What happens when you bring three of R&B’s most sensuous-minded male ‘sangers’ together? The answer my friends is TGT, comprised of established vets Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank. All three have respectively made their female fans swoon and made their male fans work just to embody a smidgen of their swagger. The result of the long anticipated trio’s labors is positive ultimately. Three Kings definitely provides a hearty amount of urban male machismo (and, of course, references to sex), but thankfully, some strong musical statements, soulful vocal runs, and exceptional production make it a worthwhile affair.
“Take It Wrong” sets the grown-folks R&B tone, only breaking from the script for an overt, though so-so rap verse from Black Ty (Tyrese):“I can hit it all night if you say so / We can do it in the bed, on the floor.” A bit gimmicky with repetition and of course the questionable rap, “Take It Wrong” is effective overall – as long as TGT stick to singing. “No Fun” follows up respectably, but feels as if it needs a little extra pizzazz to truly rise to the next level. Problem’s edgy rap raises eyebrows, but doesn’t necessarily add much excitability.
TGT clearly claim their crowns a trio of triumphs in “Sex Never Felt Better”, “I Need” and “The Next Time Around”. “Sex Never Felt Better” benefits from both its status as a promo single and reliance on sex for inspiration. “Bring it over here, turn your phone off / Leave them heels on, take your clothes off / Don’t wanna see no one else, girl / I’m all yours tonight, tonight”, they sing on the pre-chorus, enslave themselves on the chorus (“I’ll be your sex slave / Sex ain’t never felt better, babe”). Second single “I Need” is arguably the set’s best cut, laying off from the physical in favor of the emotional endeavors of the relationship (“Now I know / It ain’t ever worth your heart / And it ain’t never worth your tears / And it ain’t never worth those scars that might not heel / I need, I need, I need you”). “Next Time Around” compels as well, with Tank’s bridge standing out (“A real man gone pick up the phone saying ‘Please come home I can’t love another’”). The meat of Three Kings resides here.
“Hurry” doesn’t take its eyes off the ‘ball’, as TGT yearn for her love literally in a hurry (“I don’t wanna go slow / Girl, I want you in a hurry”). Vocally, the chemistry remains top-rate, and the song’s not too shabby either. Still, topping “I Need” would take a gargantuan effort. “Weekend Love” is less notable, but still good enough for more … you know what. Like Ty sings, “It’s just something about that Saturday, Sunday love / I just can’t wait for that next weekend to come.” And of course there’s even more where that came from too, even if overall profundity doesn’t seem be the goal on “Lessons in Love” (“I swear every time that we touch / I’m giving you this lesson in love”). But as duo Kindred the Family Soul put it, “Love has no recession”.
What better way to redirect focus than another sensually-devised number? “Explode” obviously, yet cleverly depicts ‘the act’, presenting one of Three Kings’ better showings. Each member gets their own solo spot, highlighted by Tyrese’s (“Look at us, about to kaboom / In this room like it’s Independence Day”). Still, the hook takes the cake: “When you explode / I’m tryna be at ground zero / When you explode / I’m high don’t need no hero.” Unfortunately, follow-up “FYH” takes a simpler approach, summed by the f-bomb naughty hook. The sound is nice, but the record leaves more to be desired. “OMG” is even more objectionable, coming off oversexed, too slowish, and ‘been there done that’. At this point, it sounds as if creative descriptions for ‘doing it’ have faded. Three Kings does close with some promise. “Running Back” and “I Need” succeed because they opt for emotion rather than the bedroom. “Tearing It Down” returns to physicality, but the modern R&B vibe is desirable. “Our House” concludes respectably.
All in all, Three Kings is a good and enjoyable R&B album. ‘Great’ might be a stretch given the exhaustive length and overplay on sex and the profane, but there are plenty of pros about this effort. The biggest triumph is how well Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank blend vocally. Even when the material could use a boost, TGT impress vocally.