I want you to answer this question honestly: when was the last time Ciara released a single? Was it 2004, the triumphant era of your bar mitzvah farewell tour? Did you shuffle between Scarsdale community centers, twerking your tuchus enigmatically to “Goodies,” the title track off the then 19-year-old’s debut crunk smash, both your braces and her vibratos never to be heard from again? No.
Okay it was 2006, right? You saw Step Up over 17 times consecutively; you crafted a Channing Tatum chewing gum shrine a-la Helga Pataki. Did CiCi’s single for the film, “Get Up,” at first deafen your family dog but faded softly into the background upon the bittersweet graduation from your lime green iPod mini? Guess again.
Alright, it was definitely 2008. “Love Sex Magic” was nominated for a GRAMMY, for christsakes. Still riding the FutureSex/LoveSounds tidal wave of critical accolades, you remember how Justin Timberlake swept the Atlanta native to her best international effort to date, how she burned slowly out of the public eye and was content to rest on collaborative laurels with a pop icon who once wore a suit and cowboy hat composed entirely of denim, right? Wrong. You’re so wrong.
Ugh, this is ridiculous, it was 2010. You listen to Hot 97.1 in taxis and occasionally catch sight of the “106 and Park” re-runs an angel leaves on in the GWU Pelham Dining Commons. You barely recall “Ride,” The-Dream produced single featuring a verse from de facto Atlanta mayor Ludacris, as Ciara’s R&B swan song, marking a fruitful six year long career, don’t you? Again, you are incorrect.
On November 6, 2012 (that’s less than four months ago), iTunes saw the release of “Got Me Good,” the second single from Ciara’s upcoming fifth studio album One Woman Army, that NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT. “Got Me Good” is an uptempo R&B cut with an 808 jump matched only by the catchiness of its hook. Ciara’s got a club anthem that puts all four albums Rihanna’s released in the past six weeks to shame. Girls in fluorescent Nike Free Run 3.0’s should be chugging their liter of SmartWater in spin class to this one, playing it back as they cruise through the Holland Tunnel in their white Volkswagon Jettas. But they aren’t.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of Ciara’s under-appreciation since there seem to be so many congruent factors limiting her commercial success. The most salient criticism raised has been of her management team, who failed to repackage her outside of Crunk’s moment in 2004, despite the fact that her music actually did shift out of this aesthetic. Ciara has also faced a lack of creative and financial support from her label throughout the years, even claiming that she had to pay for the promotion of some singles out of her own pocket. Yet is not merely due to internal forces that Ciara faces adversity in the market—she is being ignored by critical culture makers as well. The most recent Pitchfork article with the mere mention of Ciara was penned in 2009. FACT mag hosts a larger body of work, but most search results direct to mixtape tracklists or remix reviews—there is very little direct engagement with Ciara’s material across the blogging board.
Ironically, the DJs that remix Ciara (and get far more coverage and promotion than her in the blogosphere) have become her biggest champions. LA duo Nguzunguzu have spoken frequently in interviews about the travesty of Ciara’s plight. The pair frequently sample her lesser known cuts, most notably fusing “Flaws and All” with “I Run It” on their smash Dis Mag mixtape “The Perfect Lullaby”. Prior to the mixtape’s release, the pair re-worked Ciara’s cover of Chris Brown’s “Deuces” for XLR8R, one of the best pieces of music I’ve seen the publication host. When asked in a 2011 Fader TV interview which diva of any the pair would dream of working with, they quickly answered Ciara. Summing up the sentiment of this article more concisely than I could, while clad in a bebe box logo halter top to boot, Asma Maroof proclaims: “I cannot believe that she’s not poppin off! Like it’s so so weird.”
One Woman Army is slated to drop this spring and I implore you, please let Ciara back in your life.
Watch “Got Me Good” and understand exactly how fantastic Ciara is. GIRL CAN DANCE FOR LITERAL DAYS. Not to mention the homage paid to Britney Spears circa 1999.
Listen to and download the Nguzunguzu “Deuces” remix here.