Musiq SoulChild and Syleena Johnson - 9ine

Musiq SoulChild and Syleena Johnson
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Let's do a quick mathematical equation, shall we? If you pair two R&B favorites with one crossover Reggae sensation, multiply their years of proven hit-making prowess and divide the skills evenly into three duets, three solo joints apiece and carry a remix, what is the result? If you answered with 9ine, congratulations! If not, well....read on anyway, you'll catch up.  
 
A project sparked from the cumulative spontaneous combustion effect of Musiq Soulchild, Syleena Johnson and acclaimed pop-reggae songwriter and producer Kemar "Flava" McGregor, 9ine expands on the Carribean influence and Reggae-rich flavoring that the dynamic duo tapped into for the glib mid-tempo duet, "Promise." The instant chemistry and camaraderie generated by Syleena and Musiq spiraled into eight more songs, perhaps playing off their real-life ninth month birthdates (Musiq's on Sep. 16 and Syleena's on Sep.
Let's do a quick mathematical equation, shall we? If you pair two R&B favorites with one crossover Reggae sensation, multiply their years of proven hit-making prowess and divide the skills evenly into three duets, three solo joints apiece and carry a remix, what is the result? If you answered with 9ine, congratulations! If not, well....read on anyway, you'll catch up.  
 
A project sparked from the cumulative spontaneous combustion effect of Musiq Soulchild, Syleena Johnson and acclaimed pop-reggae songwriter and producer Kemar "Flava" McGregor, 9ine expands on the Carribean influence and Reggae-rich flavoring that the dynamic duo tapped into for the glib mid-tempo duet, "Promise." The instant chemistry and camaraderie generated by Syleena and Musiq spiraled into eight more songs, perhaps playing off their real-life ninth month birthdates (Musiq's on Sep. 16 and Syleena's on Sep. 2, respectively) and Virgo-esque perfectionist tendencies in the process. No matter what you might believe in or attribute the synergy to, however, the proof is in the final mix, which will pleasantly surprise both 'riddim' and R&B fans. 
 
Considering how nimbly their voices encircle one another and how naturally they've adopted to the musical mold set in place by McGregor, the fact that both performers have admired reggae from afar and just now satisfied their urges is mind-boggling: Musiq and Syleena graft elements of the genre into their established repertoires and don't force-fit the material to become urbanized island grooves, a feat that would escape lesser artists.
 
"Alright" kicks off with uplifting optimism, praising the synergy created by an enduring love, while the first single, "Feel The Fire," crackles with sexualized synergy and yearning to leave the world behind and plunge headfirst into one another: "I want you to come over, and give me what I need/I can't wait no longer, I want you to feel me." 
 
Musiq and Syleena's lyrics and vocal approaches are familiar (they co-wrote throughout the project with McGregor), even if the arrangements aren't. So those who don't regularly feel reggae will nonetheless relate to songs like Musiq's resiliency anthem, "Bring Me Down," and the bouncy "Never Had," another Soulchild solo that laments modern "single-to-mingle" attitudes as he gives thanks for the true love he's found: "People only want what they can get for the night (cuz' that's the only thing they're really thinking of)/But I promise that what we have I'll never let go, cuz you and me got something special/something that don't come around everday, that's why I'm staying wit'choo." Another lovey-dovey joint, "So Big," is filled with wedding-day-type platitudes that are super-sweet, but Syleena's measured delivery keeps the song from straying into diabetic territory. "Pieces Of You" is also adoring, a mood-evoking mid-tempo with an irrestibly-authentic island-esque bridge that demonstrates Ms. Johnson's vocal proficiency in practically any style she endeavors.
 
With much of mainstream R&B still fixated on shock value and soap-opera-esque drama, hearing these two favorites try their skill sets so radically is an unexpected reward. An interview with Boomshot.com quotes Syleena as never wanting to work with Kemar again, but 9ine demonstates to all who listen that she and Soulchild are an ideal musical match that will enhance any project that they create together. Simply put, missing the sum of their talents would subtract mightily from your autumn experience, so get ahold of the latest from Musiq Soulchild and Syleena Johnson, press 'play' and repeat----class dismissed. Highly Recommended. 
 
By Melody Charles
 
Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"

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