Lloyd (Polite) entered the music world as a fresh new name in 2004 (in spite of his prior fame). Although most people knew him for being a signee to The Inc. Records (formerly Murder Inc.), and performing a duet with label-mate Ashanti for "Southside", he had previously been a part of N-Toon, an R&B boyband, at the age of 12. By the summer of 2005 he was ready to release his first album. Still only 18-years-old, the youngster came intent of reinventing himself as part of a movement of new R&B acts which dominated the '00s with a refreshed sound.
The titular lead single to the album isn't especially impressive and not really the sort of boost he needed to get his feet off the ground. It seemed as though it was merely just a 'co-sign' from Ashanti to enable him to get exposure as the song itself isn't particularly memorable. Even the bonus version with Scarface doesn't do anything for it. The Houston rapper speaks on irrelevant topics and essential just wastes time. This appears to be a reflection of the rest of the album.
Speaking on the productions and guests, it's the expected bunch that turn up here. Irv Gotti (his label's co-owner) turns up for the lifeless "Take It Low", Chick Santana plays a part in "Hustler" and Ja Rule is a makes his presence known with his raps on the opening track. None of what's given here is ever surprising and it seems as though it could all have been guessed long before. Yet more disappointing still is having no other tracks with even a hint of Ashanti on it. She may not have made much of an impact with "Southside", but she still would have been the most promising artist to make more of the release.
A surprise comes in the form of Lil' Wayne. For "Trance" he bursts-up and appears to initiate the long-standing partnership that the pair have had over the years (musically). At the time Weezy was only really bubbling-under and so didn't have the reputation that he had by the time they were working on "Bed Rock" or even earlier for "You". Together they work well over the dance cut from Darkchild, but it isn't nearly as impressive as their later work together (mostly down to Weezy still immaturity and tendency to take from Juvenile's style at this time).
From Irv Gotti's introduction the way that the music is taken from that point seems as if this was just made to fit in with the original visions of the record company instead of the singer himself. Gotti attempts to apparently force the Mafioso direction upon Lloyd and although he may give him the freedom to do the cute love songs, it's clearly a dark undercurrent to the album and one which doesn't feel comfortable. It may have worked at first for Ja Rule, Ashanti grew out of it quickly and Lloyd never seems to quite fit in with it ever.
It would seem that people come to know what to expect of Lloyd when it comes to his vocals. His range is really quite restricted, but he ensures that he's able to make the best of it nonetheless. It seemed as if he was struggling nearly all the way through the album, and so it wasn't really a very comfortable record. As he never really changed his singing approach in the years after, you can't criticise this album as much, but it doesn't really sound as though he would have made much of a success of himself from the contents of this album. Much of it is nothing more than average and he had to do a lot to recover from this drab début effort. It felt as though he was far too limited as to what he could do. As he was just 18 he couldn't go as sexually-directed as he was able to with his later two albums, but clearly he wanted to show that he had grown since his N-Toon days. As this was the case it seemed as though things just weren't done as he had wished they would have. An example of this would be the seductive-sounding "Feeling' You", but this raunchiness only goes as far as the title as the actual song is nothing more than a general club track.
Lloyd clearly did not stand out at the time and this album shows why. All of what's done here was all very basic and expected. There was really nothing out-the-ordinary on it. It appeared as though there was a clear idea and they just wanted to run with it. This shouldn't have happened. He was never going to outdo Usher or R. Kelly at this time, but he never seems to be putting up a fight to show that he was to be the next major force in R&B. The only unusual track is "I'm A G", where Nuance join him for a Doo-Wop cut, but other than that it sounds like any other contemporary R&B album from a Southern artist.
In conclusion, this isn't a recommended release from Lloyd. He's done much better since this time. Much of what's done here appears to be forced and it doesn't reflect the sort of direction his music was taken following this time. Considering his age, this would most likely have appealed to the naive teenybopper crowd and is likely to be embraced by that audience, and so it doesn't have the substance to be enjoyed by those who know him more since his "Street Love" days and beyond.
1. "ATL Tales / Ride" (feat. Ja Rule) **Two Stars**
2. "Hey Young World" **Three Stars**
3. "Southside" (feat. Ashanti) **Three Stars**
4. "Feelin' You" **Three Stars**
5. "Take It Low" **Two Stars**
6. "Hustler" (feat. Chink Santana) **Three Stars**
7. "My Life" **Two Stars**
8. "Cadillac Love" (feat. Taniya Walker) **Two Stars**
9. "Trance" (feat. Lil' Wayne) **Three Stars**
10. "Feels So Right" **Four Stars**
11. "This Way" **Two Stars**
12. "Miss Lady" (Interlude) **Four Stars**
13. "Sweet Dreams" **Three Stars**
14. "I'm A G" (feat. Nauance) **Three Stars**
15. "Yesterday" **Two Stars**
16. "Southside" (Remix) (feat. Ashanti and Scarface) **Three Stars**