I was born on the same day as Beyonce. She’s the celebrity I always go to when that social media game about sharing celebrity birthdays comes up. But I only bring it up in regard to this album because, though I generally do not believe in any conspiracy theories, the album cover for this record sure makes me want to believe in the “Beyonce is older than she says” conspiracy. She’s 17 in this picture? Sure… A 17 year old made this album? Sure… (Yes, now I’m a Beyonce truther. I blame this album.)
I don’t like most ’90s R&B and I also don’t like most what you might call “girl group” pop from this era. But I appreciate the tone of this, which is usually very feminist for the era and the genre and very much the kind of thing that I could imagine appreciating and liking had I been a 17 year old girl when this came out rather than a 17 year old boy who would mute the videos when he watched them. (It’s true…) The singles are mostly much stronger than the album tracks, which is not much of a surprise. What is a surprise is that there are a couple non-singles that stand up to some of the singles. And though this is not my music I will grant that at least two of the singles are really hard to get out of my head and one of them (“Say My Name”) is appealingly bonkers rhythmically in a way that this genre – and most “girl group” pop music from this era – is not.
This album is too long, like basically every other R&B and hip hop record from the ’90s. (And most rock records. And many pop records.) I understand what they’re doing, fortunately, as I have listened to enough hip hop that I get that the skits are retorts to a male-dominated industry. But that doesn’t make it any more pleasant to listen to a record where there is just too much. (20 -30years later I wonder how many of these people who stuffed skits and intros onto their albums actually like that they did that. It was a plague…)
But it’s professionally made and it’s very female-positive for its time and genre, which makes it considerably less annoying than it might otherwise be.