Aggro Santos

Aggro Santos.com

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Emerging from the same prestigious BRIT School that developed the talents of Katie Melua, Adele, and Kate Nash, South London MC Yuri "Aggro" Santos is one of its few graduates to break through from the hip-hop scene. Having recently appeared on ITV jungle reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, his street credibility may have suffered a slight blow, but instead of attempting to represent the sounds of the streets, his debut album, Aggro Santos.com, is instead only concerned with creating a pure party atmosphere. Indeed, the harsh beats and techno riffs of 2009's grime-based Rhythm n Flow mixtape, from which two songs, "Stamina" and the title track, also appear here, are largely eschewed in favor of huge pop choruses, an array of established female guest vocalists, and glossy synth-led R&B production from the likes of Quiz and Larossi (Alexandra Burke), K-Gee (All Saints), and DaVinChe (Kano). It's a move likely to alienate the fan base he built up through his various Channel U videos, but it's also a move that has resulted in two Top 20 hits, the gloriously infectious Lady Gaga-esque "Candy," a collaboration with Pussycat Dolls' Kimberly Wyatt, and the punchy old-skool breakbeats of "Saint or Sinner." Echoing the urban synth pop of Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk, its rather slender nine tracks also manage to fuse more eclectic influences into the mix, including bouncy dancehall ("Just Like You"), the samba sounds of his São Paulo early upbringing ("Anaconda"), and hook-laden electro ("Do You Believe"). Elsewhere, "Like You Like," a rather tuneless dirge, notable for being the first solo recording from Girls Aloud's Kimberly Walsh, won't exactly threaten Cheryl Cole's status as the band's chief success, while the clichéd "Everybody in the Club" is a lazy retread of Pitbull's "I Know You Want Me." Although any attempt at the obligatory ballad has been wisely ignored, a slight change of pace wouldn't go amiss, as the album's constant club-friendly sound begins to wear thin toward the end. But while Aggro Santos.com offers little evidence either way that Santos will be able to adapt once his ubiquitous sound is considered passé, as an immediate snapshot of the 2011 musical climate, it's still a stylish and energetic debut.