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Ghetto Classics

Jaheim

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Album Review

Jaheim's viewpoints on music haven't changed a bit since he debuted in 2000, and fans of intelligent R&B should be praising that fact. With a raft of excellent productions from KayGee (Naughty by Nature) and others, plus a focus on celebrating love and family with well-written songs, he's remained free to craft albums full of rich harmonies and his excellent vocals (he's one of the few modern vocalists who knows exactly how far he should go with melisma). Ghetto Classics may boast nothing as ambitious as 2002's "Fabulous" (a Top 20 hit and an artistic breakthrough, all in one), and it may amp up the rapper collaborations in search of hits (Jadakiss and Styles P have appearances), but overall very little distracts from the qualities that have made him the most durable talent in commercial yet traditional R&B music. Opener "The Chosen One" is an immediate standout, a bumping love song that finds Jaheim floating serenely over one of KayGee's best productions (based on Willie Hutch's "I Choose You"). He and Jadakiss trade off on the single "Everytime I Think About Her," and the combination of smooth and rough sounds perfect. The final three songs ditch the samples for straight R&B, and while the absence is missed, it represents an intriguing direction for Jaheim in the future. Classic R&B may seem like just a memory to some, but with artists like Heather Headley and Jaheim in action, it doesn't have to be about the past.

Biography

Born: 26 May 1978 in New Brunswick, NJ

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

R&B balladeer Jaheim Hoagland hails from New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he grew up in the 176 Memorial Parkway Homes public housing project. Misfortune hit early: his father died in 1981, when he was only two years old. Coming from a musical family helped him overcome the tragedy and the many pitfalls of his environment. His grandfather, Victor Hoagland, sang with many top groups, including the Drifters, and their family reunions were big songfests. Singing at family reunions and local talent...
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Ghetto Classics, Jaheim
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