Mario Winans - Hurt No More
As with reviewing DVDs over DVD Times, the sight of the words 'Special Edition' on the cover of a one- or two-disc set rarely means more than a bunch of largely pointless features brought together to make you feel that hours of behind-the-scenes footage will give you the feeling of £20 well spent. Similarly, Special Edition albums often account to little more than a blotchy video of the lead single tagged on as an extra feature to attract casual punters into thinking that they're getting a better deal than were they to download it for nowt.
Except for this album, which carries a little silver sticker on the cover saying that this copy of Hurt No More is a Special Edition but without anything on the CD to indicate that it's any more special than a plain old disc. Of course, at a shade under seventy minutes, it's long...very long in fact but then every R&B/hip-hop artist feels compelled to fill almost every minute of a CD, which makes Hurt No More rather ordinary by comparison to the likes of Wu-Tang Forever on which almost all of a two-disc set is stuffed full of music.
Special? Hardly and the sight of a Bad Boys Records logo on the spine gives due notice to the limp beats contained within, part of which can surely be blamed on the influence of the album's executive producer, P Diddy, who's been in the public eye for the last ten years or so but who has yet to make any impact but for his employ of a butler and a long-dead relationship with Jennifer Lopez. It's unsurprising, therefore, that were to challenge anyone to name a P Diddy song, only the most knowledgeable will add, "that one that samples Kashmir" to, "the one that's like The Police and he falls off the motorbike."
It's little wonder then that P Diddy's lack of presence makes the Mario Winans album sound as unimpressive as it does. With the press release saying that the album's performance is a remarkable feat considering the minimal marketing and promotion afforded to it, it's tempting to say that such a low level of promotion is only in keeping with the absence of production it enjoyed, in which the inclusion of a sample by Enya is worthy of a special mention. Sadly, Winans has chosen Don't Judge Me to be the title of the album's worst song, inviting the answer, "Oh yes I will" as, on an album of tired rhythms, lifeless vocals and a sound so lacking in passion that the thought passes by that it must be an expensive joke, this one song stands out by being that much worse than the rest.
Then again, there are a few songs on the album in which Winans shows there's blood in his music. Unlike this week's review of the Marjorie Fair album - in which a dull middle let down an otherwise fine record - Hurt No More comes alive with the eleventh track, an Interlude, before Pretty Girl Bullshit and This Is The Thanks I Get give the record an edge. Alright, this doesn't last long before I Got You Babe ushers the R&B back in and, with it, the dull beats but for those two songs and one interlude, Hurt No More has a bleak, unforgiving sound, with the performance of Foxy Brown on Pretty Girl Bullshit a standout moment on the album.
As the album ends, accompanied by a feeling of relief as well as a wondering about the how the previous seventy minutes were spent, there's little that makes the listener want to go back to Hurt No More. Whilst not without some merit, there's barely enough to make this stand out from the rest of the currently-hot pack of young, male R&B singers that also includes Usher, R Kelly and Joe, meaning that a little more promotion will be necessary as the music on its own will not be enough.
Note that whilst Hurt No More was out on the 10 May, its lead single, I Don't Wanna Know, released on the 31 May. More information is available from online if you click on this link.