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A Hustlaz Story

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Album Review

Nashville native KeAnthony Dillard spent eight years imprisoned for being found guilty of aggravated robbery. Now he is signed to Reprise, a major-label R&B singer aligned with collaborators like the undervalued Tank, the Underdogs, and Mike City. Nothing could possibly detail his turnaround more than "Forever My Homie," a somber narrative about a deep relationship that went sour when his childhood friend turned him in to the police. It's powerful and personalized enough to remain his calling card for years to come, but it's only one of many bright spots on this debut. Depending on the track, KeAnthony's voice can sometimes recall Dave Hollister and Aaron Hall, singers with virile and slightly gritty voices who have been able to display vulnerabilities when the material has called for it. At the same time, he fits squarely within the territory of newer contemporaries like Raheem DeVaughn and Donell Jones, two younger singers who can deliver modern soul that is neither heavy in references to the past nor obvious and gimmicky in an obvious play for the pop chart. Each line on the album sounds honest, from the heart, whether he's striving to satisfy his woman emotionally, admitting his faults, or looking to the past with the eyes of a realist. While the opener, "Down Girl," is a fairly energetic and effective opener, KeAnthony's exceptional skills become increasingly apparent as the tempos wind down. If there is any case to be made for the slow jam being alive and well again, it's in "Call Me," a burning ballad that falls somewhere between the Isley Brothers' "Between the Sheets" and Tony! Toni! Toné!'s "Whatever You Want." It may not be an outright classic like those two songs, and it is more about feel than hooks, but it's pretty remarkable.


Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s

By the age of five, Nashville native KeAnthony Dillard was a member of his family gospel group, dubbed the Gospel True Notes. Whatever future he had, musical or otherwise, was sidetracked when he was convicted of aggravated robbery, a consequence of being turned into police by his longtime best friend. He spent eight years in jail. Soon after that, he was signed as a solo artist to the Reprise label, where he recorded his debut album, A Hustlaz Story. Dillard penned each track, with production assistance...
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A Hustlaz Story, KeAnthony
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