It’s not easy being a male R&B sex symbol. Sure, at first it’s fun to watch girls...
DJBooth Album Review
That’s why even though women across the country orgasm at the mere thought of J Holiday singing, he still needed to prove he could be a legitimate and long-lived musical force. Mission accomplished. Holiday shows that he’s more than a sex symbol with his aptly-titled Round 2, the slim singer’s follow up to 2007’s surprise smash Back of My Lac. Round 2 finds Holiday shifting away from Lac’s harder-edged image in favor of a smoother sound, resulting in a well-crafted album that shows that while Holiday’s got a ways to go before he reaches elite status, no one will ever be able to call him a one-hit wonder again.
Holiday exploded out of relative obscurity to the top of the charts on the strength of his smash hits Bed and Suffocate, two slow burners that cemented his status as a baby makin music machine. Since the former was helmed by The-Dream, who we recently confirmed is the motherf**king man, the public can be forgiven if they wondered how Round 2 would fare without the helping hand of the Radio Killer. Holiday’s first attempt to recapture the magic is the lead single It’s Yours, a synth-heavy track that slowly grinds while Holiday lays down the same “can’t get enough of you” lyrics that served him so well on his first go round. It’s Yours is an admirable attempt to walk the thin line between pop and R&B, but it lacks that intangible appeal that make Bed so unforgettable. If any track off Round 2 has the potential to blow up it might just be Wrong Lover, a storytelling cut that brings on Rick Ross for a dope guest verse while Holiday charismatically falsettos across the laid-back beat. I don’t know if there’s another Suffocate-level smash on this album, but I would still expect to hear Round 2’s best and brightest on a radio near year you very soon.
Everyone at the top of the music industry does something better than anyone else. No one can top Ne-Yo on pure songwriting, no one works an auto-tune like T-Pain, and who else can drop heartbreaking soul vocals like Anthony Hamilton? For his part, Holiday sounds like he’s still trying to figure out what his thing’s going to be. Is it going to be Jodeci-esque bedroom burners? If so then Round 2’s got an example of Holiday’s power to inspire heat between the sheets with his bumping Make That Sound, a burner that showcases his ability to ride a rhythm with the same skill that first won his legions of female fans. Or is he going to own the sensitive slow jam? Fly is Round 2’s foray into the full on break-up song world, complete with 90’s rock ballad style drum fills and a teary vocal performance from Holiday. Ultimately, Round 2 covers a lot of additional thematic ground, from the social consciousness of Homeless to the acoustically-oriented Run Into My Arms, but while the range is certainly impressive, I’m still unsure what Holiday’s claim to fame is going to be - and it sounds like he is too.
Make no mistake, Round 2 is still better than 90-percent of the albums that will come out this year, so let’s end this review on a high note (much like Holiday likes to do on his songs). Any true music fan will love Sing 2 U, a track Holiday writes using famous lines from R&B’s past, from R. Kelly’s “I don’t see nothin wrong with a little bump n’grind” to Ginuwine’s “every freakin night and every freakin day.” Similarly exhilarating is the surprisingly rocking I Tried, a track that has Holiday breaking out of the box to deliver one of the album’s most memorable tracks. So is Holiday still a sex symbol? Yes, but on Round 2 he proves he’s something much more valuable, a musician.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Mar 11, 2009
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