Bet Best Of Planet Groove
Fully Loaded / Virgin Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/03/1999
I admit that I'm not the biggest listener to urban contemporary music. It's not that I don't like it, or that I'll turn it off the moment it comes on the radio in my car; it's just that I've never really developed a big taste for it. I can appreciate hearing artists like Boyz II Men or Luther Vandross, and I enjoy some songs in this vein. But if there's any genre that I could afford to be taken to school for, urban contemporary is it.
Lo and behold, in the mail comes BET Best Of Planet Groove, a compilation of some of today's biggest and brightest names in the genre. There is literally something for everyone on this disc, and while I can't say I liked every performance, there was enough on this disc to make me more interested in the urban contemporary genre.
This 15-song disc collects many of the names that even a casual listener would recognize (Janet - anyone know why she won't use her last name of Jackson?, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey), as well as some others that might not be as well-known (Chico, Jon B.) if you don't follow the scene. A lot of the tracks intermix raps with the smooth deliveries, which is not always the most welcome marriage of styles, depending on how it's delivered.
I would like to wonder out loud why the selection from Erykah Badu, "Tyrone," had several words edited out - I mean, I can figure out which words they were quickly. But I would have rather heard the song in its entirety, cursing and all, to truly appreciate it the way that Badu obviously wanted it performed. I guess I'll have to go pick up a copy of Live to hear the original.
The difficulty with reviewing an album like BET Best Of Planet Groove is that whether you'll like it or not is a matter of personal tastes. For my part, I'm not that big on Jackson or Carey's recent work, so I can't say that "I Get Lonely" or "Breakdown" (the latter pairing Carey with Krayzie Bone & Wish Bone) made me warm up to either singer's work. Likewise, my first real tastes of Sparkle (featuring R. Kelly on "Be Careful") and Montel Jordan ("Let's Ride," featuring Master P & Silk 'The Shocker') were anything I'd want to write home about.
Then again, there were some performances that blew me away. LSG's contribution ("My Body") was an interesting change of pace, while Jon B. ("They Don't Know") and Chico featuring Joe ("No Guarantee") all made me interested in hearing more from these artists. In fact, the last third of the disc turned out to contain the strongest material, featuring artists like SWV ("Rain") and Xscape ("The Arms Of The One Who Loves You").
And then, there was "A Song For Mama," the contribution from Boyz II Men. If you are not moved by this song, you must have ice water running through your veins. Why this song didn't steamroll the charts the way that "End Of The Road" did a few years ago is beyond me; this song, simply put, is possibly the best work that this group has ever done.
Is a disc like BET Best Of Planet Groove going to make you instantly knowledgeable about urban contemporary music? Honestly, no. But it will generate interest in the groups who are leading the way nowadays, and might just make you interested in hearing more from these artists. And that, I think, is the whole point of the disc.
|Why would they chose a person to review an album that admits he doesn't know this music????? WHY, maybe I should review some Mozart and have you guys feature my review. I don't know two cents about Mozart. But that's exactly what you guys are doing.Don't you want people to beleive your reviews. How can we if your having people criticize music that they have no idea if it's good or bad music?????|
|Yeah, well, Pick, that's the thing -- if you turned in a review of Mozart and it had something interesting to say, we'd probably run it. Nobody "chooses" who reviews what on the Vault; our writers choose what *they* want to review. And no we don't want people to "believe" our reviews... we want our reviews to make people think, and question, and maybe want to learn more. See the difference?|