Mark Morrison – I Am What I Am
Mark Morrison made his mainstream breakthrough with the 90s hit ‘Return Of The Mack’, and he’s back, back, back with his new album I Am What I Am.
Despite making his name twenty years ago, with his trademark looks bearing all the hallmarks of gangsta rap/R&B crossover (this was the time of ‘Gangta’s Paradise, remember) Mark Morrison’s sound has stayed current.
Although perhaps now considered to be cliché, the album’s opening (and title) track ‘I Am What I Am’ is coated in a sheen of autotune. While it could be dismissible and derivative, it’s surprisingly melodic.
‘N.A.N.G. 2.0’ immediately brings Morrison’s recognisable vocal to the foreground. There’s no doubting that the Mack has indeed returned. If the track can be compared to anything recent, it terms of sheer groove it’s not a million miles away from JLS’s ‘Everybody In Love’. That’s not to put the track down though – if anything it’s a worthy contender for the next batch of smooth R&B hits that will be crawling over our stations.
‘My Life’ glides along with a simplicity. It’s a less complex song that lets a few stylistic elements do all the heavy lifting – another melodic autotuned vocal, a steady kick and snare, gentle wah-wah guitars washing across the background.
Things get a little more hyper on ‘Wanna Be Your Man 2.0’, sounding like a hybrid between Queen’s ‘Flash’ theme and something from Daft Punk’s seminal Discovery. It’s a more daring track that’s a lot of fun.
‘Father Forgive Them’ sees Morrison in full on preacher-man mode, with a gospel choir and guest vocals from Beenie Man; “Yea though I walk through the valley of death / I know God is with me and the devil can’t take my breath / Life is real and I won’t sugarcoat it.”
I Am What I Am might not be an album that redefines any genres, but it’s a good set of solid modern R&B and would make a good addition to anyone’s collection.