The female voice behind Timbaland’s mega-hit, “The Way I Are” was a virtual unknown for the longest time, even in spite of the song’s massive success. Starting out as a songwriter for artists like Ciara, Britney Spears, and Usher, Ms. Keri has been doing her thing behind the scenes for a minute now, even making cameos in Usher’s “Love In This Club” and Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent” videos. But still, Keri’s had a rocky start, with both of this LP’s singles failing to chart, the first being “Energy”, followed by a “Promiscuous Girl”-esque deut with Timbaland called “Return The Favor”. Things were looking bleak, but just recently her collabo with Lil’ Wayne and Pollow Da Don, “Turnin’ Me On” finally broke through, paving the way for her solo LP, In A Perfect World….
Backed by an all-star team of producers – including Timbaland, Pollow, and Danja – one might expect this LP to be an instant R&B classic, and at times, it certainly does deliver. From the hollow-bass and infectious hook of “Turnin’ Me On” (not to mention a show stealing Lil’ Wayne verse), to the aggressive no-scrubs-in-this-club anthem “Get Your Money Up” (feat. Keyshia Cole & Trina), things definitely start off on the right foot. Even the failed Timbaland single “Return The Favor” knocks to some degree, and the perfect ingredients of Kanye, Keri, and Ne-Yo on album’s first ballad, “Knock You Down” doesn’t hurt either.
Sadly, all of the album’s star-power is pushed up front, perhaps so folks wouldn’t notice how quickly the rest of it falls off. A handful of similarly sounding slow-jams – including “Make Love”, “Slow Dance”, and “Tell Him The Truth” – plagues the middle of the record, with each track bleeding into the next, with Keri seemingly unaware as the listener slowly nods off. The requisite Akon collaboration, “Change Me”, along with the Timbaland produced “How Does It Feel” both attempt to reinvigorate the latter half of the record with some energy, but fail to do so. Speaking of “Energy”, that failed single towards the album’s end takes on new life as a painful, symbolic reminder of why this album had such a hard time getting off the ground in the first place. Closing out with “Where Did He Go”, Keri’s final statement leaves the listener bewildered wondering what happened here. None of this stuff is particularly bad, it’s just so damn average.
The worst part of all of this is that since the album’s release, Keri has already leaked out a few new tracks, which are certain to make the inevitable re-release of this album six months from now. Her latest remix of “Turnin’ Me On” featuring T-Pain obliterates the original – something subsequent versions featuring T.I., Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, and others failed to do. The white-hot leak “Hey Girl” with T-Pain and Lil’ Jon is an even bigger anomaly, as it sounds like it has the potential to be one of the biggest club songs of the year, but again missed the boat for the album’s release.
Keri Hilson is talented – there is no doubt about that – and she shines brightly with the right production and right collaborators – as was proven on “The Way I Are”, as well as In A Perfect World’s first half. But with the current state of the music industry, it sounds as if the label wanted to strike while the iron was hot, shitting out this release as quickly as possible, to make sure they could capitalize of the success of “Turnin’ Me On”. Hey, that’s the name of the game, we understand – but unfortunately, perfection doesn’t seem like it was part of the equation.
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