Jodeci - The Past, The Present, The Future
Bringing Back The Past
Innovation within the music industry is the driving force behind creating new styles. Along with expanding the specific genres by creating sub-genres, the greatest minds in music are always pushing the limits and trying to find new sounds that our ears will fall in love with. The greatest of those musical geniuses are never satisfied with their product. Whether it is a "boom" here or a "clap" there, the writer/producer rarely feels like it is perfect. I always wondered what "garbage" John Lennon and Paul McCartney threw away in the trash. What beats does Dr Dre have on his personal hard drive that my ears will never hear?
Now if you think that one or two people thinking that they need perfection is bad, then four people has to be even worse. Just picture four experienced artists collaborating on a painting, it would take a huge amount of unselfishness and patience for it to come together well. Which leads me to say this: Thank you Devante, Jojo, K-Ci, and Dalvin for allowing your art to be shown to the world.
Two sets of brothers growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, combined to accomplish what every group wants to; become irreplaceable. As long as these four gentlemen are alive, the Jodeci sound will be alive as well. The harmonies, the production quality, the soul within the music, cannot be duplicated. K-Ci & Jojo is a quality act, and the Degrates are both prodigies in the world of music. Devante is more so a musical genius of the mind, and Dalvin a master musician with his hands, he's an amazing drummer. But the four of them together is sort of like a Voltron toy, where the interlocking pieces are much better used together.
With the success of their first album, at such a young age, the fellas were handed the keys to life, without much of a road map. They were guided more so by the glamour, which is understandable, than by the business. They had some missteps, that's for sure, but the music has always been clear. Even K-Ci's "My Book" was a winner in, my book, because it was sung from the heart.
In 1991, most people understood that the sound of music was changing. More emphasis was being put on the production of the song. Producers themselves were starting to get some recognition. Babyface, Devante, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, L.A. Reid, Teddy Riley; these are names that changed what the world started listening to.
On "Forever My Lady", released in 1991, tracks one through five were all hits. And let me explain something, any album with four or more "hits" is a great album. When I say hits, I mean classics. "Stay", "Come and Talk to Me", "Forever My Lady", "I'm Still Waiting", "U&I".<-----Look at that! Those were the first five songs, and could have been the five best songs of most groups' careers. That is the way to introduce yourself. With Devante putting his heart to paper, K-Ci pleading for you to listen, and Jojo making you close your eyes to focus even more, the Jodeci sound was born.
"Diary of a Mad Band"(1993) was another trip in the mind of a group starting to explore more ways to use music to tell a story. As a collective, the Swing Mob, which included Missy Elliot and Timbaland, was like some stew that you put in the crock pot and let simmer all day. Unfortunately, the collective also known as Da Bassment wasn't able to hold it together long enough for real magic to blossom. We all know that some success was realized out of the group; Missy and Timbaland, Ginuwine, Static Major, Aaliyah, and Stevie J. They all were able to achieve some very high levels of success owed, in some part, to the musical developmental training received under Devante Swing. Back to the album, again the first set of tracks, "My Heart Belongs to You", "Cry For You", "Feenin", "What About Us", "Ride and Slide", and of course "Alone" (which told it to you straight, and gave you an idea of what would be heard on the next album.) Released with next to zero promotion, it still hit number one on the R&B chart.
In 1995, the group released "The Show, the After Party, the Hotel." They decided to change up a bit and add skits to the album. I have never been a huge fan of skits, but I realize that it was a trend at that time. It is cool to hear some of the "Da Bassment" moments within some of the skits here. But the album really takes off with "S-more". Hypnotizing beat, great hook, and that Jodeci sound. "Freek'N You" dominated the summer and "Love U 4 Life" was on the soundtrack for the fall. And then there was the brilliant "Good Luv". The Jodeci magic.
Taking It To The Present
Jodeci is as authentic as a group can get. Their harmonies can't be duplicated. I am a big fan of K-Ci and Jojo as a a duo, but there is something magical that comes out of the speakers when it's a Jodeci track. This album contains every element of a great R & B record; great harmonies, catchy melodies, and slick production. This is one album this year that needs to be snatched up,
Too Hot - The album opens with a track that features rapper AV and a pulsating beat. The whole song has a great flow and sits in its zone well. It's a risk to have a rapper on a Jodeci song, as they have to come up to the level of the group, AV keeps up and gives this track a boost. B
Sho Out - Track two is a throwback to the 90's with its smooth beat and K-Ci's passionate vocals. Has a Ginuwine's "Pony"-type feel to it. Easy to get lost in. Devante, again playing with the sounds in the background, making magic. B-
Checkin For You - My favorite track on the album. Just takes all of what is great about Jodeci and puts it together and it works. Each element is present in this song and the production is flawless. In the background, high hats played at speeds that you can't believe. I appreciate the effort to add sounds that make a song complete. That driving bass behind the fellas is perfect. This one shows what can happen when all members of a group have equal parts. A+
Those Things - Co-produced by Timbaland, nice beat, good Jodeci feel. Just enough of a mix of Timbaland and Jodeci sound. Just a very solid track. B-
Every Moment - Instant classic! Second official single released. One of those tracks that has the groups' DNA right in the harmonies. The beautiful melody and driving rhythm and never to be duplicated sound. A
Nobody Wins - First single from the new album. Great message against domestic violence. B.o.B. on the track delivering the message is good, if not great. I actually resisted this track at first because I was wanting a ballad, but have grown to love it. B+
Incredible - The other track co-produced by Timbaland. Delightfully takes a more mellow flow, and sits there nicely. The guys are able to explore and riff a little more. Great blending of their voices. B
Jennifer - From what I hear, one of the songs written in the early days. Sometimes a songwriter allows you to see inside of their mind and heart. Thank you Devante. A+
Body Parts - Adding a nice piano and a driving bass, this song tries to change up the mood a little, and succeeds. Everybody adds to the sound of this one. And the presence of Mila J, gives this song the right amount of estrogen. Kind of gives it a belly-dance feel. B-
Stress Reliever - Slowing it down again, has a smooth flow, and shows that Jodeci can still do a classic and make it current. B-
Sho Out - Liana Banks adds to the original with a cool sound of her own. Her silky smooth sound goes along well with the song and improves it. B
Nobody Wins - This one is without B.o.B. Still great harmonies, and K-Ci's passionate plea to not use our hands is a great message. B
Into The Future
Now that we have our beloved group back, it's time to keep them here. Even though digital downloads don't pay the artists very well, it still forces the record labels to see that the fans are still there. Streaming doesn't have the same impact as purchasing the music. And when they go out on tour, support them! Keep in mind that we, as listeners and fans, complain about the lack of creativity in our music these days. It's time to put our money and our hearts where our mouth is, and support the groups and artists that we love to hear!