review: amerie's because i love it, vol. 1

Amerie, by all rights, should be a robot. She's a chemically beautiful Yale Georgetown grad who had a super-pap first album, All I Have. But with “1 Thing”, a Meters-sampling chart-topping slab off her much-better second joint Touch, she got her Nancy Friday on, becoming a liberated, lustful wailer. This mixtape finds her happily working more towards Betty Davis than regressing to Karen Carpenter.

Horniness is an underrated value in R&B; it’s been R. Kelly’s secret weapon for years, it’s the reason Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” is a classic. Here, on the mixtape Because I Love It Vol. 1, Amerie stretches out on the full-size plenty, but indulges not only her sexual appetite but her material ones.

Mostly jacking for beats, the album picks up after some head-nodding love-of-men-and-music stuff with “Take Control”, the first single off BILI. A bumping, grinding Tom Ze sample twists around Amerie’s shouts and pleads; one of the best singles of the past year sounds like Amerie throwing her leg around you and ripping your shirt off.

After that, Amerie-as-emcee takes over, dropping a grind anthem (over Cool and Dre’s “Blow”) and then going on a deliriously greedy money-flashing streak. “Money In The Bank” and “Money Maker” are Cheshire-cat subversive, I’m the player-here manifestos. She owns both beats in ways that the original artists couldn’t think to.

They're multiplying!  .... Yay!

Sex, love, career and money are the driving forces behind the mixtape, and Amerie is not the smitten moaner from “1 Thing”, but rather a matured, aggressive, (gulp) diva-ish vixen. “Don’t waste time, come get me right now/Don’t worry about a thing, it’s ‘bout to go down” she croons on “That’s What You Are”. She defines the male audience she’s targeting, telling them who they are and what to do. Even in the theoretical submissiveness of “Take Control”, we know who’s really giving the orders.

The beat selection throughout is daring, uptempo, more hip-hop and funk than R&B. Amerie’s voice, always high-caliber, is not as important as her delivery. For most of this mixtape, she comes like a rapper on this mixtape, punching syllables and extending lines. Her acrobatics and the wide palette of songs make the mixtape BILI less cohesive but more impressive. It’s a hell of a portfolio.

Earnest interludes about Amerie’s career and philosophy are mixed too low and a little momentum-killing, and some reordering could have helped. Hopefully the album version of BILI is a polished album with this Amerie going wild over her own production. It’s out in the US next month. Fingers crossed.

Oh, hey, do you want to own this for free? Right here. Servers are often full, though. Listen below and wait for nightfall.


[There's a guide in the post below to some references y'all might not have Googled.]

Amerie is better than Beyonce: [My previous post] [Will Lavin agrees]  

[The video for 'Take Control']

She don't die, she multiply: The cover of Because I Love It.