Jaheim - Appreciation Day

Jaheim
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Jaheim confronts an R&B market that is obsessed with youth. He had two ways to advance as an artist who is moving gradually into the prime of life. He can fight it or he can embrace being seasoned enough to know what to do and young enough to still be able to do it.

Listeners don’t have to wait very long to learn what approach Jaheim takes on his latest album Appreciation Day. The album’s first song, “Age Ain’t A Factor,” is a homage to 30 and 40 something women. “Age Ain’t A Factor” is a good song on a record filled with them. The cut is one of two political songs on Appreciation Day – the other being the “Florida,” a protest song about the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

Jaheim confronts an R&B market that is obsessed with youth. He had two ways to advance as an artist who is moving gradually into the prime of life. He can fight it or he can embrace being seasoned enough to know what to do and young enough to still be able to do it.

Listeners don’t have to wait very long to learn what approach Jaheim takes on his latest album Appreciation Day. The album’s first song, “Age Ain’t A Factor,” is a homage to 30 and 40 something women. “Age Ain’t A Factor” is a good song on a record filled with them. The cut is one of two political songs on Appreciation Day – the other being the “Florida,” a protest song about the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

So what’s so political about “Age Ain’t A Factor?” By making a song that celebrates that beauty of women who have advanced beyond 35, Jaheim makes a subtle commentary on our youth obsessed culture. We live in a society where actresses face existential crises when they turn 30, and where women inject what is essentially a weapon of mass destruction into their faces to get rid of wrinkles. In that context, “Age Ain’t A Factor” is a profound piece of social commentary.

The cut also shows that Jaheim remains anomaly in mainstream R&B. He’s a grown man in an R&B world populated by boys. The childish lyrics and starting-puberty vocals that are commonplace in R&B continue the race to the bottom that appears destined to end with the musical style becoming a sub-genre to hip-hop (if that hasn’t happened already). Yet Jaheim’s continued success proves that trend need not be inevitable.

Appreciation Day puts Jaheim’s many virtues on display. Jaheim’s strength stems from his ability to combine what he learned from a family that includes his grandfather (and Drifters alum) Victor Hoagland with lessons gained from working with some of this generation’s hottest R&B and hip-hop producers. Consequently, Jaheim has emerged as one of the few mainstream R&B singers who can credibly sing about relationships from a grown man’s perspective and still manage to get his music played on the radio.

So what’s his trick? Jaheim benefits from his mastery of the basics of song writing. The tracks on Appreciation Day feature solid lyricism and storytelling anchored by a voice that can go from church boy honey to ladies throw-your-panties-on-the-stage eroticism. Yet, Jaheim never falls into the trap of objectifying women – even during a steamy doo-wop styled number such as “P**** Appreciation Day.”

Appreciation Day includes songs crafted to appeal to the hip-hop generation as well as tunes inspired by the family sing alongs of his childhood usually included Jaheim’s legendary granddad. The vocals in tracks such as “Sexting,” a funky and devious cut that is the epitome of a guilty pleasure, are very much influenced by hip-hop both in terms of the rhyme pattern Jaheim employs, as well as in his vocal delivery.

Jaheim never strays far from his family heritage in soul and gospel singing. Family is also very important to the vocalist, and many of the songs on Appreciation Day affirm traditional values. The lyrics in “I Found You” have the kind of soulful honesty and vulnerability that can be heard in Drifters classics.

Jaheim trades in the hip-hop infused swagger of “Sexting” for honey-laden soul on “I Found You”: “If its my last day to live/I wanna spend it with you/and if its my last day to eat/then I’ll make reservations for two/if it’s my last day to breathe/spray some of your perfume/if its my last/you don’t have to ask/cuz I just want to be with you.”

Some people reach their 30s and they experience an identity crisis. Appreciation Day shows that Jaheim has no sense of trepidation advancing in age. He confronts this stage in life with a sense of confidence and joy that comes through in his music.  Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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