Back II da Basics

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Ginuwine's initial impact was also his greatest. Rather than gradually spin out with albums that steadily diminish creatively and commercially, he has put together a series of releases strong enough to maintain his presence on radio. Back II da Basics, his fifth album in ten years, offers roughly the same mixture of romantic subject matter heard before, but it shows him growing out of club tracks and further into lush ballads and gentle mid-tempo material. Without the club tracks, Back II da Basics would be an even better, bolder, more mature release. Even "Secrets," the best of the upbeat tracks, is nearly ruined by producer Jazze Pha's intrusive vocals, which rub against Ginuwine's voice in the same way that Bobby Byrd would be a bad match for Ronald Isley. On the other side, Ginuwine has never done anything as understated or idyllic as "Want U to Be," which glides by with shades of Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" -- much more so than Fabolous' "I Can't Help It"-sampling hit "Baby." On the heartbroken "Glaze in My Eye," he falls into a starry production from Trackmasters' Poke and Tone with a perfectly measured grace and humility not heard on either Ginuwine...The Bachelor or 100% Ginuwine. This proves that he doesn't need to be bumptious -- as with "Pony" or "In Those Jeans" -- to be a force.

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