“ Genre: R&B & Soul / Artist: Ray J / Explicit Lyrics / Audio CD released 2008-04-08 at Koch „
And it's just another day in a moderately-famous paradise for William Ray Norwood Jr. better known by the stagename of Ray J, inspired by his gospel singing father Willie Norwood. Many may not have heard of William Junior due to him not being an R&B artist in the same class of worldwide stars such as Usher, or not having any rap backgrounds that come close to the musical billionaires Jay-Z and 50 Cent. Ray J has however made himself most famous on the solo circuit for his hit-single, 'One Wish', and his best charting UK release was a duet of 'Another Day in Paradise' with Brandy. Who happens to be his elder sister, a 1999-success story that has passed her peak and since appeared as a judge on 'America's Got Talent'.
The release of 'All I Feel' marks Ray J's fourth studio album and the follow-up to 2005's 'Raydiation'. Some may wonder what has taken him so long to get his act together and slip this album out without much of a fanfare, especially seeing as an appearance of the album coinciding with his recent sex tape may have got him larger sales. That's correct, Ray J is a fully fledged porn star with the DVD release of his bedroom antics with ex-girlfriend and reality star, Kim Kardashian. Ray J is also a famous face on-screen for his acting ability, appearing alongside his sibling in 2001 kids-show, 'Moesha'.
"'As a matter of fact I was the one that said I loved you first."
*01, Don't Wanna Be Right (1.38), 4*
As far as intros to albums go, this is top notch, as Ray J describes growing up as a shadow to his older sister and of course milking the recent sex 'scandal' (if a couple of celebrities putting a sex tape on the internet is a scandal anymore).
02, I Like to Trick (3.23), 3*
03, Sexy Can I ft. Yung Berg (3.24), 3*
Well known for his love-making music, the early impressions of this album all lead to the impression that Ray J is more singing for the guys than the girls. 'Sexy Can I' is an explicit track that is once again relating to his relationship with model Kardashian. Whilst as a lead single I was less impressed with this release than anything I had ever heard from Ray J before, his recent popularity.. scrap that, his recent media attention has made the first single released from the album his most successful to date. #3 on the US Billboard.
"It's a kodak moment let me go and get my camera"
04, Gifts (3.23), 2*
05, Girl from the Bronx (3.28), 2*
06, Jump Off (3.53), 3*
'Jump Off' comes as the first track on the album with any down-tempo message, and is the opposite of the recent same-titled track from Bow Wow and Omarion. The quality and the target audiences of the song are similar though (see my 'Face Off' album review for more). The track does feel like a progression from Ray J's previous ballads, although in terms of where the music industry is at the moment there doesn't feel like there has been much earth-shattering breakthroughs.
07, Boyfriend (3.28), 3*
08, All I Feel (4.28), 4*
'Boyfriend' comes as another bad slow track in comparison to what Ray J has already given us, whilst the album speeds up again with its namesake 'All I Feel'. This track falls into the same trap as Ray J has thus far though, where his uptempo vocals are best listened to in the summer, so that his almost-high notes can escape out the windows. In a closed environment his voice is likely to rebound off the walls and hit you square in the forehead, and no one wants a migraine that bad.
09, It's Up to You (3.27), 3*
10, Where You At ft. The Game (2.57), 3*
11, Real Niggas ft. Styles P (4.01), 2*
I have no idea what is going on with the way Ray J pronounces 'It's Up to You', but if you get to 45 seconds and think maybe it's a strange intro, skip tracks right now. The beat sounds like a nice continuation from 'All I Feel', but this is the love/hate relationship track of the album. The Game, former member of G-Unit, appears on the album to further this different impression of Ray J we are supposed to be getting. Considering no one knows Ray J that well, and The Game is only popular for his 'beef' with 50 Cent, this collaboration and the following with Styles P are a bit wasted except for on the more diehard hip hop fans.
12, Good Girl Gone Bad ft. Shorty Mack (3.52), 4*
13, I Can Feel It (1.53), 2*
"If I'm not here for love, what am I here for?"
Ray J must be hoping to recruit some Rihanna fans that go searching on Google, as he copies the title of her hugely successful 2007 album, 'Good Girl Gone Bad'. This is the sun-setting goodbye sweetheart track of the album, and the highest point of the album that not even a mystery singer like Shorty Mack can ruin. Following on from that track and with a guitar strumming outro, you'd think this was the closing to a huge pop album, but unfortunately there's still that wannabe gangsta that we heard promoting himself in the intro.
Positives that can be taken from the album are that Ray J didn't completely blow his reputation and sing up a one star track, even though most of what you hear on 'All I Feel' is going to be forgettable, and it is hardly the biggest album of Spring '08 when you consider what we've had from Mariah Carey and have coming up from Usher ('Here I Stand' next month). This is not the last we've heard from him, but if you do not know the story behind William's music you are unlikely to enjoy it.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Don't Wanna Be Right (Intro)
2 I Like to Trick
3 Sexy Can I - Ray J., Ray J, Yung Berg
5 Girl from the Bronx
6 Jump Off
8 All I Feel
9 It's Up to You
10 Where You At - The Game, Ray J., Ray J
11 Real N**** - Ray J., , Ray J, Styles P
12 Good Girl Gone Bad - Ray J., Ray J, Shorty Mack
13 I Can Feel It (Outro)