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Chapter V: Underrated

Syleena Johnson

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Album Review

One of the most critically acclaimed R&B artists of the 2000s, Syleena Johnson's vocal prowess has attracted collaborations with numerous superstars, including R. Kelly, Busta Rhymes, Anthony Hamilton, Jermaine Dupri, and Common. She also received a Grammy nomination for being the featured vocalist on "All Falls Down." Johnson has laid out her musical journey in a fascinating, autobiographical way, naming each recording by chapter and building upon such themes as Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness and Chapter 2: The Voice. Calling her fifth solo recording Chapter 5: Underrated is less a lament than a puzzling truth: up till then, she hadn't crossed over to much deserved mainstream pop recognition. Though the album was mostly produced by Toxic (Faith Evans, Keyshia Cole) and his crew and includes a few guest artists (Tweet, Malone, Na'Tee), the focus is blissfully more on compelling, groove-oriented songwriting and Johnson's powerful, emotional vocals than star-studded invites. She asserts her ability to get back on her feet on the brief horn-fired title track intro, then engages in a sassy, En Vogue-like exchange about seeking an equal mate on the funked-up "A Boss." The girl power vibe intensifies on the hip and clever clap-along "Label Me." Johnson balances the danceable side with her always potent balladry. The mellow, dreamy "Angry Girl" (featuring Tweet) offers instruction to women who hurt the gender by projecting their generalized rage onto men. She later gets into more personal relationship issues on tracks such as "Like Thorns" and the torchy old-school ballads "Little Things" and "My Shoes." Johnson may be Underrated, but she's never sounded better.

Customer Reviews

INCREDIBLE

Syleena is back and this is one of her best albums!!! Every song is fantastic!!! HIGHLY recommended!!!

Back in Business

Syleenas fifth album is no doubt one I've been waiting for above all others this year. Eagerly anticipating the release following @Syleena_Johnson's exciting tweets (the only marketing we'll probably see here in the UK) I did wonder if it would match the self-proclaimed hype.

Amazingly this album surpasses the hype and is filled from track 1 to track 12 of pure Soul and RnB taking the music back to the glory days.

Stand outs include Angry Girl (amazing guest performance by the long-absent Tweet), A Boss and the title track Underrated.

If Syleena is anything to go by here in the UK, "Underrated" would be the perfect choice of wording. This is pure talent at it's best.

Biography

Born: 02 September 1976 in Harvey, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer Syleena Johnson is the daughter of unsung soul and blues great Syl Johnson ("Different Strokes," "Is It Because I'm Black"). Born in Harvey, Illinois, she grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Tina Turner, the Dells, and Mavis Staples. She performed in local bands and sang in her church choir at Greater Christian Unity, and later worked in classical...
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