Walk with a swagger

If only we all had the charm of Mr. Bobby “Valentino” Wilson – the ability to make gorgeous women take their clothes off at the mere sound of a soulful, penetrating voice. Coming straight out of the Atlanta circuit as Ludacris’ prot?g?, Valentino has been blowing up radio and music television, leading up to the highly anticipated release of Bobby Valentino (Disturbing Tha Peace – Def Jam).

In a recent Hatchet interview, Valentino, a former collegiate athlete, said a few words about his new album, citing Boys II Men, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers as major influences.

“I took a little bit of all these people and created my own (sound), so that’s really what this album is about. It’s about different feels, different textures, and just straight up R&B.”

While nobody could ever deny Wonder’s or Gaye’s impact on the R&B and soul genre, Valentino’s music seems to be more a direct descendent of Montell Jordan and D’Angelo from 10 years ago: soulful, catchy and, oh yes, seeeexy.

Guys – buy this CD for your girlfriend and play “One Girl to Love.” Valentino knows what he’s singing about. Better yet, play her “Lights Down Low,” which features such luscious lines as “I wanna’ make love, oh baby… rose petals, bubble baths / We can do it girl anywhere you like it / But you know I got to have it.” Sounds like a formula for success.

Even if Valentino weren’t all over MTV, BET and chilling with Luda – he would still probably get more play in a single night than your average Joe gets all semester. “I’m definitely a ladies man,” he said. “I love the ladies, and I love being around them.”

Asked what it was like to work with the intellectual mastermind that is Ludacris, Valentino replied, “It’s great, man. I mean, (Ludacris) is a hard worker. He rubs off on me. He’s a great guy, I learn a lot from him, and it’s a lot of fun. He definitely knows what he’s doing and I’m just trying to follow him in his footsteps.” Ludacris is featured on Valentino’s track “Gimme a Chance.”

But such fortune only comes with years of practice, trials and tribulations. At the age of 13, Bobby was one of the singers in the teen group Mista, which produced the hit single “Blackberry Molasses.” However, the group later split due to “irreconcilable differences.” Still determined to use his voice to make it to the top, Valentino shopped his demo around Atlanta until Ludacris and his crew discovered it. Keep in mind, however, that this album is just the beginning for Valentino, who stresses that his material will only improve in the years to come.

“I been singing even before (Mista). I just really love singing, love writing, love producing. It’s just what I do, and I’m gonna keep doing it until I get better and better.”

Look out for Bobby Valentino’s current single “Slow Down” on TV and radio. In the video, Valentino strolls down Melrose, seeming to always be surrounded by gorgeous, phat-bottomed women with amazing stomachs. “Bless me with your beauty, cutie,” he coos softly in their ears. And they melt.

Bobby Valentino hits stores Tuesday with a cover flaunting a photo of Valentino in front of a shop window with a taped-up sign that reads, “REAL R&B SINGERS NEEDED.” Guess he got the job. n

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