Dalvin DeGrate

Met.A.Mor.Phic

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The emergence of K-Ci & JoJo from Jodeci was a no-brainer, since the brothers were the main singers of the popular group. But Mr. Dalvin, Jodeci's resident rapper, was a less-sure bet for solo stardom, and a long five years have passed before his emergence under his real name, Dalvin DeGrate. Met.A.Mor.Phic indicates by its title that DeGrate has undergone a transformation, and he is now presenting himself as a singer, though on the album's opening track, "I Got That," as he declares, "It's time to get mine" and berates his female listener for doubting that he'll "sell a mill," he still sounds like a rapper at heart. He also reveals an affection for R&B singers of an earlier generation, borrowing song titles "Dangerous" and "'Til You Get Enough" from Michael Jackson, and "Scandalous" from Prince. But he has a rough singing voice that sometimes disappears into the rhythmic instrumentation and prominent background singing. The best cuts are those written and produced by Tim Kelley and Bob Robinson, ballads that trade on the singer's sex appeal in interesting ways. On "Long Day," DeGrate invites an overworked girlfriend over, but he is less than an assured lover; After offering to lick champagne off her, he notes, "It'll be better than the other night." Such deviations from formula, along with a surprising cover of Def Leppard's "Love Bites" mark DeGrate as potentially an at least slightly different figure in the ranks of young male R&B singers. But he will have to improve on his debut to fulfill that potential.

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