Music CD Spotlight

Foxx hunt

Cocksure playa and sly trickster — Jamie Foxx’s dual personae derive from an unquenchable but equally unassuming creative ambition. From Booty Call to Steamin’ Willie Beamen to Collateral, Ray, and choruses for Kanye? Of course, and why not? And yet each project gets a particular wink and a smile, just to let you know it’s his.

Unpredictable has that unique charm too, but it’s not enough. Foxx’s smoothness and eternal likability save him from becoming an R. Kelly facsimile like Ray J. But he can’t buoy modern R&B generica like “VIP” (“’Cause everyone in my party’s VIP ...” — oh, really?) or the mumbled come-ons of “Can I Take U Home.” Foxx is lost in these tracks, a nonfactor in his own vanity project. He recovers with the slinky title track (featuring Ludacris) and “Love Changes,” the professional and — more importantly — believably emotional Mary J. Blige duet that nearly saves the entire album. But “nearly” isn’t up to Foxx’s self-set standards, and Unpredictable ends up being just the opposite of what its title promises.

It’s a slick, contemporary R&B record with the right producers, collaborators and central idea: to mix partying with passion, salaciousness with silk. But it puts Foxx inside a formula, and that’s never been his game.

– Johnny Loftus

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