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

Grimes Is Selling a Piece of Her Soul, Because of Course She Is

You can bid on a legal document that grants you ownership of a percentage of Grimes' soul.

If you're feeling particularly soulless as of late, you're not alone!

Grimes, who birthed both a studio album and her first son earlier this year, isn't letting a world in shambles keep her from Grimesing on. She's now dabbling into fine art too, making her debut in simultaneous online exhibitions on Gallery Platform Los Angeles (May 28 through June 3) and Maccarone Los Angeles (May 28 through Aug. 31). The show is called Selling Out and features a piece also called "Selling Out" that contains part of Grimes' soul.

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MUSIC

BJ The Chicago Kid's "1123" Is an Underappreciated R&B Gem

While 1123 doesn't make as many grand gestures as its predecessor, the album's trimmed hedges give it mainstream listenability, while offering just enough idiosyncrasies to make it sound like something new.

In January 2017, 24 million people watched as a young crooner named BJ The Chicago Kid stepped up in a clean navy blue suit to sing the national anthem.

America watched with dread as Obama gave his final speech as the 44th president of the United States. Breaking from tradition, he delivered it at McCormick Place convention center in his hometown of Chicago rather than at the White House. BJ's rendition of the "The Star Spangled Banner" was as passionate as it was mournful. "As soon as I was off, I turned around and said, 'What just happened?'" the Motown singer later recounted of the experience. "Like, that's when reality set in. My hands were shaking like I was getting ready to sing, but I already sang."

BJ—real name Bryan James Sledge—appeared on stage as a stranger to many, but the singer's 2016 major label debut, In My Mind, had just been nominated for a grammy. BJ himself had received four nominations in total. His breakout project was met with critical acclaim and came at the tail end of a difficult 15-year grind for the singer. True mainstream fame has still eluded him, but he's always had a notable presence in most respected circles. He is a regular aid in TDE and has worked extensively alongside every member, as well as Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Anderson .Paak, Dr. Dre, and Anthony Hamilton.

Many call him a revivalist and a trendsetter, though BJ has never embraced titles and says he doesn't even listen to the radio. "I love what music is, but I just know who I am," he told Beats 1 Radio. His sophomore effort, 1123, likely won't achieve the attention it deserves, as it was overshadowed by the debuts of YBN Cordae and Chance The Rapper's latest, but its release alongside such mainstream heavy-hitters confirms that BJ truly tunes out the gossip and stays focused on the music.

While 1123 doesn't make as many grand gestures as its predecessor, the album's trimmed hedges give it mainstream listenability, while offering just enough idiosyncrasies to make it sound like something new. Anderson .Paak's rapping sounds especially silky alongside old school DJ scratches and BJ's illuminating voice. "Playa's Ball" makes the most out of Rick Ross's deep growls, while "Worryin' Bout Me" pushes Offset's bravado into a slightly new direction. The record is not without its snag—"Rather Be With You," and "Close" never truly achieve lift-off—but BJ's talent is electric. And while 1123 is not a genre-bending masterpiece, it's eclectic enough to remind us that BJ has already achieved monumental success and that mainstream fame is soon to follow. When it inevitably arrives on his doorstep, it will have been on his terms.

1123