Keri Hilson | No Boys Allowed (Interscope)

No Boys Allowed is an ode to those men who have decided to put away their boyish games and treat their women with respect and appreciation.

Though I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat anticipating the release of Hilson’s second album, No Boys Allowed,it has proven to be a nice follow-up to her 2009 debut, In a Perfect World. The twelve tracks are a progression toward the ideal man so many women are waiting for, one who’s honest and secure.
The first track, “Buyou,” is full of sass from beginning to end, and it is a fitting introduction to the stages of this album. In the chorus Hilson boasts about the order of her priorities: “One for the paper, two for the money. Brand new bags, new shoes yeah I want it. All my girls fly girls getting money.”
“Pretty Girls Rock” is the ultimate ode to self with a defiant take on female empowerment and confidence. The hook consists of Hilson repeating the bold mantra, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” The opening tracks of No Boys Allowed are about a woman who is totally secure and comfortable with herself, fully aware that she doesn’t need a man. That said, Hilson still wants to be with somebody deserving, and this resonates throughout the album.
Unlike her first album, which is a reflection on the relationship she is experiencing and an appeal to the boy she loves, this album acknowledges her independence and celebration of singlehood. A Keri album would not be complete without the essential ladies-night-out anthems “Bahm Bahm” and “Breaking Point.”
We can’t forget about the duets, “One Night Stand” with R&B’s bad boy Chris Brown has a sexy, sensual sound and declares that a one night stand is all we need to get intense pleasure without the obligation of a relationship. The second, “Lose Control,” with Nelly isn’t particularly striking. The beat is reminiscent of Rihanna’s “What’s my Name,” but the album would have been complete without it. And of course, Kanye West and Keri Hilson rekindle the amazing chemistry of “Knocks You Down” from Hilson’s debut and create magic a second time with the “Pretty Girls Rock” remix. I’m sure Kanye’s ego is pleased and so is mine.
As the piano introduces itself to my ears on “Toy Soldier,” I am instantly caught in the groove of the melody. The snare cadence rolls in and I’m engulfed in the heartbroken journey that every woman has had with a lover. It’s the trip when she realizes that she fell in love with an idea and not the person. He sold dreams of what he wanted to be, but never could live up to them in reality. “Cause you came up empty, I feel like you tricked me. Everything you said you’d give me you couldn’t give me,” she belts out in the hook before the chorus.
Not to be skipped over, “Beautiful Mistake” tells the tale of best friends crossing the line and ruining the relationship. “Gimme What I Want” is pretty straightforward with its message: “understand the woman is the boss, and if they don’t get it tell him to get lost.”
“All the Boys” concludes the album perfectly as Hilson acknowledges those boys of her past, her mistakes and the man in her life now that made her journey so worthwhile. “I never knew a love like this,” she sings, “After all the boys that I thought I loved before, I didn’t know what love was until you knocked on my door.”
No Boys Allowed is an ode to those men who have decided to put away their boyish games and to treat their women with respect and appreciation. Hilson praises a man who has grown up enough to be with an intelligent, secure and self-sufficient woman who wants but doesn’t need a relationship. We all know it’s so much better to be wanted than needed, and every Hilson fan should want this album in their collection to celebrate their growth from then to now. B+ | Ashley White

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