Joe - Ain't Nothing Like Me (2007)

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The newest release from Joe may be titled , Ain't Nothing Like Me, but old and new fans alike will hear that some things about Joe have not changed at all. True the heavier hip-hop flavor of the CD is unusual for the platinum singer/songwriter, but the voice and style so faithfully awaited have returned triumphantly. Making music is what Joe does and now he adds old skool credibility to a new rendition of his faithful love lessons.

The newest release from Joe may be titled , Ain't Nothing Like Me, but old and new fans alike will hear that some things about Joe have not changed at all. True the heavier hip-hop flavor of the CD is unusual for the platinum singer/songwriter, but the voice and style so faithfully awaited have returned triumphantly. Making music is what Joe does and now he adds old skool credibility to a new rendition of his faithful love lessons.

Nas dusts any purchaser apprehensions right out the door with a pumping intro for the first track "Get To Know Me." Always having a little something for new fans, "Where You At" embraces commercial rhythms equally capable of capturing the club set. "If I Want Her" highlights his ready ease in providing beats that can thump a heart as easily as a woofer. Papoose by his side carries Joe to a new level of brow-raising head bobbin' that pleasantly surprised this naysayer. "It's Me" is consummate Joe, free-feeling funky beats with lyrics that connect you like a plug in a socket. "Love is Just A Game" accomplishes similar magic with an eerie sensuousness that verifies Joe's status as a musical McGyver.

It wouldn't be Joe without slow jams, and he doesn't disappoint with "Just Like This," a melody sweetened in romance. The cut "If I Was Your Man" is a masculine sonnet as heartfelt as headstrong. Joe handles this emotional divide with great aplomb, a shining example for up and comers both here and in the more tempered love of "Feel For You." "Have You Seen Her" brings up the heat as that romance turns to unbridled passion. "Life of The Party" also feels like a Joe-standard in the making - deep, cool, and relaxing like a romantic brook. The CD is rift with great Joe enjoyment. He tells a story you believe you lived. And his songs relate their emotion much the same way you might experience it. The most obvious evidence is revealed as he takes us back to basement parties with "You Should Know Me," a song so melodious listening alone seems a waste. "You should know me/No one else can take your place/I love you more and more each day/I would die before I hurt you/I will never let you down/You should know me."

Though Joe Thomas first penned hits for headliners on the R&B charts, his duets with rappers come as no real surprise. Remember, Joe enjoys much love in the community, having penned tracks on milestone hip-hop films, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Gin and Juice and Jason's Lyric, and dropped vocals on Rodney Jerkin's pop anthem "Don't Wanna Be a Playa" and Big Pun's "Still Not a Player." Dusting his own shoulders off after a string of self-penned and successful releases, Joe's collaborations with Fabulous on "Let's Just Do It," Dr. Dre on "Relax" and Tony Yayo and Young Buck on "Ain't Nothing Like Me," laud the lyrical versatility possible with proven players. It is no surprise that all are radio-play gems. Joe labels a deceptive duality with this CD. This truly is not Joe, not like we have heard him before. However it most definitely is Joe, the singular voice, distinct among R&B warriors, who we are grateful to enjoy again.

By Arnold Stovell

 
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