Jaheim - The Makings of a Man (2007)

Jaheim
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With the passing of R&B legends Luther Vandross and Gerald Levert, there's an abundance of balladeers eager to be crowned the new "king of R&B." But only one artist bravely sets himself apart from the competition by claiming the title of the new "voice of R&B."

Jaheim grabbed the attention of R&B fans back in 2001 with his debut album Ghetto Love. Since then Jaheim recorded two more solo albums for his former record label (Warner Bros.) - Still Ghetto and Ghetto Classics. In the tradition of R. Kelly, all three initial projects successfully blended conventional R&B ballads with a street-wise mentality of someone forever scared by the ghetto.  But maturity has begun to set-in on Jaheim's Atlantic Records debut, The Makings of a Man.

With the passing of R&B legends Luther Vandross and Gerald Levert, there's an abundance of balladeers eager to be crowned the new "king of R&B." But only one artist bravely sets himself apart from the competition by claiming the title of the new "voice of R&B."

Jaheim grabbed the attention of R&B fans back in 2001 with his debut album Ghetto Love. Since then Jaheim recorded two more solo albums for his former record label (Warner Bros.) - Still Ghetto and Ghetto Classics. In the tradition of R. Kelly, all three initial projects successfully blended conventional R&B ballads with a street-wise mentality of someone forever scared by the ghetto.  But maturity has begun to set-in on Jaheim's Atlantic Records debut, The Makings of a Man.

As executive-producer of The Makings of a Man, Jaheim enlisted support from R. Kelly, Keyshia Cole, Babyface, Eric Williams (formerly of 90's R&B group Blackstreet), and longtime collaborator Kay-Gee (formerly of 90's rap trio Naughty by Nature). Jaheim shared writing and production credits on nearly all 12 tracks.

Conceptually, The Makings of a Man is more about honoring the traditional appeal of R&B music rather than displaying ghetto-isms. "Voice of R&B" and "Life of a Thug" are the only two tracks that remind the listener of Jaheim's troubled past. Both of his parents died before he became a legal adult. He spent most of his childhood running the streets of New Jersey and was also incarcerated for a short period of time. With a new lease on life, Jaheim is actively taking charge of his career. In his own words - "You have to evaluate yourself, and that's what I did. Being a man means to walk like Christ."

The lead single, "Never," is an ode to true love. It's a polished ballad which could have been recorded by Jaheim's biggest musical influence - the late Luther Vandross. Keyshia Cole compliments Jaheim on the lively duet "I've Changed," where they croon that love changes everything and their lives will never again be the same. R. Kelly provides his usual brand of scandal on "Hush," a typical Kelly track about keeping a taboo love affair silent.  And Babyface contributes "Just Don't Have a Clue," which is classic R&B material. Jaheim sings directly to a woman that she has no clue how good of a love partner he can be.

Ballads flourish throughout the album. The disc has a level of maturity far surpassing Jaheim's previous projects. Though some vulgarities still exist, the music more than compensates for it. He's finally growing up like so many R&B artists of this era.

The Makings of a Man does not break any new R&B ground, but it's a step in the right direction for Jaheim. He shows a new level of maturity and artistic development on the album and stakes a legitimate claim as the new "voice of R&B."

by Akim Bryant

 
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