The Main Idea:
After releasing an absolutely horrid first record, 3LW tried hard to redeem themselves on A Girl Can Mack, their follow-up, and it worked to a certain extent. Vocally, they're much better, though Adrienne Bailon still monopolizes the verses, and the production has been stepped up a notch as well. However, the girls seem to be trying way too hard to sound thug and gangster, obviously to keep up with the times, and the controversy over their Destiny's Child-like member split has overshadowed the music. Nevertheless, A Girl Can Mack sounds like the girls actually put some effort into it, highly unlike their debut. Though I'm still not particularly fond of the group, I think they did a decent job on this record, given the circumstances.
1. I DO (WANNA GET CLOSE TO YOU) - This track was produced by P. Diddy and features rapper Loon. It's a catchy, upbeat hip-hop jam and a great choice for a first single, but I'm just not impressed with it. Adrienne's voice is off-key and screechy, as usual, and some of the vocal arrangements are iffy. The production is really the highlight of this cut, but, if you've heard any other song from P. Diddy, particularly his work with Dream, you'll already know what this song sounds like - 3/5
2. NEVA GET ENUF - I really like this song, even though it features the horrible rapper Lil' Wayne of Cash money fame. The lyrics are sweet - "I'm so glad I came across this kind of guy/He didn't ask me for my number, I thought why/Then when I got the chance and now he's gentle inside/Now he's the one that's got me open wide" - and it's got a mellow, chilled vibe to it. I also like the easygoing percussion, and the vocals are actually quite good - 4/5
3. I NEED THAT (I WANT THAT) - Lil' Kim makes a very mediocre contribution to this cut, which tries way too hard to make the girls sound like players. The whole Indian concept is nice, but some of those vocals can get in the way. I'm not a fan of the repetitive guitars or production, nor the vocals. Oh, and Kiely's rapping is just HORRIBLE, even worse than Kim's. An okay hip-hop tune, but definitely not one of my favorites; it sounds very fake and contrived - 2/5
4. AIN'T NO MAYBE - This is another pretty mediocre cut, though the lyrical concept is rather nice: "I ain't trippin' on your car or where you live/It don't matter if you're broke, we'll be struggling/What I'm saying is that I will be your baby/This ain't no maybe." I just find it ironic that this song and "I Need That" come right after each other. Anyway, I don't know what to say about this song. It's a nice attempt at being soulful, but it's nothing special - 3/5
5. GHETTO LOVE AND HEARTBREAK - I'm actually quite a fan of this cut. I love the bouncy, yet smooth production, and though I'm normally skeptical of any tune that has the word ghetto in its title, this one is really worth the listen. The vocals are nice, though Adrienne monopolizes the hell out them yet again, and it's not overdone. A great R&B tune that shows the group's full potential. I'd definitely like to hear more songs from them that are similar to this one - 4/5
6. GOOD GOOD GIRL - This is another song that tries to be something it's not and tries to play up the girls' new "gangsta" images with the whole I'm-a-good-girl-but-I'm-gonna-have-sex-with-you-anyway thing (do I sense any Britney comparisons coming on?). If you remember "Crush On You" and maybe "Curious" from the last record, you've pretty much got the gist of this cut. I don't care much for this one. It's a nice, slower tune, but, like much of this album, it's just not anything special - 2/5
7. PUT EM UP - The lyrics are corny as hell - "Hey sexy boy come with me/Daddy I got the things you need/What's your favorite food caramel cream/Then you need to take, take a piece of me" - but I'm very fond of this obvious club-oriented song. It sounds like every other hip-hop party song you can name, but I like the way it's delivered as well as the rap from Treach of Naughty By Nature. An extremely danceable song and one of my surprise favorites - 4/5
8. THIS GOES OUT - Yet another one of my favorites. I love the delivery and the catchy, if somewhat fast-paced and incoherent, hook and just the overall sound of it. Vocally, I think it's one of the best songs on the album, though the lyrics could use some work: they tackle the usual R&B stigma about how your family and friends don't like your man, but oh well. It's kind of corny, but I genuinely like it. I think it's arranged in a classy way - 4/5
