splendid > reviews > 11/7/2002
Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar
You Can Feel Me
Record Collection

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "One Dirty Minute"

Buy me now
After a few too many listens to You Can Feel Me, it gets easy to start overintellectualizing the record. Isn't it fascinating how Sean...uh, I mean Harold Martin Tillmann has managed to make an album that sounds like it could be played on your local R&B radio station -- all slickly produced keyboards, big crunchy basslines and honeyed vocals -- but that could also be construed as a mockery of the genre it seems to emulate. On the other hand, it also comes across as something genuinely good-natured and celebratory of all the positive aspects of modern R&B, while outright parodying or discarding all the ickier misogynistic or homophobic or just plain humorless aspects of said genre...

Then you listen to it a couple more times and you get over yourself, because all that thinking is missing the damn point.

You Can Feel Me is a big, gleeful burst of silliness and danceability that neatly dodges the dreaded "novelty white-boy hip-hop" epithet that many folks will be tempted to slap on it because it's just so listenable, in addition to being kinda goofy. This is a much less broad record than Har Mar Superstar's self-titled debut -- there are no "Girl, You're Stupid"s here, as enjoyable as that particular song might have been -- even though there seems to be so much more of everything here. (More sexy ladies! More drug references! More dissin' of haters because, as we all know, they ain't no players.) That isn't to say that Har Mar's not out for laughs, because any pasty-ass Midwestern boy who strips on stage has to have a very well-developed sense of humor about things; Dirty Preston's cameo on "One Dirty Minute" alone contains the soon-to-be-classic lines "I'm putting ladies on layaway / I'm making very sexy installments..."

So, yes, this is a funny record, but it's not a comedy record; Har Mar has an acrobatic voice that rivals pretty much any male in R&B today, and he writes some genuinely catchy, sticky melodies that lots of other acts would kill for. And if he makes a bit much of the whole send-up of the urban player mentality, well, modern hip-hop and R&B could use the deflating. When damn near everything you hear on the radio sounds a little more like "Move Bitch" every day, it's pretty sweet (and, who knows? maybe even empowering) to hear someone who can be sex-obsessed without objectifying, who can have some fun and shake some booty in the process. All you haters can step the fuck up -- Har Mar Superstar and friends really do have nothing but love to give.



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