Review Summary: We all gotta start somewhere.Dangerously in Love
blasts in with a triumphant horn melody that exhibits a far more bold and exciting sound than anything else on the album. While there’s no doubt that “Crazy in Love” isn’t a great pop single, it’s the rest of the album that doesn’t hold up so well under the years.
It doesn’t seem this way however, as the following three songs are all very good in their own right. “Naughty Girl” features sexy, intoxicating Middle-Eastern sounds writhing their way over a catchy guitar riff. “Baby Boy” and “Hip-Hop Star” flow by with the same surprisingly muscular quality; they seem the work of a pop star willing to stretch the boundaries of the genre while still creating catchy, hypnotic tracks.
This doesn’t last long. Immediately after, we’re treated to a series of repetitive, bland, mid-tempo R&B ballads. The majority of which can serve as inoffensive background music, even though the majority of them reach almost 5 minutes in length. Needless to say, this gets old fast.
Even more concerning is some of the lyrical content present. We all know that Beyonce is a person of growth, and that she’s come a long way since this album in order to deliver her recent masterpiece, Lemonade
. That being said, it’s still surprising to hear the words “I am your woman, I belong to you” come out of the same mouth that unleashed hell on her husband 13 years later with the classic lines, “Who the fuck do you think I am" You ain't married to no average bitch boy.”
That isn’t to say that nothing interesting is to be found on the rest of the album, however. “Yes” features an instrumental based on the effects of vinyl crackles and feedback, and the vocal duet with Luther Vandross makes for an solid pairing if not much else. “Dangerously in Love 2” is a surprising gem on the second half of the album, doing far more with its time than any other song surrounding it. Oh, and Jay-Z’s cameo on “That’s How You Like It” isn’t the worst thing ever.
Speaking of Jay-Z, she does lean on her… ah… “mentor,” more than she probably should. He has two features on the album, and five writing credits, which makes it seem strangely like she’s using his stardom to help spur her debut. Strange because, as a member of Destiney’s Child, it just isn’t necessary to have that extra boost. And while it may be clear that Bey’s got pipes, she’s still learning how to use them. She comes off as unconvincing and breathy as often as she sounds sexy and assured.
When it’s all said and done, Beyonce’s debut album is easily her weakest, lacking the ambition and visceral emotion of her latest release, and even the spark of maturity present on its successor B’Day
. It’s a bit dated sounding, and it’s definitely top heavy, but overall, it’s a pretty enjoyable album. If you enjoy laid-back R&B, there’s plenty of that here. If you enjoy bristling and creative pop numbers, well, there’s four of them right there at the front. You can take out the CD after that.