For the record, I employ a very basic method when reviewing albums. It’s called a “football season” method, where an artist is likened to a football team. The number of songs on the artist’s CD is the number of games in his or her season. A well-liked song is a game won. If it sucks, he or she lost a game.
“Team” Angie Martinez, the popular on-air personality on New York City’s Hot 97 radio station, fails to make the playoffs with her Elektra debut. Up Close and Personal is a collection of semiautobiographical tunes about lost love, hot sex, club etiquette and brown (Latin) pride. Martinez utilizes her long list of friends and connects to bring the talents of folks such as Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dog and Mary J. Blige to the table. And, in most cases, her guest collaborations really come off as a family affair, and not lackluster cameos done at the record label’s request. She also introduces you to the beauty of her Latin heritage on cuts such as “Live at Jimmy’s” and “Coast 2 Coast.”
“Team” Martinez sounds good, right? Problem is, Martinez is no franchise player. She made a splash when she unveiled her skills in 1997, working with artists such as KRS-One, and banging out the “Ladies Night” single with Lil’ Kim, Left Eye and Missy Elliott. Though her skills have improved since then, she lacks the vocal dexterity to carry her team through an entire album. If Team Martinez is the San Antonio Spurs, Angie herself is David Robinson. Lots of potential, but fails to come through in the clutch. Too monotone. Sometimes, it sounds like she did 20 takes before getting the song right. The end result is an album you won’t listen to from front to back.
Final record: 8 wins, 10 losses.
E-mail Khary Kimani Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.