Watch Out for The Real J Israel’s For The Sake of R&B
It’s simply mind boggling what The Real J Israel has achieved with his latest release, For The Sake of R&B. And, quite honestly, it very well could be unprecedented and, therefore, record-breaking.
But what money’s done, which might not have even been attempted before, let alone yielded anyone any sort of success to anyone, is compiling an entire album of nothing but slow jams. We’re talking 13 cuts here, of nothing above, say, perhaps a tempo of 78—though many of the tracks are considerably slower.
Almost every song begins with that lovey dubey crooning that lets you know a soul singer is getting ready to really step into the booth and blow. There’s nothing mid-tempo on here, to say anything about any endeavor that’s upbeat.
There might be a track or two where his cadence is double time, but that’s it. Everything else is purely for the babes, and the type of unadulterated R&B that not even Jodeci—surely the last group to start an album with a solid four or five slow songs in a row—essayed.
As for the young ladies, well, it’s a wonder as to what exactly they would make of some of Israel’s lyrics. Take a cut like “When You Need Love”, for example. On the one hand, the artist is showcasing his affection with lines like “I’ll read a book or two/girl I’ll even cook for you”. On the other, he makes a point of asserting that when they need love, all they’ll get is loving but tonight, all they get is f*cking.
Such lyrical swordplay aside, somebody’s blessed J with some incredibly smooth tracks and a flair for the acoustic guitar that almost could be samples were they not played so cleanly. This formula works best on “Won’t Go Away”, which is the type of joint that’s bona fide single material and could actually get J into that Jodeci category. The guitar has a nice melody, the percussion is sparse, the tempo slow, and J has all the room in the world to do what he does best on the mic.
“Say” reprises the sumptuousness of that acoustic guitar, while J hits you with some “la da da da das” that are equally compelling. If that makes you think of Isley you’re not too far off, which is a hell of a comparison—and compliment— if ever there were one.