Lloyd aims for the crown with King of Hearts, his fourth album and first since 2008’s Lesson in Love, boasting a royal lineup including André 3000, R. Kelly, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, and Keri Hilson. The smooth operator and executive producer Polow Da Don craft a star-studded set featuring everything from the hilariously raunchy “Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)” to the politically-minded “World Cry.” Did he deliver a winning hand? Find out below.
USA Today: Producer Polow Da Don provides most of the tracks and injects them with infectious thump, but it’s Lloyd’s energetic but smooth deliveries that create a diverse set of keepers. 3/4
The New York Times: His finest moment remains Street Love, from 2007, one of the frothiest R&B albums in recent memory. In places King of Hearts approaches that album’s cool breeze. It’s produced largely by Polow Da Don, who clearly sees Lloyd as something of a muse. He’s feeling the full range of his lushness here, from the exuberant horns on “Cupid” and a pointedly romantic sax on “Naked” to the clustered, mournful guitars on “This Is 4 My Baby.”
Los Angeles Times: Janelle Monáe, Katy B, The-Dream, Frank Ocean and even Beyoncé have delivered recent efforts that transcend the trappings of modern soul. Lloyd Polite could stand to follow their example and be a little ruder. 2.5/4
The Washington Post: Lloyd holds his own against guest stars such as Chris Brown (on the messy electro-R&B track “Luv Me Girl”) but runs up against the brick wall of pathos and self-pity that is R. Kelly on “World Cry.” It’s slow and obvious (“I hate to see the whole world cry,” goes the chorus; would anyone actually like to see the whole world cry? Or even just some of it?), but purposeful, a future telethon ballad waiting for its disaster to happen.
The Village Voice: The album veers back and forth between unabashed romanticism (the joyously smitten “Cupid,” which follows “Dedication” on the album and very effectively wipes away all that song’s scorn), club-borne lust (“Bang!!!!,” which combines glitchy vocal effects, a mournful choral sample and an astonishing guest boast from the heretofore-unknown Salo), and the brooding, yet unleashed love songs that helped him initially break onto the scene (“Be the One”).
The Boston Globe: The 24-year-old vocalist has an ace up his sleeve in superstar producer Polow Da Don, but the combination can’t deliver a winning hand with this thin set. The problem for Lloyd (beyond his limited range) is weak material, as the songs often never rise above generic booty stomps (“Bang!!!!”) or insipid love songs (“Jigsaw”).
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Dedication to My Ex (Miss That),” “Cupid,” “Be the One,” “Lay It Down”