No, Truthfully Speaking isn’t as immediate as its lead single, the contagious, Middle Eastern-inflected “Addictive.” Instead, Truth Hurts’s debut is a slow burner that draws on more traditional hip-hop and R&B sound structures and displays Truth’s versatile, often coquettish, vocal (think a less socially-conscious Jill Scott). The brass-filled “Push Play” is an intro fit for a (ghetto) queen, produced by mentor Dr. Dre, whose watchful ear presides over almost every cut on the album. Truth (a.k.a. Shari Watson) demands a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. on “Grown,” dryly calls for, um, truth on “Bullshit” (“Bullshit pours down like rain/But the truth will not change”) and mourns for an incarcerated boyfriend on “Jimmy” (“He can’t come ‘round no more/He’s locked up for 10 or more”). Speaking of incarceration, R. Kelly wrote, produced and guests on “The Truth” while the less legally-challenged Timbaland mans the boards on the song “Real.” Aside from a bevy of hip-hop’s finest producers and guest artists (Dre, Big Rube, and a recently resurrected Rakim), Truthfully Speaking features a diverse—albeit subtle—array of musical textures (operatic vocals, marimbas, acoustic guitars and classical-style piano). File under: Possible One Hit Wonder with an unfortunate moniker and potential for so much more.
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