Van Hunt: On The Jungle Floor

Van Hunt: On The Jungle Floor

B+

Van Hunt

Album: On The Jungle Floor
Label: Capitol

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Hip-hop is largely built on a foundation of funk and soul, so it's generally considered good form (and good business) for funk and soul artists to return the favor by experimenting with hip-hop. On his album On The Jungle Floor, contemporary soul man Van Hunt features not a single guest rap, hip-hop beat, or superproducer, but while he's an anomaly in that regard, he still has a firm grasp on the music of his sonic forefathers.

"If I Take You Home (Upon…)", the album's first track, wouldn't sound out of place on a mid-'80s Prince record, while "Daredevil, Baby" and "Being A Girl" channel Prince in trembly, intimate "Sometimes It Snows In April" mode. Elsewhere, Hunt channels Curtis Mayfield, but he overreaches with a regrettable excursion into Lenny Kravitz-style retro cock-rock on "Ride, Ride, Ride."

Like many good-looking soulmen, Hunt is an inveterate narcissist, the kind of guy who probably gets off staring at himself in a mirror during sex. In song after song, he conflates the giddy infatuation of young lust with the dizzy intoxication of show-biz stardom. Like Sly Stone, Hunt firmly believes that everybody's a star—especially the young, female, and sexy—and the road to the top begins between his satin sheets. Hunt's ripe lyrics occasionally transgress that fine line separating clever from stupid, but his supple, versatile voice and seductive delivery sell even the ripest couplets. Like Anthony Hamilton, Hunt benefits from the peculiar prolonged absence of some of soul's biggest names. But until D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and Bilal release long-awaited albums, Hunt's smooth, accomplished new disc should more than suffice for baby-making-music needs.

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