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Best Of Montell Jordan

Montell Jordan

R&B - Released September 25, 2015 | Def Soul

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Libra Scale

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2010 | Def Soul

Going by this high-concept return, it’s apparent that Ne-Yo was not strictly invested in the output of others -- Rihanna, Raheem DeVaughn, Monica, Rick Ross, and Fantasia, to name a few -- after the release of Year of the Gentleman. Although Libra Scale sounds like a natural extension of the singer/songwriter’s three-album 2006-2008 run, its germination started with a short story, which inspired the ten songs. Some of the details were revealed in the videos for the singles, as well as the album’s booklet, containing a comic put together with living legend Stan Lee. Disregard the dressing, and Libra Scale can be heard as a standard Ne-Yo album. It does not sound like a soundtrack for a story about three garbage men who must protect their city -- there are no character themes, likely for the better -- but one can hear most of the material being expressed by the protagonist as he lives it up, develops a relationship, and deals with the consequences. Most of Libra Scale consists of Ne-Yo's typical modern uptown R&B, with the relaxed, upscale party anthem “Champagne Life,” the sweet devotional “One in a Million,” and the private-reflecting-pond ballad “What Have I Done?” the standouts. “Beautiful Monster,” a Euro-flavored dance-pop single full of drama, is the only song that sounds out of place (and it stalled in the 60s of the Billboard R&B chart). The level of sophistication -- arrangements with subtle details, the frequency of slow tempos, a couple well-trodden motifs -- lends itself to a couple tepid tunes, but Ne-Yo remains a premier source of R&B that is both traditional and contemporary. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Beautiful Monster

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2010 | Def Soul

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Beautiful Monster

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2010 | Def Soul

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Year Of The Gentleman

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released September 11, 2008 | Def Soul

Apart from a little more drama, a notion set with the desperate urgency of opening track "Closer," not much makes Year of the Gentleman, Ne-Yo's third album in as many years, all that different from In My Own Words or Because of You. If there are any real shake-ups in the songwriter/singer's m.o., they are subtle, not glaring, typically evident only in the production wrinkles brought by his collaborators. Had each album been separated by a few years of inactivity, this lack of change might be an issue, but since breaking out with Mario's "Let Me Love You" in 2004, Ne-Yo has been nothing if not steady and consistent, a constant presence in the R&B chart who probably could not devise a gimmick if his career depended upon it -- unless you hold those natural and often uncanny Michael Jackson vocalisms, as present as ever throughout highlight "Nobody," against him. What makes the album slightly less satisfying than Ne-Yo's first two albums is that the ballads are slightly sappier and overwrought. The odds are in his favor, however, that no one has written a more gorgeous song about slothful self-loathing. That song, "Why Does She Stay," forms the front end of a two-track patch of glorious gloom -- the album's center, both literally and figuratively -- complemented by "Fade into the Background," where he watches the one who got away get married. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Closer

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2008 | Def Soul

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Because Of You

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Def Soul

Ne-Yo's sophomore release on Def Jam follows in the musical footsteps of his hugely successful debut, In My Own Words. Like that album, Because of You is a tight, contemporary R&B effort, mixing elements of classic soul, 1980s New Jack, and hip-hop-flavored urban pop fare. Ne-Yo's sensitive, expressive, high-tenor croon is featured throughout, but it's the artist's songwriting that takes center stage. The title-track lead single, a smooth, midtempo jam that finds Ne-Yo in prime loverman mode, is a prime example of the artist's skill. "Crazy," featuring a guest spot from Jay-Z, is another stand-out track, showcasing Ne-Yo's romantic yet always groove-oriented style. Ne-Yo employed a cadre of top producers for the album, including Stargate and Nefew (who worked on the first album), Shay Taylor, and the Heavyweights, among others. The result is an album that bristles with fresh, crisp production, but still comes across as beautifully unified, thanks primarily to Ne-Yo's sharp songwriting, powerful hooks, and appealing voice. © TiVo
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Can We Chill

