Ciara brings new attitude to "musical journey"

Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:03pm EDT
 
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By Mariel Concepcion

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - It was a scalding summer day in Los Angeles as some of the music industry's most distinguished urban artists made their way to the Shrine Auditorium for the 2008 BET Awards. This year's bill featured all the heavy hitters: Usher, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys and T-Pain assisted by DJ Khaled, Ludacris and Rick Ross.

But what drove the audience wild was Chris Brown's set with Ciara. For a performance of Brown's "Take You Down," she ditched her traditional oversized sweat pants and bedazzled sports bra in favor of a black, skin-tight dominatrix-style cat-suit, thigh-high black stiletto boots and a black wig. The performance's steamy choreography ended with Brown and Ciara seductively staring at each other as the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

The message couldn't be more clear: Ciara is no longer the teen princess of crunk & B (a blend of crunk, a drum-machine-heavy style of hip-hop, and rhythm and blues). Now 23 and with two platinum records under her belt, she's reinventing her career, beginning with "Fantasy Ride," a conceptual album due in the fourth quarter via LaFace/Zomba, as well as a modeling contract and movie roles.

The album features three distinct musical styles, tentatively called "Groove City," full of sensual songs; "Crunk Town," with Atlanta-based crunk music similar to her introductory single, "Goodies"; and "Kingdom of Dance," with uptempo, house-leaning, freestyle-tinged cuts.

Akon, Lil Jon, the-Dream and Ludacris make guest appearances. Ne-Yo, T-Pain and Frankie Storm (from Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music") are contributing writers.

BEYOND BASICS

"My mission is to take fans on a musical journey to three different sounds that represent me," Ciara says. "The music flows together. It's about the journey and having fun through music. I can give you a basic album in a 12-song layout, but I wanted to be more creative."

"High Price," featuring Ludacris, and the uptempo dance song "Work" are both in contention for debut single. ("High Price" has already been leaked online. "My feelings were so hurt, because I wanted to present that track to the fans the right way," Ciara says.)   Continued...

 
<p>Ciara arrives on the red carpet for the Kennedy Center Honors show in Washington December 2, 2007. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst</p>