Queen Latifah

Order in the Court

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Queen Latifah opens up her sound on Order in the Court by adding old-school R&B and contemporary soul flourishes to her trademark hip-hop. Of course, she has never been reluctant to experiment -- even on her first album, she aligned herself with the Native Tongues instead of running with hardcore rappers like Public Enemy. The difference with Order in the Court is that she's trying to fit into the fuzzy post-Fugees world where the lines between hip-hop and urban are nearly invisible. She performs duets with Pras and Faith Evans, letting them bring her closer to the urban-hip-hop fusion that she envisions. It's an intriguing blend that's occasionally successful, but it's hard not to yearn for the harder-edged Latifah that dominated her early albums. There are some good moments on Order in the Court, like the hard-hitting "Bananas" or the smooth "Paper," but they're a double-edged sword -- they're good but they reveal that she's capable of delivering something better than Order in the Court ultimately turns out to be.

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