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Kev Blaze 

Smoke 'N Blaze (Imperial/EMI)

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R&B singer Kev Blaze's major-label debut is in limbo right now. It was all set to come out . . . then EMI began internal restructuring and shelved the album. We're hoping Smoke 'N Blaze won't end up on that long list of unreleased records, because it's a showcase for a talented singer and songwriter who works a viable midpoint between old- and new-school soul. Sample-free, but contemporarily slinky, Blaze's keyboard-heavy funk gets a nice hometown assist from Krayzie Bone in the single "Watch How I Do This." Blaze's concerns are the usual pros ("Paper") and cons (haters!) found in urban music. Even if it doesn't blaze any new trails, the disc is hot enough to deserve a proper release.

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