“ Genre: R&B & Soul - Pop R&B / Artist: Xscape / Audio CD released 1995-07-18 at So So Def „
"Off The Hook" came out in 1995 as the second album from the Atlanta four-piece R&B group Xscape. The Jermaine Dupri-signed band, consisting of members: Tiny (who is married to rapper T.I.), Kandi, LaTocha Scott and Tamika Scott came with another platinum-selling joint to get the south bouncing in just the way that other local acts, such as Monica, TLC and Usher had.
1. "Do Your Thang" (Intro)
2. "Feels So Good"
Off a funky opener, you see that they have JD acting as the hype man to this one too as they get into the soulful R&B to really begin this album off in an appealing manner in order to establish the fact that they are trying out a variety of things for this record, and here they begin with typical lover's R&B in a calm manner.
3. "Hard To Say Goodbye"
You see that with Jermaine Dupri behind all of the beat here, for this particular one, he decides that they most fully-explore what they did just prior to this one with a song which appears to expand on what you just got with one which has them expressing the emotions related to when they separate from their partner. It is a nice little one, but not all special.
4. "Can't Hang"
For this one you see them moving more towards the type of thing which made them stand out for the crowd as you see that JD comes up with a funky loop for them to work off, and it allows them to go all out to a funky groove about which takes on some clear Hip Hop influence. It is a ly cut an has them doing it in a mellow and relaxed manner to act as a contrast to later cuts.
5. "Who Do I Run To"
The pace seems to drop for this one as they perform on some rather progressive and original production form JD as you see that he tries out a variety of different things from the typical style of the contemporary nineties R&B to some more traditional seventies Soul-esque production to get them to come up with the most effective and emotive work.
6. "Hip Hop Barber Shop" (Lude)
7. "Do You Want To"
Based on the interlude which came prior to it, I expected that for this one they would bring the groove up and get down to some more energetic material, however this wasn't the case as they chose to drop into some of the more traditional style of the late eighties and early nineties R&B from the likes of Keith Sweat, Babyface and Silk. Personally, I'm not a fan of this style, but they did fairly well with it.
8. "What Can I Do"
They finally drop into the lively and exciting work which they hinted on earlier on in the album and I have to say that it clearly lived up to its expectations with them coming up with a track which shows off their real potential. It doesn't become apparent until this point, but as a contrast to the rest, this one has them exploring much more complex and engaging melodies which get you moving.
9. "Do Like Lovers Do"
They immediately return to the sort of material they had done earlier with a very general sound which you could have got form any R&B act of the mid nineties, but here I felt that things were picked up a little as they move into a sensual track where they utilise the seductive production in a manner which really makes everything come together well to bring you into the atmosphere which they create.
10. "Work Me Slow"
As the title indicates, this one has them performing in style which really represented what 1993-1997 was about for R&B as they get into one which has them taking down the tempo of the music in order to get in some bedroom music. However I felt that the way it was done really did nothing for it and it didn't really suit the way in which it was sang or how the production was done. It was overcomplicated and lots its purpose early on.
11. "Love's A Funny Thing"
The subject matter of the music really doesn't appear to have changed all that much and it starts to get to the point where its repetitiveness prevents you from really caring all that much for what they sing about. Due to the fact that the vocals are decent, but not really especially strong, it just leaves it as a plain tune.
12. "Keep it On The Real"
The final song on the album is a one which attempts to bring out some variety form them as they bring the tempo up a fair bit, but I can't say that it really id anything to really impress me as with light Funk in the production is lots in the generic manner in which they sing what is a lacklustre tune from the band.
Personally, I felt that this album was an unimpressive one and one which doesn't really offer all that much. Really only a couple of track stand out here and resultantly you can't really engage with the material when only a couple are actually memorable.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Do Your Thang
2 Feels So Good
3 Hard to Say Goodbye
4 Can't Hang
5 Who Can I Run To?
6 Hip Hop Barber Shop Request Line
7 Do You Want To
8 What Can I Do?
9 Do Like Lovers Do
10 Work Me Slow
11 Love's a Funny Thing
12 Keep It on the Real