9. LEAVE WIT YOU (I THINK I WANNA) - This is another dance jingle that's meant strictly for the clubs. I don't like it because it's majorly overproduced and the whole feel of it is so fake. You can tell the girls are just trying to be like the TLC's and Destiny's Childs and trying to claim they're independent women and playing up the street wh*re factor, and it's not working for them. This song isn't even catchy; it's just horrible and mixed up. It should have been left off the album entirely - 2/5
10. CRAZY - This is definitely one of my favorites. It's so smooth and soulful and the girls' voices really come together. I like the lyrics - "It's something that I can't help/My heart wants someone else/There's nothing that I can do/Never thought it would be you" - and their delivered very well. The production sets off the vocals nicely and, for once, Adrienne doesn't totally try to show off on the verses, though she does squeeze in a couple of moments - 4/5
11. FUNNY - I think this track sounds sort of out of place on this record; it would have sounded better on the first album. It doesn't have much of an R&B feel to it because of the country-esque guitars, and I really don't like the way the girls sing on this one, but it could be a lot worse. Some of the lyrics are too simple and don't fit the melody. Overall, it's a very mediocre cut, mostly because of the nagging, occasionally off-key vocals - 2/5
12. ONE MORE TIME - I love this song as well, mostly because of the oddly catchy hook: "Even the clouds can see it's over/And they can feel my hurt inside/When the sun comes out tomorrow will I feel alright/Come back to me/Dry my tears for me/Won't you hold me one more time." I'm usually not a fan of Kiely's voice, but I think she does well on this one. Adrienne also sounds nice when singing in her upper register. There are more guitars here, which give it a really classy feel - 4/5
13. BE LIKE THAT (bonus track) - This cut, along with the following one, is just a continuation of the previous song. Though it's overproduced and cheesy, I really like this upbeat party tune. The hook is unbelievably catchy and it's also reminiscent of some of the better tracks from the first record. I think this was a great track to add as a bonus because you can easily get into it and boogey down to it. Once again, both Kiely and Adrienne surprise me with how excellent their vocals are on this one - 4/5
14. MORE THAN FRIENDS (bonus track) - This isn't the same as the "More Than Friends" featured on 3LW and isn't very good. It's slower and actually gives Naturi some vocal space, but that's not enough to save it. It's just very uninteresting and bland and is very different from the rest of the record, but different in a bad way. It's not any worse than the version on the first album, but it's not any better, either. I'd just skip this one if I were you - 2/5
The Big Picture:
Because their first album sucked so much, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from A Girl Can Mack. Since Naturi Naughton left the group before this album's final release, I wasn't expecting the vocals to be much to write home about either, since she was the only halfway talented girl in the group. But I was surprised at the effort the other two girls seemed to put into their vocals. There isn't so much of Kiely's retarded rapping or Adrienne's screeching. Still, Adrienne takes over the verses and quickly establishes herself as the Beyonce of 3LW: she's the worst singer in the group, but she just happens to be the most photogenic, so she's pushed into the forefront. So vocally, this album is an improvement. The production is better as well; it sounds smoother and more professional. Overall, A Girl Can Mack better displays the girls' talents.
I'm still not that enthusiastic about it, though. It's obvious that 3LW is trying to keep up with the times because, though I much prefer this more mature sound, I still don't like the idea of little girls singing songs about this subject matter. 3LW went from being sweet little girls on their self-titled debut to oversexed pedophilia-laden teen queens on A Girl Can Mack. This group will never be like TLC or maybe even Destiny's Child because of this lack of originality. A Girl Can Mack is basically a search for identity. It's obvious the girls don't know where they are or where they wanna go at this point in their careers, so they're just riding the R&B wave for now. I've never thought of 3LW as being that talented, and this record hasn't swayed my opinion very much. A Girl Can Mack is an improvement, but not a very big one.
Average Song Rating: 3.143
Best Song(s): "Neva Get Enuf," "Crazy," and "Be Like That"
Worst Song(s): "Good Good Girl" and "More Than Friends"
How Would I Rate This Record's...
Vocals? 2 1/2 stars
Lyrics? 2 stars
Production? 3 1/2 stars
Timelessness? 0 stars
Artistry? 1/2 star
Toni Braxton - More Than A Woman
Dream - It Was All A Dream
TLC - 3D