For the most part, the Down to Earth soundtrack provides a revealing look at the ever-trendy contemporary R&B landscape circa early 2001. The roster of featured artists won't astound you, though a few artists such as Monica, Genuwine, Jagged Edge, and Lauryn Hill obviously stand out as established artists. In addition to these artists, who all turn in impressive songs, some of the more surprising efforts actually come from less-established artists such as Jill Scott and Kelly Rowland (of Destiny's Child) -- two artists deservedly on the brink of pop-crossover success at the time of this album's release. When you break these songs down and listen to them individually, this album is an incredible collection of contemporary R&B; however, a sporadic infusion of rap ruins the album from being a marvelously engaging listen from beginning to end. The album-opening Scott Storch-produced contribution from the Roots and Amel Larrieux, "Glitches," is a welcome addition to the album and fits in rather well with the successive songs by Monica and Ginuwine. Unfortunately, the other rap songs ruin the album's continuity: Sticky Fingaz and Eminem's "What If I Was White" comes across as incredibly distasteful and ill-conceived in its attempt to be comedic and without any memorable hooks to propel it beyond these flaws; similarly, Bone Thugs' "Thug Music Play On" isn't any better, even as it tries assimilate its thug themes into the album's underlying sense of soulful motif with its employment of vocal harmony; finally, Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" is at least a classic song, but still is obviously out of place. As mentioned previously, for the most part, this soundtrack is a truly wonderful sample of well-written contemporary R&B songs, only plagued by its interruptive rap moments.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier