By Matt Caputo
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Part hustler chronicles, part melismatic ruminations on love, Truth Hurts' Ready Nowis a rootsy blend of hip-hop's open-legs sexuality with r&b's open-heart vulnerability. Truthno longer hurtingdelivers candid bedroom plaints ("I'm on my knees, oh Sugar, you know what that means") and clarifications ("Just 'cause I'm a woman don't think that means I don't have fantasies like you"), eventually intoning in "U," the sublime seven-minute climax, "your love puts me on a throne, I can touch the sky."
In "Phone Sex," over an Indian drum and flute beat, she lets her man know "something's throbbing and it's not my heart." The track is a winning spin-off of her 2002 banger "Addictive," which catapulted the singer-songwriter to one-to-watch status but wound up being yanked from shelves when Bappa Lahiri, the composer of the Hindi score that buttressed DJ Quik's beat, sued for copyright infringement. "The song caught on so quickly, there was no time to clear it," Truth explains; the result was stalled sales for her Dr. Dreexecutive-produced debut, Truthfully Speaking. When negotiations between her reps and Aftermath's attorneys reached an impasse, plans for a follow-up froze as well.
For Truth, Ready Now is about "get[ting] back to where I come from," so the operatically trained artist smartly migrated to Grammy Awardwinning Raphael Saadiq's independent Pookie Entertainment. Though "musically, there's a lot more freedom," she admits, "This independent situation is a grind." But at gigs far less inflated than the Smoking Grooves dates that supported her first album, fans have a chance to connect with her in ways her new album's raunchy packaging doesn't quite allow.
Opening her tour at S.O.B.'s in August, Truth excitedly motioned for her female DJ to crank up the volume when she debuted the remix to Ready Now's title cut, re-creating the song's sophisticated vocal arrangements over a sample from Kraftwerk's "Computer Love." Even more assured than on record, Truth's voice live is a melt of jazz and classic soulstrong, liquid, immediate, and commanding "If you don't know, now you know" control of the room. "Where my ladies up on that phone sex at?" she asked before sighing to her hype woman, "They hiding," then treating the mostly male crowd to a belly dance. "I want my music to change people's hearts, let them know there is a thing called love," she says. "There are real things out there, if you seek for them."