Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Aaliyah: I Care 4 You [Blackground, 2002]
A half measure that's anything but "definitive" and the best we're likely to get until she's a trivia question: both soundtrack smashes plus a hit-or-miss best-of and six previously unreleaseds whose consistency rescues the project. From "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number" when she was 15 to "More Than a Woman" just before she died (the latter included, the former discreetly not), she was lithe and dulcet in a way that signified neither jailbait nor hottie--an ingenue whose selling point was sincerity, not innocence and the obverse it implies. Timbaland's beats add essential eccentricity, but R. Kelly's ditties suited her almost as well. And what can it mean that a good new one celebrates the machinations of the bitch queen of All My Children? Such mysteries are beyond the ken of mortal males like me. A-