After hearing the opening lines of Jimmy Cozier’s debut single “She’s All I Got” it is clear that the singer/songwriter is singing about a man in love. Digesting the lines “I want to tell ya’ll about my ole lady / Sometimes I think she’s really crazy / She blacks out at the drop of a dime, but she’s still my baby” there’s no doubt that homie’s girl may be psychotic. By the time Cozier sings the chorus “sometimes I love her, sometimes I love her not / I ain’t letting her go, cause she’s all I got / Although she nags me, and complains a lot, I ain’t letting her go” it is easy to wonder why someone would put up with such a partner. Cozier’s track is a very honest take on one male-female relationship that speaks to the compromises that partner’s often have to make because of the stakes of being alone in a society that increasingly values the pursuit sexual and emotional stimulation over stable lasting and yes damn difficult relationships. As Cozier later lovingly sings “With her I have grown, with her home is home,” it is clear that he values stability. It was a theme that is articulated throughout Dave Holister’s Chicago ‘85 the Movie on tracks like “One Woman Man” and “Keep on Lovin’” thus it is not surprising that “She’s All I Got” was written and produced by Mike City, who wrote and produced tracks on Holister’s recording and of course was responsible for Sunshine Anderson’s anti-infidelity anthem “Heard It All Before”. “She’s All I Got” is the lead single of Jimmy Cozier’s debut release Jimmy Cozier, a stylish mélange of R&B, Caribbean, and jazz-influenced tracks.
Cozier is the son of baritone saxophonist Jimmy Cozier, who has been aligned in the past with the Brooklyn-based M-Base Jazz collective (Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen). No doubt the influence of his father’s musical career and his mother’s Jamaican heritage stimulated Cozier’s comfort at obliterating genre boundaries as he does throughout the project. Cozier’s vocals are functional and soulful on the one hand recalling the whiner (Keith Sweat) and on the other reminiscent of classic Caribbean crooners such as Freddie MacGregor, Frankie Paul, and Beres Hammond. While there are no great aesthetic leaps, like the aforementioned Sunshine Anderson, Cozier has produced a bouncy ditty that will come in handy for summer time drives to Jones Beach or the Berkshires. Cozier first appeared singing background on the Junior Mafia debut in 1995 and later toured as a back-up singer for Joe. His initial interest was as a songwriter, co-penning “Girlfriend” with Teddy Riley for the “last” Blackstreet project, writing tracks for Mya and Sinead O’Connor and co-writing more than a few tracks with songwriter/pardon buyer Denise Rich.
Cozier came to the attention of Wyclef Jean (the Haitian P-diddy), who introduced Cozier to Clive Davis, who later singed the singer to his fledging J label. Jean served as the project’s executive producer co-writing three of Jimmy Cozier‘s 12 tracks, ten of which were co-written by Cozier. Jean’s influence is most pronounced on the brilliant “Time Stands Still” which laments the passing of stable communities where folks could have block parties and barbeques and the impact of disease, violence, and incarceration on these neighborhoods. The song’s chant-like chorus which features Jean on vocals (“Time Stands Still for no one, so I ain’t gonna stand still for time, I’mma move ahead and get mine.”) in reminiscent of the Chambers Brother’s “Time Has Come Today”.
Besides the infectious lead single highlights include the power ballad “No More Playing Games”, and the yearning “Heartfelt Letter”, the latter of which will likely be pushed to cross-over to non-urban audiences. Cozier gives a shout out to the British soulsters with the aptly titled “Two Steps”, which alludes to both a difficult relationship (“every time we take one step forward, you take two steps back.”) and the “Two-Step” movement that Craig David will “formally” introduce to the States with the release of his American debut Born to Do It on July 17th, having already sold three million copies of the recording globally without previous distribution in the States. Cozier ditches the lovelorn yearning showing his Brooklyn bounce on the timely “What’s the Deal” (Yo what the deal, if you gonna come come real, hit a nigga with somethin’ he can feel, if it’s no love then chill). Other standouts include “Cheated” and his duet with fellow J label mate Alicia Keys, “Mr. Man”, which is also included on her debut Songs in A Minor.
As a whole Jimmy Cozier is a less ambitious spin on the ground that Wyclef Jean covered on his brilliant Carnival but a glimpse (for real though, since more than half of the songs clock in at less than four minutes), into the mind and future of a talented singer/songwriter.
// Notes from the Road
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