A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that macho posturing is balanced with surprising moments of sentimental tenderness. This is "hip-hop lite." There are a few vividly sexist and sexual images, but nothing really explicit.
What's the story?
Nick Cannon's self-titled CD is a little hard to place. Too sophisticated for preteens, it doesn't have quite the visceral punch that older teens and young adults have come to expect in this genre. It does deliver some wonderfully well-produced songs with an astonishing array of all-star cameos.
Is it any good?
This is a perky, fresh-sounding collection of songs on which all the truly terrific performances are delivered not by the artist, but by his friends. Cannon, a former child star and young movie actor, is a pretty good rapper. Generous contributions from buddies like Just Blaze, R. Kelly, P. Diddy, The Trackmasters, Fatman Scoop, Yin Yang Twins, B2K, Joe, Nivea, Biz Markie, and Mary J. Blige help make his CD shine. The songs are bursting with danceable rhythm tracks, hummable hook lines, and pop culture references.
There are also some surprising moments of tenderness. On "Whenever You Need Me," the obligatory sensitive-guy song, Cannon's lyrics expound on the difficulties of the celebrity relationship, and how sorry he is for his occasional screw-ups. Mary J. Blige contributes the gorgeous duet vocal that makes the song memorable. Another track, "I Owe You," is a sentimental thank-you and tribute to his grandmother, and it really is lovely.