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** 1/2 Ginuwine, "The Life," Epic/550 Music.

April 06, 2001|MARC WEINGARTEN

In R&B, crossover potential is the "killer app" of commercial success. Tailor your music to fit every radio format and you'll soon be collecting fat royalty checks.

It's somewhat jarring, then, to find Ginuwine trying not to be all things to all people on his latest album. Not only does he forgo the inevitable hip-hop booty thumps and old-school homages, but Ginuwine (who performs at Vynyl in Hollywood on April 17) also attempts to corner the market on bedroom ballads on "The Life." Eleven of the 15 tracks slink along on a bear rug of sound and whisper into the listener's ear with carnal seductiveness.

But despite the production efforts of his longtime friend Timbaland, "The Life" is curiously flat. Most of the tracks are merely content to dial up the rote maneuvers associated with lover boy R&B--the upholstered choruses, the chest-beating histrionics, the synthesized strings. Ironically, it's the few up-tempo tracks that bear Timbaland's distinctive thumbprint. "The Life" would have benefited from more bump and less boudoir.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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