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Nikka Costa

Can'tneverdidnothin' [Clean]

Format: CD   Release Date: 05/24/2005
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    Track Title

    Time

  1. Till I Get To You 3:17
  2. can'tneverdidnothin' 3:10
  3. Fooled Ya Baby 4:33
  4. I Gotta Know 4:46
  5. Around The World 5:22
  6. Swing It Around 3:15
  7. Funkier Than A Mosquitoes Tweeter 3:45
  8. On & On 2:54
  9. Happy In The Morning* 3:34
  10. Hey Love 4:02
  11. Fatherless Child 7:12

It's not often that the liner note "thank yous" on a record offer much insight to the album itself, but with Nikka Costa's second album, Can'tneverdidnothin', her four shout-outs help define exactly where she's at. First, there's a thank you to Justin Stanley, her co-writer and producer, who functioned as her chief collaborator. Then, there's Randy Jackson, the American Idol superstar and Nikka's manager, who "fight[s] everyday for the artist I want to be." Then, Lenny Kravitz gets acknowledgements for "the stinkiest groove that whooped my ass everytime," with Prince getting the final tip of the hat for "support, advice and inspiration." Good thing Costa gave credit where credit is due, since Can'tneverdidnothin' bears the imprint of all four inspirations: it plays like an update of a mid-period, mid-'80s Prince album, punctuated by a couple of Lenny's fuzz-drenched retro rockers and given a slick, savvy show-biz presentation that's smart enough to have a couple of stylish, artsy touches like cameos by Jon Brion, Wendy Melovin, and Roots drummer ?uestlove. While it's easy enough to play spot-the-influence here, Costa pulls off a nifty trick by defining herself through her idols, finding her personality within the parameters of Prince and Lenny Kravitz. Not only does she have charisma and a powerful, soulful voice, she's a strong writer and the music here is muscular, funky, and imaginatively arranged, a significant step forward from her promising 2001 debut, Everybody Got Their Something. This is big, dynamic music that cries for a big audience -- the kind of mainstream pop/soul/rock amalgam that got good reviews and airplay in 1990, but is rare in 2005. Not only aren't there many artists making this music, there is no outlet on radio or TV for this kind of sharp, professional, carefully constructed, and passionately performed genre-hopping pop (the best you get in 2005 is Joss Stone playing against her strengths in Gap commercials). And that's a shame, because Can'tneverdidnothin' not only deserves to be heard, but it's the kind of splashy, impassioned, infectious record that could make Nikka Costa a star -- maybe not on the level of Prince or Madonna, maybe more like Lenny Kravitz, but a star nonetheless. [Can'tneverdidnothin' was also released in a "clean" version, containing no profanities.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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