Mojo (Publisher) - 9/03, p.1103 stars out of 5
- "...She co-writes all the material, which ranges from the effervescent and catchy 'Rock Wit U' to the sensual slow-jam, 'Rain On Me'..."
Personnel includes: Ashanti (vocals); Chink Santana, Gunnz (rap vocals); Demetrius (keyboards); Rob Bacon (bass).
CHAPTER II was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album. "Rain On Me" was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" was nominated for Best R&B Song.
Personnel: Robert Bacon (guitar); Demetrius McGhee (piano).
Audio Mixer: Ken "Duro" Ifill.
Recording information: Crackhouse Studios, New York, NY; The Hit Factory Critera, Miami, FL.
Photographer: Daniela Federici.
Skits notwithstanding, Ashanti's sophomore album is a confident leap away from her self-titled debut. She makes the most of her lightweight, breathy voice, incorporating airy, summery, string-laced arrangements in a variety of settings that go down extremely smoothly even, as in "Living My Life," when they're about that thorniest of topics, the struggle to make it.
Ashanti never hectors or browbeats, instead soaring effortlessly above the Murder Inc. goons who populate the skits between the cuts, sounding persuasive even on an ostensibly downbeat song such as "Carry On." The lyrics may tell us she's had enough, but there's a quiet, constant center to her voice that says otherwise. She's also at home with a sexy lyric such as that of the self-descriptive "Ohhh Ahhh," and her delivery is confident and understated even here. CHAPTER II is an assured, leisurely ride with an artist who's becoming more accomplished with time and experience.