J Hollins - AKA Casanova Black

J Hollins
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From young struggling artist to record label executive, J Hollins has come a long way since his days singing with a vocal band in his hometown of Chicago. Since 2004, his dashed dreams of chasing major label heaven have been replaced by climbing the independent music ladder with his Block Bleeders Entertainment (BBE) imprint. BBE provided the perfect outlet for Hollins’ unusual urban soundtrack of soul, hip-hop, blues and R&B; there he could express his inner feelings about whatever was on his mind at various points throughout his life. Last year’s The Soul Renaissance LP captured Hollins at his soulful peak; exploring his early manhood while dropping several doses of Chicago-fueled soul, a pinch of funk, fluid rap lyricism and a suave tenor voice that the ladies would certainly drop dead for. 

From young struggling artist to record label executive, J Hollins has come a long way since his days singing with a vocal band in his hometown of Chicago. Since 2004, his dashed dreams of chasing major label heaven have been replaced by climbing the independent music ladder with his Block Bleeders Entertainment (BBE) imprint. BBE provided the perfect outlet for Hollins’ unusual urban soundtrack of soul, hip-hop, blues and R&B; there he could express his inner feelings about whatever was on his mind at various points throughout his life. Last year’s The Soul Renaissance LP captured Hollins at his soulful peak; exploring his early manhood while dropping several doses of Chicago-fueled soul, a pinch of funk, fluid rap lyricism and a suave tenor voice that the ladies would certainly drop dead for. 

With his follow-up, AKA Casanova Black, Hollins continues etching his chapter on manhood with plenty of tales of love in various degrees, spiced with humor, swagger and smooth pipes. Hollins reacquaints his audience on AKA Casanova Black’s amusing “Intro (Gimme Your Love)”:  “I have been gone for a minute, but I scratch back.”  “Saturday Nite” invites the listener into a ‘rock and roll skate’ party good time. The first single, “You’re My Girl (featuring Anton Genius),” cleverly inserts the hooks from the Al B. Sure classic, “Night & Day.”

However, on Hollins’ latest, love is not always about the Casanova attitude. The Chicago soul-filled “Can I” stands for sincere romantic commitment: “Let me show you it’s OK to trust again.”

AKA Casanova Black encores two riveting moments from The Soul Renaissance LP.  “Her High” centers on Hollins’ and Juice’s gripping narrative of a woman who craves that sexual high night and day and “I’m Not Ready (featuring Dave Pracyse)” depicts the brutal honesty behind the ultimate player: “I’m choosing a bow wow/Rather do it now before I technically foul out.” 

The aforementioned tracks on AKA Casanova Black are reminders of how Hollins dazzles the soulful senses. Yet, there are several instances where he sometimes slips into the trap of an oversexed, clichéd lover backed by cheap synthesizers, like on “What’s It Going to Take” and “Videotape,” respectively: “Let me take you to the top/You never want to come down” and “Let’s do us and videotape us.”  While Hollins’ The Soul Renaissance LP is his absolute recording pinnacle, AKA Casanova Black is unfortunately a bit of a downgrade. 

Vocals:  3.0 stars
Music:  2.5 stars
Lyrics:  2.0 stars
Production:  2.5 stars
SoulTracks Call:  Moderately Recommended

By Peggy Oliver

 

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