Can I juss tell you guys how much i still dig this brother's work??!!
Heyyyyy, hay! You know I’m not a slave no mo'!"
Sang it, J.R.!
J.R. dropped a really amazing album back in Dec. 2007 called Life By Stereo. If you haven't heard this producer/singer/writer, then I think you really missed out on some serious hustleknockin' goin' on.
First time I heard J.R.'s Christiòn-esque vocals was probably on an early Da' Truth joint back in '02. That sold me enoughto cop his first release, Metamorphosis when it finally dropped in 2005; that one was more more traditional R&B and street in sound and tone, but still pretty unique in the way he came at it.
And similar to Metamorphosis, Life By Stereo didn't disappoint. It's still in rotation almost a year later, hence me writing about it again.
Genre-wise, Life By Stereo is a thick, soulful black gumbo fusing everything imaginable—rock, traditional gospel rhythms, soul, R&B, hiphop… And it's all done so effortlessly that it's sick. It doesn't sound like somebody trying to be a hybrid or a culture vulture. It's just good beats and chords and songs that move.
This is the album where J.R. (a traditional R&B guy whose always had a little edge to his stuff) really finds a sound that's all his own.
J.R. avoids the whole “here’s a bunch of scripture set to music and you’re going to hell if you don’t get it”; but rather J.R. uses song after song to show the struggles of worldly-living and the emptiness a lot of people in real situations feel and how Christ can bring peace and comfort to these situations.
For example, “I’m not a Slave” as you can see from the clip is about beating everything from addictions to inner weakness and self-doubt thru Christ. But the song is so hot, so bumping and so much fun to listen to that you almost don’t realize it’s ministry music. And that's not an insult to ministry music or the Gospel or art; it's just that it's so difficult to blend these elements without losing something in intent or translation that most folks get lost in the translation.
"Rockstar” which you can see from the clip below, is all about how the people we envy and idolize most probably have things the roughest and can be the most lost. This rockstar buys and spends and indulges, but just like the Prodigal Son in St. Luke Chapt. 15, he’s not happy until he goes back home to what matters most—his father.
Now tell me, who hasn’t been in that position before? And for that matter, isn't every other emcee, Hollywooder, athlete and top business exec probably stuck in this very position right now?
Overall, if you haven’t heard it yet, pick up Life By Stereo by J.R. It’s a really amazing album that’s worth hearing again. And again!
Also, here's the RockStar video if you wanna watch it. It's pretty cool!