I used to be a huge John Legend fan. His debut single "Used to Love You" and the resulting album Get Lifted got major play in 2005. Kanye's sped up soul samples perfectly complimented John's unique voice. Even though he sang like it hurt sometimes, I rocked with the petite man and his unchanging mini-fro and enjoyed everything he released. Fast forward to 2010, and that initial unshakable allegiance was swallowed up two dozen throaty warbles ago. Now, I take the good with the questionable, so that I don't get my feelings hurt. On the heels of his latest record with The Roots, Wake Up!, John has teamed up with British singer/rapper Estelle for a seven-track collaborative collection, Sing and Flow: The Duets. Released right before Thanksgiving, the set features the two revisiting previous pairings and adding new vocals to old solo records.
They open up by tackling Jay Electronica's "Shiny Suit Theory," trading verses over the song's minimal production on "Shiny Suit Part 2." This song, more than the others sounds like a mixtape track: rushed and forgettable. Talib Kweli joins the fun on "Freedom," an update of "Free" from Estelle's debut, The 18th Day. Because I don't exactly love British rap, I am prevented from enjoying this song. It could just as easily be Natalie from Floetry rapping and I wouldn't know the difference.
No Other Love, taken from John's Evolver, is an enjoyable listen. A lush and harmonious chorus, less rapping Estelle plus more singing John is a win. "Come Over" features Sean Paul and was a nice summer groove from her 2008 album, Shine. The standout on this short collection is the closer "Fall In Love" from Estelle's perpetually forthcoming All Of Me. The upbeat track, moreso than any of the others, is a great blend of their voices. No throwaway rap verses here, if you forget the version of this song with Nas, that is. This song piques my interest in Estelle's new project. Overall, this collection is pretty standard R&B. No anthems or game-changers here. Download Sing and Flow: The Duets for free below.