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Thursday, June 15, 2006 01:51 pm

VINYL STATIC

If you’re surprised to hear Nelly Furtado rapping, well, you’re not alone.

SINGLES ONLY: A chat is long overdue concerning Nelly Furtado’s feverish new single “Promiscuous.” Remember Nelly? She unleashed the ballad “I’m Like a Bird” from the successful album Whoa, Nelly in 2000. It wasn’t a club hit, but plenty of waiting-room occupants bobbed their heads to it on the way to root canals. The Canadian songstress has strong pipes, and somewhere along the way she luckily eluded the kiss-of-death “pop princess” moniker, instead floating off into adult-alternative territory and landing in a spot somewhere near the niche occupied by Sheryl Crow. Millions of records were sold, and in 2003 Furtado released a mellow folk pop album titled Folklore. But the truth is, she’s been dipping her toe in the hip-hop pool for a while now: as a guest on the RootsPhrenology, on Jurassic 5’s Power in Numbers, and a spot on Ms. Jade’s Timbaland-backed hit “Ching Ching.” Saying that it’s surprising to hear Furtado in a hip-hop club jam shows that you haven’t been listening, but if you’re surprised to hear Furtado rapping, well, you’re not alone. “Promiscuous,” the lead single from Furtado’s third album, Loose, which slated for release on Tuesday, is good; three-fourths of the credit goes to Timbaland’s presence and the other fourth to Furtado. The duo battle back in forth in this flirty cat-and-mouse game, backed by Timbaland’s signature pulsing kick drum and a simple synthesizer arrangement. Furtado’s rapping is probably the least interesting part of the single. She seems to take cues from the sometimes-talking, sometimes-cooing style of Gwen Stefani. The fun song is a welcome detour for the talented Furtado. The best thing about “Promiscuous”? Its playful innocence. It’s not often on today’s mainstream hip-hop landscape that women get to talk back to male advances. In the end of this scenario, the listener is left not really knowing whether Timbaland will get a chance with Nelly, but one thing is for sure: She’s calling the shots.
CHAPPELLE SHOW: Remember when the Fugees reunited, and that time Erykah Badu and Common shared the stage? Have you ordered your copy of Dave Chappelle’s Block Party? The unrated version features extended musical acts, a featurette about the making of the film, and some other worthy bonuses. The DVD dropped on June 13, and a copy is scheduled to arrive at Vinyl Static headquarters in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . .
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