Ranking the Best Jodeci and K-Ci & JoJo Albums

OOOOOOOOH YEAHHHHH

That’s the rallying cry for R&B excellence.

Two talented sets of brothers, the DeGrates and Haileys, enjoyed limited success as separate acts. But when they joined forces in the early 90s, the became part of R&B history.

Their sound reshaped the musical landscape, cementing them as the architects of 90s R&B. And their proteges – legendary names like Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Static Major – would keep that momentum rolling well into the next millennium.

Jodeci, bar none, is one of the most influential groups in modern music. Their legacy is unmatched.

So let’s break down their legacy, revisiting their entire discography from bottom to top. And as an added treat, since Jodeci’s joint catalog is rather abbreviated, let’s also throw in the Hailey brothers’ five duet albums, as well as K-Ci and Mr. Dalvin’s often-forgotten solo projects (we’re excluding complications, as always). Rankings are determined by song quality, consistency, and impact on the genre.

And when it comes to impact on a genre, few come close to Jodeci’s run of dominance.

my brothers keeper

11. My Brother’s Keeper (2013)

Soul In Stereo rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Fans of YouKnowIGotSoul.com may remember I wasn’t too kind to the Hailey Brother’s final album to date when it released back in 2013. I’ve softened on it a bit in recent years but, yeah, it’s far from their best work. The weary vocals and so-so writing make this project pretty skippable.

Forgotten favorites: “Show & Prove,” “My Brother’s Keeper,” “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

my book

10. My Book (2006)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: To say K-Ci’s LONG awaited solo debut didn’t meet expectations is quite the understatement. Even by 2006’s standards the production seemed stilted and dated. This one is a curiosity but not at all essential.

Forgotten favorites: “Much Too Soon,” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” “I Apologize”

emotional

9. Emotional (2002)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: I wouldn’t classify Emotional as a bad album, but it’s greatest sin is that it’s so nondescript. Following a series of solid releases by the Haileys, Emotional came off as a very by-the-numbers R&B release. Not much that stands out on this one.

Forgotten favorites: “I Don’t Want,” “Down for Life,” “I Don’t Mind”

met a mor phic

8. Met.A.Mor.Phic. (2000)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: You didn’t know Mr. Dalvin released a solo album almost 20 years ago? Well, there’s probably a reason for that – I didn’t even know it existed until somewhat recently. Vocally, Dalvin ain’t winning any awards here but the album’s real highlight is its production, which is pretty good by 2000s standards. The album starts out pretty rough but finds its groove about midway through and keeps that momentum rolling. It works better than you’d think.

Forgotten favorites: “Long Day,” “More Than Friends,” “I Can’t Help It”

the past the present the future

7. The Past, The Present, The Future (2015)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Whew, chile, some of y’all HATED this album back in 2015. But I’ll continue to say now what I said then – this one is much better than it gets credit for. The bar was set impossibly high for Jodeci’s official comeback after a 20 (!!!) year layoff; there was no way they’d suddenly turn back the clock to their 90s glory. Instead, what we got was a love letter to their legacy, as well as attempts at finding a new sound. It doesn’t always work – the beat selection sometimes clashes with their vocal style – but there are gems here.

Forgotten favorites: “Sho Out,” “Every Moment,” “Incredible”

it's real

6. It’s Real (1999)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: K-Ci and JoJo’s follow-up to their debut outing is pretty solid but just a little too safe. The singles “Life” and “Tell Me It’s Real” of course are the standouts but little else reach those heights. It’s like a lesser version of their debut – serviceable but not very memorable.

Forgotten favorites: “Fee Fie Foe Fum,” “I Wanna Get to Know You,” “Here He Comes Again”

x

5. X (2000)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: I hadn’t heard this one in years until I relistened for purposes of this post and I was kinda blown away. K-Ci and JoJo’s releases typically have their own distinct sound, but X feels like a tribute to Jodeci’s glory days.The Hailey Bros. are in their glory flirting over the hip-hop tinged tracks with Jodeci’s signature swag. Sure, the album itself has a few holes but overall it’s a pretty underrated release.

Forgotten favorites: “Honest Lover,” “Thug N Me Thug N U,” “Ooh Yeah”

the show the after party the hotel

4. The Show, The After Party, The Hotel (1995)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The Show, The After Party, The Hotel is renowned for two reasons – an incredible series of singles that would become signature hits and the fact that it would be Jodeci’s last album as a quartet for two decades. Unquestionably, it’s a strong release but the album’s overabundance of filler and annoying sex skits really dampen the mood. Less would have been more here.

Forgotten favorites: “Time & Place,” “Let’s Do it All,” “Pump It Back”

love always

3. Love Always (1997)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Back in 97, I remember being confused by K-Ci and JoJo’s decision to branch out on their own. In my mind, the Hailey brothers WERE the sound of Jodeci, so wouldn’t this just be another Jodeci album? Turns out, not at all. While Jodeci made its name blending hip-hop and R&B, K-Ci and JoJo went a totally different direction, adhering to a more traditional soul sound. And it worked. Love Always isn’t just the best K-Ci and JoJo release by far, it comes close to eclipsing their more popular works as a quartet as well.

Forgotten favorites: “Last Night’s Letter,” “Just for Your Love,” “Love Ballad”

forever my lady

2. Forever My Lady (1991)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The one that started it all. Jodeci’s debut album bridged the gap between the era’s ever-present New Jack Swing sound with a new sound they were pioneering – a blend of hip-hop soul that would set the standard for the next decade. Filled with hit tracks and solid album cuts, Forever My Lady became a turning point for 90s R&B and was the perfect introduction for Jodeci.

Forgotten favorites: “My Phone,” “Xs We Share,” “U&I”

diary-of-a-mad-band

1. Diary of a Mad Band (1993)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: If Forever My Lady was a turning point for 90s R&B, Diary of a Mad Band is when the pedal hit the metal. Jodeci cut ties with New Jack Swing entirely and forged ahead with their brand of hip-hop soul, making them THE bad boys of R&B. Embracing soul, sexuality and street swag, Diary of a Mad Band became the blueprint for every male R&B group in its wake. It still stands as one of the most influential albums in R&B history.

Forgotten favorites: “My Heart Belongs to U,” “Alone,” “In the Meanwhile”

What’s your favorite Jodeci album? And how would you rank ’em? Let us know below.

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1 Comments

  1. Thanks for the Jodeci education. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a fan or followed the group. I definitely like and respect the music though. Diary of a Mad Band was my immediate number one pick for their best studio album.

    However, since I wasn’t on the K-Ci and JoJo train or that of later Jodeci projects, my FAVORITE, #1, Jodeci album is the greatest hits project – Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci.

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