.D.; Calvin Richardson; Barry White

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