Love in the First

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He poses like LL Cool J, spins a love rhyme like D'Angelo, and croons in the same keening falsetto as Michael Jackson. No, Latif isn't the most original of R&B singers, and his Motown debut smacks of an A&R system that treats singers as grist for the mill. Love in the First features a fair trailer single ("I Don't Wanna Hurt You"), and the lyrics or set-up for many of the other songs reveal a quest for all manner of variations on the basic this-love-won't-work theme ("Without U," "My Sister's Girlfriend," "My Man's Girl"). Tied to weak arrangements, though, no doubt cribbed third-hand from the work of vocalists ranging from Usher to D'Angelo, Latif isn't allowed to show how he's different from his contemporary R&B predecessors.

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