J-Wonn #6 The New Generation
Daddy B. Nice's #6 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"I Got This Record"
J-Wonn #6 The New Generation
Composed by Jawonn Smith
See the chart.
--Daddy B. Nice
About J-Wonn #6 The New Generation
J-Wonn is the recording name of Jawonn Smith, a native of Jackson, Mississippi. The singer/songwriter first came to the attention of Jackson's Christopher Mabry (later to become known as Big Yayo), a local producer who had made a name for himself producing ground-breaking singles with Stevie J. ("Because Of Me"), Dave Mack ("Booty Talking") and LaMorris Williams ("Impala"), (the latter written by Jawonn Smith), in each case delivering the strongest songs of their careers.
March 1, 2021
RE-POSTED FROM DADDY B. NICE'S CD REVIEWS
September 6, 2014:
J-WONN: I Got This Record (Savior Music) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.A year later, leading off J-Wonn's debut CD of the same name, "I Got This Record" sounds even better than it did when it arrived--in fact, sounds good enough to drag the entire southern soul genre into the R&B mainstream. The fact that it has not done so yet only makes the steam in the pressure cooker that is southern soul all the more intense. Music this good will not pass without its eventual triumph.
Twenty years ago, with masters like Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis and Little Milton moving on to Soul Heaven, there was genuine consternation in the southern soul community that the golden age of southern soul music (never even heard outside of the Deep South anyway) was over. "Grown folks," the audience, were aging, along with the performers.
In 2014, with the tremendous influx of new young performers preceding J-Wonn over the last decade, those concerns seem wildly alarmist. Southern soul music has never been more popular. The number and dimension of live concerts dwarfs anything seen in the "old days."
Yes, the sound is different--in some ways, especially from a production standpoint, better--but it is still southern soul music. No one knows this better than the young artists like Jawonn Smith and Chris (Big Yayo) Mabry, the executive producers of this album, who are migrating from hiphop (the dominant form of the day) into southern soul, the genre that is all about music, not about using music as a conduit to get into the movies.
This album is so full of quality music--fifteen tracks of it--it's almost impossible to compare to most soul music albums. One has to go back to classic collections like Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" or The Beatles' "Rubber Soul" or "Revolver" CD's to convey its mind-blowing mix of panoramic musical vision and technical breakthrough.
Big Yayo, who has nurtured and shaped this freakishly-talented young singer/songwriter Jawonn Smith into the phenomenon we know as J-Wonn, is fresh from ground-breaking singles stints with Stevie J. ("Because Of Me"), Dave Mack ("Booty Talking") and, most gloriously, LaMorris Williams ("Impala"--written, incidentally, by an even younger Jawonn), in each case delivering the strongest songs of their careers.
Your Daddy B. Nice has written extensively about "I Got This Record" over the last year, including awarding it the #1-ranked song of 2013, somewhat ahead of its major exposure across the chitlin' circuit and indeed the whole country and world in 2014.
Daddy B. Nice's
TOP 25 SOUTHERN SOUL SONGS OF 2013
1. I Got This Record--J-Wonn
A stunning debut, and a home-run arrangement from the young producer of the moment, Big Yayo (LaMorris Williams' "Impala," Dave Mack's "Booty Talking"), who told your Daddy B. Nice he also manages this breathtakingly golden-toned vocalist. "I Got This Record” is J-Wonn's coming-out party, dramatic enough to recall Sir Charles Jones' "Friday" and LaMorris Williams' "We Can Do It (Impala)".
Listen to the new video of J-Wonn singing "I Got This Record" on YouTube.
J-Wonn and his record swept 2013's top honors for Best Ballad, Best Male Vocalist, & Best Debut, with collaborator Big Yayo nabbing Best Arranger/Producer. A summary of J-Wonn's meteoric rise is contained in Daddy B. Nice's new J-Wonn Artist Guide.
Conceptually, J-Wonn's songs extol the virtues of romantic love and the perils of cynicism, the perfect thematic foil for his claim to fame: a vocal timbre and tone that captures the ineffable innocence of young love.
I Got This Record (The CD) contains any number of potential hit singles, although none quite so deserving of the term "classic" as "I Got This Record." Many of the songs will appeal to listeners with that vaguely-familiar, heard-once-before quality that makes a song instantly memorable. That's because deejays have already been dipping into the set with the happy abandon of treasure-hunters.
"Sleep In It" is a light, lilting tune about falling asleep in the aftermath of sex.
"True Love," a Carl Sims-like, deep-soul ballad has charted even higher than "Sleep In It" on Daddy B. Nice's recent Top 10 singles reviews.
"One Day Left" is a mid-tempo track with a rousing acapella-like conclusion featuring layer-cake like harmonies.
"Let's Get Out Of This Club"--for some reason titled "All Right"--has a haunting phrase at the end of its hook, accentuated in the opening verses by JWonn's last note, which drops down unexpectedly. The song builds an atmosphere so dense it lingers long after.
The ballad "Deeper" is the song viewers hear in the background to the introduction of the official J-Wonn YouTube video for "I Got This Record," and with noticeable expertise "Lied To You" ventures into the love-seat domain of songs like Mtume's "Juicy Fruit."
"Night Time Lover," an uptempo cut, raises tantalizing possibilities for J-Wonn's future forays into dance-floor jams, perhaps the only aspect of southern soul music not thoroughly digested and revived in this collection. The faster tempo brings out another charismatic strain in J-Wonn's vocal stylings. The rousing "One For The Road" with its chugging-train-like rhythm track, is another uptempo anthem waiting in the wings for its day on radio.
And yet, this sketchy overview doesn't do justice to the sheer breadth of riches on the album, including "You," "So Long," "Superstar," "VFW," and "I Look Good On You."
