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GINUWINE

Soul singers just ain't what they used to be: if you put contemporary star Ginuwine in front of a live soul band from the 60s, he'd get the hook faster than James Brown could say "good God!" The D.C. native claims Michael Jackson and the Artist as two big influences, but on his second album, 100% Ginuwine (550 Music), beyond the sappy cover of Jacko's "She's Out of My Life" and a penchant for using "2" and "U" instead of "to" and "you," he doesn't seem to have learned much from them. His voice is midrangy and nasal, and he can't quite bring down the house when he tries to testify on tunes like "Wait a Minute." But in the 90s a soul singer is as good as his producer, and Ginuwine is lucky to have Timbaland--the man responsible for the stuttering jungle-inflected beats behind hit makers like Missy Elliott and Aaliyah--on his team. Not everything on the new album strikes the usual sparks, but at its best--like the labyrinthine, herky-jerk rhythms of "Final Warning" and the hit "What's So Different?"--Timbaland's flinty production makes for some highly productive friction against Ginuwine's smooth crooning. When things play out straight the results aren't nearly as compelling--although the catchiest tune on the record, "Same Ol' G," a heavy-lidded slice of success-hasn't-spoiled-me-yet seduction, proves that a song in hand is still worth two producers in the bush. Sunday, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Benabib.

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