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Toby Love

Toby Love

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Album Review

In the world of bachata, the Dominican-American boy band Aventura is so famous that when their occasional guest and sometimes backup singer Toby Love announced his debut album, it was big news. This is why the intro "Who Put This Together?" is so incredibly huge and anticipatory, but what's going to throw the bachata newbie for a loop is how this big drama gives way to an incredibly smooth, lush, and glittery ballad, "Tengo un Amor." Just like Aventura, Toby Love is an artist considered to be on the edge of bachata, a bolero-related genre of Latin music most recognizable by its frequent use of bittersweet lyrics and guitar leads that are almost always a spindly series of arpeggios. What Love and Aventura have brought to the genre are extra swagger and R&B, urbanizing and modernizing bachata into something Love likes to call "crunkchata." "Gotta Let You Go," "Stripper Pole," and the excellent "We Got It (Cadillac)" are great examples of this exciting "crunkchata," all mixing R. Kelly and Timbaland slickness with bachata's elegance and passion. Any one of them might rightfully ignite a "crunkchata" revolution, which makes it all the more frustrating that the bulk of the album plays it so smooth and safe. The numerous ballads are sweet enough, smooth enough, and delivered with conviction, but they are overly polished and stick so close to the bachata and boy band rules, it seems like they fell off some other album, one designed for teens still swooning over their Aventura poster. Taking the whole package into consideration, Love's debut fails to live up to the dramatic intro's promise of walls crumbling and streets rumbling. Still, the risk-taking highlights shouldn't be missed by anyone who loves powerful club tracks or genre-busting music.

Biography

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A former member of the Dominican-American boy band Aventura, vocalist Toby Love performs a unique pop style that mixes R&B, hip-hop, and elements of the traditional Dominican musical form bachata. Dubbed "crunkchata," the music often features the Bronx, NY-based vocalist singing in Spanish as well as English. Citing such influences as Michael...
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Toby Love, Toby Love
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