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Leo4Neo-Soul (Sydney, Australia)

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Acoustic Soul
Acoustic Soul
Price: £4.27

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very unique and different R&B record., 29 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Acoustic Soul (Audio CD)
I wouldn't really call this album "acoustic" it's more perfect Stevie Wonder style R&B mixed with an acoustic tone. The album came out at the right time, just when young talented singer-song writers were lacking. India.Arie came out with her daringly different debut single and album.
Just from "Intro", "Interlude" and "Outro" you can tell there's something special here: a simple acoustic melody with a mellow honest voice that's ever so blissful to hear.
Her first single, "Video" is a daringly different R&B ode to self-love, which maintains calmness and confidence. A very special and inspirational uplifting classic that incorporates some high-thinking and daring lyrics.
"Don't want your silicon/I prefer my own"
"Brown Skin" has a harder beat and is also very experimental/different. It reminds me of hot chocolate dripping. "Strength, Courage & Wisdom" displays a God-ly India, and has a humble message, which though not said is about Jesus. "Nature" with its irresistible melody and instruments also includes a message about God, and is very logical and philosophical.
Though the record does at times fall into mediocrity on "Always In My Head" (even with her amazing vocals in the chorus), "I See God In You" (even with its rhyming poetry) and "Part Of My Life" (all three have good themes, lyrics and music). It bounces back with songs like the mellow, honest and real "Ready 4 Love". You can feel India's emotions and frustrations and desires. "Promises" and "Back To The Middle" with their unique character examples. And off-course the Stevie Wonder dedication, I'm kind of surprised she didn't use an excerpt of the bridge on "Pastime Paradise" like fellow Motown/Neo-Soul artist Erykah Badu. Guess both of them are originals.
With this credible and unique debut, India.Arie will always be one of my favorite artists, also partly because she is humble, calm and honest. She is a high-thinker, godly and spiritual but doesn't comprise that pride. Though India.Arie has been recognized for her talent, she still is overlooked. Because she is about the entire album and not radio airplay, it will take time for new fans to discover the absolute brilliance of this musical mind.
Her song "Video" should have been rewarded a Grammy for "Record of the Year" and the album was also robbed of "Album of the Year".

The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Price: £4.24

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant and relatable, and still ALBUM OF THE YEAR., 29 Jan. 2004
"The Miseducation of..." shows the artists of the R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop genre how a real album is done. Undeniably 1998's Grammy winner: ALBUM OF THE YEAR. (Back when the Grammy's recognized good music!).
The critically acclaimed record features vast amounts of musical diversity. From hard-core hip-hop on "Lost Ones", to the Spanish Guitar intro of "To Zion", to its sweet but hard hit gospel chorus, to the organic melody of "Everything Is Everything", to the classical piano training of the title track.
Mrs. Hill addresses many themes/subjects which other artists in the genre won't. She questions the negativity and (sexual) immorality of hip-hop acts on "Superstar", to the emotionally killing Love/Hate romance we've all experienced on "Ex-Factor". To warning us about the dangers of sexual immorality on "Doo Wop (That Thing)", to God's unchanging grace and forgiveness on "Forgive Them Father", all the way to testimonial Lauryn on "Final Hour".
Like most R&B albums, a vast majority of songs feature samples of '60s and '70s songs. On "Superstar" she cleverly incorporates lyrical and musical excerpts of Jim Morrison and the Doors' classic "Light My Fire" to prove her point on the downfall of pop music. Another highlight of '60s flashback is on her rendition of karaoke hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off You".
It is thought provoking, inspirational, fascinating and even life changing. Lauryn makes people around the world think of their actions. In my opinion one of the greatest gospel records, my opinion of 'Gospel' is telling people of God's word. And the way Lauryn Hill gives us lectures on Christian ethics in the C21st on sex, money, temptation and sin never sounded so good!
This album gets a well deserved 5/5, because it's one of the most soulful, real and relatable album of 1998 to 2003. Plus Lauryn wrote, arranged and produced the entire album, not bad for a One-Woman show!

Dangerously in Love
Dangerously in Love
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £2.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Innovative strong debut, but long way still to go., 29 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Dangerously in Love (Audio CD)
Now-a-days R&B records are homogenous. They address the same themes, contain the same musical instruments/beats and are produced by the same old celebrity music producers. So essentially you would predict Beyonce's first solo effort to be the same as her fellow R&B starlets.
But surprisingly Beyonce does something completely individual, she delivers what she promises: a classical R&B record. Combining her illustrious talents learnt from working on Destiny's Child, with the talents of celebrity and fresh new producers, they create a state-of-the-art R'n'B record, that sounds one part futuristic, one part modern and one part '60s soul.
Ranging musically from reggae 'Baby Boy', to rock/funk 'Hip-Hop Star' (noticeably influenced by Outkast's Big Boi) to the slick computerized R&B of 'Be With You'.
Her vocals are also splendid here, and range from a sexy provocative tone on 'Speechless' to a teenage yelling blissfully on the album's intro: 'Crazy In Love'.
Beyonce also covers a variety of themes on this record. From an emotional ode to her 'Daddy', to female empowerment on 'Me, myself & I' and 'Yes', to ineffable love with the title track.
Album highlights include: the very very very sexy and special 'Speechless', the intelligent and cute Missy Elliott created ode to the zodiac 'Signs'. 'Yes', and the very emotional 'Dangerously In Love 2'.
Though this album reveals how much Ms Knowles has come from 'No, no, no', she still has a long way ahead of her if she wants to reach her full potential. Also though this album is innovative, different and special, some tracks do fall near mediocre. So Beyonce next time you should concentrate on perfecting 20 songs instead of 45!

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