Ciara, the hip-hop/R&B artist best known for her 2004 record "Goodies," released her fourth studio album through LaFace Records late last year. The First Lady of Crunk&B's newest album can boast collaborations with Usher, Ludacris and the oddly named "U Got Me" but very little else.
With songs that feature lines such as, "I don't love it when they talk about me, but I love it when they talk about me," and the endless repetition of phrases like, "Turn it up," and half-word sounds like, "Yeaaa," Basic Instinct confirms the speculation that lyrics in this genre of music just don't matter a whole lot. Ciara's new album recycles the brainless, status-hungry messages of many other contemporarily popular musicians, without mixing in any appreciable amount of creativity. Basic Instinct relies on the belief that listeners are enthralled by Ciara's experiences of violent, casual sex, dirty dancing and heavy shopping.
Ciara is convinced that demeaning her listeners makes for a good song. In a bathing suit and baggy jeans she kicks and punches at the camera, rapping that she has "been in the game since '03 and you can't do it like [her]." She is apparently a "Badder Mother F*cker," than anyone else.
Beyond Ciara's easily-forgotten timbre is discographic imagery worthy of some attention. The music video for the album's title song, for instance, was filmed on location in Disgusting Neighborhood X. The majority of the shots present Ciara gyrating by her lonesome in a dirt alley between a thick line of dead trees and an over-run neighborhood (the kind with abandoned tires and trash for lawn ornamentation) peeking out from behind a brick wall. Moments later Ciara jiggles in a bar full of enormous men dressed in heavy denim, and then squats over a Rottweiler while slapping its back.
This shot in which she straddles the big black dog is the only potentially interesting moment in the entire video. Is the scene an allegory for women in the hip-hop/R&B community? Is Ciara making a political statement about the pressure women experience to be hyper-sexual in order to achieve success, i.e., "to touch" "The Big Dogs?" Well, most probably not; we have no reason to believe Ciara is attempting any sort cultural analysis.
Basic Instinct delivers just what it promises: primal desires and no intellectual examination. There is no beautiful expression in this album, just a bunch of trips to the sack, trips to the clubs and trips to the mall. If disc jockeys, radio hosts and patrons are smart, they will use this as a coaster, a bike reflector or a travel mirror. Warning: Do Not Play Unless Seriously Out of It.