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Published: Saturday, 8/9/2003

CD reviews: Rapper Chingy's new release a lighter version of Crunk

Currently the hottest sound in hip-hop is Crunk. It's a southern party music emanating primarily from Atlanta that's loud, hard-driving, and bass-oriented and features chants and exhortations for the crowd to go wild.

Into this arena enters St. Louis's Chingy, who currently is atop the rap singles chart with his hit “Right Thurr.” Chingy has been described as a Crunk artist and has elements of Crunk in his music, such as driving beats and chanted hooks. But it's more like Crunk Light.

For example, on his hit and on tracks such as “Chingy Jackpot,” and “Holidae In,” featuring Ludacris and Snoop Dogg, he reminisces about various encounters with beautiful women, which is not really associated with Crunk.

Further, Chingy is a lyricist who raps in detail on all of his cuts, where most Crunk artists tend to be more concerned with the hook of the song and the beat. His voice is light and his flow melodic, much more in keeping with the “St. Louis Sound” established by artists such as Nelly.

Chingy raps about having a good time, kickin' it with friends, and most of all, being a player with the ladies. His vibe, though energetic and club-oriented, is more melodic and lyric-driven than traditional Crunk music. His sound and style have several different influences, but really it's southern fried rap.

- STEWART WALKER

The swaggering sound of Indigenous proves that the blues is in good hands decades after its creation. The young Native American band channels all the influences you'd expect: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, the Allmans - but there's nothing dull about their sound, which is equal parts garage rock, grunge, and blues. Their arrangements are tight, fast reminders that the blues is one of the most supple music forms. And Indigenous nudges it forward while remaining true to the roots.

- ROD LOCKWOOD

Thalia's self-titled Latin album, released last year, was a chart-topper. Now, the singer is aiming to expand her audience with this debut English CD - though still retaining a Latin flavor by including Spanish versions of four of the disc's songs. Working with top producers, Thalia kicks off in high-energy style with the first single, “I Want You” featuring Fat Joe, and her appealing vocal style works quite well with the bottom-heavy beats on tracks with danceable grooves.

- RICHARD PATON

On his ninth album, Tracy Byrd sticks to what has been successful for him in the past - a mixture of party songs and power ballads. He delivers with “Drinkin' Bone” - a humorous song that looks at how drinking can lead to nothing but trouble - and the ballad “Making Memories of Us.” Byrd isn't trying to reinvent country. He just offers songs that are fun and memorable.

- BRIAN DUGGER

Some jazz bands continue in spirit long after their demise, and Buddy Rich's big band is one of them. Buddy's Buddies, led by drummer Steve Smith and anchored by tenor saxophonist Steve Marcus and altoist Andy Fusco, continues to lay down a big band sound while only a quintet. This is high energy music with plenty of room for the musicians to solo. The arrangements are tight and there is little time in 10 tracks to catch your breath save for the single ballad “ How Do You Keep The Music Playing?”

- LARRY ROBERTS

  • ULTRA. TRANCE: 2, Various Artists (Ultra) A two-disc set comprising a CD of tracks in the trance style of dance music, and a DVD. The 16 tracks on disc 1 are in the mainstream of trance with lots of vocals, and make for a strong compilation. R.P.

  • THE COMPLEX, Blue Man Group (Blue Man) The blue-painted trio is known for off-beat stage performances along with their creations of oddball pop music. The music is quite interesting and listenable even without the visual enhancements, as this eclectic package proves. KEN ROSENBAUM

  • SUPAGROUP, Supagroup (Foodchain) As dumb as AC/DC and as cocky as the Black Crowes, Supagroup charges out of New Orleans with all the subtlety of a mallet to the skull. This is thoroughly mindless hard rock that bristles with energy. Sample song titles: “Rock and Roll Tried to Ruin My Life” and “I Need a Drink.” R.L.

  • THE VOICE OF FRANK SINATRA; SINATRA SINGS GERSHWIN; SINATRA SINGS COLE PORTER (Columbia Legacy) Three CDs highlight the legend's status as the top figure in American popular song. The best material is on the later tracks of the Gershwin and Porter discs, when he began to show the cool, hip style that characterized his persona from the late 1940s until his death. The early ballads don't play well to today's ears. L.R.

  • NOW THAT'S CHICAGO, Various Artists (Legacy) If the hit movie Chicago whetted your appetite for hot, gangland-era music, you'll do cartwheels over this generous collection of 21 jazzy numbers recorded from 1925 to 1933. These oldies get a modern sonic cleanup for a new life. K.R.



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