July , 2011
Review by Mike Taylor
"King of Hearts"
Label: Interscope Records/Zone 4
When I first hit the play button on my trusty computer, to open up the file containing Lloyd’s new CD, King of Hearts, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s been three years since this smooth performer released his last album, Lessons in Love, that at best received mixed or average reviews from critics and fans alike. One writer went as far to state that Lloyd had better shake things up, on his next outing, if he wanted to evade a real holding pattern with his music. Mission accomplished.
One of the problems with Lloyd’s last album was the simple fact he just didn’t connect with producers Maurice Lorenzo and Jasper Cameron like he did on Street Love. Citing a need to grow up, the now 25-year old artist left his label, Motown imprint The Inc., and signed on with Zone 4, headed by Polow Da Don (aka Polow Jones). The award winning producer, (Christina Aguillera, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Usher), helmed every track on King of Hearts, and those efforts paid off. A more mature Lloyd is evident throughout the album as Polow choreographs a very delicate ebb and flow theme throughout the record.
The confidence this album displays is it evident from the lead single, “Lay it Down.” The pair took the highly unusual and risky step of releasing this single to radio almost a full year before the record itself was scheduled to hit the streets. The track has been remixed three separate times since then, and the gamble paid off. “Lay it Down” became Lloyd’s first Top 5 hit on the R&B / Hip Hop charts since his single, “Get it Shawty”, achieved the mark in 2007.
The synthesized first track featuring Game, “Intro MDMA”, sets a nice tone for the listener to settle in and enjoy the rest of the offerings coming their way. It’s followed by what’s sure to be the most talked about song on the disc, “Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) featuring Andre 3000, with a narration by Lil’ Wayne. The song begins with an almost mono vocal sound. As the bass begins to assert itself, the vocals begin to take over and the tune’s subject matter begins to assert itself. It is both compelling, thought provoking, and a sure hit whenever radio discovers the gem and decides to get behind it.
One of the interesting aspects to King of Hearts is the tempo changes weaved throughout the disc. For every aggressive track like “Luv Me Girl“ (feat. Chris Brown and Vega), you have a mellower tune like “Cupid” to serve as a counterbalance. “Naked” and “Angel” for instance, have a very Barry White feel to them whereas “Be the One”, featuring Trey Songz and Young Jeezy, and “Bang!!!” with guests Tito Boi and Salo, are juiced up to make them sound even better at high volumes as the bass and beat drive the songs. Needless to say, this disc has a little bit of everything. It’s sure to satisfy anyone who’s been a following Lloyd, from his days as a member of the boy band N-Tune, through his rise as a solo artist today.
Critics, as they say, are a dime a dozen, and they most certainly will have a field day with King of Hearts. Some are going to love the direction Polow guided Lloyd through on this recording. Others are bringing their knives to the plate to thoroughly dissect it. At the end of the day, however, it’s the consumer that will be the ultimate judge. And in this Internet age we live in, where it’s easy to sample before you eat, that’s the only real appetite that counts. If I was Lloyd, I wouldn’t be too worried about the plate of delicacies he’s delivered here. It will satisfy just about everyone who digs into it.