Whenever I hear a Brit performing hip hop, I can't help but wonder if the culture is truly so different from American hip hop. Everything they touch seems to turn to gold, or else I only hear about them when they make someoneís end of the year Top Ten list. Mike Skinner (The Streets), MF Doom, and Dizzee Rascal all made their way onto my radar near the end of the last three years, and Iíve been more than thrilled. And that was to say nothing of Tricky, a duo (emcee and songstress) that produced some of the best music-to-make-love-to-your-old-lady-by from the 1990 side of Lovage.
When I first heard of Floetry around Christmas of 2002, I was expecting something similar to Tricky based solely on the presence of similar elements. The emcee (floacist) Natalie Stewart and songstress Marsha Ambrosius donít mimic the presentation of Tricky, but they did manage to evoke some of that same passion with most of the songs on Floetic. Flo'Ology offers some of the same elements but the duo displays a little more maturity than they did on Floetic.
Floetry bends Stewart's spoken words and flows towards soul, where her breathy whisper compliments Ambrosius even better than it did on the last album. They even bring Common into the act on "SupaStar," a track with an uptempo hip hop sound. The rest of the album, though, is better simply because Floetry had reached the point where the two sound like more than the sum of their parts.
Songs like "Lay Down" highlight confidence, where a sparse beat gives way to the power of Ambrosius as the driving force. Stewart pulls off an impressive Michael McCary-style (Boyz II Men) spoken word confessional without sounding like sheís trying. "I Want You" and "Let Me In" seem to be built for the bedroom, as much for the bending of voices towards each other as for the actual lyrics. On other tracks ("I'll Die," for example) features that same soft presentation but with smoother and speedier flows. The soul aspect of the album frequently overpowers her rapping, but Stewart sounds nonetheless more comfortable in her own skin. The duo seems to have found the right balance for the mic, but, perhaps due to the conventions that drive most love songs, repetition seems to prevent the duo from sharing as much of themselves as they seem poised to.
Release date: November 8, 2005
Rating: 6.0 / 10
On the web: http://www.floetry.net
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