September 5, 2002

Test Spin: Angie Martinez

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“Welcome to Animal House/ the animals are in the building.” Hmm. Not exactly a promising opening line for Angie Martinez’s second album, Animal House. But Martinez comes through with a fairly strong follow-up to 2000’s Up Close and Personal, offering up a collection of tracks that allow her to flaunt her distinctive voice.

Listeners of New York’s Hot 97 know that voice belongs to the “queen of hip-hop radio.” Martinez put her reputation to work on Animal House, pulling together name-brand guest artists like Missy Elliott (“What’s That Sound”), Lil’ Mo (“If I Could Go”), and Petey Pablo (“Waitin’ On”).

The album hits a few high notes: the first single “If I Could Go,” is a fun, radio-friendly piece of pop-rap featuring the rhymes of new artist Sacario, and “So Good” showcases the reggae- and Latin-tinged sounds expected from producer Salaam Remi.

For the most part, though, Animal House is kind of a jumble of songs centering on Martinez’s experience with the recording industry. Martinez sounds like she’s got something to prove on tracks like “Animal House” and “Never,” and wastes a lot of time and lyrical energy dwelling on her own success in the business. No doubt she works 18-hour days like she claims on the album’s title track. No doubt she pushed her way up through the ranks in the music industry. But Martinez should let that talent, experience, and drive show through her throaty and sexy voice, rather than hide it behind lyrics that are often less than entertaining or compelling.

Archived article by Jennifer Gardner