Much like the track of the same name that earned Fantasia her first Grammy Award, the last few years of her life have been what some may call “Bittersweet”. She’s had hit records, starred in The Color Purple on Broadway, lived her life on camera for reality TV, ended a high-profile romance and most shockingly overcame a prescription drug overdose. If Fantasia tells you she’s been there and done that, then you just might be inclined to believe her. After 3 successful albums, she has returned to her first love once again with the new release, Side Effects of You. She’s got a sexier, slimmer image, a new attitude and a new outlook on life. But the question many are wanting to know is just how good is this new music of hers? Well, here’s what I thought of her new album….
First of all, I have to applaud Fantasia (who affectionately refers to herself as ‘Tasia’) for taking a road less traveled with Side Effects of You. She has worked with some of the most well-known songwriters and producers in the music business, including Babyface, Jazze Pha, Missy Elliott and Swizz Beatz. So you would think if it’s not broke don’t fix it, right? Not the case with ‘Tasia’. She opted to scrap the big names (other than a few featured artists- Big K.R.I.T., Tank, Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott) and went with her gut instinct with producer Harmony (a.k.a “H-Money”). He produced all of the album, minus one song , while Fantasia had a hand in penning most of the lyrics. Thankfully, Harmony was able to give Fantasia’s album a versatile enough of sound to where it doesn’t all sound the same.
On “Supernatural Love”, featuring BIG K.R.I.T, she sings of a double minded feeling of a good love that’s also a poisonous love. It’s a good song, not great….but good. Things get better with the reggae tinged production of “Ain’t All Bad” where Fantasia says that falling out of love isn’t that bad after all. She gives herself a pep talk that she will be ok. I could easily see this one being a single and it’s one of the stand outs in my opinion. But the real show stopper of Side Effects of You is the collaboration with Missy Elliot and Kelly Rowland, “Without Me”. Perhaps the most confident and sassy we’ve seen her on record, Fantasia playfully lets an ex know (“You’re blowing up a little/Don’t give a finger in the middle”) that he wouldn’t be anything without her. Kelly and Missy trade verses and tell the same story. This song is sexy, daring, bold and just awesome. In fact it’s so good that it sets a tone that the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to. The title track, “Side Effects of You” is perhaps the best song on the CD lyrically as she sings about the side effects that she was unaware of when dealing with a person. She confirmed on the Tom Joyner Morning show that it’s actually not just about relationships, but about the side effects of everyone involved in her life. This one is definitely single worthy too.
‘Tasia’ gets loose towards the midpoint of the CD. On the uptempo, big band cut, “Get It Right”, she yells, “Give the mutha$%^#&*# drummer some!” Ok Tasia….random explicit outburst aside, it’s a pretty good song. And then she pulls what’s easily the biggest make or break move of her entire project. She samples the Whitney Houston classic, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” on the song “Change Your Mind”. How does she pull it off? Surprisingly very well. Although she never really says what she’s changing the guy’s mind from, it’s a great song nonetheless. It may also remind you of Beyonce’s “Hip Hop Star” featuring Big Boi. The CD also has a deluxe version, but I say you’d be better off just getting the regular version. The deluxe songs aren’t stand outs in my opinion (despite the Tank guest feature on “Haunted”).
Side Effects of You is not Fantasia’s best work, but it shows the most growth. In fact, it’s probably the least entertaining for me of all her albums. But, it’s still definitely worth buying because all of her music is above the status quo. My favorite CD of hers is still the self titled Fantasia sophomore project. Kudos to Fantasia (and Tasia) though for following her own path and defying the norm. Side Effects of You should solidify her star status even further and prove she’s really here to stay.