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"Juslisen" was the second album from the Neo-Soul musician Musiq (who temporarily removed the 'Soulchild' from his name). It came in 2002 as he was seen to assist in the scene where R&B and Hip Hop was brought together to a point which hadn't been seen since the New Jack Swing of the late eighties to early nineties as he worked in a style which the likes of D'Angelo, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu had popularised.
1. "scratch introlude"
Getting the album going here, you see that off a beatboxing effort, the singer comes with one which gets him exciting things with an engaging song which has him doing one directly towards the girls to get you two-stepping as he lends his soothing vocals to a light groove as he talks us through the type of things you like to know at the start of a new relationship.
The funky composition which you are greeted with on this one is something which you can't help but get down to as he shows the alternative influences which have gone into constructing this and how well he is able to throw it down as he sings about a girl who he has his eye on, and exactly why she seems to be so special to him.
It appears that Musiq is made to clam down his music somewhat for this oen as with it you get the light and subtle Hip Hop influences taking a much lesser role as he chooses to get into a soulful R&B groove which has him expressing exactly how he feels in his relationship and why his girl's indecisiveness is resulting in problems for them.
With organs being used to give the impression of a Gospel song at the start of this one, you see that for this one he really delivers as he chooses to direct things towards this sort of style. You see that, in opposition to typical expectations, he comes with a funky one which has him using this semantic field of holiness to relate it to the love which his girl gives him.
The pounding beats which you get from this one get you bouncing along to it as you see that, although the nature of the music stays relatively the same, the way that it is done seems to be adapted to some degree as you get a soothing and warming song here which pulls you right to the emotions which he is attempting to express.
This was the lead single to the album, and although I can't recall it making that much of a presence in the world, it did its thing in promoting the album and drawing more attention to the artist as he moved on from his 2000 debut quite a bit. This has much more of a commercial, sound than others here and so was a suitable choice, but I wouldn't have said that it was rally one of the better ones.
This one has him calming things quite a bit with one which I felt was very similar to something that you would have got from D'Angelo at the time, and I felt that with such a strong comparison to be drawn form it, it made for a nice one here as he comes to the realisation that he must get his act together if he wishes to make something of himself.
In spite of the fact that the song here is seen to basically repeat the lyrics throughout, i felt that it really didn't hurt it at all as you see that the artist makes sure that through this reiteration that you understand the potential everyone has and how they should actually intend to follow through with aspirations about their future.
10. "intermission: juslisen"
Off a tune which has a much more prominent Hip hop presence within it, this seems to seep through onto this one, and I felt that that this was a nice inclusion in order to pull out even more of the attractive influences in his music to pull in listeners and show how well he can cope when things are done in such a way as he uses the standard love song and adapts it to some alternative beats.
At first, I felt that this one was a bit too alternative for it to actually work with so much going on at once with him singing normally, but getting many differing sounds ringing through at various tempos and rhythms, but as it seems to come together after a while, you are able to acknowledge the time that when into such a complex tune. It takes a while to really feel, but its a nice one.
This one has clear influence from the music of top nineties R&B acts such as Tyrese, Joe and Ginuwine as with this one, you see that the structure of it seems to be taken directly from quality artists like this and you get beats which have a throwback Timbaland feel to them, and so I felt that this propelled me back to this time as he does one which sounds unlike him, but fits right in here.
The beats in this one take another big change as they are seen to twist towards the sort of classy setting which you got in the opening song from the album, and so I felt that it did well to establish how he is seen to bring it back towards the progressive style which he is known for as he sings a calm, yet up-beat love song.
The muffled bassy pounds in the percussion on this one is something which takes you further into what was received in the tune before it as he does another one where he is seen to keep to the soft material, but does it in a way to show that there is much more to him to a lot of other R&B acts who were active at the time.
This was another single from the album and as it is seen t o get him getting into a ballad, i felt tat it was a bit of a shame that he went for a traditional tune and didn't make the effort to try out more of the progressive stuff, but you see that as he sings it so well, you can't really complain about what it does here.
This is a big tune on the album and I felt that it brought out some of the highest quality that he was able to achieve, to only with his vocals, but in his song writing and production as he does another with light Gospel influence as he chooses to dedicate one to his parents and song towards them about general things in his life.
This is a pretty significant track on the album as this final one gets him choosing to show another unexpected influence in his music as he chooses to get right into a cover of some classic George Harrison material. He does well with it to leave the album on a high and show the general high quality which this album brought with it.
As opposed to the inconsistent debut which he brought, I felt that this was a well-developed album from the artist as it shows that after being given the time to form a well-rounded recording, he makes the all the right decisions along the way to come up with this strong album which doesn't seem to have any real dips in standards.
Musiq Soulchild is the music artist name used by Taalib Johnson who was born in Philadelphia on 16th September 1977. He left home when he was 17 and landed his big break through beat boxing for MC's, free styling on the open mic circuit, scatting at a jazz club, or just performing a cappella in the streets of his home city of Philadelphia. His stage name Musiq Soulchild was intended to respect and represent the legacy and traditions of past great soul stars. He soon got signed to Def Soul and released his debut album in 2000 called Aijuswanaseing and released Juslisen two years later to critical acclaim.
