Hey Kandi...

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In case you didn't know that Kandi Burruss is a former member of Xscape who has achieved considerable success as a songwriter, notably penning the 1999 Grammy-winning hit "No Scrubs" for TLC, a taunting voice provides her CV in the "Introduction" that opens her debut solo album Hey Kandi..., before challenging the artist, "What you gonna do now?" The answer follows immediately, as Kandi, who co-wrote ten of the 12 songs, comes up with an album full of the kind of distinctive R&B/hip-hop music she has been associated with previously. The disc is practically a concept album about infidelity, as song after song addresses various aspects of the subject, from "Cheatin' on Me" (written by producer She'kspere and Sam Salter) to the first single, "Don't Think I'm Not," in which the singer counters her boyfriend's straying with some of her own. "What I'm Gon' Do to You" describes various other forms of revenge, including cleaning out the offender's bank account and burning down his house; "Pants on Fire," a kind of follow-up to "Don't Think I'm Not," details mutual deception; and in "Can't Come Back," the boyfriend is finally given his walking papers. Cheating also pervades "I Wanna Know," in which a woman looks for past romantic details from a potential boyfriend as a guide to his future behavior, and "Sucka for You," in which a woman, looking back on a relationship in which she was betrayed, tells her former paramour, "You made it harder for the brothas," since now she doesn't trust men. Though nearly every song concerns romance, not every one is specifically about cuckolding -- "Hey Kandi" describes a new relationship, "Talkin' 'bout Me" details what a woman needs to do to keep a man (primarily, be a good cook and an enthusiastic sexual partner), and "I Won't Bite My Tongue" condemns a man for his poor sexual performance -- yet the songwriter is so obsessed by the subject that it dominates the album. It also gives the disc an individuality that rises above much formula R&B. The persona depicted in the lyrics has some questionable attitudes. In "Hey Kandi," she assures that, as enamored of new love as she may be, she would still choose money over her new boyfriend, and in "I Wanna Know," she reveals a failing she finds worse than infidelity -- homosexuality -- saying she can "deal with cheatin'... but not that way." Still, this is a craftsmanlike songwriter with a particular viewpoint, and that's a relative rarity in the field. She'kspere provides engaging, if somewhat typical musical tracks, and Kandi is a good, though not great singer. At the album's end, two sentimental ballads, "Just So You Know" and "Easier" (a duet with Faith Evans), seem to have been added as an afterthought to give the album variety, and the former particularly (written by Laney Stewart, Katrina Willis, and Tab) has the chance to be a big crossover hit. But the heart of Hey Kandi... is that batch of highly detailed cheating songs, and they make this one of the better R&B releases of the year.

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