The former "Genie in a Bottle" was granted a wish of her own when she was given the green light for her third LP, Back to Basics, a two-CD collection. While Christina Aguilera is no stranger to urban music (she teamed with rhythm and blues producer Scott Storch for her last release--an affiliation she disdainfully addresses on the album's first disc), many critics have viewed her music as cookie-cutter pop fodder to be eaten and spit out after the flavor fades away like a piece of Bazooka Joe. Not anymore.
On the first disc alone, Aguilera throws the gauntlet down, challenging anyone who thinks her love of urban, old-school music is conceited to test her mettle. Hip-hop legend DJ Premier produced the bulk of the first disc, where standout tracks like "Slow Down Baby" and "Back In the Day" hearken to an era when a person could play a record (on both sides, mind you) all the way through and be completely satisfied. Things only get better with the Linda Perry-produced second disc. This CD is done with no samples whatsoever, and has a circus, grand-production vibe to it. Overall, this is a seminal work. If the best songs from both CDs were on one disc, it would be a classic. You can hear the pain in Aguilera's voice when she sings "Oh Mother," which chronicles the unfortunate domestic abuse she encountered as a child. Then, you can feel her sheer jubilation when she sings a song like "Ain't No Other Man," which is most certainly about her husband Jordan Bratman. If you only get one CD (a double-disc, at that) this fall, make it this one.