Urban Contemporary, 2003
I wish I have control freak parents as cool as Beyoncé Knowles’s. I wish I have a preacher daddy that pimps me out to Jay-Z in exchange for benjamins. I wish I have a mother that designs that lacy see-through tablecloth to wear on my CD cover. Then again, maybe not. Ms Knowles’ solo debut may be slickly produced by producers like Boi Boi and Jay-Z that wear their street cred under the gold crucifixes and other bling-bling toys around their necks, but at the end of the day, she’s just Ashanti’s sister in artifice.
Covering the same formula as every one of the mainstream hip-hop/R&B/rap stuff that caters predominantly to spoiled and pampered kids believing that they are cool because they listen to music by “thugs”, Dangerously in Love sees Ms Knowles contributing her thin vocals over uptempo stuff or slow formulaic ballads. Unfortunately, she sounds more like a back-up singer than the lead vocalist, especially when the token rent-a-rapper comes on and raps about the hos and honeys and kitties that make up the bridge of the song.
Because she’s as much a product of the manufactured music, Ms Knowles fails to pull off the more challenging tracks here such as Hip Hop Star (where she sounds like the back-up singer that valiantly sings on when the main singer is shot down by men hired by a rival studio) and the most disappointing of all, Work It Out. Work It Out in particular is a great song that will fly in the hands of a full-voiced diva, especially in the chorus and towards the end where the ad libs all but demand that they be sang. Ms Knowles, however, can’t sang. She can only limp along to the music.
This is not a bad CD, far from it. But Ms Knowles lacks the imagination or the voice to do most of the songs justice. She seems to shine only on the most unimaginative and pedestrian stuff that don’t demand much from her. When she’s just required to make sounds from her mouth (Crazy in Love and Bonnie & Clyde ’03), she sounds good, like a sexy Autotune machine with perky breasts that bends over in music videos to tantalize the male audience. When the songs demand more from her vocal abilities or creativity, she sounds like she is lacking a few program chips in her system.