Ginuwine's spacy, dub-inflected R&B debut, The Bachelor (1996),
was a platinum-plus seller. Personally, I was taken with the funky
flatulence of the first single from that album ("Pony"). It was clear
that this boy was on to something (a mack daddy's response to the sonic
innovations of electronica that were quickly becoming big news at the
Well, now everyone knows that there are songs on urban radio that share
affinities with the experiments of trip-hoppers and dub cats alike. What
no one knew right away was that all those quirky tracks by 702, Total,
Aaliyah and Ginuwine hailed from the same source -- the prolific
Timbaland-Missy Elliott axis -- and 100% Ginuwine is proof that
it remains a marvelous wellspring for great songs. But the code has long
since been cracked and the shock of hearing them betwixt Faith Evans and
Jerome has worn off.
That doesn't mean it's not still exciting to hear, though. Where the
bone-dry austerity of Ginuwine's debut made you pause, the drunken sonic
play on 100% Ginuwine leaves you totally bewildered. There's a
lot of pressure on a track like "Do You Remember" to keep the interest
sustained in the middle of the album. And despite a bass that revs up
every other line or so, you're starting to get sick of Ginuwine's
come-ons and pleas.
But just as you suspect the album will start to lose steam from this
point forth, a phone conversation interrupts. It's Ginuwine's girlfriend
talking to her friend about how nasty they got on mom's couch last
night. But that conversation gets interrupted by mom, who bitches her
daughter out for breaking the couch and eventually figures out that she
broke it with Ginuwine, admonishing her for seeing "an entertainer."
Amazingly, the beat keeps going on throughout all this -- just barely,
but it's there. And then the chorus kicks back in with a Queen sample
yelping "Flash! Ah-ah!" and a loop of the girlfriend saying, "I just
want to be with him." If you expected any of that, you're one up on me.
There are other head-scratching moments. You've heard of crediting
interpolations and samples, but how 'bout a roar (from Godzilla on
"What's So Different?")? And, come to think, why the hell is Godzilla
there in the first place? But the reason 100% Ginuwine is a
notch or two better than its predecessor is that there's a new strain of
soulfulness to deepen the sonic comedy. In particular, I love how his
voice joins with Static's (from R&B group Playa) on the chorus of "So
Anxious." And the way the echo doesn't sound like an echo at all is a
shamelessly beautiful device.