Seductive R&B With Trip-Hop Vibe

Produced by Timbaland.

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

time, say).

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.