By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
"Goodies" is still the jam, and DJs will love Ciara: The Evolutionfor its right-out-of-the-wrapper cuts for the club. No need to mix it with other stuff so party people can dance to it, especially the Rob Basesampling "Make It Last Forever" (in which Ciara drops a rap) or the J.J. Fadness of "C.R.U.S.H.," whose Soul Train blips are soon to induce spontaneous poppin' and lockin' in a 'hood near you. For real, though, it's time to get ill, because this cribbing off '80s electro has got to stop. What ultimately makes this so bad (meaning bad bad, not good bad) is Ciara tries to be so sneaky about it, chanting "eachie meet sun" instead of "east meest sun sheet" on the "Planet Rock" rip-off "Get In, Fit In." Nobody uses those firecracker handclaps anymore, but they're all over Evolution on the "Cool It Now" tip. And just try to ignore the fact that Ciara's "Promise" is just Prince's "Adore" except her coy falsetto can't begin to match the Purple One's vocal gymnastics. The ballads here are pretty, but perfunctory and bland.
Surprisingly, there's not much crunk here. Lil Jon makes a cameo on "That's Right," but sadly, that Field Mob joint "So What" isn't included, while a lifeless 50 Cent collabo is. In an interlude called "The Evolution of Music," Ciara shares that she wanted to "do something different this time around." Apparently that entails shunning the crunk that made her. Not that this Krush Groove kickwhich actually began with the Jazze Phaproduced "1, 2 Step" (another "Planet Rock" rip-off) and Ciara and Missy's wholesale lifting of Cybotron's "Clear" for "Lose Control" doesn't sound good. It does. But is it fair that Ciara's gotten around paying Rockwell for co-opting "Somebody's Watching Me" on Evolution lead single "Get Up"?
At issue here are the rumblings that crunk is dead, when in fact it's very much alive, as the success of artists like Yung Joc indicate. Ciara, supposedly, is one of a few singers in a budding new Southern music genre currently overpopulated with rappers. Monica's recent release The Makings of Me is more crunk than this, though, with bangers like "Everytime Tha Beat Drop," featuring Dem Franchise Boyz. So this "doing something different" move just looks like Ciara's jumping ship way too early. Perhaps if she'd just kept it crunk, she could have produced something really deffer and fresher, instead of merely pleasantly reminiscent of the past.