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Rising Stars [Issue #6]
By Dave Lewis
Floacism "Live" (CD Dreamworks)

The British-raised, Philly-based twosome Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart make up the neo-soul duo known as Floetry. Combining their love of reggae, hip-hop, soul and R and B, Floetry wowed the music community with their 2002 release Floetic. Now they have returned with a live CD Floacism "Live" (DreamWorks Records).

Floacism "Live" carries the quotation marks because the disc wasn't exactly all recorded live. While the bulk of the CD contains a performance the duo did at the House of Blues in New Orleans, the disc also features three new studio tracks, including the single "Wanna B Where U R." As an added bonus for fans, a special DVD of the H.O.B show is included in the package.

The live stage is where Floetry's music really comes alive. Ambrosius and Stewart are both capable of stellar vocal improvisations - Ambrosius primarily sings the hooks, while Stewart acts as the group's "floacist" (a role that crosses spoken-word and rap, or "flow" and poetry). They also assembled a talented backing band for the show.

Though the two clearly work well together, Ambrosius' music tends to lean more toward reggae, while Stewart's is more akin to funk and soul. The result is a dense, melodic take on multiple genres. Their work on Floacism should cement them as the forerunners of the neo-soul movement (a label that describes other Philadelphia artists such as Musiq (Soulchild) and Jill Scott).

Floacism, however, also demonstrates how easily Floetry can slide from one genre to the next. "Wanna B Where U R (Thisizzalovesong)" lays some jazzy vocals, dancehall-style rhymes and the MC skills of guest rapper Mos Def over a riff borrowed from Eric B. and Rakim's seminal hip-hop track "Microphone Fiend." Meanwhile, the live recording of Floetic’s beautiful ballad "Getting Late" sounds a bit like Prince by way of Lauryn Hill.

Although it may seem a little premature for a group to release a live recording after just one studio album, Floacism "Live" is not just a way for Floetry to make a quick buck. In fact, it acts as a companion piece to the duo's debut, and it hints at the various places Floetry's adventurous music will boldly go next.

Floacism "Live"

Floetry Floacism "Live"

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