MUSIC

Jacquees Remains Cute and Impossible to Ignore

His sophomore album "King of R&B" is nothing groundbreaking, but it's dripping in charisma

It's impossible to hate Jacquees.

His voice is silky smooth, his smile is genuine, he's candid and calm in interviews, he's cute, he can even dance a little. His creative style is unique enough to stand out among his modern-day contemporaries but is referential enough to the '90s that even listeners above the age of 40 will find ways to connect with him. He seems to be an old soul, immune to the petty drama that plagues the current mainstream music scene.

When The Breakfast Club tried to poke and prod at Jacquees's brief online scrimmage with XXL Freshman YK Osiris earlier this year, Jacquees dismissed it with a shrug: "I don't know who that is." When asked about his love life, he emphatically said that he wants a family and that he remains loyal to his love interest Dreezy. He is confident enough in his craft to name his album the King of R&B but humble enough to immediately acknowledge this self-proclaimed title by no means makes him "The Best." "Every day, a star is born," he sings on the T.I.-assisted opener, "and if we talkin' kings, there's more than one."

Jacquees - Fact Or Fiction www.youtube.com

As a result, the 25-year-old's sophomore effort should be viewed more like a mission statement. It trades the sprinkles of creative risk seen in 4275 for a more refined, commercial sound, with songs like "New, New" and "What They Gone Do With Me" existing solely for radio takeover. Moments of mass appeal like this have already begun to draw criticism. "The album's production is synthetic to the point of being shallow," writes EXCLAIM! "Jacquees tries hard to emulate his heroes, instead of letting himself be inspired by them."

The criticism is fair, but in the world of commercial R&B, Jacquees is still circling the A-team, with Tory Lanez and Chris Brown—both frequent collaborators and close friends—touring together this summer and having their biggest year to date. King of R&B, with features from heavy-hitters like Quavo, Summer Walker, Lil Baby, Young Thug, and Gunna, reaffirms Jacquees's well-deserved seat at the table. The tracks are earworms in the best way, and you can't hate on the guy's vivacity. The album is an easy listen, but with tracks like "Fact or Fiction" and "Warning," we also see a more refined Jacquees that should quiet the critics who will inevitably call him a sell-out. King of R&B or not, Jacquees's charisma remains infectious.

Music Lists

Slept On: New Underground Releases from Drakeo the Ruler, Dreezy & More

Protest music aside, there is a slew of good underground music out today

An invigorating slew of protest music hit the shelves today.

Detroit-based emcee Tee Grizzley collaborated with Queen Naija and the Detroit Youth Choir to craft a melodic ballad that attempts to open up a dialogue with police. Meanwhile, alt-Jazz pioneer Terrace Martin took a different approach in his collaboration with Denzel Curry, Daylyt, G Perico, and Kamasi Washington, with "Pigs Feet" being more of an angry f*ck you than an attempt at communication.

Keep Reading Show less
MUSIC

Rick Ross's "Port of Miami 2" Is Stale and Overrated

The 43-year-old emcee's latest effort is mostly a tepid recycling of the same thing he's been at for the last 13 years.

Rick Ross, if nothing else, loves to repeat himself.

Whether it's his famous "Maybach Music" adlib or the endless repetition of themes and rhyme schemes, Rick Ross has struggled for years to be original. Ross's imaginative shortcomings even seep into his persona. In 2010, the rapper was sued for $10 million by former drug kingpin, Rick Ross, who claimed that the emcee appropriated his name and criminal history, which resulted in a rather lucrative music career. Ultimately, though, according to The Independent, California judge Robert Baron ruled that "Roberts [Ross, the rapper] created a celebrity identity, using the name Rick Ross, of a cocaine kingpin, turned rapper. He was not simply an impostor seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross. Rather, he made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits..." Either way, 13 years is a long time to be churning out tales of drugs, opulence, and promiscuity, especially when these subjects are not being offered up in any new, daring, or innovative ways.

The creative stagnancy of Ross's latest album, Port of Miami 2, is seen early on. On "Act a Fool," which features Wale, Ross raps, "10 stacks on the stage cause a whirlwind (Whirlwind) / Take a couple stacks and give that to your girlfriend (Woo) / Love to see pretty bitches kissin' on pretty bitches / Number one in my book is all the realest bitches." Ross's stale rhyming of "whirlwind" and "girlfriend" could probably be overlooked if he was leaning on the tired rhyme to say something new. But he isn't. It's the message of 'I'm so rich, I could steal your girl."

To add to this barrage of antiquated sentiments, Ross follows it up with a declaration of how much he loves attractive lesbians (or, at the very least, girls who are willing to engage in bisexual behavior solely for his viewing pleasure). The other 14 songs on the album, unfortunately, do not show much in the way of departure from these bars in "Act a Fool."

The project has some occasional highlights, but those moments have little to do with Ross himself. The production, for example, is on point, thanks to beat-making masterminds like Just Blaze, Jake One, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Beat Billionaire. And there are some head-turning features from heavy hitters like Meek Mill, Jeezy, Nipsey Hussle, Teyana Taylor, Lil Wayne, Drake, and John Legend. Rick Ross is at his best when he's surrounded by talented artists that force him to step up his bars lest he be outshone.

While Rick Ross shows little growth as an artist on Port of Miami 2, that's never been his aim. He has always (and likely always will) continue his one-note shtick of drugs, sex, and violence. And it can be fun in the right context: at a club or a house party, where you will likely only hear a song or two throughout the night. And most of the songs on this album could easily slide into rotation at a wild Miami night club. So, in that regard, Port of Miami 2 sees Rick Ross at his best--making background music to party to, as opposed to crafting innovative and creatively satisfying albums.

Port of Miami 2