Marsha Ambrosius, best known as the Songstress from the group Floetry, signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath label last year and is currently working on her debut solo album set to drop in '08. When I first heard of her association with Dre I was excited yet skeptical. Excited because the good Dr. is one helluva producer and could do wonders with Marsha's voice on top of his beats, but skeptical because I recall that I had high hopes when En Vogue wild child, Dawn Robinson, linked up with Aftermath and we see how that deal went the way of the dinosaur.
But unlike Dawn, since signing with Dre, Marsha has stayed on her grind and been heard on hooks from tracks by various rappers including Busta Rhymes, Nas, and Freeway. This summer she reformed Floetry for a brief tour with Amanda Diva taking Natalie Stewart's place, much to the chagrin of fans who were expecting to see the O.G. Floacist. And now a new mixtape, Neo Soul Is Dead: The Chronic Mixtape, has hit the scene to whet listeners appetites for the full disc.
Aside from the eye-roll inducing title, it was the subtitle that really caught my attention. Marsha Ambrosius singing over beats from The Chronic? NOWAYOHMYGOD! With that combination, I knew that this mixtape was going to be pure fire. Um, not so much.
I should have known that something was suspect about this mixtape when I saw Marsha flippin' a bird on the cover. And after listening to it, it is clear that she's giving the finger to her long-time fans. Don't listen to this expecting to hear the sweet, sensuous, PG-13 Floetry-style jams. Oh no my brother, you got to get your own Floetic and Flo'Ology for that fluffy stuff. On Neo Soul Is Dead, Marsha is going hard, cussing, singing about getting blunted and hustling, and all types of madness. If I wanted to hear all that I'd listen to my Jaguar Wright albums, thank you very much. Parental Advisory sticker aside, is it too much to ask to get my soul music without a side of filth, flarn, filth?
Sorry if I sound like Bill Cosby up in here, but this mixtape is a hot disappointing mess. My verdict: HATED IT. And it truly pains me to say that. Yes, she's singing over The Chronic classics, "Nothin' But A 'G' Thang" and "Dre Day" to name a few, but her voice is ultimately wasted here. There is only one song on this mixtape that I would listen to with any frequency and that's this track:
Marsha Ambrosius: "Ya Don't Know"
I saw a statement from Marsha on Aftermath's website about NSID. She stated, "It's a mixtape. Not a direct reflection of whats to come on my album. Well, other than the fact that I'm doin what I want to do and havin fun while doin it in my Dirty 30 stance." I suppose that gives me some modicum of hope that her album may be worth listening to, and as a fan I will give it a chance despite this mixtape
Clocking in at a whopping 23 minutes (with an additional nine minutes taken up with promos for Cassidy and Mario's recent releases), you won't have to invest a lot of time in listening to Neo Soul Is Dead. If you can get past all the yelling and talking from DJ Drama, Don Cannon, DJ Aktive, Ant Live and Sterling Simms (with whom she also sings a duet to the tune of Jodeci's "Love You For Life") the tracks on the mixtape are very short and it'll be over before you know it. Thank goodness.