Since acts like Ashanti and Ciara opened the floodgates, the record industry has been inundated with a litany of young women with pretty faces, toned bodies, and paper-thin voices that can gyrate in synchronicity against strobe lights
and smoke machines thinking they are the second coming. And while this trend has inspired a genre that is pretty much an insult to the art of music, it looks like that genre has finally gotten a taste of its own medicine and spawned an insult to itself; and her name is Cassie.
The latest protege to be manufactured for mass consumption by the House of Diddy a.k.a. Bad Boy Records, the origins of her career are still a bit fuzzy as several stories continue to circulate around the ‘net. From what I’ve gathered, she was a teenage model who moved to NY upon graduation, met up-and-coming producer Ryan Leslie at a party, recorded a demo for her mother, segued into a full album and inked a deal with Diddy.
But the details of her journey aren’t as important as are the details of her and her album’s final destination; beyond the bottom of the barrel and scraping on asphalt. Cassie is prepackaged Hip-Hop/R&B/Pop of the shoddiest kind; it’s deficiencies are front and center and Cassie nor her producers go to any extreme to gloss over them.
At 10 tracks and 35:00, it’d be easy to assume that the album is virtually painless. And if the material presented were being delivered by someone with more capable vocal chords or had been constructed by a producer more adept at pushing buttons and twiddling knobs, then that assumption would be correct.
The biggest offender is the album’s namesake. Cassie’s deadpan, monotonous delivery is irritating to an extreme and her lack of range is made painfully evident. And only TWICE on the album does it ever-so-slightly work in her favor. Her lead single, Me&U, however, is not one of those moments. A sparse club tune with a vague thump and ominous synth-line makes Cassie’s robotic talk of her fellatio prowess sound downright creepy and uninviting.
New single, Long Way 2 Go, fares much better despite being an obvious rehash of Nelly Furtado’s smash “Promiscuous”. Ryan beefs up the production with a winding synth and Cassie’s monotonous rejection of a guy’s advances falls perfectly in line with the song’s subject matter. The same can be said for Ditto. The slightly juvenile production is catchy and the album’s biggest nugget of ear candy while Cassie’s “whatever” attitude towards her boyfriend’s profession of love for her is unintentionally tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure, but as close to brilliant as Cassie can ever hope to get.
The fact that these two tolerable tunes are placed at almost complete opposite ends of the album means your skip button will be working some major overtime. There’s nothing even remotely entertaining to be found in the album’s remainder. True, About Time has a funky 80s, throwback vibe to it and Not With U is a mellow groove that is dying to be reworked by someone with actual TALENT but neither is a compensation for her bastardization of Destiny’s Child “T-Shirt” on Kiss Me or her pitiful attempt at replicating Ciara’s crunk&b style on “Call U Out” or the most awful combination of rock, hip-pop and R&B I have ever heard on What Do U Want.
But what is most insulting about Cassie – both the album and the artist – is her lackadaisical attitude. Both in her monotonous drone on wax and with her stiff conversation in numerous interviews, there’s such a strong stench of BOREDOM that emanates from her persona. If nothing else, the fact that she’s been given an opportunity tons of people with credible talent would kill for and hasn’t batted her eyelashes twice towards it is reason enough not to support her.
Factoring in her useless vocal chords and her producer’s ineptness into the equation makes Cassie a 35:00 affair to avoid at all costs.
Not that she’d care anyway.