Deep Album Cuts Vol. 71: Fantasia

Fantasia Barrino is releasing her 5th album The Definition Of... next week, and every advance single has been really great. I always enjoyed her singles ("When I See U" is a classic) but it wasn't until Side Effects Of You became one of my favorite records of 2013 that I started to really appreciate her as an album artist. At this point I think she's undeniably got one of the best discographies of any recording artist whose career was launched by "American Idol" -- personally I'd put her right at #2 below Kelly Clarkson.

Fantasia Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. This Is Me
2. Ain't All Bad
3. Teach Me
4. Surround U
5. Who's Been Lovin' You
6. Get It Right
7. Move On Me
8. So Much To Prove
9. Selfish (I Want U 2 Myself) featuring Missy Elliott
10. Good Lovin'
11. Two Weeks Notice
12. I'm Not That Type
13. Bump What Your Friends Say
14. If I Was A Bird
15. Don't Act Right featuring Jazze Pha
16. Trust Him
17. Lighthouse
18. Got Me Waiting
19. I Feel Beautiful
20. Falling In Love Tonight
21. End Of Me

Tracks 1, 9, 10, 15 and 18 from Free Yourself (2004)
Tracks 4, 11, 12, 13 and 19 from Fantasia (2006)
Tracks 3, 5, 6, 16 and 20 from Back To Me (2010)
Tracks 2, 6, 8, 14, 17 and 21 from Side Effects Of You (2013)

Missy Elliott has always been one of Fantasia's most crucial collaborators, working on some of her best singles, "Free Yourself" and "Without Me." So I highlighted Missy's work on Fantasia's albums with the run of songs from track 9 to track 13 here (honorable mention to Fantasia's great feature on "4 My Man" from Missy's The Cookbook). Missy is almost underrated as an R&B songwriter, and Fantasia has quietly become probably the best vessel for that side of her work post-Aaliyah.

But really, Fantasia has just had a great track record all around with collaborators who know what to do with her unique, powerful voice. She didn't start co-writing her own songs until working with the very underrated Harmony Samuels on Side Effects Of You, but had her choice of top shelf songwriters from the beginning thanks to "American Idol." Back To Me features great production contributions from James "Malay" Ho, a couple years before he made his mark with Frank Ocean, on tracks including "Teach Me" and "Move On Me." And her discography features top shelf contributions from Babyface ("I Feel Beautiful"). Rico Love ("Falling In Love Tonight") and Johnta Austin ("Don't Act Right").

Her earlier albums sometimes incorporated covers from her "American Idol" tenure, but for the most part she's built an impressive discography of contemporary R&B. There's occasional forays into retro soul like the furious barnstormer "Get It Right" or clubby hip hop-leaning tracks like the Swizz Beatz production "Surround U," but for the most part she's found a sweet spot of not being too old-fashioned and not trying too hard to keep up, which is I think why her catalog has aged so well.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol, 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
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