In an already crowded market, Profyle’s debut album Whispers in the Dark marked them out as capable of breathing some much needed life into that most classic of soul dynamics: the four piece vocal harmony group. With their mix of contemporary sounds, strong vocals, and romantic ballads, Face, Hershey, L’Jai and Baby Boy succeeded in creating a set that had considerable appeal for the urban R&B market and the soul connoisseur alike. Significantly, their sophomore set Nothin’ But Drama sees them continuing in a similar vein. Constructed around the highs and lows that are an inherent feature in any relationship the material explores the “drama” that accompanies intimacy, heartbreak, love and deception.
Having already gone straight to number one in the Billboard R&B chart, the lead single and opening track “Liar” is constructed around two stories of deceit and betrayal. Given recent male bashing trends, the track is notable in itself due to the fact that it is told from a masculine perspective. Even more significant though is the presence of Teddy Riley on production chores. Following the Guy fiasco it is nice to see him delivering the kind of material that once made the now defunct Blackstreet a force to be reckoned with. With his trademark vocoder harmonies and ad-libs in place he sets the scene for Profyle to drop their preacher man vocals in a manner that is at times reminiscent of former Blackstreet front man Dave Hollister. However, it must be said that the quality of the track is somewhat undermined by the presence of some rather unnecessary vulgarities. Nevertheless, in terms of the remainder of the album the urban market should find interest in the radio friendly “Nasty” featuring Monifah, “You Bring the Freak”, “No Trickin”, and the bouncy potential single “One Night”, which also appeared on the Bamboozled soundtrack. Also worthy of a mention is the particularly strong New Jack flavoured “Damn” which once again finds Teddy Riley on top form behind the desk.
Even so, where Profyle really come into their own are on the tracks where they are given the opportunity to display what they can do vocally. One such track is the fantasy scene “(Can We) M.A.K.E L.U.V”. With its chord changes, harmonies, vocal phrasing, warm keys, underlying acoustic guitar track, and an irresistible hook, this dreamy swayer has all of the trademarks of a Joe track, but was in fact the work of newcomer Steve “Stone” Huff. Huff also contributes the exceptionally moody “Can We Talk (About Us)”. Elsewhere, other highlights include the live instrumentation of the bluesy “Addicted”, the strongly harmonized knee-tremblers “Every Little Thing”, “Changes”, “Can We Make Love”, and the Joe produced “I Do”, which is in many ways a logical successor to Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married”.
With strong leads, tight harmonies and a complete absence of the wailing MOR schmaltz that is the downfall of many, Nothin’ But Drama is another strong release from Profyle. For those of you that may not be particularly fond of contemporary R&B, I urge you not to be put off by either the title or the cover. Set aside the macho posturing and the unfortunate obscenities of track one and you can be sure that you will find a polished four piece vocal set that unashamedly acknowledges a historic tradition in a thoroughly contemporary context.