For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Slow Jam Saturday : Ashanti, Movies
If you reside in the DMV area, the My 2000’s Playlist Tour will be a hip-hop event later this month. Acts like T.I., Mase, Fabolous, Mike Jones, Ying Yang Twin, and Ja Rule will perform. The line-up also includes R&B vocalist Ashanti.
I’ll be the first to admit I was never a big fan of the Murder Inc. princess. However, I revisited her first album as a refresher for the concert. A particular song stood out enough to earn a coveted slot on Slow Jam Saturday.
The easy choice is her debut single, the DeBarge sampling “Foolish,” or the Frank White-assisted remix. Irv Gotti knew precisely what he was doing when marketing Ashanti. “Foolish” was released on February 11, 2002. It spent ten weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. However, I decided to go with the album track “Movies.”
Like the majority of the album, Ashanti linked up with producer 7 Aurelius for the production. Her first album sounded modern, with fresh beats and lightly insistent hooks. “Movies” was a perfect example of this formula. It was a gentle mid-tempo R&B track that featured a catchy chorus and lyrics about the power of love. The production was a beautiful blend of organic instrumentation and modern synth sounds.
In retrospect, “Movies” is a song about wanting to experience a passionate, romantic relationship like portrayed in cinema. Ashnati’s lyrics express the singer’s desire to be cherished and adored by her lover and explore the joy of knowing they can be together without worrying about time or the future. The song speaks to the power of love that makes the singer feel like they have been given a special feeling, the same one depicted in movies.
Hearing the song in 2023, I’m surprised Irv didn’t push it as a single. The video premise practically writes itself. While I wasn’t impressed the first time I saw Ashanti perform live two decades ago, I’m looking forward to seeing her this time.
Final Grade: B
“Movies” from Ashanti is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.