Musiq Soulchild / Syleena Johnson


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9ine is a surprising diversion for Musiq (Soulchild) and Syleena Johnson. Produced by Kemar McGregor, a major contemporary reggae figure who has worked with Beres Hammond, Sizzla, Gyptian, Luciano, and Etana, the nine-track album (plus one dancehall mix) was written and recorded in nine days. In keeping with the nine theme, the album was supposed to come out on July 9th, but the duo had to settle for the ninth month. Strictly reggae but without any vocal affectations, the album sounds like it was a joy to make for all of the involved, though only a few of the songs are proper duets; either Musiq or Syleena take the lead throughout certain songs and tend to support one another in the background. There are no obvious standouts or low points, as everything flows steadily with seemingly natural finesse. It's all affable and romantic -- a pleasing break from the singers' typical sessions that involve dozens of co-songwriters, co-producers, and musicians.

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