[23 January 2011]
The problem with Jamie Foxx as a musician is, anyone that grew up with his comedy routine knows that Jamie has always been reasonably talented. Not in a Motown or Stax sort of sense, certainly, but the man can sing and handle himself on a piano if he has to. So the fact that he finds himself on the wrong side of 40 making music that appeals more to high school dances than folks his own age is… awkward. At this point, Foxx should have his identity clearly established—frankly, he shouldn’t be the faceless voice behind “Living Better Now”, a song so Auto-Tuned that anyone could have delivered it. It’s beyond the point of whether the song is tolerable or not, because in most ways it is. It’s simply that Foxx feels useless. Why isn’t this just a Drake song?
And that’s pretty much the story of the whole record; it’s that simple to tell. You’re here for the guests, even though Wiz Khalifa feels no different than an off-brand Drake himself, and Ludacris is only interested in matching Soulja Boy’s standards. Rick Ross sounds good over Bink! as usual, but Bink! supplies an uncharacteristically gaudy chorus that serves only to sabotage the whole affair. “Winner” is another song that exists in spite of Jamie, and speaks only to the depth of his pockets. There is very little on Best Night of My Life to suggest that Jamie Foxx is someone who has business making music. Rather, it simply suggests a portion of Foxx’s business is making music. Jay-Z’s infamous “I’m not a businessman—I’m a business, man!” exclamation to the nth degree.
Ultimately, what’s the worth of this album? The chorus of “Winner” splayed across ESPN and TNT promos for basketball games, and “Fall for Your Type” satisfying women that get more joy out of imagining sex symbols speaking to them than hearing talented musicians making music. Oh, and yet another T.I. guest verse in 2010 that outclasses near anything included on his own album, the studio abortion No Mercy. Nothing about the production looks forward, it simply captures our moment in time. There are no basslines, just bass thuds, and most of the time there’s not even really any singing, just warbles and Auto-Tuned nothingness.
“Blame It” was a stroke of pop culture genius thanks to T-Pain, not Foxx, and the evidence is this album, track after track. You’ll catch yourself bobbing your head more than once during the duration of Best Night of My Life, but the question is, will you ever catch yourself sitting through it again? I’d wager no. Fake ass love-making music was dead in the mid-‘90s, let alone the talentless urban landscape of 2010.