Picks and Pans Review: To Be Immortal

updated 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Oran "Juice" Jones

Poor O.J. The way he sees things, all he does is wholeheartedly love the women in his life, and how do they behave in return? They just try to squeeze him for every penny he's worth. On "Money, Honey," he splits with his lover and she still nags him to keep her looking "drop-dead gorgeous."

He's intolerant of another lady in "Time" when he sings: "When I say I'm coming home at 9/ You better be ready at 8/ You oughta be cookin' and you're half-ass done/ And you know I hate to wait." All of this laughable swagger is de rigueur in the unliberated world of hip-hop, which is dominated by guys known as b-boys. (B for beat, break-dance and bravado, among other things.) But it also helps to have something fresh to say musically.

Jones, who grew up in Harlem, shows enough finesse not to load up on all the insolent studio tricks that make so many rap and hip-hop records unlistenable. He also wears the influences of Earth, Wind & Fire and the Commodores well.

But Jones is inadequate as a ballad writer, using shopworn melodies as he searches in vain for a hook.

For those who tire easily when it comes to macho posturing, Jones's real strength comes across when he writes about the flashy and ultimately destructive life in today's urban ghettos. "Street Style," for instance, shows the lure of drug money for an inner-city teen. "And the chances that I take/ Don't matter just because I make/ More than the mayor and I'm not yet 21. "(OBR/Columbia)

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