March 31, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 95  

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Fly or Die
Virgin Records

N.E.R.D.’s Fly or Die, the follow-up to 2002’s In Search of... is like a Where’s Waldo of music genres. The album is schizophrenic in its style, mixing elements of hip-hip, rock, pop and soul.

Despite the pairing of It producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, this is not the Neptunes. Williams and Hugo, along with rapper Shae (always good for a pretentious head-scratcher of a sound bite), show nary a hint of the one-dimensional redundancy by which critics define much of today’s hip-hop.

The album has great production, although it isn’t nearly as focused on post-production studio tinkering as was the group’s first effort. This time around, all the songs are recorded within the studio.

Topics such as love, self-discovery, self-image and angst aim a little deeper than they hit, but that’s not to say it still doesn’t brighten your day: “Shit happens — just blow it off/Whoooooooooo!!!”

Note: After the last song, “Chariot of Fire,” listen to the dead air until the four-minute mark for a hidden track.

—Brent Carpenter


Greatest Hits

U2, a group that has been around for more than 20 years and has produced a vast array of intoxicating classics, only has two greatest hits albums. Thus, B2K’s hits album comes across as an attempt to generate some much needed cash.

The recycled beats and generic harmonies on their singles may have been hot in Burlington in 1999, but lack appeal and lasting power, especially considering that of the 10 tracks, two are remixes, likely from one of the band’s two — yes TWO — remix albums.

Bland “club” songs like “Bump Bump Bump,” and “Uh Huh” drown in miserable lyrics and singing that is eerily akin to the sound of a dog being dragged by a car. The songs reek of the boys’ favourite cologne, Unoriginal.

B2K alternates between these club “hits” and the required sombre numbers. “What a Girls Wants” is the obvious loser of the group, synthetically incorporating a dripping sound in the background. Nothing screams musical like a tap. Ugh.

This weak collection is aurally bruising. On “Bump That,” B2K claims, “This is for the honeys up in the club.” Well, so are roofies, and no one likes them either.

—Dave Picard



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