Too good to be true? The roll call of impressive new performers in Southern Soul since the turn of the century is replete with head-turning talent, but the seldom-used word "genius" may be the only encomium worthy of J-Wonn, who with this exceptionally accomplished debut CD takes his place in the top rank of contemporary southern soul singers.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy J-Wonn's I GOT THIS RECORD CD at Amazon.
Sample/Buy J-Wonn's I GOT THIS RECORD CD at iTunes.
Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to J-Wonn.
December 13, 2016: Re-posted from Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews
J-WONN: The Legacy Begins ( I Got This Record Publishing) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
The most revealing moment on J'Wonn's new CD THE LEGACY BEGINS comes at the end of his live version of "I Got This Record." Up to that moment, you're marveling mostly at the faithful rendition via live onstage instruments of the studio version of J'Wonn's signature tune. Then comes the end and the squeals of the young women in the audience, far-off from the onstage sound equipment, but nevertheless powerful enough to recall The Beatles in their early days and their squealing, girl-dominated audiences.
Longtime followers of southern soul music have never experienced quite this kind of audience reaction. Johnnie Taylor was the marquee heart-throb of his day, but the women screaming their appreciation were more mature, experienced and knowing. Marvin Sease drove his female audiences to heights of passion, but their catcalls and mock-shock cheers were hardy, wild and comedic. Perhaps Sir Charles Jones, kicking off contemporary southern soul in the early years of the century, was the real harbinger of J'Wonn's arrival: the girls went crazy.
But none of the stars, it seems, drew the really young girls--even teen-agers--the way J'Wonn does. He does what no southern soul veterans thought possible: he makes southern soul accessible to the young, in the process demolishing the old critical "truism" that southern soul would die with its aging audience.
J'Wonn's most revealing concerts over the last couple of years have been his gigs with Big Yayo (the producer of "I Got This Record" and the album of the same name) and their performances of Big Yayo's dance-hall smash "(I Need A) Cowgirl." Watching him prancing half-naked onstage as if he were riding his horse, laughing and singing and reveling deliriously in the moment, it's obvious J'Wonn has that rare, androgynous quality of Michael Jackson, or even more apt, Little Richard--not as outrageously kinky/androgynous as Richard--but equally sexual and one-of-a-kind. (Here's another concert clip.)
When all is said and done, there are no "breakthrough," "can't-miss" songs on the order of "I Got This Record" (or even "Cowgirl") on THE LEGACY BEGINS. The new album is J'Wonn's first without his mentor, Big Yayo--also the first on J'Wonn's new, self-produced label. And to continue the Beatles comparisons, when it comes to songwriting without Chris Mabry (Big Yayo), J'Wonn is a little like Paul McCartney without John Lennon, or in over-simplified terms, melody and music hall (McCartney--J-Wonn) without grit and rhythm (Lennon--Big Yayo), an approach epitomized by some of the set's biggest singles: "Daddy's Girl," "I Need A Grown Woman," and "24/7."
Listen to J'Wonn singing "Daddy's Girl" on YouTube.
These aren't "big" singles in a dubious, southern-soul-bragging kind of way. These songs really are "big." They're popular and have made huge inroads with the young crowd.
Listen to J'Wonn singing "I Need A Grown Woman" on YouTube.
And in profiling J'Wonn's "24/7" on the Top Ten Singles (November 2016), your Daddy B. Nice returned to the age vs. youth issue in a more critical way:
How can you criticize a young artist for singing about young topics (infatuation with a new lover)? But we are miles from the celestial heights of J’Wonn’s classic, ”I Got This Record.” Although songs like “24/7” and “Daddy’s Girl” are creating a new generation of young southern soul fans, I can’t help comparing these tunes to the similarly light-weight, borderline-fluffy, follow-up efforts of LaMorris Williams—“Pretty Lady,” etc.--to his breakthrough classic, “Impala.” I hope to see J-Wonn rediscover the ageless depth and soulfulness of “I Got This Record” in the same way LaMorris eventually did with this year’s classic album, Mississippi Motown.
And just this month (December 2016), I added an exclamation point to the "young and fluffy" critique in praising the atypically older-sounding "(I'm Taking It) To My Grave."
The most southern soul track from J-Wonn's surprisingly pop-ish, new THE LEGACY BEGINS CD.
My own favorite J'Wonn song from 2016--the solemn and heart-felt hymn to God, "Lord I Need To Talk To You" (which to my surprise received an impressive 28,000 views after charting here in April 2016)-- didn't even make it to THE LEGACY BEGINS.
Listen to J'Wonn singing "Lord I Need To Talk To You" on YouTube.
The best thing about this prayer-slash-meditation? It doesn't appear to be a conscious attempt to record a gospel song, which would have added a layer of artifice, however transparent. No, this is simply a song from the heart, like "I Got This Record."
What cannot be denied about THE LEGACY BEGINS is J'Wonn's impressive musicality and production expertise, which come as something of a surprise despite the evident artistry behind "I Got This Record." In setting out to accomplish a palette of styles and moods, the young singer/songwriter has ransacked every sub-genre in R&B, including a "stepping" song, "The Night Away," the obligatory, "to-the-right, to the left," dance jam, "We Gone Party," and the old-fashioned (some might call "timeless," others "archaic") mainstream soul of "Left Me Now."
These and other tunes from the album are remarkably realized. The Legacy Begins may not be the foundation of a rather pompous-sounding "legacy." It may not even be the album we know J-Wonn is capable of. But it is, in its way, a tour de force.
--Daddy B. Nice
Buy J'Wonn's THE LEGACY BEGINS at Amazon.
Honorary "B" Side
"Pretty Girl (feat. Tucka)"
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