Brian McKnight

Anytime

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On his third album, Anytime, Brian McKnight continues with the mellow, romantic urban R&B that has become his trademark, but there's a new twist. Most of the album consists of songs he has written and produced, but "You Should Be Mine," the first single pulled from Anytime, is produced by Puff Daddy and features a rap by Mase. On paper, the pairing seems a little crass and commercial, but it works surprisingly well, as does "Hold Me," which was co-written by Mary J. Blige and features Trackmasterz. These cuts are fresher than the rest of the album, which is stuck in early-'90s swingbeat -- while that sounds good, it's also beginning to sound a little tired and predictable. McKnight hasn't exhausted its possibilities yet -- Anytime is as strong as its predecessor -- but "You Should Be Mine" and "Hold Me" suggest that he may be better off pursuing a new, hip-hop-influenced direction.

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