Wiki can be so cruel. Here’s a summary of rapper Rasheeda’s career pieced together with excerpts from Wikipedia pages (per 02-16-10) on her five albums:

‘Rasheeda’s debut album was incredibly unsuccessful … It also features the unsuccessful singles “Get it On” featuring Slim and “Off Da Chain” featuring Jazze Pha. The album was not well received by critics, and did not sell many records either … “A Ghetto Dream” is the second album by female rapper Rasheeda. The album didn’t spawn any singles, and failed to reach the Billboard 200. It only sold 15,000 records in the US and 25,000 records worldwide … Frost’s first two albums were very unsuccessful, so she decided to take a break from her career … The album is considered her “comeback” album, because although it was unsuccessful, it helped her to “bounce back” from the failure of her second album … No second single was ever released from the album … The album is her third independently released album, after Imperial Records released her from her contract in early 2008, because her third studio album, “Dat Type of Gurl” was unsuccessful. The album spawned two singles, “Boss Chick” and “Let it Go.” Both were unsuccessful … Rasheeda began recording her fifth studio album in early 2008 due to the failure of her fourth studio album.’

That’s 2 failure‘s and 6 unsuccessful‘s, including 1 incredibly unsuccessful and 1 very unsuccessful. That almost qualifies as defamation. These entries were either written by someone holding a very personal professional grudge or a particularly dedicated hater. And still, malice aside, the comments are not all that wrong since they are, perhaps unwittingly, based on the underlying premise that Rasheeda is supposed to perform better on the sales front. Why? Because she’s from the usually successful south, makes typical, usually successful southern rap and doesn’t lack in the looks department. Ironically, the title of her latest album, “Certified Hot Chick” inherently makes the same argument: ‘The hotness of this chick is certified, what other reason do you need to pick up this album?!’

Thankfully, we need a couple more reasons to support a rapper. Even ones who do successfully stake their sex appeal have something to offer beyond that. Rasheeda dives head-first into the issue with the opening “So Official.” Turning her low profile into a virtue, she dedicates the song “to everybody who get out there and get it without sellin’ your soul.” She stresses her independent status (“Call me what you want but don’t forget independent”), which apparently enables her to take control of her image: “I’m standin’ strong on my own two / and I keep it classy like a woman’s supposed to.” Instead of getting all defensive and conjuring up ‘haters,’ she also admits “mistakes” and delivers a pep talk to herself:

“How many times I been rejected? Shit, hella times
Then I come home and look my son in the face
and he say (Mama, don’t be sad, to me you’ll always be great)
[…]
I know I’m a winner, I know what I must do
and the answer is: stay true
Never say you can’t, hold your head up and do you”

Following this moment of introspection, “Certified Hot Chick” shows and proves with confident offerings like the Webbie-inspired lead single “Boss Chick,” where she claims to have a “Kanye ego” and likens her boss status to those of “Tyra, Kimora, Beyoncรƒยฉ.” She proclaims herself the “black Kate Moss” on “Baw” and describes herself as every mother’s dream daughter-in-law on “Meet Cha Mama” (“Got a six-figure job, a six-room crib”).

Her strong attitude comes best across in the relationship songs. On “Show Ya to the Door” she puts a stop to the cheating, concluding, “I hope you’re happy with that hoe / It won’t be long befo’ she show yo ass to the do’.” “Where Ya Been” delivers the full fury of a woman scorned, ‘Sheeda sarcastically spitting, “Don’t come in here tryin’ that reverse psychology / You the hoe, don’t try to point at me.” Sticking with the theme of revenge, “Takem to the Bank” looks to female celebrities for inspiration on how to milk men for what they’re worth:

“Get in where you fit in, hit him where it hurts
Sometimes it’s all about gettin’ what you deserve
That deadbeat baby daddy shit is for the birds
Givin’ years of your life and gettin’ nothin’ in return?
But stop, all my ladies, can you feel me?
Some we give the benefit, and some we drain empty
Why you think Kim keep havin’ little Diddy?
If she gotta cash a check she gon’ get plenty
Got a question how to get it, better ask Shaq wife
she know how to stash, she know how to give advice
But don’t cause too much drama
or you gon’ end up like 50 Cent baby mama”

In good rap tradition, nobody is spared (Usher, Jermaine Dupri, Lil Wayne, Nelly, Jay-Z). Citing various arrangements in three well structured verses, Rasheeda shows unexpected expertise in writing inciting and enticing raps with “Takem to the Bank.” “Certified Hot Chick” hints at that potential all too rarely. The album takes arbitrary stabs at club hits, from the dancehall-tinged “Fire” to the minimalist “Sweep the Flo” (she means the dancefloor, not the kitchen floor). There are the obligatory sexually suggestive numbers like the Shawnna-featuring “Juicy Like a Peach” (recycling lines from the “My Bubble Gum (Remix)”) or “Drip Drop,” nothing too raunchy.

Largely composed by Shiwen Shann and Kirk Frost, the album meets the minimal expectations for those clean and precise southern productions, with a couple of aberrations in either direction. Of note is Rasheeda’s extended collaboration with Kandi, formerly of Atlanta ’90s girl group Xscape. Going by PeachCandy, they already have a digital EP on their resumรƒยฉ. They display real chemistry on the banging, Don Vito & John ‘Cheese’ Williams-produced “Bam,” with Kandi treading the line between singing and rapping with confidence. They lose their contenance on “Thang For You,” Kandi offering, “This lil’ brother got me trippin’ / got me all up in the kitchen cookin’ buckets of chicken / and everything that he tells me, best believe I be listenin’ / cause I’m blinded by his charm, the way his smile be glistenin’.” PeachCandy even close the album with the payback track “Non Believers.”

Despite admitting up top that “you can’t please everybody all the time,” Rasheeda is eager to please. The 21 full songs on “Certified Hot Chick” aim to deliver more than certain albums by one-dimensional Atlanta acts. That may very well also have to do with her being a woman, which gives her access to the battlefield called love. Her romanticizing vocal tone on “Don’t Let Him Get Away” (beat-wise a slick adaption of late ’00s pop) is reminiscent of Heavy D’s sentimental songs, while “Compliment” is as simple and effective as the song’s bottomline “Sometimes all a girl need is a compliment.” At times she displays vocal acting chops similar to those of Missy, but she’s also in the habit of adopting a girlish voice that clashes with more serious content. While the Auto-Tune effect is negligible, her using it when claiming “I’m to hip-hop what Oprah is to TV” rivals Lil Wayne’s weirdest moments.

To conclude, “Certified Hot Chick” has definitely more to offer than what the title promises. Of course the personality could shine through stronger, the album should be shorter, but this Georgia Peach shows admirable persistance recording a fifth album ‘due to the failure of her fourth studio album.’ Although, if all rappers were recording follow-ups due to instead of despite failure, the market would be even more crowded. Ultimately there comes a point in every rapper’s career where he or she has to ponder if it’s worth pursuing.

Rasheeda :: Certified Hot Chick
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