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"BLACKstreet" is the self-entitled debut release from one of the biggest R&B groups of the nineties. At the time, the group consisted of the producer Teddy Riley, Chauncey Hannibal, Levi Little and Dave Hollister. They immerged after Riley's New Jack Swing group Guy broke down, following their 1990 release. The group are heavily associated with Jodeci, as they performed R&B in a similar way to that group did, by putting heavy Hip Hop influence into their work, and considering Teddy Riley (the inventor of New Jack Swing, a fusion of Hip Hop and R&B) was part of the group, this was a simple transition for them.
1. "BLACKstreet Philosophy (Lude)
2. Baby Be Mine
From the start of this release, you are able to hear the originality of the producer, Teddy riley, who hasn't completely separated himslef from his Swing days which were at their peak during the late eighties and early nineties. It also shows how he likes to integrate Zapp & Roger-esque vocoder techniques into their music, and it fits right in with the Hip Hop aspect of the production, which is complemented by the way Teddy half-raps in sections of this R&B piece.
3. "U Blow My Mind"
To date, I haven't reviewed a track which I would consider to be one of my favourites ever, but here is one, so I have to rate it on a higher scale and give it more stars than may scale usually deals with. Here Teddy Riley absolutely kills it with the production, and the way in which the group work off it makes it special for me. This one brings me back to times I shouldn't be able to remember, considering this came out when I was only three, but getas me going every time I hear it.
This is the utlimate swing love song in my opinion, ballards, are a different thing altogether, and everythign seems to come together perfectly as they sing on how a certain girl 'blows their minds', when you can relate to the lyrics, you are bound to fall for the quality of this track.
4. "Hey Love" (Lude)
5. "I Like The Way You Work"
The high energy Swing just doens't stop as you hear them go for yet another lively tune to make you sway alogn to the stern beats. To go alog with this, you have BLACKstreet offer some of their well-known voclas whhici make it all come together very incely. You may notice that the lyrics from this were used later on for "No Diggity", their biggest hit ever, and here they come with a tune to express the way they feel towards girls who can show off what they have.
6. "Good Life"
BLACKstreet get things moving with a feel-good tune for the masses, although this one didn't get released as a single, I can see the potential for this one to have done big things in exciting listeners. You get to hear more of Teddy's influences as some G-Funk are incorporated into the tune with some whirling funk and some slapping beats.
7. Physical Thing
I recognise the beat for this one as a sample, but I am entirely unable to place it. I think that relying on samples is a key way in which Riley is able to excite the listeners, and you get this through this tune. You have quite a clean beat, which gives the group chance to show off what they can do with a more gentle beat, and sing in a suitable fashion.
8. "Make U Wet"
You get yet another banger from the quartet as they present more Swing in their music and sing in a sensual manner to excite all who listen. You really aren't able to complain about anything in this one as they get freaky with the lyrics, as well as the funky beats provided by Teddy Riley yet again, and as he's one of the best at what he does, you know that there won't be any flaws in his work.
9. "Booti Call"
You get into some prodoper Teddy Riley beats here as he brings back the early nineties sound of New Jack Swing to his R&B beats. This Hip Hop influence on the music here allows them to offer an energetic tune for the listeners, which is nice to just relax to as you feel as though lively things are surrounding you as you hear it.
10. "Love's In Need"
I found that with this track, it improves with time, so I advise you to give this one achnce before you completely discredit it. You have this one begin with the group singing a capella nicely, before they finally break down into some hard Hip Hop beats, which change the direction of this one entirely, but it is found to be effective after a few times of going through it.
The stlye whih you herar in the opening of the tune which starts this one off is where BLACKstreet go with this track. The song has them perform a ballad to switch things up and they do this by makign the subject matter new love, and how much pleasure is brought about by it. I'm not as keen on this side of the group, so I didn't lie it as much as other tunes on here.
12. "Before I Let You Go"
Here is one of the big singles from the album, but I don't recall hearing it prior to going through the whole album. It managed to peak at #7 in the US singles charts, and it is definitely deserving of such an achievement as they decide to slow things up with an emotional tune which questions the way partners go about separating and the language which is used to do so.
13. "Confession" (Lude)
14. "Falling In Love Again"
You get a transitional tune as you here aspects of the funkier side to Teddy Riley, as well as the more souful, smooth side. I'd have to asy that the latter prevails in this one, and the result is that it creates a suitable atmosphere to sing such a joint where the focus is falling love once again, in the middle of a relationship due to a significant event which occurs.
15. "Candlelight Night" (Lude)
16. "Tonight's The Night"
I was surprised to read, when looking into this album, that this song features some of the early production work by the production duo of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, known as The Neptunes. Although they don't go work any experimental spacey work, which they are currently known for, the sound of the beats are original and mark significant change in the mood of the album as they smoothen things with this tune.
17. "Happy Home"
They go for another slow one here, but I felt that this side of them was getting rather boring, and I have to say that a ballad at this stage was just too much and slowed the pace of the LP too much for my liking. Had these had a little more energy, I probably woudl have been able to remain engaged with it, but this failed to occur.
18. "Once In A Lifetime" (Lude)
19. "Wanna Make Love"
Although its clear that Teddy Riley is fond of Zapp & Roger's style of using the vocoder to modify the singing and make it sound robotic, you can't deny that this is the main driving force in this one as they use one of Zapp's classic joints, "Computer Love" to come up with a smooth song for late in the night. The essential elements which made that such a legendary tune come through here as it is all built up upon Electronic alterations, and it all works together amazingly well.
20. "Givin' You All My Lovin'"
The group end in the right way as they end the thing with a tune which reflects the general sound of the album. You also get to here where the grewat lyrics come through as they imaginatively get round to another way of expressing how happy they are to be in love, and how they are willing to show this to the ones which they feel it for the most.
Although there is a dip in the quality of the tune when you get to the ballads, and slower songs, I found that this was a consistent release from the group (especially when you consider the length of it). I think that Teddy Riley was the most important aspect in keeping this all together as the singers coull easily make the vocals work for them, and the levels of variation within the piece show that they are capable of so much, and when Teddy kept coming up with so many different Swing joints and smooth R&B jams for them to work with.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro (Blackstreet Philosophy) (Interlude)
2 Baby Be Mine - Blackstreet, Teddy Riley
3 U Blow My Mind
4 Hey Love (Keep It Real) (Interlude)
5 I Like The Way You Work
6 Good Life
7 Physical Thing
8 Make U Wet
9 Booti Call
10 Love's In Need
12 Before I Let You Go
13 Confession (Interlude)
14 Falling In Love Again
15 Candlelight Night (Interlude)
16 Tonight's The Night - Blackstreet, Tammy Lucas
17 Happy Home
18 Once In A Lifetime (Interlude)
19 Wanna Make Love
20 Givin' You All My Lovin'