Unagi, California’s resident sound wizard, strikes again. This time around, he’s adding “matchmaker” to his already impressive title of “beatmaker”. In his role as producer-turned-Cupid, Unagi’s looking for a love connection—or at least looking to help us find one of our own. To do so, he’s armed with five arrows (“Hello Girl”, “Afternoon Stroll”, “Let Me Talk To You”, “Can’t Get Enough”, “Lookin’ For a Lady”) composed of intricately layered samples and soul grooves. The twist, though, is that the tips of the arrows have been dipped in a jar of romance, hence the title (For Lovers) and the album’s release date of February 13—just in time for Valentine’s Day. Arrow number one, “Hello Girl”, combines the innocence of old school flirtation with a rhythm similar to El DeBarge’s “I Like It”. Arrow number two, “Afternoon Stroll”, saunters through fresh loops, claps, and high-end instrumentation. Arrow number three, “Can’t Get Enough”, hits the romance target, with an expertly arranged collage of soul samples, while the fourth arrow, “Lookin’ For a Lady”, cranks out a funky fresh rhyme that’s enjoyable, even if it’s slightly dated in style. It’s the last arrow, “Let Me Talk to You”, that disappoints. Featuring Masters of Illusion (a.k.a. Kool Keith and Motion Man), “Let Me Talk to You” is more of a “come on” than a turn on, more mack than emotion, and more artifice than art. Musically, it’s cool; lyrically, it lacks tact and nuance, and it sticks out awkwardly among the rest of the material. It’s the two of clubs that ruins the potential spade Royal Flush of the other four tunes. Still, For Lovers is (mainly) earnest and sweet, like a walk through a flower garden with your significant other or gazing into your lover’s eyes. That’s good stuff in the world of hip-hop, and in the world at large, and it’s smartly executed.
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