Music

Ray J: All I Feel

Anthony Henriques

Ray J continues his quest to shed the label of Brandy’s little brother by getting more and more sexually explicit.


Ray J

All I Feel

Label: Koch
US Release Date: 2008-04-08
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

If the way he turned a sex-tape scandal into a form of self-promotion wasn’t indicative, a quick glance at the cover art and liner notes of Ray J’s new album -- on which he is either shirtless or wearing a stripper-esque studded leather jacket -- makes it seem that this dude holds no reservation when it comes to whoring himself out. As far as the music on All I Feel goes, well, let’s just say that nothing really presents itself that could serve as a rebuttal to that contention.

All I Feel kicks off with a short intro titled “I Don’t Wanna Be Right” on which Ray J addresses his struggles -- being primarily recognized as Brandy’s little brother, never seeing his family growing up, being accused of putting out his own sex tape for publicity. It gives the listener the idea that, on this album, Ray J might actually provide more insight into the person he actually is, aside from the sibling of a once-huge pop star.

Any optimism is gone once the next track starts. “I Like to Trick”, like most of the songs on the album, is a third-rate R. Kelly rip off replete with lyrics about “hittin’ it from the front, then back,” “trickin’ on dem hoes,” and “making it rain.” Ray J even tries to capitalize on the success of an artist like T-Pain by singing through a vocoder. The next song, lead single “Sexy Can I”, features a slightly more catchy hook, with virtually the exact same lyrics from Ray J and Yung Berg, giving his best impression of a number of popular emcees from the past couple of years. When Ray J sings about wanting to bring out his camera, his pandering for sex-tape sympathy on the album’s intro loses all legitimacy.

“Gifts” essentially follows the same formula as the previous two tracks. “Girl from the Bronx” begins a string of four relationship-centered songs. First, he cheats on his Brooklyn girlfriend with a girl from the Bronx. On “Jump Off” he faces the ever-so-hard decision of mistress over wife. “Boyfriend” reverses roles as Ray J assumes the role of the guy who makes love to a wife better than her husband does. Finally, the title track is a simple break-up leading to heartbreak song. Though formulaic, it is the moment on All I Feel on which Ray J lays most of his pretensions to the side and shows some real emotion.

The last third of the album begins with “It’s Up to You”, a more respectable approach to a sex jam; this time he leaves everything up to the girl. Next are the two requisite gangster-posturing attempts at street credibility: “Where You At” and “Real Niggas”, featuring The Game and Styles P respectively. For a kid basically raised in show business, it's just too hard to buy any of Ray J’s boasts about how “gangsta” he is. Each track ends up being saved by pretty good production and the guest stars, both of which hardly ever sound bad.

Though “Good Girl Gone Bad” attempts to base an entire song off a line from Jay-Z’s “Song Cry”, the soulful Fizzy Womack track allows Ray J to get old-school with his singing style; the track ends up with a feel that is somewhere in between early Motown and New Edition. Take out the unnecessary promotional guest verse from rapper Shorty Mack (signed to Ray J’s Knockout Entertainment) and you have a unique and well-executed throwback R&B track and probably the best song on the album.

Ray J’s lyrics on the album’s outro, titled “I Can Feel It”, imply that, throughout the course of All I Feel, he has undergone some sort of profound transformation. Well, if this is true, it's not apparent in the music. The album isn't terrible -- the production throughout is generally quite catchy, and Ray J has a sufficient voice with a good sense of melody. The problem with All I Feel is that nearly every single song utilizes some kind of tired formula, and the artist either comes off sounding like a parody of R. Kelly or a wannabe Prince. It seems that Ray J’s main goal is to leave behind his image as Brandy’s brother. In attempting to do so, he makes explicitly sexual music to offset the squeaky-clean image his sister built in her days of fame. The trouble with the type of music he makes is that it has been done so many times, there's no longer any room for originality. So Ray J, while trying to shed one label, has pigeonholed himself right into another.

4


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Jennifer Kelly
Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.