"Still Ghetto" came out in 2003 and was the second album from the soulful R&B singer Jaheim. Dropping two years after his last, the game hadn't made any significant advancements in that time and so the artist was able to come back with more of the same sort of material that he hit listeners with on his killer ""Ghetto Love" debut. This album contains "Put That Woman First" and other tracks which helped him stay heavy in the game at the time.
After a nice little Hip Hop introduction we see that we get things moving on quite significantly as here we have one of his most underrated singles. This one faded into obscurity in spite of the fact I thought that it was just as big a tune as "Put That Woman First" (from later on in the album). Here we get Kay gee of Naughty By Nature providing a smooth, piano-based composition as Jaheim sings an up-lifting tune that really sounded to be bang on-trend for this time when you consider other tracks in Hip Hop and R&B at the time.
3. "Diamond In Da Ruff"
The beats slap away on this on and really get you hyped-up and show that here we are in for a bit of a change to the way that things are done here. The tune is seen to focus upon having him sing about how the relationship that he's has fallen apart and that he tends to think about his ex girl every once and a while and wishes that he was back with her again now he can see where he went wrong with it.
4. "Put That Woman First"
A cover of a song by William Bell ("I Forgot To Be Your Lover"), this one was the biggest single from the album and one that stood far ahead of the rest of the record as he puts out a soulful piece and one that shows his great ability to take an established song and make it his own. I can't see where anyone could find any faults in it and I would consider it to be amongst his best recordings to date.
5. "Me & My B***h"
A low-paced one, here we find that we have the singer really making an effort to show just how much love he has for his girl and although he may call her what he does in the title, he's highly-affectionate towards her and wants to everyone know that he's happy with what he's got. It's a great tune and one that's likely to appeal to those who were down with Jodeci, Dru Hill and BLACKstreet in the nineties.
6. "Let's Talk About It"
Here we get a feel of the contemporary Hip Hop and R&B production style here through the way that the composition is put together and so it sounds quite significant retrospectively. However, at the time this one wouldn't have sounded like much when really its style wouldn't come to prominence until the year after and 2004 (when Kanye West championed this sort of sound). Here we get another strong track from him and he shows just how well he can construct tunes here.
Here we see that he comes out with another tune that has him trying to appeal much more towards those who are into their slow jams. I thought that it would really play up to the tastes of those who were down with the work of many of the top acts of the time, however I couldn't help but feel that this one really wasn't for me and was directed towards a different audience (one which is more open to a sound that could be compared to an early '00s version of classic Soul.
8. "Tight Jeans"
We get more of the thick Hip Hop percussion on this one and it seems to set things up well to get you into the right mood to here more of that soulful and expressive material from the singer. The pace to it is low and I felt as though his lyric delivery just makes you smile and invites you write in as he sings as he observes a girl and describes all he likes about her and explains what effect this has on him.
9. "Long As I Live"
We find that with this one he makes a few changes to what he's about and although the main structure of his music stays intact, the sort of production that we get from this one takes you back towards the late eighties and early nineties with the Quiet Storm style. I have to say that this wasn't really my sort of thing, but the way he did it made me much more interested in what he had to say on this wedding-suited song.
10. "Everywhere I Am"
We see that here he stays on the same sort of thing that was heard in the last one. It was clear that this was the case as the music sounds to be quite detached from the contemporary trends and has him reflecting back towards the sort of thing that he was influenced by (rather than joining the rest in the game who were pushing some progressive stuff). It made for another I wasn't too fond of, but one that I can see others enjoying more.
11. "Beauty and Thug"
He seems to bring things up to modern times (as of 2003) for this one as we see that here he comes to perform a duet with Mary J. Blige. Although this one has lots of throwback elements to it, this kind of thing was massively-popular at the time ad so didn't sound so out-of-context as the last two tracks as we get a smooth, jazzy cut here and one that pulls the quality of the thing back as it was earlier.
12. "Special Day"
This is one of the biggest tunes on the album and one that I thought you really had to look out for, as we see just how well Jaheim is able to manage his material and come out with some memorable, soulful music as here he comes with a tune that has him taking control and deciding that on this particular day he just feels like treating his girl and doing all he possibly can, especially for her.
