Ashanti's Christmas

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What a letdown. After a year filled with controversy, allegations, and investigations, Murder Inc label head Irv Gotti finished it on Ashanti's Christmas with his least slick and least satisfying production work. Ashanti's voice fits sweet holiday music well, and she could deliver an excellent Christmas album given the chance, but it seems Gotti can't be bothered to surround her with anything worthwhile. Multi-instrumentalist Demi "Doc" McGhee provides the accompaniment in total, and the poor guy has to emulate a whole orchestra with what sounds like a lone synthesizer. McGhee's piano is hollow and synthetic, and the arrangements are uninspired. Ashanti contributes four new compositions with "Christmas Time Again" and "Sharing Christmas" being simple and sweet, but her "Hey Santa" is a materialistic embarrassment that begs the big guy for a "baby blue convertible." A drum machine that chugs on and on before someone has the good sense to turn it off takes up the last 30 seconds of the 20-minute album. It's a perfectly lifeless moment that caps off a perfectly humdrum album. According to the rumors, relations between Ashanti and Murder Inc had gone sour. Ashanti's Christmas sounds like the standard contractual obligation getaway.

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