N'dambi, 'Pink Elephant' (Stax)

Critical Mass
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by Barry Walters

After a decade of self-released discs, this Dallas maverick teams with '70s/'80s SOLAR Records hitmaker Leon Sylvers III (Shalamar, the Whispers) for a Stax debut that recalls childhood friend Erykah Badu, for whom she once sang backup. Amid all this history, N'dambi asserts her own identity with forthright lyrics and a sultry drawl, protesting producer-driven R&B on "The World Is a Beat" and backing up her beef by favoring free-spirit grooves over instant-gratification hooks. Only a preacher's daughter could sound this righteous singing such sexy, secular songs.

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