K'Jon - I Get Around (2009)

K'Jon
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Make no mistake: this is all about "On the Ocean."  Detroit artist K'Jon was knocking around the indie circuit for nearly a decade when frustration in a Los Angeles hotel room turned to artistic inspiration.  The result was one of the best songs of the past year, a moving combination of desperation and optimism from an artist whose career appeared to be stuck in neutral for too long.  The immediate, universal appeal of the message of "On The Ocean"' took the song from an obscure indie track in Summer of '08 to the top of the R&B charts in Spring of '09.  It also gained for K'Jon a major label contract with Universal Republic to release an album around the smash song (which had previously been included in his now-deleted independent CD Ballroom Xplosion).

Make no mistake: this is all about "On the Ocean."  Detroit artist K'Jon was knocking around the indie circuit for nearly a decade when frustration in a Los Angeles hotel room turned to artistic inspiration.  The result was one of the best songs of the past year, a moving combination of desperation and optimism from an artist whose career appeared to be stuck in neutral for too long.  The immediate, universal appeal of the message of "On The Ocean"' took the song from an obscure indie track in Summer of '08 to the top of the R&B charts in Spring of '09.  It also gained for K'Jon a major label contract with Universal Republic to release an album around the smash song (which had previously been included in his now-deleted independent CD Ballroom Xplosion).

While "On The Ocean" connected most with thirty-somethings and dominated the urban adult contemporary charts, on I Get Around K'Jon shows himself to have more urban/hip-hop sensibilities (complete with the requisite guest rappers and boastful introductions) than adult soul leanings.  This may be a surprise to those expecting a second Kem; K'Jon is a younger oriented artist, closer to Akon but with more urban focus.

"On The Ocean" is clearly the album's highlight and is a career song -- K'Jon's vocals literally ache over his disappointments even as he looks forward hopefully -- and it overwhelms everything else on I Get Around.  While the album has its moments, on no other track does artist, material and production come together so perfectly.  K'Jon shows that he is an extremely insightful lyricist, whether it is declaring his love for a woman in "This Time," or his determination to rise above "haters" in "Fly Away."  But neither the melodies nor the sequencing of the album hit the mark nearly as often as the lyrics.  I Get Around screams for a few club bangers and slow jams, but nearly the entire album hovers over tempos in between, giving a feel of sameness to much of the disc that K'Jon's tunes aren't strong enough to regularly overcome.

K'Jon is certainly still developing, both as a singer and a songwriter.  With on "On the Ocean" he shows that he is capable of transcendant music, and on the title track and the ballad "I'll Never Forget" he demonstrates that even his second tier music is solid.  But there just isn't enough uniformly high quality stuff on I Get Around to support its length (16 songs) or its braggadocio.  Whether through increased songwriting collaborations or simply through sharpening his skills over time, the challenge for K'Jon will be to take his already strong lyricism and consistently marry it to tunes and production that will catapult him to the next level as an artist.  In the meantime, the "On the Ocean" is nearly essential and I Get Around is Mildly Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 

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