Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

MTV: The First 1000 Years: R&B [Rhino, 1999]
Love the title, which mocks both millennium hype and music television while implicitly acknowledging that this is but the latest slice of what the cognizant would call r&b--the part hip hop thinks is for bitchez, the sexy part that finally cracked MTV halfway into the network's going-on-two-decade life. Two of 16 tracks predate 1990, including Tina Turner's semiringer. Two fall flat--wrong Brian McKnight, any Deborah Cox. R&b being a singles music in every phase of its evolution, the few from albums worth owning all sound better here with the sole exception of P.M. Dawn's semiringer. Soft-core come-ons from Johnny Gill, Montell Jordan, Jodeci, and R. Kelly sound a lot better--they sound like a subculture seeking xscape rather than four damn liars. Even when the words dissemble, the music does not. This is how we do it--or try to do it, anyway. A