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Jagged Edge released "Hard" in 2003 as their fourth album. The record sees them returning with more of their soulful material after having hit it big with "Jagged Littler Thrill" - a record containing hits such as "Where The Party At", "Goodbye" and "I Got It". Here the Casey Brothers, Wingo and Kyle are, once again, backed by Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael-Cox and Jazze Pha.
1. "They Ain't J.E."
Kicking right into the swing of things, here we have them powering-through with a tune that has them establishing exactly who they are over some lively production from Jazze Pha. It's a fresh one and the kind of thing that I'm sure will attract most R&B fans of the style seen in the early-to-mid '00s as they come to show exactly what they are about and how they differ from others in the game.
2. "Walked Outta Heaven"
Probably the biggest single from the album, this is a soft slow jam from the act and one that I felt did a lot for them and showing just how well they were able to garner attention with a song that doesn't sound particularly impressive initially, however it seems to open out as you get further and further into the thing. It's a powerful one from them and one that really stands out on the release for how much it differs from the norm of the time.
3. "Girls Gone Wild"
With a little help from Major Damage on the production, on this on we see that the group come to perform a tune that switches the direction of things a little as they take on more Hip Hop influences and break out with a track that begins with some half-rap, half-sung vocals and it makes for something quite exciting and the sort of thing that keeps you involved and engaged with the thing.
We get a steady, mid-tempo flow on this one and it gets the thing flowing nicely and even excites you for what could come here. I found that although this one sounded quite plain and average (when compared to others) over time I thought that it improved with time and made for a fly one that should have more attention paid towards it as they throw down another strong performance.
The titular track to the album, this one can't be said to really suit what you wouldn't have expected of a song with such a title. On it, we have them bringing a tune that has them focusing-in on the relationship that they are in and how exactly they want to make it work for them, but it isn't going as they wish. I thought that it was a bit of a weak point on the album and I can't see why they would choose this one to represent the album by (as they named it after this track).
6. "Dance Floor"
As the title indicates, here we are in for a real change to the direction of the music and we find that here we are given the opportunity to get some more energetic material out of them. I can't say that I thought that this one was anywhere near able to compete with others that they have dropped over the years (especially from their last couple of albums), however it acted as a nice pick-up from the last one.
7. "Trying To Find The Words"
We get some grungy production on this one to show that they really embrace the fact that they are a southern R&B group. They sound as if they were just one step away from Crunk & B (which hadn't yet come into prominence) and so I thought that it was one that really stood out on the album as a fresh, club-suited tune that I expect quite a few to enjoy if they were into the work of Cherish, Ciara and Usher in the years that would follow on from it.
8. "What's It Like"
Here we have them moving things back towards some more of their typical stuff and the kind of thing that we've come to expect out of the act. I have to say that I thought that this kind of thing was just far too plain and really didn't offer anything near how much that others on the album did and so it seemed to just be lost and it stands as one that you are likely to forget quickly as a result.
9. "Tryna Be Your Man"
Here they throw out another club tune and they manage to forget just how weak the material on the last tune was. Although it might be the case that the production masks some pretty average lyrics (as I saw it), I thought that it didn't really matter too much when you consider the fact that here the music is geared towards delivering something that would get over in the clubs if it dropped there.
10. "I Don't Wanna"
They decide to slow it all up one again for this one as they drop a tune that has them lowering the tempo again in order to address some more serious subject matters. I thought that this one needed some time to really get into, and really I can't say that I had the time for it, however I can imagine that people who are much more into their music will have grown to enjoy this tune much more than I could.
11. "In Private"
For this one we get a little something that shows that Jagged Edge do sometimes come out of their comfort zone in order to trail things which aren't quite as typical for them. I thought that it didn't really come together as well as I thought that they would have helped as they use some interesting production and tried-out a little something new to see how they could push things, but it wasn't really happening.
12. "In The Morning"
Here they come with a track that I thought was able to rescue them (after they were seen to have a little slip). In it we have them taking on a little influence from more of the eighties R&B sounds in order to find inspiration for their work and I thought that they were successful at integrating it all into the mix and coming out with another tune on the album that's really making noise on the record.
13. "Shady Girl"
The album ends with a track that I was really fond of as we see that they take in much more Hip Hop influence into their stuff (seen by their sampling of naughty By Nature's "Uptown Anthem") and so it makes for a pretty fly one that has them doing a great job at balancing various components in order to make for something that shows just how well they can make hits and get the job done like no other R&B group in operation at the time.
I have to say that I expected more out of this album as we see that here we get an album that doesn't get the best out of them and has them offering more inconsistent material (as was seen with all the albums leading up to this one). However, there's still a lot that I can see R&B fans falling for and so it wasn't a straight failure for them.
Hard is the fourth album from Jagged Edge released in 2003. The album features collaborations with the likes of Big Boi from Outkast aswell as Street Katz And Woonie on the remix of "They aint J" and Major Damage on Girls Gone Wild.
