Musiq Soulchild

Luvanmusiq

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Musiq Soulchild's fourth straight strong showing, Luvanmusiq does not veer from the steadiness of its predecessors. Even though he was involved in a label trade (!) with Fabolous, which transplanted him from Def Jam's Def Soul wing to Atlantic, there's no audible evidence of change. (He remains, in fact, under the watch of Kevin Liles, the ex-Def Jam executive who initially signed him.) The only measurable difference between this and the past albums is its significantly shorter length, which only allows each song to get the attention it deserves. This really benefits Musiq. The customary consistency of his material has been, and will likely continue to be, mistaken for lazy sameness, as if he really needs to spice things up with insincere trend-hopping or ill-fitting collaborations with hot MCs. Indeed, Luvanmusiq is just another one of his durable albums that straddles throwback soul and contemporary R&B. With the exception of lead song (and lead single) "B.U.D.D.Y.," which -- like several early rap tracks and Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hotstepper" -- jacks the rhythm from "Heartbeat," Taana Gardner's early-'80s club classic, nothing is designed to pick the listener up and toss her around the room. Even the remaining uptempo songs have an easygoing disposition. Past collaborators like Ivan "Orthodox" Barrias and Carvin "Ransum" Haggins remain involved, while the Underdogs ("Today"), Raphael Saadiq ("Betterman"), and the ever-rising Ne-Yo ("Ms. Philadelphia") also contribute in important, if smaller, amounts. Hopefully some of the more "grown R&B" stations will latch onto the slow grooves and ballads here. They're neither raunchy nor drab, and they're nearly a lost art form in 2007.

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