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Like all great partnerships, 'Bowmarion' has not been without conflict. Thankfully, the minor spat that threatened the genesis of Face Off – the result of Omarion headlining the 'Scream' festival earlier this year without his pedigree chum, Bow Wow – has been resolved. Whatever the reason for the reconciliation, let's non-cynically call it festive goodwill, as this record deserves a place on the Christmas list of any fan of syrupy, bedroom-bound R&B.;
Bow Wow (20) and Omarion (23) first hooked up on Bow Wow's 2005 top ten single "Let Me Hold You". Playing to their strengths, the majority of Face Off occupies the same musical territory, albeit with the notable absence of producer extraordinaire Jermaine Dupri. "He Ain't Gotta Know" and "Girlfriend" are perfect jump-off points for the vibe of the record. Bow Wow's rhyming style is slick and fluid, though bogged down by cliché, complimenting Omarion's strong vocals throughout, and things are always underpinned by sweet, if slightly lightweight, glossy production.
Eager to show they can accommodate a fanbase that stretches beyond Nickelodeon, "Hoodstar" and "Bachelor Pad" are both bonafide stabs at the grown-up-and-sexy market. The former sounds a lot like T.I.'s hit "What You Know", and the latter deserves applause for the best use of pan pipes on an R&B; record, like, ever. The only let-down is Bow Wow's clumsy metaphor – 'We step on stage it's like the twin towers re-born' – not quite up there with K-Fed's 'I'll storm your block like Katrina', but close.
After a promising start, the second half of Face Off cries out for some big name producers, if only to divert the ear from yet another barrage of Bow Wow seduction. That aside, this is catchy, well executed R&B;, which displays the undeniable talents of its two young creators.