The sexy and cut Lloyd got his start in teen pop singing with N-Toon, a group the singer was never really "down with." N-Toon was put together by former Klymaxx member Joyce Irby, whose name shows up again here, right next to The Inc's main man/Godfather, Irv Gotti. Gotti sent Lloyd to the gym before the recording studio, the press releases have hailed him as singer who adds a hip-hop attitude to R&B, and his interview with Teen People hit before his debut album. Sounds contrived, and while there are no "deep" moments on Southside, the glittery production is alive and inspired and Lloyd's cool persona never fails. Vocally he's a lighter R. Kelly, occasionally dipping into a lower register when he really wants to seduce and adding enough drawl to make him the choice of teen bedrooms south of the Mason-Dixon line. Say what you want about the always-controversial Gotti, but he never gives Lloyd anything lyrically out of his reach, and music-wise he's sprinkled a bunch of clever samples over the down-low beats. Using bits of Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies," Slick Rick's "Hey Young World," and Willie Hutch's "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" are the smart and fun touches that can keep Moms and Dads bumpin' while their daughters swoon (course they may be a little put off that this crooner hasn't met a curse word or drug reference he doesn't like). His sensual duet with Ashanti on "Southside" couldn't be better crafted while "Ride Wit Me," "Hey Young Girl," and the lone crunker, "Trance," are nearly as good. Southside should satisfy most Right On! readers, but if you've graduated to The Source or Vibe you might want something a bit more substantial.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
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