Ciara’s Evolution

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When she made her way onto the scene two years ago reciting the lyrics, “Looking for the goodies, keep on lookin’ ‘cuz they stay in the jar,” Ciara became an instant anomaly in a world of R&B that largely equated sexual materialism with female empowerment. The then 18-year-old Atlanta native was not willing to give it up, placing her in direct contrast with many of her peers.

Since then, Ciara has gone to rack up an array of hit singles, propelling her to stardom and filling the void left by the death of Aaliyah.

With her new album, The Evolution, Ciara attempts to show listeners that she’s matured and has entered full fledged womanhood.

The first single, “Promise,” is produced by the latest hit maker of the moment, Polow Da Don. The mid-tempo ballad, skillfully executed, and accompanying video, visually stimulating, both serve as a nearly perfect reintroduction of Ciara.

Unfortunately, that is about as evolved as Ciara gets. In interviews about her new album, Ciara notes the importance of individuality and carving your own niche. Interestingly enough, image wise, Ciara’s evolution seems more like the reincarnation of Aaliyah, while musically, her album offers up the same trite subject matter that consumes contemporary R&B. Even her decision to pursue a more 80s leaning sound for her sophomore effort falls in line with other offerings released this year.

As she was on her debut, Ciara is fiercely feeling the thug style. “Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone,” which features 50 Cent, finds Ciara confirming her own suspicions that she just can’t escape a certain type of man.

“C.R.U.S.H.” has Ciara returning to her cheerleading days – enthusiastically letting her beloved know how his love helped her form that acronym. Minutes into the song, you begin to wonder if Ciara will scream, “R. You got your R. You got your R.”

One of the more interesting tracks include the second single, “Like A Boy.” On the track, Ciara wonders what it would be like if she could get away with some of the same antics that the boys do, including pulling up her pants, running the streets, keeping an air tight alibi, and playing her significant other like a toy.

Remember when you once hailed Destiny’s Child as an influence on your career, Ciara? Perhaps you forgot the lyrics to “Independent Women Part II.” “Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely. When it’s all over please get up and leave.” Sounds like boys aren’t the only ones who can play people like toys, Cici.

You get the point the now 21-year-old singer is trying to make, but you can’t help but question why hasn’t evolution brought on new knowledge like she could avoid these problems if she chose to leave the boys alone in favor of a man?

Like other singers with delusions of grandeur, Ciara assails those who copy “her style.” Word to the wise: You’re not the only one copying Janet Jackson and Aaliyah.

On “Get In, Fit In,” Ciara sings, “Take a chance and try something different. Don’t be scared, you might make a difference.”

If only she took her own advice.

Evolution is a gradual process; it happens in sets. Much of this album, including the ill-advised and Janet-inspired interludes, comes across as forced and insincere. She’s too busy trying to convince us that she’s evolved to actually allow growth to happen naturally.

Ciara is young, eager, and has a strong desire to prove herself. In time, she’ll truly grow and it will be the public telling her we have witnessed the evolution.

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