It's a long way from "she knows how to shake that thing" to "now baby I just want to take your freakin' clothes off," but that's where R&B eroticism has gone, nudged from old-school nuance and suggestion into floodlighted graphic imagery.
You hoped that Foxx would somehow buck the trend in his just-released showcase album, but the Oscar-winning actor seems happy play the role of blunt-talking Lothario as he suavely cruises through this series of plush bedroom ballads.
Producers including Sean Garrett, Timbaland and Foxx create some rich, flavorful, state-of-the-art sonic settings, and Foxx's smooth, agile voice -- lots of R. Kelly, a little Sam Cooke -- is fine for the pleading and preening that mark his range on "Unpredictable."
He breaks out of the formula on the understated piano ballad "Heaven" and on the Kanye West-written "Extravaganza," which has a trace of Steely Dan intrigue in its narrative lyric and offbeat phrasing.
This album, following the Ray Charles channeling in "Ray" and on West's "Gold Digger," as well as a Grammy-nominated vocal on a Luther Vandross tribute, shows that Foxx is no dilettante.
Now that he's established some musical credibility, maybe he'll feel confident enough to restore a little class to the genre. Step 1 would be to study someone who knows how to convey powerful lust and desire with a just subtle twist of the voice. Someone like, say, Ray Charles.
-- Richard Cromelin
"Bigg Snoop Dogg Presents, 'Welcome to tha Chuuch -- Da Album' "
"Now they got water and resource, and we thought we had it bad living low at the pad." These aren't exactly the type of wistful lyrics you'd expect to hear from the oft controversial, regularly profane Snoop Dogg.
The rapper, who performed last July in London at Live 8 to help combat poverty in Africa, is reflecting on social goals of that event in the contemplative "Sisters N Brothers," where he also calls for troop return from Iraq and for an end to global hunger.
Much of the rest of the rap star's enjoyable 13-song compilation highlighting artists signed to his Doggy Style label, most significantly the long-awaited reunion of DPGC (former Death Row Records label mates Daz, Kurupt, Nate Dogg and Snoop) on "Real Soon," touches on standard fare from the gangster rap canon. There are, however, a few notable exceptions.
Imaginative up-and-coming female rapper Tiffany Foxx delivers a salacious take on sexual trysts on the steamy "Can't Find My Panties," and delicate-voiced singer Mira Mira approaches love from the perspective of a black widow spider over a soulful string arrangement and drums fit for a marching band on the dreamy, elegant "Dinner in Bed."
Known for his machismo, Snoop Dogg the executive shines here by letting women share the spotlight.
Albums are rated from one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).