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Def Soul

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Because Of You

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Def Soul

Ne-Yo's sophomore release on Def Jam follows in the musical footsteps of his hugely successful debut, In My Own Words. Like that album, Because of You is a tight, contemporary R&B effort, mixing elements of classic soul, 1980s New Jack, and hip-hop-flavored urban pop fare. Ne-Yo's sensitive, expressive, high-tenor croon is featured throughout, but it's the artist's songwriting that takes center stage. The title-track lead single, a smooth, midtempo jam that finds Ne-Yo in prime loverman mode, is a prime example of the artist's skill. "Crazy," featuring a guest spot from Jay-Z, is another stand-out track, showcasing Ne-Yo's romantic yet always groove-oriented style. Ne-Yo employed a cadre of top producers for the album, including Stargate and Nefew (who worked on the first album), Shay Taylor, and the Heavyweights, among others. The result is an album that bristles with fresh, crisp production, but still comes across as beautifully unified, thanks primarily to Ne-Yo's sharp songwriting, powerful hooks, and appealing voice. © TiVo
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Because Of You

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Def Soul

Ne-Yo's sophomore release on Def Jam follows in the musical footsteps of his hugely successful debut, In My Own Words. Like that album, Because of You is a tight, contemporary R&B effort, mixing elements of classic soul, 1980s New Jack, and hip-hop-flavored urban pop fare. Ne-Yo's sensitive, expressive, high-tenor croon is featured throughout, but it's the artist's songwriting that takes center stage. The title-track lead single, a smooth, midtempo jam that finds Ne-Yo in prime loverman mode, is a prime example of the artist's skill. "Crazy," featuring a guest spot from Jay-Z, is another stand-out track, showcasing Ne-Yo's romantic yet always groove-oriented style. Ne-Yo employed a cadre of top producers for the album, including Stargate and Nefew (who worked on the first album), Shay Taylor, and the Heavyweights, among others. The result is an album that bristles with fresh, crisp production, but still comes across as beautifully unified, thanks primarily to Ne-Yo's sharp songwriting, powerful hooks, and appealing voice. © TiVo
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So Sick

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2006 | Def Soul

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In My Own Words

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2006 | Def Soul

Shaffer Smith has been writing material for mainstream acts since the tail end of the '90s, when he was barely old enough to drive. In 2004, after he adopted the name Ne-Yo -- a sensible move since his birth name is more like that of a sitcom actor or anchorman than an R&B loverman -- his industry stock shot way up for co-writing Mario's "Let Me Love You," an inescapable number one hit. The pointedly titled In My Own Words is the second album he has made as a solo artist, but it's the first to be released, and its presentation clearly intends to get the point across that he's a writer, with images of lyric sheets strewn across the accompanying booklet, and the photo props of choice are pencils and pads, not practically naked models and probably rented sports cars. In My Own Words is a concise album with only one guest verse (from Peedi Peedi), unless you count the unlisted bonus remix (featuring Ghostface). It's very focused and surprisingly taut, especially for a debut that involves several producers. "So Sick," a hit single released in advance of the album, carries a vulnerability not unlike "Let Me Love You" -- it's certainly additional proof that Ne-Yo does heartache best of all -- but it's even more successful at staying on the right side of the line that separates heartfelt anguish from insufferable whining. Its modern approach, interlocked with touches of '70s and '80s R&B sensibilities, is also in effect for the entirety of the album. Beyond a couple lightweight tracks, the album only falters when scenarios from different relationships clash: in "Get Down Like That," Ne-Yo is a righteous boyfriend who turns down the advances of a tempting ex, while in "That Just Ain't Right," he confesses to an ex (who has been an ex for three years) that he calls out her name while in bed with his current lover. The problems, however, really aren't all that detrimental. Ne-Yo is a real talent as a songwriter, and as a vocalist he is unmistakably more concerned with serving the song than his ego. He's not the flashiest vocalist, but he's able to put across contrasting emotions with slight adjustments, and he balances toughness with tenderness exceptionally well -- all of which are uncommon traits in the early 2000s. This album could turn out to be the most impressive R&B debut of 2006, as well as one of several milestones in a lengthy career. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Sexy Love

