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Music Review: Ciara – Fantasy Ride

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In 2004, when Atlanta-born singer Ciara crunked her way onto the R&B-pop scene with the sensually-charged set Goodies and a gyrating waist that wouldn’t stop, the world was witnessing the arrival of a talent with major promise. By 2006, with Ciara: The Evolution, the artiste known for her towering height and kinetic dance moves, cemented her place as one of the fastest-rising stars in Black music with chart-riding hits like "Get Up", "Promise", and "Like A Boy".

Somewhere along the way, somebody convinced homegirl that she had the goods to challenge Queen B (Beyonce/Sasha Fierce to you) for the R&B crown. Um, no. For her latest effort, Fantasy Ride (a record which has seen its release date pushed back countless times), Ciara adopts her own alter ego (Super C) and throws down the gauntlet. Bring it on. I live for a good cat-fight and I really wanted to love (ok, like) Fantasy Ride. Unfortunately, I press the skip button more often than I should. To say I am disappointed does not even qualify as an understatement. There’s simply not enough ammunition in Ciara’s canon to derail the Sasha Fierce Express. Fantasy Ride, 13 tracks long, lacks the career-defining hits that Ciara needs to make the album both outstanding and memorable.

The production (from such hitmakers as ‘Danja’ Hills, ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, Tricky Stewart & The Dream) soars, nudging Ciara into her comfort zone where fiery up-tempo beats overpower her vocals. On Goodies and Ciara: The Evolution she still managed to shine through. Here, however, she is just not interesting enough. With the exception of "Pucker Up", "High Price" (featuring Ludacris) and "Never Ever" (featuring Young Jeezy), the album is packed with tracks that sound like last-minute fillers.

Justin Timberlake lends some star power to the sexed-up "Love Sex Magic" and embattled singer Chris Brown shows up for the flip-the-script single "Turntables". The bonus-track version of the album offers the hip, freestyle beats of "Go Girl" (featuring T-Pain) and the get-up-and-dance number "Echo". Too bad it isn't coherent and captivating to match Ciara’s past platinum releases or make Sasha Fierce bust a sweat.

DOWNLOAD: “Echo”, “Pucker Up” and “Love Sex Magic”

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