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Jill Scott delivers smart and sensual R&B

Wednesday, Jul 25 2001
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Coming on like a sensual sophisticate with urban panache, poet/songstress Jill Scott embodies the allure of real rhythm and blues. On last year's self-assured debut, Who Is Jill Scott?, the "chocolate brown shuga" vocalist showed that sexy R&B singers don't have to be disingenuous. Similar to a pre-preachy Al Green, Scott tells the whole truth as she sees it, caressing smart -- and sometimes smartass -- lyrics with tongue rolls that set fire to the night sky. On "Do You Remember," the Philadelphia native purrs, "Remember playing hide-and-go-freak?/ I was that one you were borrrn to seek/ And I'm still here." Woven deep into hip-swaying beats, thumping bass, and suave, sparse arrangements, her words pulse with soulful sex appeal.

Much of Scott's strength as a songstylist comes from intermingling honeyed melodies with strong spoken word. On "Gettin' in the Way," she asserts her alpha femaleness with a parting shot to a "sista girl" trying to horn in on her man. While the chorus prettily chimes, "You're getting in the way/ Of what I'm feelin'," she boldly cracks, "You keep lying to my man, girl/ I'm gonna take you out in the middle of the street/ And whup your ass for all it's worth/ $5.99 or somethin' like that." Strangely, this snapshot of her roughneck Philly roots comes across with an unanticipated sense of class, no doubt due to Scott's witty attitude, perfect timing, and always-confident stage presence. There's nothing phony about this tough and tender-sweet singer -- and that honesty's her ultimate lure.

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Sam Prestianni

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