Other than the fact that he is wholeheartedly endorsed by Ludacris, there isn’t anything particularly special about Bobby Valentino. On his sophomore release, Special Occasion, Valentino continues to make radio-friendly R&B with a hip-hop edge. The album is a suitable diversion full of mid-tempo club joints and syrupy ballads, and for the most part it works. The only hindrance is the vocalist’s lack of personality. His voice recalls that late-eighties/early-nineties mainstream soul — artists like Guy, 112, Blackstreet, and Jodeci — but Valentino can’t seem to create an identity for himself outside of the normal loverman stereotypes. Special Occasion’s first single is the Timbaland-assisted “Anonymous,” a throbbing club hit that may as well be talking about the singer himself.
Throughout the album, excellent productions and guest appearances outshine the singer’s talents. Ludacris lends support to another standout Timbaland production, the slinky “Rearview (Ridin’),” and Fabolous livens up “Let Him Go.” The productions are mostly mid-tempo grooves, such as the pop-flavored “If I Had My Way” and “Only Human.” Things fall apart thanks to excessive ballads, self-indulgent interludes and a painful cover of Babyface’s “Soon as I Get Home.” Where Babyface brought sensitivity, Valentino merely brings competency.