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FACE/OFF
by kenn on 8/01/2005 10:12:00 PM

Wild Thing

Tough-talking newcomer Teairra Mari
blows away the R&B fluff


Source:NYD

 


In current R&B, a hard girl is good to find.

Too many new young female soul singers function as flimsy window dressing for a song that's all about the production. Or serve as light foils for male rappers, singing the hooks that get them on the radio.

Witness such flighty, one-named singers as Ciara, Ashanti and Amerie.

Into this fallow field struts a new two-named wonder, Teairra Mari - a back-talking girl from the projects with genuine panache.

"I ain't had no daddy when I was growing up/That's why I'm wild and don't give a huh!" she belts in "No Daddy."

Elsewhere, Mari toasts "kick-ass girls like me," warns rivals to "watch your mouth or bottles fly at you," and issues an all-points shout-out to "my girls in broken homes/When you're feeling all alone/Call me."

Her CD gives them any number of reasons to. It matches Mari's honed persona and powerhouse voice to a sound that's just as focused and bold.

Banishing the sap and clichés of modern R&B, Mari makes radically spare records. Her first single, "Make Her Feel Good," already big on radio, sets the mold. It's all voice and backbeat. No guitar, bass or acoustic keyboard allowed. A strange chime of a synth line provides the sole hook. Otherwise it's up to Mari to bring the melody. And she's more than up to the task.

Mari has some of Beyoncé's buoyancy and ringing tone, if not her full range.

The Beyoncé connection makes sense because Mari is the first artist launched by Def Jam since Jay-Z took over as the label's president.

The 17-year-old Detroit-born singer had been inked to the label several years ago, but they took their time finding the right sound and producers for her. The minimalist approach they forged greatly enhances Mari's snarky persona.

In "Get Down Tonight" she soars over a beat made to brutalize a club's sound system. In "Stay in Ya Lane" the rhythms ricochet around her voice, taking full advantage of the spacious production.

While so many teen records pull their punches, Mari's has the conviction to go all the way. It's flip, fun and attitudinizing - everything teen music should be, and hardly ever is.

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