Jagged Edge – The Remedy album review

Nothing can help an awkward girl through the roller coaster that is high school like a group of four boys sensually singing about love and heartbreak. Okay, maybe that’s too much personal experience talking there, but Jagged Edge’s comeback album The Remedy whisks me back to my sophomore year when I might be found spending a whole Friday night listening to r&b and dreaming about my crush. Ah, those were the days.

Admittedly, Jagged Edge’s music is probably a bit more adult than the schoolgirl daydreams I was having, but The Remedy proves that JE is still as relevant today as it was back then. At first glance, one can easily infer that on the whole, the album is dedicated to the art of, well, lovemaking. And one’s inference would be correct; with titles like “Lay You Down”, “When the Bed Shakes”, and “Let’s Make Love”, the writing’s pretty much on the wall.

Evident on The Remedy is a soul and an honesty that’s unique in an industry often known for shameless egoism and self-indulgence. Always candid, self-aware, and authentic, Jagged Edge’s lyrics cut right to the core of real human emotions. And they don’t have to be complicated or intricate in order to convey something with which we can all identify. We all fall in love and get burned, we all experience intense attraction and sexuality. But not every artist out there is willing to detail it like Jagged Edge does.

But Jagged Edge is so much more than four suave, oversexed guys. The Remedy features both the slow ballads we expect from the group as well as up-tempo dance tracks. “Lipstick” features Rick Ross and demonstrates Jagged Edge’s ability to incite people both to the bed and to the dance floor.

Though no-doubt a great sounding album, The Remedy isn’t the type of record to dissect and analyze. There’s nothing to interpret beneath Jagged Edge’s simple lyrics and fitting melodies. But therein lies the beauty of Jagged Edge; the music is accessible to just about anyone. So, my advice is this: if you’re in the mood to party, throw on “Lipstick.” Heartbreak troubles? You might find solace in “Mr. Wrong.” And if the mood’s just right– well, then you’ve got quite the pick.

Grieves – Together/Apart album review

If you’re struggling with life’s trials and tribulations, Seattle breakout rapper Grieves wants you to know you’re not alone. His debut album, Together/Apart chronicles the struggles of a regular old guy – one who stops at nothing to dramatically bring to life what those struggles are. Vivid imagery and clever metaphors dominate Together/Apart, which strays from the traditional rapper’s norm of slayin’ bitches and rollin’ on 22’s by simply coming out and saying that life – both in and out of the rap spotlight – just ain’t easy. Grieves’ first statement to the world with Together/Apart is one of humility and realness.

Teamed up with Brooklyn-based producer Budo, Grieves presents us with a record truly from the heart. Budo provides a diverse musical backdrop over which Grieves lays down raw, emotional verses. And he does not keep any secrets. Grieves takes us through a self-reflective narrative in the track “On the Rocks,” where he laments girls (or lack thereof), rent bills, and a drinking problem. It’s quite the departure from radio-rap’s propensity to smack incessantly of gold grills and a seemingly unlimited supply of women.

With Budo behind Together/Apart’s production and sound, each track’s bass and musical structure conveys a completely different emotion than the last. The album is layered with happiness and longing, satisfaction and depression — all at the same time.

Perhaps the most honest track on the album – and my favorite – “Against the Bottom” paints for us an especially candid picture of the inner struggles of a relationship that’s been peppered with trauma. “Against the Bottom” is the last song on the album – a seemingly purposeful move because in it we get to see a softer side of Grieves, we get to be a part of his heartbreak over a lost love. The music behind the song, however, isn’t melancholy. Its medium tempo and pleasant melody gives it a nostalgic vibe, almost to suggest Grieves has made peace with what has happened in the relationship. Yet the words are still as piercing as though he hasn’t.

The complexity of Together/Apart makes it hard to believe Grieves is simply a breakout rapper who just launched his debut album. And it’s hard to believe that a budding rapper these days might care more about relating to his constituency than simply hitting the big-time. But as he says in “Sunny Side of Hell,” “Grab hold yourself and face those days when you feel like it always rains…yeah, you are not alone.”