Kandi – “Don’t Think I’m Not”

Released: 7.18.00

Peak: #24

Before she was a real housewife in the ATL, Kandi Burruss played a major role in crafting a new bottom-line-minded R&B persona, unimpressed by then-fashionable boudoir fibs and gratuitous cash-flashing. True to the memory of Gwen Guthrie and the earthy realism of the old-school blues women, this new girl was sassy minus the cute, materialistic a la “It’s Like That,” often wronged and often eager to equal things up with a retaliatory schtup. In short, she was determined not to someday play the part of Mary J. in “Not Gon’ Cry.”

Burruss’ beginnings as a singer and songwriter were far from promising. As Jermaine Dupri’s answer to En Vogue, Xscape merely showed that JD should have asked someone to repeat the question, and as their lead songwriter, Kandi seemed unlikely to rise to the level of hackwork. But she went on to co-author that ultimatium of no romance without finance, “No Scrubs,” not to mention Pink’s “There You Go,” and both “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Bug a Boo” for Destiny’s Child, often in collaboration with her then-boyfriend, the now-undersung producer Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs.

On “Don’t Think I’m Not,” Kandi established a tradition of female revenge tunes with a melancholy undertow to them. (Blu Cantrell must’ve definitely listened up.) While you’re out cheating, she’s out getting hers, making a right out of two wrongs. If lines “I catch a bone while you’re dogging me” leave nothing to the imagination, Burrus’ voice had a trebly suppleness that betrayed more regret than she’d put in words. Leading in with an unaccompanied harpsichord synth (a She’ksperean trademark), this is an arrangement rather than what the cognoscenti call a track. The verses coast along a casual drum-thwock, then the drums perk up for the chorus, and cut off suddenly when the verse returns. And that string outro is a classy touch.

The follow-up, “Cheatin’ on Me,” demonstrated that a sharp eye for detail benefits both a jealous woman and a good songwriter. (“Trojans come in three/ But one is gone.”) And Burruss’ debut Hey Kandi! still sounds solid. It was considered a failure, though, and Burruss spent the rest of the decade penning album tracks for stars and wannabes alike. Though I’m not about to start checking in with Bravo to find out how Kandi’s faring these days (I suspect drama), I will say that her follow-up album, B.L.O.G., is due next month. Where once she made art about how she was willing to get her hands dirty, the lead single “Fly Above” tells us how she maintains maximum airspace between herself and the “haters.” Rick Ross is involved somehow. Ugh.

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  • zellar  On January 21, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I’m having a damn good time with this, and hope that you are too. Perhaps all valiant efforts entail inspiration of one sort or another, but here, in this undertaking, I sense valiancy (is that a word? I say it is) and inspiration working cheek to jowl. Further!

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