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*** Next, “Welcome II Nextasy,” Arista.

Next is another in a long line of lover-boy R&B; groups, but the Minneapolis trio flashes just a bit more street-tough nerve and bravado than many of the genre’s other leather-clad Lotharios. Self-produced by the band members, “Welcome II Nextasy” sports a surprisingly varied production palette. “What U Want’s” spare rhythm track crackles like something from the Cash Money school of Southern fried hip-hop; “Wifey” is a smooth-as-Cognac pledge of romantic fealty, while “Cybersex” is a lurid ballad about what happens when hard drives and modems get freaky. A surprisingly accomplished album from a band that had thus far cranked out generic radio fodder.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.


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