OK, Jacquees might be an idiot. Perhaps a brilliant idiot since before last week’s “King of R&B” (of his generation) moment, I couldn’t point him out in a lineup, much less tell you the name of a single, solitary song he sang. But now? That pendulum has swung the entire other way. Again, as much as I want to call that decision a debacle, and as much as we want to think the vertically challenged Quee is an idiot, I’m pretty sure he’s on more folks’ radars than ever before, R&B singers (like Keith Sweat) included.
For the record, I’m not height shaming here, either. Until I saw him in that unfortunate media interview with Keith Sweat and Tank where he was forced to apologize (we’ll get back to this) I just had no idea he was so short. It’s like that time I ended up on one of those trains that moves you between terminals in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and saw Lloyd until somebody stepped in front of him and he disappeared entirely. It was like magic. Let’s move on.
On June 15, 2018, Jacquees dropped his debut album, 4275, on Cash Money Records, which surprised me because he signed there, like, four years ago. That’s a long time to sit on the shelf and remain with a label, especially in today’s environment. The album’s title comes from his street address in his hometown of Decatur, Ga. While people were shitting all over Jacquees (even I wrote an article about his statement), I decided to go listen to his album. To call yourself the king of anything, especially something in black music, is such a bold claim that I wondered what in the hell made him think he had any ability to make such a statement. Add to that fact that you just don’t hear anybody young flying the R&B flag really, I was curious.
1. Let’s start with this very simple, and true statement: Since first listening to this album last week, this is literally the only album I’ve been listening to. On repeat. Back to front. For a solid week. No lie. I cannot say how much I love this album. King he is not, but his album is good as fuck. Also, it’s equal parts R&B and Trap&B-ish.
2. His influences are very, very clear and they include people you like if you enjoyed early to mid-2000s R&B. For instance, 4275 sounds like a Speakerboxx/The Love Below style double album where The-Dream and Donnell Jones take turns crafting songs. Half the songs are literally about fucking in various places (“Studio,” “Red Light,” “B.E.D.,” “House or Hotel,” “Inside” featuring Trey Songz; surprisingly the song “London” has nothing to do with fucking in London, or London at all. It must be about a woman named London.) That’s The-Dream half: Zero subtlety, while still being good songs.
The other half is songs that would fit on any of the albums you’d have listened to and enjoyed in the mid-2000s (the Donnell Jones half), like “I Know Better,” the Donnell Jones-assisted “23,” “Beauty Doesn’t Cry,” “All About Us,” “Play The Field,” “Whateva You Into.” Despite the fairly schizophrenic nature of the album, it kind of works, sloppy songwriting aside (more on that later).
3. He has an interesting array of features. The aforementioned Donnell Jones co-writes and produces a song. LaTocha Scott from Xscape is present as is Dej Loaf, Jagged Edge, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Young Thug. Jermaine Dupri even opens up the album. I’m not saying them being there mean you have to respect him, but I am saying that this is the Drake So Far Gone formula of including tons of relevant co-signs in the realm you want to own, which, in this case, is all over the place, but for a young dude trying to make a way, this isn’t a bad bunch of co-signers.
4. Jagged Edge deserves a second mention because, well, they are royalty.
5. Let’s get back to the schizophrenic nature of the album. It is a bit odd that there are EXTREMELY crude songs sitting next to songs that are a lot more traditionally R&B. Like you can go right from songs that sound right out of The Migos-Do-R&B playbook to songs about how he wants to commit to a woman, but in a very Donnell Jones meets Aaron Hall style of delivery. Not saying he sings like Aaron Hall, just saying that Aaron Hall could have sung the song “Play The Field.” Imagine.
6. I’ve left out a very important fact here: I actually think he can sing. Auto-tune is obviously present in some places, but it is not used on the entire album. His actual singing voice is clearly deployed on a significant portion of the disc.
7. The songwriting, in some places, leaves much to be desired. For instance, he has a song called “Whatever You Into” that sounds good but probably could have used another set of wordsmiths. The song is about the fact that he thinks this woman isn’t into him because she’s into another woman and he isn’t judging her because of it but just wants to stop wasting his time. You just have to hear it. Also, this song sounds literally like a Donnell Jones song, so much so that I was surprised that Jones wasn’t involved in the creation of it at all. Jacquees is even singing like him on it. This could have fit on Jones’ Where I Wanna Be album right after the song, “Where I Wanna Be.”
8. My favorite songs are “Studio,” “Red Light,” “I Know Better,” “23,” and “All About Us.”
9. It’s very interesting to me—and this comes up in every single endeavor when folks create—that a person saying, “I’m the best at xxxxx,” ends up turning into this HUGE thing. There probably isn’t a singer alive—Bobby Brown included, he says as much in his book—that doesn’t think they’re the best to ever do it. Tank, Keith Sweat, even J. Holiday, Usher, etc. All of these guys swear that nobody does it better. With that being said, there’s a way to do this shit and be somewhat humble and he hasn’t exactly deployed that tactic. He should do better.
With that being said, king nonsense or not, the boy released a good debut album.