I just peeped the new TLC video, “Girl Talk”. As a group, and as individuals, T-Boz and Chilli suffered an incredible loss when Left Eye died earlier this year. But nevertheless they keep doing their thing, putting out entertaining and meaningful music. In fact, if Lisa Lopes would appear in the clip, dancing along with her two friends, it would be hard to make out any change since they first hit the scene ‘on the TLC tip’ back in 1992. Unlike other, similar crossover acts, they never lost that certain hip-hop edge, an edge that helped them spearhead a new generation of girl groups. Yet as their career progressed and “CrazySexyCool” garned critical acclaim, it dawned on us that these girls were growing up to become women. Still, over the course of those ten years they always allowed themselves to engage in some ‘girl talk’ whenever they felt like it.
What does this have to do with Dark Reflektion and their debut EP “When the Mirror Breaks”? Well, the two members of Dark Reflektion, Murder and Redrum, look kind of young, and they sound kind of young, too. Decidedly older than the Lil’ Bow Wows and the Lil’ Romeos, but still young. Not young meaning eager and full of energy but young meaning inexperienced. If Dark Reflektion still sound the way they sound now in ten years, something clearly went wrong. Which simply means that Murder and Redrum are not ready to go beyond the local talent show level yet. As artists, they don’t have anything to give. Their families, their girlfriends, their teachers, their boys might all think it’s cool that they are dedicated to making music, but me and you will only find it a waste of time to listen to them. As harsh as that may sound, someone has to tell them. Just in case they haven’t been told yet.
According to Dark Reflektion’s press sheet, “they have big goals, which include getting a record deal with a major record company.” To actually get there one day, Redrum and Murder have a lot of work ahead of them. They will have to attack this game from every possible angle, but their own vocal performance will have to be the starting point. They will have to step up their skills in a major way. Because right now they come off as complete new jacks. They need vocal coaching more desperate than O-Town ever did. It’s not that they’re not aware of the importance of delivery. In fact, they experiment with flows various times, none of which seems to work for them. I have to admit that I laughed out loud several times when I listened to this CD.
Is it that bad? No. I can only be bothered to write this review because not all hope is lost. To their credit, the songwriting skills are actually there. In “Another Day” Redrum successfully exlains why he can’t creep with a particular girl. That verse alone makes more sense than what a lot of professional rhymers spit. But considering the cheap wanna-be club track and the awful delivery (think of a drunk juvenile Loon), that’s little consolation. They’re not any better on differently styled tracks. Skip one forward (“6 Feet Deep”), and it becomes painfully evident they’re just puppies trying to bark like the big dogs as they try to get grimey with lines like “in this game I’m a grown man, you’se a baby with a rattle,” obviously a statement that catches up with them faster than any boomerang. And we haven’t even touched on subject matter yet. Why? Because they don’t have the fundamentals down.
We can talk about subject matter when actually someone will be willing to listen to them. As a matter of fact, I have the feeling that Dark Reflektion definitely have something to say, judging from the way they draw from their personal experience in songs like “Life” or “Forever”. But so far, the rating says it all: