Intro

Intro

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In 1993, many of the younger R&B singers were looking more and more like rappers. Instead of silk shirts, Armani suites, and other upscale attire, these artists were sporting gold chains, baggy pants, knit caps, sweats, and gym shoes -- in other words, the last things that Luther Vandross or Freddie Jackson would have worn on stage. Take Intro, for example. The urban/neo-soul trio had a hip-hop look, but its self-titled debut album from 1993 isn't rap. Influenced by LeVert, After 7, and Aaron Hall, Intro favors a style of urban contemporary that is smooth and polished yet gritty and earthy. Intro looked like a rap group and went for a high-tech, hip-hop-influenced production style, but the songs themselves (many of which are romantic ballads and slow jams) have a neo-soul perspective. While Intro's first CD never sounds like it was recorded in 1978 or 1981, it does contain elements of the Isley Brothers, the Gap Band, and Stevie Wonder -- the sort of soul and funk heavyweights who helped paved the way for urban favorites like LeVert, Aaron Hall, K-Ci & JoJo, and R. Kelly. In fact, one of the tracks is a likable cover of Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky," although Intro's own songs are dominant. Intro's debut album falls short of exceptional, but it's a decent, pleasant effort that has enough going for it to make you want to keep a close eye on the threesome and monitor its development.

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