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2006 | Def Soul

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Sexy Love

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2006 | Def Soul

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Sexy Love

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2006 | Def Soul

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Stay

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2005 | Def Soul

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So Sick

Ne-Yo

R&B - Released January 1, 2005 | Def Soul

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soulstar

Musiq

R&B - Released January 1, 2003 | Def Soul

Not a whole lot has changed in Musiq's world since releasing his second album in 2002 -- if this really isn't the case, you wouldn't know it from Soulstar. He's still following in the tradition of his '70s-era idols, he's still taking liberties with the compoundwords for his song titles, and he's still making modern soul that's equally classy and absorbing. Though the steady development of Musiq's songwriting and vocal skills is a major draw as ever, his greatest charm is that he never puts on airs -- he never hides behind a persona or affectations, which gives him a sense of intimacy that many of his contemporaries lack. Perhaps that's the greatest lesson he has learned from those who paved the road he rolls down. At just over 70 minutes, Soulstar is another unnecessarily lengthy listen, but there's a great deal of depth beyond the big single picks. Sweet and laid-back from start to finish, the only bona fide boner is a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You," which is detrimental to the album's flow (even if you've never heard the original). Otherwise, this is one of the finest contemporary R&B releases of 2003, with both style and substance in good supply. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soulstar

Musiq

R&B - Released December 9, 2003 | Def Soul

Not a whole lot has changed in Musiq's world since releasing his second album in 2002 -- if this really isn't the case, you wouldn't know it from Soulstar. He's still following in the tradition of his '70s-era idols, he's still taking liberties with the compoundwords for his song titles, and he's still making modern soul that's equally classy and absorbing. Though the steady development of Musiq's songwriting and vocal skills is a major draw as ever, his greatest charm is that he never puts on airs -- he never hides behind a persona or affectations, which gives him a sense of intimacy that many of his contemporaries lack. Perhaps that's the greatest lesson he has learned from those who paved the road he rolls down. At just over 70 minutes, Soulstar is another unnecessarily lengthy listen, but there's a great deal of depth beyond the big single picks. Sweet and laid-back from start to finish, the only bona fide boner is a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You," which is detrimental to the album's flow (even if you've never heard the original). Otherwise, this is one of the finest contemporary R&B releases of 2003, with both style and substance in good supply. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Juslisen

Musiq

Soul - Released May 7, 2001 | Def Soul

On his second album, Juslisen, Musiq -- who dropped the "(Soulchild)" surname -- delivers on the promise of his debut, turning in a slyly assured, smoothly sexy collection of neo-soul. One of the most appealing things about Musiq is that he never oversells his songs, never indulges in hyperbolic screams or exaggerated grunts and moans. He lays back on the groove but doesn't disappear into it -- he deepens it and gives it character, making this more than a supremely seductive neo-soul record. And, to be sure, it is that, a wonderfully romantic mood album, but it's more than that because Musiq has other skills besides crooning and keeping a mood. First of all, he and his collaborators are first-class writers, sustaining interest not just through the singles, but through the album tracks. Then, he and his producers know how to deliver a sound that at once hearkens back to classic '70s soul and feels lushly contemporary. Musiq doesn't hide his love for classic soul -- he's seen on the back cover digging through crates of vinyl, surrounded by eight-tracks -- but the great thing about what he pulls off on Juslisen is that this love is absorbed, ingrained in the very music, so while it's reminiscent of Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye at times, it never feels like a forced attempt to follow in their footsteps. Which, of course, is why it feels like a worthy heir. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo