I loved R&B music in the mid-90's! Then I stopped listening to it for a while. Jaheim takes what I loved about R&B during that period and updates it with some amazing production.
There was a period when I just totally stopped listening to R&B music. I had just simply lost interest in it all. The subject matter never changed, I didn't have a girlfriend or a hope in the world and who wants to hear about love when love don't love nobody. It was all boy meets girl (usually at a club), boy loses girl, boy cheats on girl, girl leaves boy...and it just all got so, I don't know, uninspired. I felt like I had heard everything that R&B music had to tell me. I think I just needed a break. It was that period when every R&B song had a guest spot by a rapper and that rapper was usually Ma$e. I loved the music when it came on at a party, and I vibed to it when it came on the radio. I made mix tapes with it and played the new hotness for friends. Well, they say things go in cycles and for whatever reason I find myself digging R&B music right now.
Sure, I've flirted with R&B via its partner in crime Soul. But Soul music to me is different. It's more on the jazz-blues end of the spectrum whereas R&B to me is more about the dancefloor or the radio. Well, Jaheim's "Another Round" reminds me of what I liked about R&B to start with and why perhaps I'm not done with the genre after all.
But first I gotta get the bad off of my chest. You can't just throw a rapper on the original track and call it a remix! At least change the beat up or something. It has been my experience anyhow that most R&B song's sound the same if not better without the MC's guest spot! I thought "Empire State Of Mind" was better without Jay-Z. Here the lead single is "Ain't Leaving Without You" which on its own captures that feeling of great early 90's R&B with a track that's amped and ready for the dance floor. Of course, they did a "remix" that is nothing more the original plus a guest spot by Jadakiss! I get that it helps marketing, but in the long run I think it hurts the music.
In my opinion, Jada affords himself well here however his appearance here does not necessarily make the track any stronger! That aside, we're not really breaking any new ground here lyrically:
The conversation my eyes is having with your thighs will get be out line they'd better shut up, shut up
You moving them hips, killing me with every dip, girl
You about to get a tip, do it now
The worst that goes down is you turning me down
You're feeling your boy so I doubt it, shorty
So if the subject matter hasn't improved, what makes this a good record? Well, quite simply the production on this one is fantastic and Jaheim has become quite the singer since I last heard him (which incidentally was on "Ghetto Love" way back in 2001). Jaheim's got a deep voice with a lot of bass in it but it sounds to me like he's gotten a bit more range since the last time I heard him and now he strikes me as being the evolution of Johnny Gil.
Although most of the time the songs here remind me of early 90's R&B ("Closer" could be a 112 B-Side), there are a few moments that demonstrate a few of Jaheim's other influences such as the Otis Redding-like "Impossible" or the Luther Vandross-like "In My Hands" and I get the sense that Jaheim has a deep appreciation of his genre.
The crown jewel on the album, however, is "Her". "Her" is probably the best straightforward R&B song I've heard in a long time and any fan of 90's R&B is going to be all over this one.
What is here is not so much an evolution of the genre. Rather, this represents an excellent example of playing to the strengths of the genre circa 1995 just with some very modern production and is one of the finest R&B albums that I have heard in a while. Positive lyrics, brilliant production, and a singer with a great voice. Yeah, I remember why I liked this stuff now.
4.231 out of 5
|1. Ain't Leavin Without You (03:46)||5|
|2. Finding My Way Back (03:20)||5|
|3. Whoa (03:47)||5|
|4. Till It Happens to You (03:58)||4|
|5. Bed Is Listening (04:44)||3|
|6. Impossible (03:26)||5|
|7. Another Round (03:30)||4|
|8. Her (03:26)||5|
|9. II Pink Lines (03:20)||4|
|10. Otha Half (04:07)||3|
|11. Closer (03:47)||5|
|12. In My Hands (04:44)||4|
|13. Ain't Leavin Without You (remix) (feat. Jadakiss) (03:30)||3|