13. "Whut You Want" (Lude)
15. "Every Which Way"
After a pair of interludes, we see that he moves right into more of that Hip Hop-based stuff (where the beats are concerned) and by using that as a little something to work off, he does a great job at setting off the flow of the record and pulling out more impressive material that you are bound to be down with if you were really into the sort of things that were heard out of other acts working in this style at the time.
16. "Still Ghetto"
A massive tune to end the thing, we see that here we get a powerful cut and one that seems to bring things to a relevant end. We find that here he changes the direction of his music as he decides that it's about time that he comes off all the typical stuff where he focuses on material that has him relationships, towards a little something that has him singing about overcoming all the setbacks he's had in his life.
I felt that it must be said that this album wasn't nearly as good as his debut, and seemed to have him making a few poor decisions as he tries out another long album (considering that his first one was) however he's just not able to keep it as consistent this time around and so a few more weaker ones seep through onto what is an album stuffed with lots of strong recordings.
As a fan of all kinds of music I always like to hear new artists and I love many different artists in the genre of R&B especially. I came across Jaheim on the internet, I did a little research and found that he is called Jaheim Hoagland and he was then 23 years old when he released this album, he was 22 when he released his debut album Ghetto Love in 2001.
He has an amazing vocal ability that makes you believe whatever he says. His voice comes through with so much emotion and dripping with 70's soul that reminds me of artists such as Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield. His voice is just so expressive without ever sounding strained. Below is my track by track review of his second album.
1. Intro - This has a funky piano hook then gun shots are fired, the intro is about Jaheim's strife to get away from the gun culture in his old hood.
2. Diamond in Da Ruff - This track has a seismic beat that rips through this song and Jaheim's voice is so expressive. Really good track with a great hook that will stay around in your head.
3. Fabulous - This track is a glorious ballad with a great beat, It has a superb flow with a great conversational style about his childhood and his later teen years.
4. Let's talk about it - This track has another deep bass beat and finds Jaheim in fine vocal form again, It's not the greatest on the album but is still a very good track indeed with some great vocal hooks.
5. Put that woman first - This is a beautiful passionate track which says sorry for not putting your woman first. Jaheim's voice is superbly emotive on this track. A classic.
6. Beauty and Thug - This song features Mary J Blige and is a superb tale of a relationship breaking down due to them being so different. This is something that many people can relate to.
7. Me and my Bitch - This song starts slowly with a deep beat and carries on with soft vocals. A fine neo soul track which shows the quality of his vocal delivery.
8. Backtight - This sounds like what Curtis Mayfield would make if he was alive now. A superbly sung slow song which is one of the best on the album and has a great chorus which will get people singing it everytime they listen to the track.
9. Special Day - This track is a superbly romantic one which puts up the idea of a special day for your partner. A finely done romantic song. How to treat your partner.
10. Long As I Live - This is another love song and this goes along the same lines although it's more about the whole relationship and wanting to be with someone for life. A superb track.
11. Interlude - This is a wonderful interlude that Jaheim mentions his mother who died. A very personal interlude that develops into the tribute to his mother Julie.
12. Everywhere I Am - This is his tribute to his mother and what a stonking song. His voice just drips with emotion. You really have to hear the ease in which he sings this song. Perfect.
13. Tight Jeans - This is a little different to the previous song as this one is about seeing a woman wearing tight jeans and admiring her figure. A good track.
14. What you want - This track has some stupendously catchy keyboard hooks at the start and then Jaheim's voice soars in an impassioned rant against a moaning partner.
15. Every which way - This track closes the album with probably the weakest song on the album, It has a nice melody but doesnt have the instant connection as the others do butn it's still very good.
There we have it, fifteen songs and none of them are bad songs. Jaheim is one of this decades greatest newcomers and with the release of his new album The Makings of a man he takes his vocal performance to another level and he really is a talent to look out for. This album is amazingly recorded and sounds wonderful on a top range Hifi system.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro - Still Ghetto (featuring Dunganz)
2 Fabulous (featuring Tha Rayne)
3 Diamond In Da Ruff
4 Put That Woman First
5 Me And My B*tch
6 Lets Talk About It
8 Tight Jeans
9 Long As I live
10 Everywhere I Am
11 Beauty And A Thug (featuring Mary J Blige)
12 Every Which Way
13 1Special Day