1. They Ain't JE
This is the introduction to the album, the track is about having confidence in yourself that you have something that other people can't offer. As I mention later this original version isnt as good as the remix. That is a shame.
2. Walked Outta Heaven
This track has a gorgeous feel to it. It starts softly then the beat comes in and showcases their distinctive Jagged Edge ballad. Superb vocals all around and one of their best songs. The vocal harmonies are amazing.
3. Girls Gone Wild Featuring Major Damage
This track is about meeting some girl on spring break. A catchy mid tempo track which although has a very nice feel is slightly let down by the rap by Major Damage who ever he is. A nice summery track though.
This is a great mid tempo ballad which features a very punchy bassline. The smooth Jagged Edge vocals are on show again and the music compliments the vocals well and there's also some superb female backing vocals.
Another catchy track which Jagged Edge are known for, The smooth vocals are there aswell as the firm beat. A nice mix between a ballad and midtempo track. One of the best ones they have done like this.
6. Dance Floor
Probably the weakest track on the album, Although it has a nice catchy hook it doesnt really have that spark that their best tracks do. It also doesnt really expand on the hook. Not bad though.
7. Trying To Find The Words
This is a laidback midtempo track which has a nice feel and the vocals are very flowing as is the backing music. Not the best midtempo/uptempo track they have ever done but not all that bad compared to other artists.
8. What's It Like
This is an amazing ballad which opens with a great vocoder harmony. This track is about someone lonely after a relationship break up and wondering when or even if they will ever find real love. This is a great track which has an amazingly emotive subject.
9. Tryna Be Your Man
This track opens with a very warm sounding spanish guitar and then the beat comes in. This fails to get fully going which is a little dissapointing given the quality of the majority of the album.
10. I Don't Wanna
This is a great ballad, it opens with a very gentle guitar and then develops with the thump of the drum sequence. This is what Jagged Edge are all about, smooth vocals with a firm drum beat. Their vocals sound truly superb on this track. The way their vocals blend together is bettered only by Boyz II Men in my opinion.
11. In Private
This is another gentle song that opens with a gentle guitar but the beat is a bigger test of a Hi-fi than the previous track. Smooth vocals with a Jagged Edge. Their name describes their music better than any other artist.
12. In The Morning
Another great ballad, this is the only track that has a truly smooth feel on Hard. One of the best of their lesser known ballads. Great lead vocals from Brian and Brandon Casey as usual. One of the best tracks on the album.
13. Shady Girl
This opens with slow dramatic piano and then the hip hop beat comes in. This midtempo track is very catchy and features longtime friend Jermaine Dupri. The smooth vocal harmonies are superb.
14. Car Show Featuring Big Boi
This is a very catchy track featuring Outkast's Big Boi, the tempo of this track changes throught the song and Big Boi provides his distinctive rapping. One of the best uptempo tracks on the album and a great collaboration. Very Catchy.
15. They Ain't (JE Remix) Featuring Street Katz And Woonie
This is a very catchy worthwile remix of They Ain't JE. The track is in my opinion better than the original as it has a better tempo and more of a catchy hook. Not to say that the original is such a bad track.
16. On My Way (After The Club
This is a gentle track which features some nice guitar licks and a great beat. The smooth vocals arent as good as some of the album but are still very good indeed. A nice way to end the album with this nice ballad/mid tempo track.
This is a very good album from Jagged Edge, What's it like and Walked outta heaven and I don't wanna are three sensational tracks and there are plenty of great tracks with the rest. Another album that showcases Jagged Edge's talent and confirms them as one of the best vocal harmony groups of the era.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 They Ain't JE
2 Walked Outta Heaven
3 Girls Gone Wild - Featuring Major Damage
4 Visions Albu
6 Dance Floor
7 Trying To Find The Words
8 What's It Like
9 Tryna Be Your Man
10 I Don't Wanna
11 In Private
12 In The Morning
13 Shady Girl
14 Car Show - Featuring Big Boi
15 They Ain't (JE Remix) - Featuring Street Katz And Woonie
16 On My Way (After The Club)
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Walked Outta Heaven (Majiq Remix)
2 What's It Like (ReMarqable Remix) - Featuring Jermaine Dupri
3 Where The Party At 11-01-01 (Dupri Remix) - Featuring Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, R.O.C., Lil Bow Wow And Tigah
4 Let's Get Married (ReMarqable Remix) - Featuring Run Of Run Dmc
5 He Can't Love U (JD's Remix w/Rap)
6 I Got It 2 - Featuring Nas
7 Walked Outta Heaven (Majiq Remix) (Video)
8 What's It Like (ReMarqable Remix) - Featuring Jermaine Dupri (Video)
9 Let's Get Married ReMarqable Remix - Featuring Run Of Run Dmc (Video)