With rumors circulating about a Jodeci reunion release dropping later this year about as rampant as alcohol/drug related arrests in the Bush family, you may be wondering why vocal duo K-Ci & Jo Jo would want to drop another project. It goes without question that, since Jodeci’s hiatus, these two have had some pretty impressive spin-off success with singles like “All My Life”, “Tell Me It’s Real”, and “Crazy”, but is it enough for yet another release?
Some seem to think so. In a world full of inconsistency, it appears that people are looking for comfort in reliability when it comes to music, which is something these fellas have been able to deliver. Their latest effort, Emotional, is full of what their fan base has grown accustomed to: old-school R&B and classic, soul-filled love songs with a “let’s take it back to church” twist.
The difference between the smooth, lovers’ R&B made by most vocal groups and that made by brothers Joel “JoJo” Hailey and Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey on Emotional is, surprisingly enough, soul. They sing with the thunderous, lung-busting testimonial fervour you’d expect from guys raised in the Pentecostal church of North Carolina. Coupled with the chops worked out as half of Jodeci, it’s no wonder the duo’s aptly titled Emotional makes many other R&B records seem positively anemic by comparison even if K-Ci and JoJo mine the same lyrical turf.
Ergo, pronouncements of eternal devotion on songs such as “I Don’t Want” (anybody else but you) and “Down for Life” (ditto, though written and produced by Babyface) are propelled as much by K-Ci and JoJo’s dulcet tones as lush layers of strings and synth. If only that fickle beast called love was as consistently pleasing as these two crooners. “This Very Moment” ( a song suited for marriage proposals), “Love Me Carefully” (produced by The Underdogs), “Goodbye”, and “How Can I Trust You” offer the painstaking love revelations that have become their signature on the air-waves, although “Special” may be one of the most radio-friendly songs offered this go round.
There are a couple of up-tempo tunes including “I Don’t Want”, on which the brothers Hailey profess to be one-woman men (“I don’t want anybody else / If I can’t be with you, I’d rather be by myself”) and the multi-tracked sound of Rodney Jerkins on “It’s Me”, a sure-fire club hit about a man finding out that his woman is really a gold digger. There are even a couple of “Wait a minute, is that you, Dalvin and DeVante?” flashback tracks, including “Say Yes” and “So Emotional”, but after a few bars you know they are just teasers, possibly a taste of what’s to come.
Needless to say, there’s no hidden meaning in the album’s title. “We have a lot of songs dealing with a lot of emotions,” K-Ci explained of the duo’s fourth record, which dropped November 26th of last year. “K-Ci & JoJo do songs about what goes on in relationships, it don’t necessarily have to be about our personal experiences. We just want to write songs people can relate to.”
One subject that didn’t come up in writing material for the album is K-Ci’s arrest last year for indecent exposure. The singer said the incident was a misunderstanding and he hasn’t thought about it much since.
“What happened was, if you know K-Ci & JoJo, you know I love to go into the audience,” he explained. “And what happened was I jumped in and got back onstage, and without my knowledge they had ripped my belt off. My pants were soaking wet and falling down and I don’t know what happened, but I would never do anything like that. There wasn’t nothing but kids in the audience. I’m a proud father of two children and I would never disrespect someone else’s children.”
Other producers on Emotional include Mike “Smoove” Bell, Babyboy and Babyface, who collaborated on “Down for Life”. “Face respects our talent, that’s why I love working with him,” JoJo said. “He’ll put you on that street, but you need to know when to stop and when to go and how fast to drive. He lets you get involved and be yourself.”
K-Ci & JoJo will promote the follow-up to 2000’s X with a tour set to kick off next year with Gerald Levert and Dave Hollister. “We’re going to call it Ladies Night or Ladies Only,” JoJo said.
The duo, brothers Cedric and Joel Hailey, have also written more than 100 songs with Dalvin DeGrate and DeVante Swing for the first album from Jodeci in seven years, due next spring. “It’s going to sound like [classic] Jodeci,” K-Ci said. “We don’t want no outside producers, nothing but ourselves.”
And judging by the duo’s strict policy of adhering to “whatever worked the last time around” that means we R&B fans could be in for the mother-of-all-booty-gettin’ albums.
// Notes from the Road
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