'I'm so cool, I'm so fly, I'm so fresh!' sings Lemar and he has every right to sound...
Karen Goodchild 2003
"I'm so cool, I'm so fly, I'm so fresh!" sings Lemar Obika on "Fresh", the second track on his debut album, Dedication. Lemar has every right to sound so self assured, as one year on from finishing third in Fame Academy, this collection of songs confirms his belief in his own talent.
Few perhaps know that before he became a household name on the hit TV show, Lemar thought he had achieved his dream by securing a deal with a major record company, only to have it fall through before he could release his first single. But he didn't give up and at last his debut album is in the shops.
So is Lemar's future a guaranteed success? Well, with help from producers with such diverse credits as So Solid Crew, Big Brovaz, Jamelia and Kele Le Roc, you would think so. But let's not forget, it takes more than slick production to last any length of time in today's fickle musical times. Will this album be the peak of this young mans career or hail the beginning of a new soul hero?
With Dedicated, Lemar has taken the last twelve months to blend a credible, likeable and alluring combination of songs that will please fans of Fame Academy, music aficionados and R'n'B devotees alike.
There are songs you can dance to (first single "Dance (With U)", "Fresh" and "No Pressure") and some you could seduce someone with (the Daniel Bedingfield-sounding "Another Day" and "What About Love"). There are also a few anthemic numbers thrown in for good measure, such as "Lullaby" and "Good Woman" (Destiny's Child eat your heart out!)
The funky "Hot Summer" smacks of summer hit 2004 and even though "Body Talk" can't help but remind you of Olivia Newton-John, Lemar pulls it off with a classy twist. I would even go so far as to suggest that the next single "50/50" is heading for the number one spot. And acoustic number "All I Ever Do (My Boo)" rounds things off nicely.
Dedicated is a great album that is packed full of potential hits that showcase Lemar's amazing vocal ability. That, coupled with the fact that Lemar co-wrote several of these tracks, will surely mean that he'll be around a lot longer than the other over-hyped reality TV stars.