Written by Crystal (@crystalleww); Introduction by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)
Through a mix of bad puns and interesting Valentines Day releases, this week at somanyshrimp.com is all about R&B. With different writers going in-depth on recent releases from Jojo, K. Michelle, Mya, Ne-Yo and Pharrell, and since Pharrell’s G I R L is coming out this week. The name of this little week devoted to R&B releases is, again bad pun: L O V E Week. Hope everyone enjoys!
The current wave of R&B criticism has magnified the critical attention paid to Abel Tesfaye-inspired female R&B singers and songs that have been incorrectly labelled as part of the genre “Aaliyah-wave”. Even Cassie, whose name is falsely evoked by many as a founding member, succumbed to the trend with 2013’s RockaBye Baby, a mixtape full of utterly forgettable too-cool-for-emotion tunes. While JoJo’s explored the trendier, sexier side of R&B with her excellent flip on Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” and 40-produced “Demonstrate”, it’s refreshing to hear #LoveJo pays homage to the more soulful and overly emotive side of her genre.
Covering such classic, though a bit old-fashioned, R&B and pop tunes may not be an explicit rejection of that high-profile style, but it certainly feels like a denial of the narrative that forces buzzy female R&B singers within a certain niche. Despite the generational gap with the singer and the source material, both EP covers do a good job of updating their saccharine source material. Da Internz produced both tracks, giving both songs updated beats that bounce. They are largely known for Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$)” and Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake”, but their production here is closer to their work with Tamar Braxton. JoJo’s take on Anita Baker’s “Caught Up in the Rapture of Love” keeps the original, slightly over the top runs but she injects the track with much needed youth and a waving and stuttering outro that avoids veering into trend-chasing. Phil Collin’s original take on “Take Me Home” was a little one noted, so JoJo takes an updated beat to create space for vocal flourishes.
Final song “Glory” draws on gospel. Unlike her contemporary peers, it doesn’t shy away from melisma one bit. Between her embrace of the trendy markers and the historical roots of R&B, JoJo is showing the world that she is continually undervalued and deserves to be a part of the broader conversation.
Link: Jojo’s #LoveJo