Jamie Foxx - The Best Night of My Life (2011)

Jamie Foxx

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In today's flighty and fickle entertainment industry, where it seems that most of what's considered ‘hot' panders to the lowest common denominator of originality and talent, it's refreshing to find a performer who excels in one field, much less three, and that's a feat that the former Eric Bishop, AKA Jamie Foxx, has indisputably achieved.

At age 43, his credits and achievements are enviable: a variety of memorable movie roles, an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, platinum-selling CDs, and of course, the comedic gifts he displays while performing stand-up shows and during his Sirius Satellite Radio show. The Best Night of My Life represents his fourth musical release, and just a few tracks in, one realizes that it's no longer credibility or longevity he's concerned with, but remaining hip and hot amongst his peers, so if it's the former you prefer, rather than the latter, then...well....keep reading to see how that works for you.

In today's flighty and fickle entertainment industry, where it seems that most of what's considered ‘hot' panders to the lowest common denominator of originality and talent, it's refreshing to find a performer who excels in one field, much less three, and that's a feat that the former Eric Bishop, AKA Jamie Foxx, has indisputably achieved.

At age 43, his credits and achievements are enviable: a variety of memorable movie roles, an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, platinum-selling CDs, and of course, the comedic gifts he displays while performing stand-up shows and during his Sirius Satellite Radio show. The Best Night of My Life represents his fourth musical release, and just a few tracks in, one realizes that it's no longer credibility or longevity he's concerned with, but remaining hip and hot amongst his peers, so if it's the former you prefer, rather than the latter, then...well....keep reading to see how that works for you.

Because of his undeniable chops, charisma and star power, Mr. Foxx had no problem lining up some of today's hottest collaborators for ....Life, and the first half of the CD is replete with them, thanks to an abundant use of vocoders, ‘chopping and screwing,' Auto-Tune and appearances from rappers like Drake ("Fall For Your Type"), Rick Ross (the Biggie-verse-anchored "Living Better Now"), Soulja Boy, Ludacris and T.I., who's featured on the inescapably catchy "Winner." Hip-hop flavoring, hooks galore and heavy emphasis on the "dance with you" and "do it to you" themes are what dominate here, with less of the balladry and romance that at least made a constant - then cursory - appearance on his previous collections. The CD functions well as a party soundtrack and will certainly get it crunk at the crib or in the ride, but since it's so overwhelmingly gimmicky and shallow ....Life will fall short for fans who got open on Foxx thanks to his Peep This debut, because as crisply produced and cooly rendered as the tracks are, they bury a lot of what of his initial appeal is as a performer: his soulful instincts and actual voice.

For those who want to skip the perpetually-posturing and testosterone-fueled club bangers (seriously, how many times can one recycle the "I'm-big-balling-and-shot-calling-backstage/in-my-whip/at-VIP, let-me-buy-you-a -drink-and-hit-that" theme?) and hear something that actually resembles R&B, the last handful of songs range between sweet ("Gorgeous") and sordid ("Sleeping Pill," "15 Minutes"). "Rejoice," which borrows heavily from a Pre-Conversion Era Prince, falls somewhere in-between, starting off tender ("Unwrap my body, like it's your birthday gift/and like a birthday wish, tell me what you need and I got you Girl") and ending up on the graphic and tawdry side ("leave your footprints on the wall, take that pillow off your face/I gots to see the passion in your face, when I'm in your sexy place, right before you explode"). Foxx then takes a robotic turn in the "groupies-gone-wrong" tale, "All Said And Done" ("the groupie even took my Rolee, had to call the police/man this is a doggone shame. The officers said they think they've got her/ told me to describe her, but I don't even know her name"). A bonus track, "Sex On The Beach," may become a favorite of rave hip-hop fans, but for others, it will sound empty and irritating.

There's a difference between leaving one's comfort zone and completely subverting one's signature style for extra airplay; whatever the case, Mr. Foxx chose to just show up this time around rather than show out, and what he considers The Best Night Of my Life feels synthetic and soulless, a figurative leap into the shallow end of the pool when he's capable of backstroking with the best of them.  If he wants to move units, then ....Life may be a good look, but if Mr. Foxx is striving for timelessness and relevancy, then sounding like a confident, age-appropriate version of himself instead of a hot remix of someone else is a much better one. Modestly and Reluctantly Recommended.

By Melody Charles 

 

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