Queen Latifah

She's a Queen: A Collection of Greatest Hits

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Even though she'd been a household name in the music and film world for nearly 15 years, by 2002 Queen Latifah still didn't have a compilation of her own. Then again, since she'd spent so much time in the world of television and film, Latifah had only released one album since 1993's Black Reign. Finally Motown gave her the career treatment with She's a Queen: A Collection of Hits, a brief collection that has most of her best performances but can't escape its perfunctory air -- there are no liner notes, only one fuzzy picture, and an overall lack of design quality. Motown did make a small gesture, though, by licensing three tracks from her first two albums (originally on Tommy Boy), including two of her most powerful performances: "Ladies First" and "Latifah's Had It up 2 Here." The compilation skips over the delightful De la Soul feature "Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children," but does provide the best of her strong material from the early '90s like "U.N.I.T.Y." and "Just Another Day...," plus "Paper," her intriguing 1998 redo of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," produced by Pras. The new tracks, however, won't join the Queen Latifah pantheon like the rest already have; "Go Head" finds her aping Missy Elliott in both sound and delivery, and there isn't much to recommend the others, either. With just a little more effort, Motown could've made this Queen Latifah collection a brilliant summation of her career; just as it had for almost 40 years, the label seemed more interested in reaching the charts than giving proper due to the artists who've already had success.

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