"Next, with an X, rhymes with sex"
Next, the Minneapolis-based R&B trio, wants to make one thing clear, girl: They are Freaks. Think of this trifecta of attractive singers, and its imperative that you know, girl, that they want to get their Freak On. And they want to get Freaky with you, girl. That’s because nothing would please them more than to unleash the Freak in you, girl.
With Welcome II Nextasy, Next succeeds in displaying their zest to be the, ahem, next group to rely solely on stories of carnal conquest and loin lore, shrouding otherwise peppy grooves and inspiring vocal performances in overused subject matter. Forget challenging lyrics or moods by members T-Low, Tweey and R.L. Like soapbox barkers on some red-light district corner, Next wants you to stop and listen to their Freak Manifesto.
No, really. You have to hear this stuff to believe it. On the song “Cybersex, they sing: “Look over at your PC / Start thinking Freaky / Because I want your PC / Sit on my laptop / Let me into your Internet / It’s time for cybersex.”
See? Does anyone actually talk like that?
Songwriters commonly attribute their creations to personal experiences. It’s funny how many R&B acts apparently do nothing but mine, pine and grind for Freaks—a complex term that simultaneously identifies social outcasts and super-oversexed-man-machines.
(How did Denzel Washington’s character “Bleak” put it in the tune “Pop Top 40” from Spike Lee’s Mo Better Blues? “I want to spend the rest of my life with you…tonight.”
Wait here’s another taste, from “Call On Me”: “Call on me, whenever you feel freaky / I’m all you need.”
Next’s sophomore release is so disturbingly knee deep in facile sexual conquest banter, one waits patiently for something of substance, anything at all, that can make a listener feel some intention in their talented voice.
It never, er, comes. Truth be told, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrations of sexual exploits. Critics deify soul singers such as Teddy Pendergrass (who once screamed “Do Mo, Do Me, come on and Do Me”) and Marvin Gaye (whose album I Want You chronicles a his need to, um, service and be serviced by his actual wife).
But they at least diversified, transforming their corporal—and in Gaye’s case, complexly troubled—excursions into a window to their very humanity. Sex songs rounded them, and grounded them, making them believable when they mounted their own soapboxes (Pendergrass on “Wake up Everybody, or Gaye’s classis album, What’s Going On).
Next shot their social commentary load with the big hit “Too Close,” from ther debut “Rated Next.” That ditty delved into the societal pains and anguish that arises when a guy struggles with unexpected arousal on the dance floor.
Perhaps a more fitting indictment of Next, or their audience, is the apparent ignorance of recent, acts that have attempted to build careers on this subject. Who could forget the ‘90s King Freaks, the group Silk, who blessed us with “Freak Me,” (“let me lick you up and down / ‘til you say stop”) and “Meeting in My Bedroom,” or countless others such as H-Town, Adina Howard and Total.
Or, theres an argument that Next chooses to differentiate itself with a song such as the hit single “Wifey,” where R.L. serenades his woman with: “(You) Make me life complete, sweet / But you know when to flip it street Freak / But only when it comes to me / That’s why you’re my wifey.”
Now ain’t that romantic, girl?
// Notes from the Road
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