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Neo-soul grows and grooves ; Maxwell, Alicia Keys, Bilal, Res lead the way
[North Sports Final , C Edition]
Chicago Tribune - Chicago, Ill.
Subjects: Rhythm & blues music; Musical recordings -- -Multiple review
Author: Greg Kot, Tribune rock critic
Date: Sep 28, 2001
Start Page: 23
Section: Friday
Abstract (Document Summary)

Bilal, "1st Born Second" (Moyo/Interscope): Bilal is the latest member of the Soul Aquarians collective (which includes Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Q-Tip, and D'Angelo) to break through to a wider audience, but his newfound prominence has little to do with his associates and everything to do with his talent. With the drama conjured by pouncing strings and rumbling timpani on the opening "For You," Bilal Sayeed Oliver sets a high standard for the rest of his debut album. But the tension rarely flags on "1st Born Second," a disc informed by hip-hop groove, jazz-like arranging flow and studio-as-instrument experimentation. Bilal raps, breaks into wordless anguished wails, and then sweetly confesses his shortcomings in a falsetto straight out of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?" Lushly orchestrated yet never pretty, daring to the point of audacity, "1st Born Second" contains some attention-grabbing window-dressing, with cameos by Dr. Dre and Mos Def, but succeeds because Bilal just may be the most potent male R&B singer to emerge since [D'Angelo].

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