King of R&B
How does one become King of R&B?
Is it through years of crafting classic albums that span generations? Is it by creating a rabid fanbase who support your every release? Maybe it’s by wowing crowds with showstopping performances that have kids memorizing your choreography or perhaps by collecting an obscene amount of awards and accolades for your stellar work?
Or maybe you can just scream how great you are on Twitter and hope everyone believes you.
Guess which one Jacquees did?
Most of y’all already know my issues with R&B upstart Jacquees, especially after he THE GALL to step to Keith Sweat last year and caused Twitter to meltdown.
Here’s the truth – I’ve always thought that Jacquees was an artist brimming with potential. His debut album 4275, which dropped summer, was surprisingly solid. It leaned heavily on 90s-era influences in order to build a sound of his own. We even named his track “23” the third best R&B song of the year. And I’m not mad at his confidence. Like Nakia told us in Black Panther:
But this is 2019, where style > substance and trending topics mean way more than hit records. So in the lead-up to his sophomore album called, of course, King of R&B, Jacquees has spent the last year cosplaying as king:
He should have kept it in the closet.
Seriously, it’s November, playa, it’s time to put the Halloween costumes up and show and prove.
Even when he tried to clean things up and added the caveat King of R&B OF MY GENERATION, that claim still looked funny in the light when there are male artists in his age bracket with much greater sales success, more critical acclaim, more awards and vastly better albums. Daniel Caesar says hi.
To his credit, though, thanks to a year of trolling and foolishness, Jacquees’ profile is infinitely higher and all eyes are on him for his bid for the crown.
He’s got all the hype, all the attention, and even a few industry co-signs.
By the sound of this album, all he’s missing is good songs.
Sorry to this man.
The album opens with “King,” which talks about his rise to fame and, surprisingly, softens his usual “I’M DA KANG” rhetoric. “Every day, a star is born/And if we talkin’ kings, there’s more than one,” he says, giving props to past and current greats. Fellow self-proclaimed king T.I. takes a break from policing his daughter’s hymen to stop by but, like Tip’s part-time gyno work, it’s utterly pointless. Just a lot of pseudo-raps that don’t hit the mark.
Things quickly turn around with “Round II.” Jacquees is at his best when his, um, interesting pleading tone is set in sultry backdrops. It’s why “Risk It All,” with Tory Lanez works so well – the more midtempo the groove, the easier Jacquees can ride the beat. This is also one of the few times I’ve enjoyed a Tory Lanez contribution.
Correction – this is the ONLY time I’ve enjoyed Tory Lanez contribution.
But these bright spots are way too few and far between, which isn’t a good sign for a bloated album that’s already bursting at the seams with 18 tracks.
“Come Get It” suffers from some of the most ridiculous songwriting I’ve heard all year, with Jacquees detailing a foursome (?!) with women “spread out thicker than a steak at Ruth Chris,” while guests FYB out here talmbout in the year of our lord 2019: “When I hit it, she gonna turn to the chef /Got her cookin’ these thighs and breasts.”
Where the screamy rap delivery on tracks like “New New” and his skin-crawling falsetto on “Hot for Me” fall way short, the album often shines with production. The creeping beat of “All You Need” is a winner crippled by the robo-vocals Quavo and Bluff City shove in our ears.
Y’all ain’t gotta put autotune on EVERYTHING my god.
Young Thug and Gunna dominate “Verify” so much that it feels more like a rap song than something belonging on a album that claims R&B royalty. And speaking of features, what’s up with the mixing on “Superstar?” Summer Walker sounds like she recorded her verse sitting in the car outside the studio.
Thankfully, the remainder of the album is more mediocre than outright bad. “Good Lovin” and “Out of the Ordinary” are dull but inoffensive. “Fact or Fiction” might be the best produced song on the album, but Jacquees’ vocals barely hold up – cracking like someone stepping on a bag of pork rinds. But I gotta say, I do love that Jacquees had the nerve to name a song “EEeee,” playing off the goat memes he’s often saddled with. It’s kinda cool to see that he has a sense of humor. And it’s not a bad song, all things considered.
Here’s the bottom line – King of R&B will have its fans. If the ONLY R&B albums you’ve heard this year are Summer (Sleep)Walker’s last LP or that 97-track monstrosity from my Cousin Chris Brown, then YES, this is the best R&B album of the year. And there are a couple of tracks that Jacquees loyalists can cherry-pick for their personal playlists.
But a lot of the potential Jacquees showed on the previous album is absent here. There’s no growth and hardly any innovation – instead, he’s fallen into the typical trap trends that make him indistinguishable from the YK Osirises and Tory Lanez of the world. Despite some solid production here and there, there’s nothing that will stand the test of time. It’ll be another release that trends on Twitter for a day or two and then is completely forgotten when the next round of headlines hit.
Just of like his “King of R&B” debate from last year.
Jacquees might be the King of Memes, but the R&B crown ain’t nowhere in sight.
Best tracks: “Risk It All,” “Round II,” “Fact or Fiction”
3 stars out of 5