Now that Ashanti's career runs three albums deep, not including 2003's floptastic Ashanti's Christmas, it's high time Inc head Irv Gotti put the Mary J. Blige comparisons to rest. Mary -- power tempered with finesse -- and Ashanti -- consistently soothing, never overstated -- are entirely different stylistically, and a compilation of the younger singer's best work wouldn't stand a chance against her elder's What's the 411? or My Life. Disregarding the ill-suited standards, an Ashanti album is always good for a handful of strong singles, as Concrete Rose helps indicate. As expected, Ashanti firmly believes this is her best album to date, but it's no better or worse than her 2002 debut or 2003's Chapter II, with the standout singles, decent album cuts, and filler fluff provided in equal doses. As opposed to Chapter II, which was essentially a production showcase for Chink Santana (with some work and guidance by Gotti), Concrete Rose puts most of the control back into the hands of 7 Aurelius, the one behind "Foolish" and "Baby." Excepting an appearance from T.I., the album is strictly an in-house Inc. affair, with staffers Santana, Jimi Kendrix, and Demi-Doc also on board. Ja Rule makes an appearance on "Turn It Up," the most energetic club track, and doesn't destroy it. He also seems to be having a good time -- a rare occurrence in 2004.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Ja Rule
feat: 7 Aurelius
feat: Shi Shi
feat: Ja Rule