Miami's Best Albums of 2011: Betty Wright and The Roots' The Movie
With The Roots
(Ms. B Records/S-Curve Records)
Betty Wright's status as the queen of Miami soul has never been in question.
Known for "Clean Up Woman," "Tonight is the Night," and other gems from Florida R&B's '70s heyday, the amply-throated diva (whose "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do" was sampled on Beyonce's "Upgrade U") was more recently responsible for discovering Joss Stone and -- ostensibly, at least -- teaching J-Lo how to sing.
On The Movie, her first LP in a decade (produced by Questlove, with musical backing from the Roots!), Wright proved that female R&B icons of a certain vintage can make comeback albums just as good as the male ones do.
Pairings with Lil Wayne ("Grapes On A Vine") and Snoop Dogg ("Real Woman") feel far more organic than could possibly be suggested of them on paper, while album opener "Old Songs" justifies the entire project with its very first line: "When you're 35 or 40 and you're chilling with your shorty, what you gonna listen to?"
But ultimately, the album's greatest assets are the frank messages and stinging lessons that Wright shares for the benefit of listeners young and old.
-- Jesse Serwer
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