Chrisette Michele first caught my ear when she was featured on Nas' "Can't Forget About You," on his 'Hip-Hop is Dead' disk. I thought, that it was genius of Nas to incorporate Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole on a track - but to my surprise Billie Holiday was in fact Chrisette Michele, a 22 year-old Long Island Native who incorporates all elements of R&B into a voice that immediately brought me back to the excitement I had for Jill Scott back in 2000. When was the last time we heard real, new feel good music? It seems as if we have to dig into a vault of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Rachelle Ferrell, Lalah Hathaway or Rahassan Patterson to relax...all that comes to an end today! Her voice, so poised, so controlled, so refreshing...so rich. She doesn't have to do runs of vocal tricks to draw you in. She simply SINGS - something that the industry has been lacking since the days of Deborah Cox and the golden age of Whitney Houston. I am convinced that Chrisette Michele may single-handedly return R&B to it's roots of real instruments, real singing, real production and real lyrics. There are only a few disks that are in my library, that I can't immediately recall, that I can play the entire way through. "I Am" will be one of those CD's. I must say that releasing her CD during black music month is more than just perfect timing. In my opinion this is the BEST FEMALE R&B VOCAL OF 07' and the BEST DEBUT OF A FEMALE ARTIST in a while...In an age of Ciara and Beyonce - it is good to hear a young woman go against the norm. Not to say and Beyonce and Ciara lack something...but it's finally good to hear and see a young black woman talk about respect and independence while challenging ideas - while not being half naked and spazzing around to the beat (dancing) while wanting someone to take them serious...get into Chrisette's track "Good Girl." This CD is indescribable in more ways than one. Vocally she gives you what you need, lyrically you get an insightful spin on her world. Production wise you get tracks that can go well with anyone from Sade to Janet Jackson...not overproduced, just right, to put you in the mood for whatever. The thing that saddens me most about artists like Chrisette is that she will have a huge following - but she may not get the props she deserves. She is the bomb! End of discussion. She embraces the elegance of black R&B of the past, present and future...support her! of course she gets the TRENT JACKSON STAMP OF APPROVAL! If you purchase on I-tunes you get live bonus tracks as well...that are PHENOMENAL!!!!
Standout tracks: If I have My Way, In This For You, Is The Way Love Feels, I Am One, Your Joy.
After interviewing him for my Friday Finale, I had to immense myself into the world of Jesse O, the first ever openly gay, R&B singer of the new millennium. While the comments on the interview were mixed - a few complained that the interview did not feature any of his music or there was no reason to support his music, I decided to give you one. I always like to remind people to support the cause, even if you have to support, because of the fact that he's a black, gay, man. But there is more to it than that.
If the current state of R&B is any indication of the sign of things to come then Jesse O is the way to turn. He is another artist that just sings without all of the overproduced hijinks of producers who aren't musicians and the studio tricks that performers use and once they are live, they sing under the notes that were once there in the studio. He draws us in to his world by using his relaxing, smooth voice matched with a mix of eclectic drum thumping, R&B based tracks, that are a relief to today’s radio. Most singers can not take credit for writing their own material – but how many singers come to mind that not only write and produce their own music? But the bigger question is where have those artists gone who have done both? If the past is a great prediction for the future then Jesse O may have a career as rich as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Marvin Gaye or Rahsaan Patterson.
While the more radio friendly track is “Set The Record Straight,” that doesn’t mean that the rest of the CD is without merit. It is on tracks such as “Big Trip,” “My Brotha,” and “I Won’t Argue With It,” that Jesse showcases his vocal abilities and you can literally hear him preparing taking his place in R&B music. More so than anything, I think the Exposure EP which can be purchased on I-Tunes or CD Baby is a sign of things to come. As indicated in my interview his is obvious focus, this is not the last that we'll ever hear of Jesse O and I believe that he'll make an impact on the future of R&B music...I heard that he slayed the kids in New York over the weekend...another cd that gets the TRENT JACKSON STAMP OF APPROVAL.
Speaking of good R&B vocalists...remember the Days of Deborah Cox...she's one of my favorites, who like Chante Moore is a versatile artist in which they can sing anything. Deborah Cox could sing polka and make the shit sound like angels singing. While I don't know how happy I was when I initially heard that Deborah, once a happy member of the Clive Davis' dream team, was doing a jazz album. I wanted so bad for her and Clive to makeup and he give her the real chance she deserved. I think she really didn't get her due because Clive got pushed from arista and he was too busy focusing on Whitney... Nonetheless Deborah comes back just as I remember her. Voice, face and talent still bankable and I actually enjoy her renditions of timeless jazz classics that showcase her talent. It's classic to hear an orchestra compliment a voice so tamed - it's a perfect match that makes sense, that almost makes you wonder if Deborah should have pursed Jazz instead of the shaky road of R&B. It's apparent that Jazz is her comfort zone and even if you don't like Jazz you'll enjoy the voice that you're familiar with. I respect Deborah - because she didn't sell out and take off her clothes to try and keep her career on track. She realized that she was a singer and she stayed true to her talent and craft. I'll have to admit, while I love the CD vocally, the material is not gonna have me off in a corner somewhere wishing I was in Harlem Nights getting drunk with Della Reese, going on some heist in an alley...or selling Smack to Miss. Diana in Lady Sings the Blues. This is not one I'll play a whole lot. This is out of respect and support of a true vocalist. But still, it gets the TRENT JACKSON STAMP OF APPROVAL.
Standout Tracks: I Don't Hurt Anymore, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, September In The Rain, This Bitter Earth, Destination Moon