Hip-hop Media training

Terrence Howard: All Hustle & No Flow

Hip-Hop Media Training

After hearing songs from Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard's debut album, Shine Through It, I now understand his connection to his character in the film Hustle & Flow that yielded him the prestigious nod.

The parallels to Terrence and his character DJay are obvious.

DJay was a pimp by night and aspiring, untalented rapper by day.

Terrence is a full time actor vying to break into the music business as a vocally handicapped jazz artist.

I just hope that Terrence doesn't end up in jail as did DJay. He may also have to resort to shooting people to force them to listen to this jazz record released today.

Many actors are pursuing singing careers and at least one news outlet has already compared Terrence to Jamie Foxx, who won the best actor Academy Award for Ray. But Terrence's Shine Through It won't be garnering the acclaim Jamie did for his 2005 release Unpredictable. Jamie sold more than 500,000 copies during his opening week, earned Grammy nominations and critical praise.

Terrence's first single, "Sanctuary," features an orchestra and the mainstream pop sound of the '60s. But his raspy, conversational style is flat and lacks range.

Terrence's bio notes that making music is his first love and that he launched his professional acting career playing Jackie Jackson in 1992's The Jacksons: An American Dream. Still, his skills as a singer are not nearly as strong as his talents as an actor.

I've also heard the title track and "Love Makes You Beautiful" and am left wondering if releasing an album represents the fulfillment of Terrence's dream deferred or the record company's attempt to capitalize on a no-brainer marketing opportunity. Of course, it has to be a bit of both.

To Terrence's credit as a producer, the music sounds fine. I bet his labelmate John Legend could give the songs the life they are missing.

I prefer Terrence's work on the big screen. No one can bring the drama the way he did during the poker scene in The Best Man when he implies that Lance (Morris Chestnut) should be suspicious of his fiancée Mia (Monica Calhoun). Even Terrence's role as Ashanti's two-timing boyfriend in her video for "Foolish" made the clip.

Why was it necessary to record an album?

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