B2K

Pandemonium!

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Striking while the iron is hot, B2K has been very busy in 2002, and Pandemonium! is the group's fourth album release of the year, following their self-titled debut, a remix collection, and a holiday EP. The quartet is pictured on the cover, decked out in stylish black leather outfits, with the outstretched hands of fans reaching up to crotch level, which says a lot. Their fast rise to the top of the pop heap is also attested to by the advance single "Bump, Bump, Bump," which was produced, written, and arranged by R. Kelly and which is co-billed to rapper P. Diddy. The song is typical of the rest of the album, with its slow tempo, contrast of acoustic guitar with thudding percussion, and repetitious choral parts. In the hands of their many writers and producers, B2K covers the usual concerns of male hip-hop music: lust ("Bump, Bump, Bump"); undying love ("One Kiss"); apology ("Sleepin'"); and, sung with the greatest feeling, accusations that the woman addressed is only interested in money ("Would You Be Here"). The writers are not shy about making use of the group's increased stature, notably on "Everything," in which one of the singers assures a woman that he still loves her even though he is now a big star, and he really wants to spend time with her, or at least talk to her on his cell phone, in between concerts and video shoots. Nor are the group's handlers hesitant to exploit the group's listeners by padding the album. "Why I Love You" is repeated from B2K's debut release, and an entire track, "Dog," is given over to singer Jhene, whose upcoming album is promoted with an insert in the CD jewel box. But then, this sort of album is more about marketing than music.

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