Written by Marvin Rashad
On the 10th of May 2019, Ciara released her 7th studio album and the first album to be released on her independent label of the same album name, Beauty Marks. The album blends R&B, Pop and Dance with a story of self-love and discovery. After seeing varying opinions of the album on social media, I decided to give the album a stream.
The album opens with “Love Myself” featuring Macklemore. As soon as I saw the feature was from the gentrifying rapper, I instantly said to myself “ew,” but I gave it an honest listen anyway. In the words of Jasmine Masters, “just as I thought…TRASH.” This record is very blah and Macklemore’s rap matches the blah of it. Not a good way to start the album off; however, I know Ciara can pull off good material. I liked Jackie, so I knew I was better off checking the rest of the album.
The next song is “Level Up.” We’ve all heard it. The beat is catchy and addictive. It gives me Missy Elliott vibes, from the hook to the ad-libs. You can clearly hear the influence. It’s still just as hot as it was when it came out. Then, “Set” follows. It’s a great follow up and it might be my favorite on the album. A really nice R&B/Club record for Ciara as she reps for her set.
“Thinkin About You” is next, with a funky, Pop meets R&B vibe. It gives me Old Navy, late Spring/early Summer vibes. Kind of similar to Dawn Richard’s “Dreams and Converse” sonically. It’s not an instant love, but is a nice groove to clean the house to.
As we approach the middle of the album, here comes “Trust Myself,” the fifth song on the album, is very…sleepy. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s not bad, but the production is very simple and vibey and there’s nothing much to it. Luckily, it’s followed by the standout on the album, “Girl Gang,” a Trap/R&B duet with featured artist Kelly Rowland. The artists trade measures as they sing the girl anthem record as they sing cliquey, ganged up, down-for-my-girls lyrics. I’m surprised Mrs. Harris-Wilson didn’t release this as a single for the album. “Dose” then picks up the energy with it’s HBCU, marching band influence.
Track 8 is “Na Na,” a thumpy dance song about being in love with that one person. It’s a cute dance track with electronic sounds and Caribbean beats, but it’s not a true attention grabber. It’s followed by another Caribbean influenced track, “Freak Me” featuring Tekno.
Ciara ends the album with two slow records, the R&B groove “Greatest Love” and the title track “Beauty Marks.” “Greatest Love” is very early/mid 1990s influenced and clearly about her husband, with groovy synths and 808s. “Beauty Marks,” a pop ballad, is far from the stand out. It’s not terrible but for a title track, it should be much more impactful, but I’m sure for her important.
All in all, Ciara’s Beauty Marks is a cohesive album. It’s not terrible or great, so it’s no surprise that the remarks from most people on social media regarding the album are mixed. It’s still worth a listen. I’d first recommend checking out the standout songs “Set,” “Girl Gang,” “Freak Me” and “Greatest Love.” You can skip around from there.
‘Beauty Marks’ is available on all formats wherever music is sold. Follw me on Twitter at @MarvinRashad_.