Review by Dwayne Carter
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CD Stock Number: Warner B00004SPTI
Cameraman: " Christina...you nasty girl?!"
Well, our favorite "Genie in a Bottle" girl is back. She's 21, she can
sing, and oh yes, she's discovered sex and the power that it wields. No, I am not talking about the cutesy, look at my belly button kind of sex. I'm talking about the down and dirty, pass the attachments, can you find all my body piercing kind of sexiness (she claims to have eleven piercings
and I found nine, two are unaccounted for).
Sex is nothing new to many of our pop stars today. Hell, Britney has made a fortune off of titillating half of the world population with her pop tart sexiness. The one thing that stopped me from become a real fan of Britney
was, well... it is all fake. Britney has the clothes and the body to pull off the Good Girl, Bad Girl act, but not the heart and soul to make it believable. Hell, Britney's still claiming the virgin status? If there is one thing I can't stand…its a hypocrite.
Do not look and act all trampy then pull the V status. It's confusing. It's down right cruel. Now
X-tina (as her friends call her new alter-ego)….is having none of that. She looks the part, acts the part, and make no apologies to anyone…oh yes…she can sing the pants off of most of her peers to boot (the fact that they are pulled way down already, not withstanding).
In Christina Aguilera's second commercial CD, Stripped, she not only avoids the dreaded sophomore jinks, but actually pulls off a decidedly adult themed
album. Much different from her previous release (self titled, Christina
Aguilera RCA B00000JY9M). Not only has she grown as a woman (and thus has discovered her power as a woman), but also she has grown as a writer and artist.
Yes it is still kind of a Pop. It is heavy on the R&B and Hip Hop Pop but
it is good R&B, Hip Hop Pop. The girl can sing; hair, makeup and recently developed boobs, non-withstanding. Like many artist these days,
Stripped was done with the collaboration of other artist and producers. Names like Lil' Kim, Dave Navarro, Redman, Eve and Alicia Keys round out the guest stars. Former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry helped out on four songs, while other producers like
Rockwilder, Glen Ballard, Alicia Keys, Scott Storch, Steve Morales, and Rob & Heather filled out the ranks. Christina co-wrote most of the songs and produced one cut.
Hmmm... excluding the album's cover art, MTV specials and the like, this
disc is very stripped down. Missing is a lot of the gross over-production that is so prevalent in today's Pop music. Some recordings are downright sparse. The CD opens and includes many short "intros" reminiscent of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814" cd (A&M Records B000002GFN). In the opening intro, "Stripped Intro",
X-tina boldly announces the purpose and direction of this cd, and her new outlook on life:
"Allow me to introduce myself..."
"Sorry you can't define me... sorry I break the mold"
"Sorry that I speak my mind... sorry I don't do what I'm told"
"Sorry I don't fake it... sorry I come too real"
I have been a little tired of all of the guy bashing, girl power songs of late. It could be my impending divorce, so I'm kind of sensitive right now, but have you noticed that most women today, are as angry as a group of gangbangers from Beverly Hills?!
That aside, X-tina's opening statement of simple defiance and discovery did bring a smile to my face. I remember being twenty-one and ready to take on the world. The CD continues with solid performances, leading the listener through the myriad of late adolescence and early adult hood angst.
The CD has strong a R&B/HipHop/Dance groove flavor, interjected with slow, melodic (and surprisingly thought provoking) ballads. Start your groove with "Can't Hold Us Down", " Fighter", "Get Mine, Get Yours" (sure to be a female anthem) and the now infamous (among MTV and surprised mothers everywhere),
"Dirrty"! "Dirrty" is clearly my favorite dance tunes and a perfect single to release the new cd (and the new
X-tina) to the world.
It is hard not to like the beat, the video is titillating (as titillating as MTV will allow a female star to go..don't get me started) and the feeling of urgency and in-your-face lyrics have me cranking this tune again and again, louder and louder.
Come on play it...
"Uh..Let me loose"
"Oooh, I'm overdue, gimme some room, comin' through"
"Paid my dues, I'm in the mood, me and my girls come to shake the room…."
"Wanna get dirrty, it's about time for my arrival."
Sure it is not Shakespeare, but if you are stuck in a cubicle working a 9-5 and
it is 4:57pm on a Friday you may want to pop this tune on. You just might explode out of that damn cube in no time!
There are a number of very thought provoking slow songs on this CD, also. They run the gamut of heartache and heartbreak, to truly painful memories. The haunting, "I'm OK" is a song that may surprise you with its subject matter. Spousal abuse. No,
not that spousal abuse still shocks people these days, but few pop stars come forward to sing about it. "I'm OK" is a very sparse, chilling tale of the abuse Christina's mother endured. It's explored from Christina's viewpoint. portraying her father not as a monster, but instead, praising her mothers strength and conviction to a better life. She sings that's she's ok…but we are left wondering if she really is, in the end. Not what you expect from a Pop princess. I also became very fond of, "Beautiful". At first I played it off as your typical, "even if you are ugly,
you are beautiful" kind of tune. Easy to dismiss. But by the end of the tune, (with a simple change of a word or two), the song actually become a very uplifting piece. By changing, "I am beautiful, no matter what they say…Words can't bring me down" to "You are
beautiful." And finally, "We are beautiful, no matter what they say." The song unfolds into a nice tune. Nice, simple writing.
Again, not Shakespeare. but nice writing none the less. Probably going to be the B-side or second single, I bet.
"Walk away", "Infatuation", Love Me 4 Me", "Impossible", "Underappreciated", "Make Over", "Cruz", "Soar", The Voice Within", and "Keep On Sigin My Song" round out
this disc. There are a few misses and album fillers among the group, as should be expected on a twenty track
release (four of these tracks are "intro's"). Of these tracks, I enjoyed "Cruz", "Infatuation" (with a little Spanish flair), and "Impossible" the most. The talented Alicia Keys coined "Impossible", and both artists seemed to enjoy the collaboration. I would like to see them do this tune live. Throughout the disc Christina shows remarkable restraint, while showcasing her talent. I have gotten on my soapbox before, to defend artists (mostly Mariah Carey) who have the rare talent of being able to perform vocal gymnastics. Christina also has those chops. Again, it's easy to attack someone for going overboard with it. On this
cd, Christina (and or her producers) has kept this to a minimum…but when she cuts loose…it's an awesome display of talent, gift and power. Checkout the vocal roller coaster leading up to Redman's rap in,
"Dirrty." I'd kill for those chops (I really
would, so if you know someone please email me). It must be the equivalent of throwing a Hail Mary football pass…and having it caught (that was my one and only sports related
analogy. I have no more).
"Sorry if I aint perfect, sorry I don't give a fuck"
"Sorry I aint no diva, sorry just know what I want"
"Sorry I'm not a virgin, sorry I'm not a slut"
"I won't let you break me, think what you want".
Whether this CD will be a commercial success for X-tina is irrelevant. This is clearly a statement
CD from a budding artist. I'm really looking forward to her concert, and an off chance of meeting her. I think the conversation would be brief, but to the point:
Dwayne: "Christina…you NASTY girl!
Sound Quality: 87