October 30, 2003

Test Spin: Jagged Edge

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From the Casanovas of classic Motown to the sex-charged R. Kellys of today, the R & B world mostly has revolved around the many ways of saying “I am good at having sex.” More “I Just Called To Say I Love You” than “Feelin’ On Your Booty,” Jagged Edge is a refreshing throwback to the era of chivalry. While the line “If you’ve got the socket, I’ve got the plug” is reminiscent of the R. Dot’s “let me stick my key in your ignition” ( … except with three prongs?), it is about as sexually explicit as Jagged Edge gets. In their fourth album, deceptively titled Hard, Jagged Edge sticks to their guns with trademark soulful ballads about love and passion in “Visions,” “Hard,” and “What’s It Like.” Always the gentlemen, JE croons soft flowy lyrics about devotion, unrequited love, and even long-distance relationships over punching bass lines. What did you expect from the romantics who brought you the matrimonial serenade “Let’s Get Married,” the ode to commitment “Promise,” and the hymn of inquisitive hedonists “Where the Party At?” This is not to say JE can’t get crunked with the best of them. The requisite party anthem comes in the form of “Car Show,” where fellow ATL-ian Big Boi from OutKast comes down from the hilltops of Stankonia and joins the quartet for 16 bars. The album does have its low points. With the exception of “Girls Gone Wild,” the few not-quite-ballad, not-quite-party-up in-between tracks come off as bland and more suitable as background music than something you consciously listen to. Though Jagged Edge’s fourth album sounds almost identical to their first, some things really are best left unchanged. The band’s soulful ballads continue to provide a smooth casual listen perfect for setting the mood, or sitting on the couch eating chips wishing you had a mood to set.

Archived article by Frank Liu