If you know anything about Musiq Soulchild then you will be aware of his regular use of his own slang as Juslisen translates into Just Listen and his debut album Aijuswanaseing translates into I just wanna sing. On Juslisen Musiq Soulchild works with the following producers, Carvin "Ransum" Haggins, A. Jermaine Mobley, Hakim Young, Donahue Baker, Vikter Duplaix, Jerome Hipps, Michael McArthur, James Poyser and 88 Keys. Juslisen takes his blend of neo soul to a different level from his debut album and more success in both record sales and critical acclaim.
1.) Scratch Introlude
This is just a basic introduction to the album where Musiq Soulchild shows off the beat box skills that contributed to him becoming signed to Def Soul.
2.) Newnesscaughtup - AAries
This is a seductive gentle neo soul track which features sweet female backing vocals. Musiq Soulchild's voice is a smooth soulful voice which has a great naturalness about it. A very decent track to get things fully started.
3.) Caught Up
This has a firm beat and features some funky guitar hooks. This has a City High flavour to it and is one of the best uptempo tracks on Juslisen showing the variety of his music. A very confident flowing vocal delivery.
This is a fantastic smooth slow ballad which has hints of another neo soul legend D'Angelo. The beat kicks in with his vocals and the catchy beat and funky hooks keep you interested which leaves his vocals to draw you in even further.
This is an interesting track which opens with a Gospel flavour and then develops into a very funky hip hop track with some great catchy bass hooks. Another one of the great uptempo tracks on Juslisen.
This is a catchy neo soul track which pays tribute to his partner with Musiq Soulchild describing what it is she really means to him, A really great track with some sweet smooth backing vocals and a great sentiment.
If you have heard one track on the album then it may be this one which was a successful single from the album, This has a very smooth backing vocal part and some nice backing sounds, The beat works really well throught the song too. Very good track. It is the biggest single of his career to date.
This is a wonderful track which showcases his vocals better than any track on the album, This tender ballad is without a doubt a gem. The way he moves through this song shows you that he knows what he is doing when it comes to vocal delivery. The best track on this album.
This track is about not letting anyone change your mind and to keep your future in your own hands. A very good track which features smooth backing vocals and some catchy scratches. Not quite his best on the album but very decent indeed.
10.) Intermission (Juslisen)
This is a brilliant intermission which features a thumping taut beat and some superb keyboard hooks and backing vocals, This is a short track well worth it's inclusion.
This features a catchy repetitive hi hat and a hip hop beat which work extremely well together. The deep backing vocals add another great touch and this is well worth listening to. One of the best tracks on Juslisen. Worth listening to even just for that hi hat.
This starts off with a gentle guitar and his sweet vocals and then the drum beat kicks in, His voice sounds superb and this is very close to the superb track Time. Another one to listen out for as it is very good indeed.
This is a message to your partner to put the bad relationships behind her and trust me to be there for you when you need me and to do right by you. A superb track which is even closer to Time than the previous great track.
This has a very different tempo to the beat which changes pace regularly. His vocals don't reach the heights of the best tracks on Juslisen but he proves to be adept at this kind of singing with a deeper vocal tone than previous tracks.
This track is about working on a relationship to make your partner also your best friend. This has a nice feel with a catchy beat and some sweet female backing vocals but I feel the music could be a little better as the music isnt quite as good as the vocals and lyrics.
16.) Don't Change
This is the second single on the album and so just like with Halfcrazy you might have heard this too. A fantastic ballad with a punchy beat and this really showcases his tender vocal performance. A beautiful track about what you love about your partner, The second or third best track on the album.
A fantastic tribute to his Mother and Father, This is different to most parental tributes I have heard in that the beat is a lot deeper and harder than previous ones I have heard. This is a very good track which still has it's tender moments.
This is an amazing cover of the Beatles original. This is far better than the original and as you may know I am not a fan of The Beatles as any track of theirs that has been covered has been far improved on. A superb cover which makes it seem a new track altogether.
This is the "Girlnextdoor remix" of Ifiwouldaknew. It features a sample of Debarge "Stay With Me" which is also used in Ashanti's Foolish. If you know this sample then you will agree about how infectiously catchy it is. A decent remix.
So there we have it, Nineteen tracks on this album and not one dud track to be seen. If you like City High and D'Angelo then this is a sure fire hit. One of the best albums I have discovered recently and I am sure he will have many more great albums as good as Juslisen if not better. Bring on his new album "On My Radio" which will be released on 9th December 2008. Come on and check out Musiq Soulchild's brand of contemporary R&B, soul, funk, alternative, blues, jazz and hip hop.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Scratch Introlude
2 Newnesscaught Up - AAries, , Musiq (Soulchild)
3 Caughtup - AAries, , Musiq (Soulchild)
7 Halfcrazy [Summer Maddness Remix]
10 Intermission: Juslisen
15 Bestfriend - Musiq (Soulchild), Carol Riddick
16 Dontchange [Pound Boys Main Mix Long]
19 Ifiwouldaknew [Girlnextdoor Remix][*]
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Dontchange [Remix][*] - Ronald Isley, , Musiq (Soulchild)
2 Halfcrazy [Remix][*]
3 Halfcrazy [Summer Madness Remix]
4 Beautiful Contradiction [*] - Beverley Knight, , Musiq (Soulchild)
5 Break You Off [LP Version][*] - Musiq (Soulchild), , The Roots
6 Break You Off [Acapella][*] - Musiq (Soulchild), , The Roots
7 Dontchange [Pound Boys Main Mix][*]