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In the summer of 2001, I saw newcomer Alicia Keys open for Maxwell in New York City. Twelve years later, the two are connected once again. “The Fire We Make” is the third video from Alicia’s Gold-selling Girl on Fire album, and while Alicia may have over done it with the usage of the word “fire” on this project, it’s fair to say that this song smolders a little. Unfortunately for Alicia, it’s mostly the result of Maxwell’s presence.

The video’s got a bit of a retro vibe, and it’s perfectly fine, but neither song nor video really generates the type of heat that Maxwell could generate all by his damn self. Alicia’s always worked the “cute girl next door” angle much better than she’s worked the “sexpot” angle, and not even the presence of the slow-grind legend can help out that much. Now, a Maxwell and Sade duet? I’d be all over that.

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