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Jacquees - 4275 Music Album Reviews

Jacquees - 4275 Music Album Reviews
The 24-year-old Cash Money singer upcycles ’90s R&B hits on an album of charmingly naughty sex jams—but his referential style is more than just a schtick.

Popular R&B has reached the perfect vantage point from which to appreciate its 1990s heyday. Whether interpolated or simply borrowed, the sounds of Ginuwine, Dru Hill, and Xscape are seeping back into the charts. To recycle an old hit, all a young artist needs to do is repurpose a sliver of familiar melody or production.

The 23-year old Cash Money singer Jacquees is a master at this. Throughout his debut album, 4275, some of his best and most memorable performances contain upcycled elements—moments when he lures you in with sounds you’ve heard before. His breakout hit “B.E.D.” repurposes a whole bridge from Avant’s 2003 song “Read Your Mind” as a chorus. “Play the Field” steals the crunchy, croaking bassline from Ginuwine’s “Pony” and lays it out over freshly gurgling synths. The first time I heard “Inside,” a raunchy lead single that features Trey Songz, a throwaway bit of vocal noodling near the end of the song lodged in my head. It had been there before, in 1997, courtesy of Usher’s “Nice & Slow.” Familiarity is the front door to Jacquees fandom. Listening to 4275, it’s hard not to notice these touchpoints because they’re everywhere. But this isn’t just a schtick; it’s the artist singing in his first language.

Although it’s named after the house number of Jacquees’ childhood home in Decatur, Georgia, 4275 is hardly an account of his elementary school years. He sings almost exclusively about sex on the album—or, more specifically, about the titillating promise of sex. This oozing sensuality yields mood music, rather than a crass play-by-play. Jacquees’ voice, a velvety, rippling tenor, quivers and moans with tension, and he croons almost every word as a proposition. “You know that the decision is yours,” he sings, with a slithering smoothness, on “Studio,” before pleading, “Please don’t tell him where you goin’ ’cause it really ain’t his business.” On the sex anthems “House or Hotel” and “Whatever You Into,” he treats consent like a warm embrace. Still, there’s a charming and almost adolescent naughtiness to the way Jacquees romanticizes sneaking around. You almost want to whisper right back at him.

As pleasant as it is to listen to Jacquees creep around town, 4275 is burdened with extra baggage. Sixty-four minutes is too long to sit around in anxious anticipation, and sometimes the company makes the wait feel longer. Chris Brown and Trey Songz foul up the flow of the party. On the title track, Birdman and Jermaine Dupri chatter obnoxiously over the host.

But Jacquees remains gracious. He has a string of exciting collaborations with Young Thug and DeJ Loaf under his belt, and both pop up here on songs that leave the bedroom without losing the romance. With understated guitar strums, filigree-like finger picking, and backup from Young Thug, “Studio” makes a date out of sex. Carried by a swampy trap beat, the steamy DeJ Loaf duet “Red Light” stops in the middle of the road for the deed.

Elsewhere on the album, Jacquees stands on the shoulders of his heroes instead of jostling with his contemporaries. Jagged Edge and XScape’s LaTocha Scott pop up separately, like guests of honor reveling in a youngster’s appreciation of the classics. Jacquees’ most obvious influence, “U Know What's Up” singer Donell Jones, talks him up on the intro to “23,” as if to simply pass the baton.

All of these playful references work because Jacquees is so light-footed. He doesn’t just have a swaggering vocal style—he has sass. It’s in his moaning ad-libs (“aw yeah,” “mm-hmm”) and cheeky self-referencing, the way he tells himself, “Jacquees, saaang,” before launching into a verse. On “Beauty Doesn’t Cry,” you can almost hear the bawdy grin spread across his face as he issues a waggish taunt: “You got a scary movie and some ice cream/Girl, I know what that might mean.” He might as well be saying, “Girl, I see you.” Jacquees’ music may be simple and familiar, but the personality he brings to it could charm the pants off a mannequin.

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