By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
Recognize this: Back in the day, before the era of Puff Daddy, the Cash Money Millionaires and the urban social phenomenon of "ballers" (rich, powerful men with game and money to burn), there was romance! Men and women of all ages swayed to the sexual tension brought on by the slow jam. Bodies, smelling of musk and hair grease, would rally into a precoital frenzy with the croons and ooohs of our R&B recording stars. Songs would portray young love, ghetto love, endless love. In the early '90s, Keith Sweat was at the forefront of this contemporary R&B romance revolution.
Today, with the release of his new CD, Didn't See Me Coming, Sweat has transformed himself into a watered-down, whining, would-be hip-hopper. This is not owing to his vocal quality, but rather the trite and played-out themes of his new songs. Giving in to the unfortunate trend in pop music to portray women as gold-digging, needy, dependent, unfaithful and conniving, Didn't See Me Coming presents a slew of scenarios that are comparable in depth to, say, "Big Pimpin" by Jay-Z.
"I Put You On" describes how Sweat had her wearing the finest clothes while she was flossing them in front of other men. Yady yady ya. "Why You Treat Me So Cold" is an ode to the quintessential emasculating woman. "I Only Want to Please You" is his trademark let-me-whine/I mean-sweep-you-off-your-feet beg fest. "Real Man" starts off with a woman offering husky declarations and ironies. "I want the house/I want the ice/I want the dough/I want the Benz/I want the Jeep/I want the minks/So what you think?" All of this because she's "a high-class kind of girl." Keith's insightful reply: "You wouldn't know a real man if he stared you in your face." Ouch.
Although a "real man" may be a lot to ask for, so may be a fresh and original R&B CD. It's all a matter of semantics. For those of us longing for the Keith Sweat of high-top fades and slow dancing to the feel of oversize shoulder pads, the new sophisticated baller version will have to do-woo-wooo. Boo-hoo.