Shock Value II

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Shock Value produced a pair of smash singles in “Give It to Me” and “The Way I Are,” thus necessitating a sequel. Timbaland does not stock Shock Value II with quite as many guests, and performs a higher percentage of the vocals, and what results is less schizophrenic and more directly pop than its antecedent. The highs here are not as high, and the lows are as low, unless you consider the very presence of Chad Kroeger and Daughtry, or the unveiling of Brandy’s rapping alter ego Bran’ Nu, to be more odious than a sub-Coldplay ballad. The closing “Timothy Where You Been,” a rambling, quasi-country number -- imagine a slight twang in Tim’s voice as he declares “Hits for Jay-Z, Nelly Furtado/Catch up, y’all slow, escargot” -- is the only song to truly leave Tim’s comfort zone. Otherwise, these productions are in the same vein of his output during the last several years: high-gloss dance-pop (sometimes with guitar) that is a little too pop to be easily categorized as R&B or hip-hop. What does come through is that the producer has his sight set on a younger crowd, a notion apparent through the appearances from Miley Cyrus and Jojo, as well as the album’s lack of a parental advisory label (not to mention that a contribution from convicted felon Chris Brown was extracted a couple weeks prior to the album’s release). The dirtiest the album gets is the lethargic Justin Timberlake feature “Carry Out,” where it is possible that they were aiming for a contemporary “Dick in a Box” (“Number one, I’ll take two number threes/That’s a whole lot of you and a side of me”) and came up short. The whole thing sounds like it was made fairly quickly, as if Tim came up with a clever idea and proceeded to fill out the track with whatever came to mind first, rather than truly enhance it. There’s no other way to explain how the borderline brilliant beat of “Morning After Dark” ended up with a faux horror-house hook like “When the bats come out, the cats come out to play, yeaauh.” That said, it is a mildly entertaining album -- as long as you block out most of the lyrics.

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