Ginuwine | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The most shameless moment on Ginuwine's "In Those Jeans," the hit from last year's The Senior (Epic), isn't the chorus, in which the song's title finishes the phrase "Is there any more room for me...?" It isn't the bridge, a roll call of popular denim brands ("Levi's, Prada, Baby Phat, I love them / Love the way you wearing them") that sounds like a play for ad work ("Ginuwine wants to see you in our jeans!"). It's the moment during the first verse when he sings, "I couldn't stop myself from looking hard," and in the background whisper-speaks, "Starin'." Ginuwine's clearly not afraid of a little oversell in the heat of the moment, no matter how cool he might be the rest of the time. This kind of salacious excess falls in line with what he's done since 1996's Timbaland-produced Ginuwine...the Bachelor, particularly that album's wildly lubricious "Pony," which spent six weeks on top of the R & B charts. Like R. Kelly, an obvious vocal role model who wrote and produced The Senior's "Hell Yeah" and its remix, the D.C.-based R & B crooner borrows plenty from hip-hop's self-aggrandizement, usually not to very good effect--there are wiser artistic decisions than putting an eight-minute playlet portraying yourself as a martyr in the middle of an album. But also like Kelly, Ginuwine's singing mostly stays away from overemoting and excessive melisma, and his melodies are similarly disarming. If Ginuwine doesn't quite have a signature sound, the consistency of beats and textures provided by The Senior's producers--most frequently Troy Oliver, Troy Taylor, and Scott Storch--comes close enough. With Jagged Edge, Joe, and Avant. Saturday, May 22, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; 312-263-1138 or 312-902-1500.

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