Mario

Turning Point

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Two years after getting his foot in the door of contemporary urban music with a straight-faced cover of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," Mario returned with his sophomore album, Turning Point, and its money lead single, "Let Me Love You." Produced and co-written by Scott Storch, fresh off the summertime success of his "Lean Back" chart-topper for Terror Squad, "Let Me Love You" has all the makings of a gigantic urban hit. It's by far the best song Mario has yet recorded, and it's one of the best contemporary R&B songs of the year, right up there with the best offerings of Usher, Alicia Keys, and company. However, there's not much else on Turning Point that comes close to matching the balladic magic of "Let Me Love You." The other immediate highlight is "Boom," a by-the-numbers rewrite of Usher's "Yeah," which likewise boasts Lil Jon's trademark production, a guest rap cameo (from Juvenile, in this case), a dance club theme, and a catchy, simple one-syllable refrain. There's also an album-closing remix of "Let Me Love You" that aims for the streets, featuring grown-up raps by Jadakiss and T.I. as well as a much edgier yet still infectious beat. Some of the slower songs like "How Could You" are quite likable, in a quiet storm sort of way. Above all, though, it's "Let Me Love You" and its remix that make Turning Point a noteworthy effort for this teenager and a fine second album overall.

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